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Permanent Collection

1600–1700

Jacob Pynas

(Haarlem, c. 1585 − after 1650)

Landscape with Christ Giving the Keys to Saint Peter
oil, canvas, 63,5 x 55,5 cm

NG S 1175, National Gallery of Slovenia, Ljubljana
We know the scene in the foreground from the Gospel According to Saint Matthew (16, 19); it shows Christ as he hands Peter the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven: whatever he binds or loosens on earth, will be bound or loosened in heaven.

The style of this marvellous painting demonstrates close links with Adam Elsheimer and Agostino Tassi and is characteristic of Jacob Pynas – in particular the way in which the painter depicts foliage and branches. This is probably an early work, it may have been painted during the painter’s sojourn in Rome. The figures, which are actually very good but different from the artist’s usual figures, may have been the work of some collaborator.

Restored: Around 1914 in Vienna, Viktor Jasper.
Provenance: Ralph M. Bernard collection, London; Christie’s auction, London, 29 June–1 July 1872, No. 29 (Paul Brill and Annibale Carracci); bought by “Louis” (according to a letter from Margaret Christian of Christie’s, London, to Ksenija Rozman 11 November 1980); collection of Isidor von Klarwill (d. 1898), Vienna; collection of Henriette von Klarwill, Vienna; collection of Peter von Klarwill, Vienna, who donated the painting to the Narodna galerija in 1936 as a work by Paul Brill and Annibale Carracci.
Exhibitions: 1960, Ljubljana, No. 99; 1983, Ljubljana, No. 89.
Lit.: Catalogue 1872, p. 6 (Brill and Carracci); Frimmel 1906, p. 20, Fig. on p. 17 (Brill); Frimmel 1914, p. 386, Fig. (Klarwill collection); Cevc 1960, p. 38, Cat. No. 99, Fig. 46 (Paul Brill); Zeri [& Rozman] 1983, pp. 159–160, Cat. No. 89, Fig. VII, 93.

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.