Menu Shopping cart
Your basket is empty.
Support us
Permanent Collection

1600–1700

Alexander Casteels

(?, – Berlin, 1694)

Joshua Fights the Amalekites
oil, canvas, 121 x 174,5 cm

Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Ljubljana
These two paintings are companion pieces. In the composition, the character of the landscape, and in particular the groups of horses and riders, we recognise elements of the prints produced after the paintings of Antonio Tempesta. Very characteristic, for example, is the central group in the Battle Scene With Turks.

Restored: 1960, ZSV, Ljubljana; 1991, Kemal Selmanović.
Provenance: Collection of the counts of Attems, castle in Slovenska Bistrica until confiscation in 1945 [FCC register, No. 6437 or 6438 as “Battle, oil on canvas, 174 x 120 cm (sic!)”]; FCC 1945; 1951 ALU for the envisaged gallery; 1953 lent to the Faculty of Arts, Department of Geography; transferred to the Narodna galerija 1991.
Exhibitions: 1960, Ljubljana, No. 45; 1993, Ljubljana, No. 48.
Lit.: Cevc 1960, p. 26, Cat. No. 45 (Francesco Simonini, attributed by Grga Gamulin); Zeri and Rozman 1993, pp. 106, 166, Cat. No. 48, Fig. 49.

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.