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Permanent Collection

Eberhart Keilhau - 1600–1700

(Helsingør, 1624 − Rome, 1687)

Born 1624 in Helsingor in Denmark, died 1687 in Rome. His father, Caspar Kegelhoff (Keilhau), was a German painter from Meissen, who emigrated to Denmark. He was in all probability the artist’s first teacher, while the second was the Copenhagen painter Morten van Steenwickel, with whom Keilhau studied for six years, and then another two years with Rembrandt in Amsterdam (1642–44). He remained in Holland until 1651. On the way to Italy he stopped in Cologne, Frankfurt and Augsburg, 1651 he arrived in Venice via the Tyrol. In 1654 he was active in Bergamo, in 1656 he arrived in Rome, where he remained until his death. Beside portraits and religious scenes Monsu Bernardo, as he was called in Italy because he was a foreigner, also painted many scenes of folk life, of farmers and simple people. These scenes (most of which have darkened today because of their bitumen priming) were quite important for Italian painting both in Rome and elsewhere on the peninsula. They initiated a new style of realistic painting, whose subject matter, typology and composition can be discerned in the work of many artists of the following generations.

Lit.: Minna Heimbürger, Bernardo Keilhau detto Monsu Bernardo, Roma 1988; Seicento, Vol. I-II, Milano 1989 (biogr. Nicosetta Roio).

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.