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Permanent Collection


Eberhart Keilhau

(Helsingør, 1624 − Rome, 1687)

Old Woman with a Child, Allegory of “Taste” (?)
oil, canvas, 73 x 58 cm

N 8624, ZD S 1997056, National Museum of Slovenia
The old woman has chestnuts in her lap, a little girl is approaching; she would probably like some chestnuts. The figures are based on Keilhau’s painting of an old man and a young man, which was once in the Sabatello collection in Rome.

The two figures are arranged almost mechanically, which suggests that the picture was painted by someone from the artist’s workshop and adapted from the master’s models. It cannot be excluded that it is one of a series of the five senses and that it represents the sense of taste

Restored: 1960, ZSV, Ljubljana.
Provenance: Unknown. On the back of the original canvas (which is relined today) the inscription: Murillo Original Collection Cardinal Fuhr. – FCC, ca. 1945.
Exhibitions: 1960, Ljubljana, No. 31; 1993, Ljubljana, No. 25.
Lit.: Cevc 1960, p. 23, Cat. No. 31 (Monsu Bernardo ?, attribution by Grga Gamulin, Zagreb); Heimbürger 1988, p. 222, Cat. and Fig. No. 138; Zeri and Rozman 1993, p. 145, Cat. No. 25, Fig. 27.

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.