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Permanent Collection


Carl Ruthart

(Danzig, c. 1630 – L'Aquila, c. 1703)

Fight between Bears and Hounds
1667, oil, canvas, 94 x 125 cm
signed and dated lower centre: C: A / RVTHART / fecit 1667

private collection
The picture shows a fight between dogs and three brown bears in a wild rocky landscape, which is reminiscent of the sort of landscape which Salvatore Rosa painted and which was often imitated in the 17th century. The animals are painted with brilliance and wonderful precision and prove that after a profound study of the Flemish animal painters Ruthart continued still further in this direction and perfected his motifs by a study of zoological books.

Preservation: Good. Painted on bolus.
Provenance: Attems collection, Slovenska Bistrica, until confiscation 1945; entered in the FCC records on p. 205, No. 6341: “Scene with Bears and Dogs, 125 x 93 cm, 18C.” On the back of the canvas at the bottom left in Indian ink: F. C. 111, on the stretcher at the top left: 6341 and 185/92.– Entrusted by the Government of Slovenia to the Narodna galerija 1986.
Exhibition: 1993, Ljubljana, No. 60.
Lit.: Zeri and Rozman 1993, pp. 121, 176, Cat. No. 60, Fig. 57.

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.