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Permanent Collection


Joannes Almenak

(Antwerpen ?, ca 1640/45 – after 1684)

Boy with a Turkey
(3rd qr. 17th cent.), oil, canvas, 155 x 151 cm

NG S 3100, National Gallery of Slovenia, Ljubljana
A boy sits before a reduced background in subdued tones. He is hugging a turkey with his left hand while reaching towards the ground for some food with his right hand, with wich he is feeding the bird. The scene is almost certainly unwinding in the yard of a farm house. In the background, a collapsing wooden cage or a hen house can be seen on the left, from which a hen's head is peeking, while a second black spotted hen sits on top of the cage. Behind the cage there is a part of a crumbling brick wall. From the sombre tones, in terms of colour, only the red of the turkey's head stands out, the boy's blue cardigan and a white shirt. In a Young Man with a Turkey the painter has an interesting manner reworked the famous painterly motif of pedantry personified with a man touching a hen ( hennetaster ). The young farmhand amuses himself in the painting with a totally useless task of feeding the turkey - for hens do not require human help in feeding, nor laying eggs - for this reason one could regard his preoccupation with such a task as a negative comment on idleness and giving in the vice of sloth.

Preservation: The painting was lined only along the edges, streched onto a new frame, protected with a protective coating and retouched once again.
Restored: 2001-2002, Kemal Selmanović
Provenance: The National Gallery of Slovenia bought the painting from the private collection in 2001.
Exibition: Almanach and the painting in the second half of the 17th century in Carniola, National Gallery 2005, Ljubljana; Summerized from the catalogue Almanach and the painting in the second half of the 17th century in Carniola, published by ZRC SAZU, 2006
Lit: ZERI 1983, P. 76 ( Almanach ); Cevc 1987, p. 44 ( Almanach ); ZERI, ROZMAN 1989, p. 54 ( Almanach ); Cevc 1989, p. 203, repr. p. 197 ( Almanach ); LUBEJ 1997a, p. 44 ( Almanach ); ZERI, ROZMAN 1997a, p. 144 ( Almanach ); ZERI, ROZMAN 2000, p. 146 ( Almanach ); TAVOLA 2000, pp. 110, 111, repr. 144 ( Almanach ); TAVOLA 2001, p. 183 ( Almanach ); BREŠČAK 2002, p.293 ( Almanach ); TAVOLA 2002, pp. 184, 191, repr. p. 186 ( Almanach ); Federico Cavalieri in Ritratto 2002, p. 260 ( Almanach ); MIHELJ 2003, p. 275 ( Almanach )

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.