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Permanent Collection

1600–1700

Tancred Baptising Clorinda
(17th cent.), oil, canvas, 107 x 181 cm

NG S 1530, National Gallery of Slovenia, Ljubljana
The motif here is based on the famous passage in the epic poem Gerusalemme liberata by the poet Torquato Tasso, which everyone knew and admired in 17th century Italy. In Canto XII (65–69) the Christian hero Tancred recognises the heathen Clorinda; he had injured her in battle, but then he baptised her with water which he brought from a spring in his helmet.

The figure of Tancred in particular displays many similarities with the art of Giovanni Lanfranco, but on the other hand there is no lack of echoes of Guercino and other 17th century Bolognese painters. We must seek the artist who painted this picture of respectable quality among the masters active in the Emilia region between 1640 and 1660, but none of the names hypothetically suggested so far has convinced us. The background with the twilight sky, which gives the scene a “romantic” atmosphere, is not original, there were later interventions and additions. The light of the dusk does not correspond to the source of light which gives volume to the figures.

Preservation: Good. Overpainted sky.
Restored: 1960, ZSV, Ljubljana.
Provenance: Unknown. FCC, 1945.
Exhibitions: 1960, Ljubljana, No. 30; 1993, Ljubljana, No. 16.
Lit.: Cevc 1960, p. 23, Cat. No. 30 (Pier Francesco Mola?); Zeri and Rozman 1993, p. 136, Cat. No. 16, Fig. 26; Benati 1993, p. 27, note 21 (Emilio Savonanzi).

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.