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Permanent Collection

Antonio Calza - 1600–1700

(Verona, 1653–1725)

Born 1653 in Verona, died there in 1725. He is said to have first been a pupil of Carlo Cignani in Bologna, later, around 1675, he went to Rome, where he studied with Jacques Courtois, called Il Borgognone. He was active in his native city, in Venice, Bologna and Milan; in 1712 Prince Eugene of Savoy summoned him to Vienna, where he remained until 1716. Today we do not know the landscapes which, according to old sources, he painted in the style of Poussin, but we do know a number of religious paintings whose style indicates Veronese and Bolognese elements. Calza is known above all as a painter of battles and it is in this type of painting that his fame extended far and wide: in this genre he is considered to be one of Courtois’ best pupils and undoubtedly the most interesting personality among the Venetian battle painters in the late 17th century.

Lit.: Nicola Ivanoff, s. v. Calza Antonio, Dizionario biografico degli italiani, XVII, Roma 1974, pp. 41-42; La Battaglia nella pittura del XVlI e XVIlI secolo, Editor Patrizia Consigli Valente, Introduction: Attilio Bertolucci, Text: Federico Zeri & Gianni Cavazzini, Banca Emiliana, Parma 1986; Seicento, Vol. I-II, Milano 1989 (biogr. Elena Rama).
From Mannerism to Baroque
Although imported early-Baroque works prevailed in this period and those by itinerant artists, the 17th century paved the way for the future. The political circumstances in the region were relatively stabilized in spite of the Thirty Year War and the patronage gradually grew stronger. The arrival of the Jesuits in Ljubljana, the activity of the polymath Johann Weichard Valvasor, particularly his graphic workshop at Bogenšperk/Wagensperg Castle, and the foundation of the Academia operosorum at the end of the century were the key events of the time. 

Characteristic of sculptural production on the Slovenian territory in the 17th century were the so-called “golden altars”. As a rule, these were gilded and polychrome carved wooden retables with rich ornamentation, first with crustaceous patterns which turned into vine and grapes that covered architectural framework until the achantus foliage took over and obliterated architectural structure completely. The making of golden altars included several branches of fine arts: prints, carving, gilding, painting. Religious painting of the first half of the century still contains Mannerist elements; in the second half also secular motifs became more numerous, particularly genre scenes and aristocratic portraits. The artworks mainly echo northern early-Baroque influences. 

Noteworthy among the newcomers who settled in Carniola with their workshops were the painter and gilder Hans Georg Geiger von Geigerfeld in the mid-century, who had moved to Carniola from the region of the Central Alps, and the Fleming Almanach in the third quarter of the 17th century, known only by his nickname, who worked here only for a few years. The extraordinary productivity and skills of the latter are evidenced by his rare surviving works, mentions in Valvasor’s books, and aristocratic probate inventories.