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Permanent Collection


Antonio Calza

(Verona, 1653–1725)

Battle Against the Turks Before a Fortified City
(1712–1716), oil, canvas, 93 x 122,5 cm

Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Ljubljana
The picture shows a fierce cavalry battle between Christians and the Turks, whom we recognise by their clothing and hairstyles; the battle is raging beneath the walls of a city with a mountain close by. As is usual in such paintings, the place and the event are complete fantasy and only symbolically recall the battles of the imperial army against the Ottoman forces. The attribution of the painting to Antonio Calza is based on a comparison with other works traditionally attributed to the painter, such as for example the canvas in the Museo di Castelvecchio in Verona (Inv. No. 841). There are only minor differences between the main group in the middle of that painting and the two cavalry figures on our painting. It should be noted that according to Luigi Crespi (Vite de’ Pittori Bolognesi non descritte nella Felsina Pittrice, Rome 1769, p. 185) Antonio Calza painted a picture of the Conquest of Belgrade for Prince Eugene of Savoy of which no trace can be found today. It is possible that our painting falls into the artist’s Viennese period, that is the time between 1712 and 1716.

Restored: 1960, ZSV, Ljubljana.
Provenance: Unknown. FCC, 1945; entrusted to the ALU for a planned gallery, 1951; entrusted to the Narodna galerija for exhibition in 1994.
Exhibitions: 1960, Ljubljana, No. 33; 1993, Ljubljana, No. 36.
Lit.: Cevc 1960, p. 24, Cat. No. 33, Fig. 23 (Matteo Stom [Stonn]); Zeri [& Rozman] 1983, p. 122, Cat. No. 36, Fig. 35.

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.