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Permanent Collection

Carl Ruthart - 1600–1700

(Danzig, c. 1630 – L'Aquila, c. 1703)

Born ca. 1630 in Danzig, died ca. 1703 in L‘Aquila in the Abruzzi mountains. His father Veit Ruthart was a tailor from Fürth. In 1652 and 1659 the painter was already living in Rome, 1663/64 he was a member of the Antwerp guild, in 1665 and 1667 he is mentioned in Vienna and in Graz, in 1672 in Venice and in Rome, where he entered the Celestine monastery of San Eusebio and took the monastic name of Andreas. From Rome he went to the monastery of Santa Maria di Collemaggio, where he remained for the rest of his life. Ruthart was a very skilled master, a painter of animals; he often depicted them in fierce battle (dogs, deer, bears, wolves and lions). His canvases are sometimes very large; the landscape backgrounds of his scenes reveal a study of the works of Salvatore Rosa and his followers, while the animals show the influence of the Flemish masters (Fyt, Snyders and others). The human figures in Ruthart‘s pictures were often added by other painters. Ruthart‘s works are kept in L‘Aquila, two altarpieces are in the church of San Eusebio in Rome, other works are in the Joanneum museum in Graz, in the Gallery of the Akademie der Bildenden Künste and in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna and elsewhere.

Lit.: Renate Trnek, Niederländer und Italien: Italianisante Landschafts- und Genremalerei von Niederländem des 17. Jahrhunderts in der Gemäldegalerie der Akademie der bildenden Künste in Wien, Wien 1982, pp. 104-105; Peter Herde, Zur neuzeitlichen Ikonogaphie Papst Cölestins V.: Mattia Preti und Carl Ruthart, Institution und Darstellung, Erich Hubala zum 24. März 1985, Editor Frank Büttner and Christian Lenz, München 1985, pp.173-182.

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.