The Kingdom of the Netherlands has received an outstanding economic and art heritage whose accumulation started already in the late Middle Ages. However, the development of painting in the Netherlands spans a much longer and polyphonic period that produced hundreds of painters, from Jan van Eyck (before c. 1390–1441) to Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890) and Piet Mondrian (1872–1944).
Alongside high-quality items of applied arts, painting masterpieces were indispensable components of bourgeois furnishings. This fact required that the painted subjects be secular, such as portraits and interior scenes, varied genre motifs and still-lifes, as well as splendid vedute, landscapes and seascapes.
At the apogee in the mid-seventeenth century, over seven hundred painters of outstanding quality were active in the Netherlands; their works were scattered throughout contemporary Europe. However, the Dutch Republic did not just “export” works of art, but many of the multitude of their artists also left for elsewhere.
An important cultural and art centre of the central part of Slovenia, i.e. Carniola, developed in Bogenšperk (Wagensperg) Castle, to which the native polymath, Johann Weichard Valvasor (1641–1693), in his ambitious project of publishing the encyclopaedic book Die Ehre deß Hertzoghtums Crain (1689), invited a number of painters, draughtsmen, and printmakers. The surviving works reveal that he was oriented towards Central Europe and the North, so that several of the painters in Valvasor’s circle came from there. The Flemish painter, known only by his nickname Almanach, was active in Carniola in the last quarter of the seventeenth century. His documented but for the main part lost ample oeuvre made him the central representative of early-Baroque painting in Carniola. Believed to be close to Almanach is Herman Verelst who, together with his wife Cecilia, was documented in Ljubljana in 1678. In the early 1680s he was court painter to the Emperor. He was also in contact with the Dutch painter Justus van den Nypoort who married a lady resident of Ljubljana and settled in his new homeland.
Also the Fleming Ludwig de Clerick belonged to this circle; he was a bearer of the prestigious title of the “Painter to the Province”, which provided him with numerous commissions as can be established from archival documents. After his death in 1702, the title passed to his compatriot Pieter Averex. If we further mention the “Niederländer” Sebastian Verport, a resident of Ljubljana from 1681 to his death in 1715, this very “collection” of artists is highly illustrative of the influences exerted on the early-Baroque painting in Carniola.
24 April–22 June 2014
National Gallery of Slovenia