The Apotheosis of St John of Nepomuk
1812, oil, canvas, 102 x 50 cm
NG S 830, National Gallery of Slovenia, Ljubljana
The saint, who lived between 1340/50 and 1393, is depicted in the centre of the composition as he kneels on clouds and begs the Holy Trinity for mercy for his protégés in the lower part of the picture. Among these we see a prisoner in chains and in the foreground a woman pleading for her sick son. In the background, at the lower left part, is an ideal veduta of Prague with the bridge from which the saint was thrown into the Vltava river.
This painting is in all probability a sketch for a large altarpiece, which has not so far been identified. The attribution to Hubert Maurer, which is based on a stylistic analysis, is also confirmed by the secondary inscription on the back of the canvas: Den 11 April 1812 verehrte / Professor Maurer dieses von ihm / verfertigte Gemäld, mir zum / Andenken / Einem Freund und Schüler Russ. This is thus a work which the artist gave to his pupil Karl Russ (1779–1843), who later became court painter and curator of the Gallery in the Belvedere Palace. However, despite this the style of the painting suggests a dating considerably earlier than the year 1812. Stylistic and other information indicate that the sketch was probably produced around 1780, if not even earlier. The composition is in fact really still late Baroque, while the classicist accents which are so evident in Maurer’s later works are hardly noticeable.
Restored: Painter Pavel Künl; 1960, ZSV, Ljubljana.
Provenance: A present from the artist to the painter Karl Russ in 1812; the painter Pavel Künl bought it from Karl Russ; Strahl Collection, Stara Loka, until 1930; purchased by the Narodna galerija, Ljubljana, 1930, old Inv. No. 534.
Exhibitions: 1930, Ljubljana, no catalogue; 1960, Ljubljana, No. 93; 1983, Ljubljana, No. 81.
Lit.: Polec 1930b, p. 124, Cat. No. 72; Ilustracija 1931, Fig. on p. 36; Cevc 1960, p. 37, Cat. No. 93 (As regards the provenance and restoration of the picture it is noted that: “Pavel Künl bought the painting for the Strahl gallery from Russ, the director of the Belvedere Gallery. On that occasion he restored it and probably also put the secondary inscription on the back of the relined canvas”); Zeri [& Rozman] 1983, pp. 152–153, Cat. No. 81, Fig. 83.
Note: Secondary inscription, imitating the original one, on the back of the doubled canvas: Den 11 April 1812 verehrte / Professor Maurer dieses von ihm / verfertigte Gemäld, mir zum / Andenken / Einem Freund und Schüler Russ