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Exhibitions and Projects
8 February–2 May 2010

The Robba Fountain

The Story of the City’s Symbol

The exhibition The Robba Fountain – The Story of the City’s Symbol is tied to the set up of the original fountain in the middle wing of the National Gallery of Slovenia. The fountain of the three rivers of Carniola is one of the most important Baroque monuments in Ljubljana, and Slovenia, as well as one of Ljubljana’s most recognisable symbols. In 1743, it was commissioned by the city authorities from Francesco Robba (Venice, 1 May 1698–Zagreb, 24 January 1757), who was the leading sculptor and stonecutter in the city of the time, and is also today considered to be the most important Baroque sculptor in Slovenia. Robba, trained with Pietro Baratta in Venice, got the basic idea for the fountain from Bernini’s Fountain of Four Rivers in Piazza Navona in Rome. However, Robba’s design seems more specifically indebted to the fountain in Rome’s Piazza della Rotonda, which was remodelled into today's form by Filippo Barigioni in 1711. Robba skilfully remodelled the rectangular plan of Barigioni's Roman fountain into a lighter and slimmer triangular form, hence adapting his creation to the three directions from which passers-by could reach the area in front of the Town Hall. Three corpulent male figures holding water jugs were only several years after the fountain’s installation recognised as the River Gods of the Sava, Krka and Ljubljanica, whereas its name of today – The Fountain of the Three Rivers of Carniola – took hold of the monument in as late as the first half of the 20th century.

During the 19th and 20th centuries the fountain and pavement around it lived to see many changes. Also lost are the original steps and stone corner columns, whereas particularly the figures, produced out of Carrara marble, suffered much damage during the recent decades. After three decades of work, the original at Mestni trg was replaced by a copy in the autumn of 2006, and the restored original was installed in the National Gallery of Slovenia in the summer of 2008.

The material for the exhibition was chosen so as to present the appearance of Mestni trg before the installation of the Robba Fountain, as well as the circumstances of the fountain’s origins and Robba’s creative process in part one, including some comparative public commissions that Robba took on for Ljubljana, Karlovac and Klagenfurt. Besides documentary material, three of Robba’s works are also included in this part of the exhibition: the bust of Emperor Charles VI from the City Museum of Ljubljana, The Immaculate Virgin Mary from Karlovac and the Fountain of Narcissus from Ljubljana Town Hall. In part two of the exhibition the material presents some further changes of the fountain and its surroundings at Mestni trg, as well as its reception and perception during a period from the late 18th to the end of the 20th century. Besides prints, old photographs, postcards and books, a series of paintings by Matija Jama is also presented. A special place is dedicated to the presentation of the conservation-restoration works on the fountain, copying and plans for its relocation (and the public responses to this), as well as the presentation of the original in the National Gallery of Slovenia.

A catalogue has also been published in the form of a scientific monograph, the main text of which has been written by Matej Klemenčič, alongside contributions by Andrej Doblehar, Jožef Drešar, Mirko Kambič, Andrej Smrekar and Dejan Zadravec.

Project organiser
National Gallery of Slovenia

Author of the exhibition
Matej Klemenčič

Catalogue editor
Matej Klemenčič, Marja Lorenčak Kiker

Project leader
Marja Lorenčak Kiker

Exhibition set-up
Meta Hočevar

Graphic design
Bojan Lazarevič

Conservation-restoration preparation of material
Tina Buh, Andrej Hirci, Miha Pirnat

The works of art for the exhibition were loaned by
Franciscan Monastery, Karlovac, Croatia; The City of Ljubljana; Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, Heritage Information and Documentation Centre; Monastery of the Friars Minor of Sts Peter and Paul, Ptuj; Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana; Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana – City Museum of Ljubljana ; National Museum of Slovenia; National and University Library of Ljubljana; Pivovarna Laško, d. d.; Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Ljubljana; Maribor Art Gallery; Ljubljana Historical Archive; Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia, Restoration Centre; private owners

Documentation and archive photography
Photo Library of the National Gallery of Slovenia; Documentation of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia, Restoration Centre; Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, Heritage Information and Documentation Centre; Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana – City Museum of Ljubljana ; National Museum of Slovenia; Ljubljana Historical Archive

The exhibition was supported by
Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia

National Gallery of Slovenia, Narodni dom Gallery
8 February–2 May 2010
Cankarjeva cesta 20
1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia