Šenklavž, A View of St. Nicholas' Cathedral (1936)
NG S 2478
Between 1929 and 1935 Matija Jama lived in the Souvan house on the City Square (Mestni trg) in Ljubljana. The view of Šenklavž – St. Nicholas' Cathedral – opened up to him through the window of his garret studio on the fifth floor. From this perspective, a series of images was created in which the painter combined three important city monuments: the City Hall (Rotovž), the Robba Fountain and the western façade of the Baroque cathedral with its imposing towers. Of the nine versions that can be found in the documentation today, the format of the largest canvas (National Gallery of Slovenia) is twice as big (120 x 80 vs. 60 x 40 cm) as that of the smallest (Maribor Art Gallery). Compositional differences in the series of the paintings are minute.
If we believed Jama's series of Šenklavž paintings to be an Impressionist project, similar to Monet's serial motifs, our understanding has to be amended. Examination of the painting with infrared reflectography has shown a square grid drawn over the priming under the paint layer, used by the painter to transfer outlines of the basic composition from a photograph. While smaller formats do not have a square grid, its usage in the case of the largest canvas points to a special commission of a large scale painting that Jama executed as the last in the series for the Banovina administration. Although determined by the light and the improvised character of the motif, the paintings executed towards the end of Jama's career were in fact very carefully designed in some sort of a process of “the iconization of a motif”, to slightly change Tomaž Brejc's term “the iconization of a landscape”. Hence, this is the crucial difference between the Slovene Impressionists and the historical origin of the style.
Andrej Hirci, Andrej Smrekar
Michel Mohor, Andrej Smrekar
6 April–5 May 2013
National Gallery of Slovenia