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Permanent Collection

Luca Giordano - 1600–1700

(Naples, 1634–1705)

Born 1634 in Naples, where he died in 1705. He studied first with his father Antonio, then with Ribera up to about 1650. Around 1652, when Ribera died, he went to Rome, where he made a close study of the works of Pietro da Cortona. He visited Bologna, Parma and Venice, where he copied Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese and Jacopo Bassano. After the great plague in Naples he returned to his native city in 1656 and entered into competition with Mattia Preti. The artists influenced each other: Giordano adopted Preti's figures' austere gestures and dramatic accents. He painted for churches in Venice, Padua and Montecassino, his frescoes in the Medici-Riccardi palace in Florence date from 1682–86. The Spanish King Charles II invited him to Madrid, where he painted in the Royal Palace, in Toledo cathedral and in the Escorial, and he greatly influenced the development of Spanish 18th century painting. In 1702 he returned to Naples. Giordano produced a very large number of paintings and extensive cycles of frescoes. He had an excellent mastery of painting techniques and worked so fast that he was called “fa presto” (works fast — a quick painter). He consolidated the fame of Neapolitan painting and is considered one of the most inventive of the Baroque painters.

Lit.: Oreste Ferrari-Giuseppe Scavizzi, Luca Giordano: L'opera completa, Vol. I-II, Napoli 1992.

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.