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Exhibitions and Projects
From 6 September 2012

550 Years of the Ljubljana Diocese


The Establishment of the Diocese of Ljubljana on 6 December 1461 was a turning point that 550 years ago marked the political, religious and cultural development of Ljubljana (its founding was confirmed by Pope Pius II on 6 September 1462). The National Gallery commemorates this important anniversary with the exhibition, which enriches our permanent collection of Slovenian art with an introduction of thirteen works of art from 15 century to the present day that represents events and people associated with the Diocese of Ljubljana and its history.

Even though Emperor Frederick III had political intentions directed against the Patriarch of Aquileia in mind when he established the Diocese, this was an act of greater significance. It was the first Diocese on Slovene territory. By this, Ljubljana, as the provincial centre of Carniola, became a finer city (civitas insignis), which had an impact on its development and becoming the capital of Slovenia. Until then, the highest ecclesiastical dignitary on Slovene soil had been the Abbot of Stična, and consequently the Stična Monastery was also the most important religious and cultural centre of Carniola. In the Ljubljana of the time, which was strongly fortified, there was only a Franciscan Monastery, and outside its walls there were the monasteries of the Augustinians, the Teutonic Order and the Poor Clares. Located outside the city was also the ancient Parish Church of St Peter, to which the subsidiary churches of St James, St Elizabeth and St Nicholas belonged; the latter was promoted to a diocesan church.

The economic and cultural situation in the Slovene lands was very tough during the late Middle Ages as numerous Turkish raids ravaged the area, as well as contagious diseases and natural disasters. Only the heavily fortified provincial town of Ljubljana was able to resist such conditions. This was a time when less was being constructed and more was being adapted and renovated. Most of the ecclesiastical orders were being carried out by carving and sculpture workshops, as well as painting workshops.

In the area of today’s central Slovenia, and probably based in Ljubljana, two workshops appeared in the 1440s: the so-called Ljubljana Sculpture Workshop and a workshop by painter Janez that had arrived from Carinthia, who was a citizens of Ljubljana at around 1440. What was typical for the sculpture workshop was its sculpting of stone, which indicates its coastal roots. The only works known by Janez of Ljubljana are the frescoes in the churches, yet he is almost certain to have also produced panel paintings. Both workshops with their interesting stylistic analogies are derived from the conservative traditions of the »soft style«, which was established in the region of Slovenia at the beginning of the 15th century, but diminished with the end of that century, when the period of the Renaissance spirit and form took prominence, owing to the first bishops of Ljubljana.

The initially fragmented diocesan estate of parishes in Carniola, Carinthia and Styria was mostly rounded up into the region of the Duchy of Carniola with the reforms implemented by Emperor Joseph II in the late 18th century. As the Imperial (Habsburg) patronage of the Diocese ceased after the First World War, the Bishop of Ljubljana also no longer held the Prince-Bishop title. In 1964, the Ljubljana Diocese was promoted to an Archdiocese, and in 1968 to a Metropolis. In 2006 the lower part of the Ljubljana Archdiocese in Novo mesto became the Diocese of St Nicholas.

Displayed in the permanent collection Art in Slovenia are thirteen works of art from the 15th century to the present day, representing events and people linked to the Ljubljana Diocese and its history.

Authors of the exhibition
Nataša Kovačič, Ferdinand Šerbelj

Conservation–restoration preparation of material
Miha Pirnat jr., Martina Vuga, Rado Zoubek

The exhibition was supported by
Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of the Republic of Slovenia

From 6 September 2012
National Gallery of Slovenia
Cankarjeva 20
1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia