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Permanent Collection

1600–1700

Giovanni Stefano Danedi

(Treviglio, 1618? − Milan?, 1690)

Jesus Washing the Feet of the Apostles
oil, canvas, 130 x 221 cm

ZD S 1997062, Restoration Centre, IPCH, Ljubljana
This picture probably decorated a chapel in a church or a hall in a monastery somewhere in Milan or its immediate environs. Contextually it is based on the Gospels: Christ is washing the feet of the apostles while in the background the table is being set for the Last Supper.

The types of the figures and the composition are characteristic of the mature Seicento in Lombardy, while some details, and in particular the figure of Christ, could be connected with the painter Pier Francesco Mazzucchelli, called il Morazzone. The attribution to Giovanni Stefano Danedi, called il Montalto, was suggested by Marco Bona Castellotti in a conversation in 1992 and it was confirmed by comparisons with works which are unquestionably by Danedi. It was painted at the time of the artist’s maturity.

Restored: 1986, Restavratorski center, Miha Pirnat.
Provenance: Unknown. FCC, around 1945; ZSV, Ljubljana, around 1951.
Exhibition: 1993, Ljubljana, No. 22.
Lit.: Zeri and Rozman 1993, p. 143, Cat. No. 22, Fig. 19; Bona Castellotti 1993, p. 28 (a master who worked in the circle of Stefano Montalto).

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.