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Permanent Collection

Hans Georg Geiger von Geigerfeld - 1600–1700

(Master HGG), (?, c. 1610 – Zagreb, 1681)

The master who signed his works with the initials HGG was not only a painter but also a gilder, a nobleman, and a judge in Novo mesto/Rudolfswerth in Lower Carniola. The latter region was the area of his activity as well as the vicinity of Zagreb in Croatia. His works rely on reproductive prints, like works by most of his contemporaries. Monumentality, cool colours, the filling of the entire surface of the canvas with detail, low point of view and moderate facial types classify the artist’s style between Mannerism and Baroque. Master HGG, with his few surviving works, represents the pinnacle of mid-17th century painting in the Slovenian lands.

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.