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Permanent Collection


Franc Kavčič/Caucig

(Gorizia, 1755 – Vienna, 1828)

The Tomb of Mycon
(before 1810), oil, canvas, 122 x 172 cm

NG S 3341, National Gallery of Slovenia, Ljubljana
Milon and his friend came from Milet, bringing a present to Apollo. Through a laurel garden they beheld the god's temple by the sea in the distance. The day was hot and the path was dusty and they hurried on to reach the plantation where they saw a clear, cool spring and fruit - bearing trees. Under the trees where they chose to rest, there was a tombstone inscribed: " Here lie the ashes of Mycon! All his life was goodness itself. He wished to do good also after his death, so he had a water spring arranged here and trees planted. " A beautiful girl - Mycon's daughter- in- law - came to fetch water. She told the two pilgrims about Mycon's goodness and about his son, the best and the most handsome of all the shepards, who had married her although she was poor.

Preservation: The canvas has been fastened over a strecher widened by 3 cm. The ground consists of two layers.
Restored: 2006, Kemal Selmanović, Ljubljana
Provenance: Before 1810: painted for Palais Auersperg in Vienna; 1953: the painting in the Kaiser Saal was bought, together with the palace, by consul Alfred Weiss. After his death the palace was sold in 1987; 2006: a private art collector of Vienna sold the painting; in the same year it was donated by the new owner to the National Gallery of Slovenia, in memory of Dr. Leopold Safrin.
Exhibition: Franc Kavčič/Caucig; Paintings for Palais Auersperg in Vienna; National Gallery of Ljubljana, 24 October 2007 - 10 February 2008
Lit: Annalen 1810, p. 359 ( several scenes from Gessner's Idylls and after Athenaeus in the palace of prince Auersperg in Vienna ); Boeckh 1825, p. 328 (twelve paintings, part landscapes part histories ); Kukuljević 1825, p. 153 ( various paintings showing the " environs " and historical scenes ); Palais Auersperg, c. 1957, p. 23 ( Yellow Marble hall, overdoors with Classical subject - matter, Italian painter, 18 th c. ); Rozman 1978, pp. 61, 150 - 151; Rozman 2004, p. 19; Rozman 2005, p. 26.

Franc Kavčič/Caucig was an important representative of European Neo-classicist painting. Even though he depicted stories from Greco-Roman antiquity, his ethical message is fully contemporary and mirrors the time of great social changes. 

In the 1780s, Kavčič was trained in Rome where he drew also at the French Academy at the time of the second sojourn of Jacques Louis David in the Eternal City, and when Angelika Kauffmann occupied the former residence of Anton Raphael Mengs. After more than twenty years of professorship at the Vienna art academy, Kavčič was appointed director of its painting and sculpture school. He also led the painting department of the Viennese porcelain factory, and towards the end of his life he became an honorary member of the Accademia di San Luca in Rome. Several of his compositions thus appeared on the products of the imperial porcelain works. 

His paintings are characteristic for their compositional monumentality and clarity, impeccable modelling by means of sharp drawing, thin polished paintlayers, underlined role of female protagonists in his scenes, and academic reserve. He relied for his motifs on the rich treasury of classical history and mythology as well as biblical stories. The Old-Testament Judgement of Solomon as a narrative of the ruler’s wisdom was thus a very suitable subject matter for the prestigious commission from Emperor Francis I. As to literary sources, Kavčič was inspired by the Idylls of Salomon Gessner. The painter’s landscapes are of the Arcadian type, they are ideal and thoughtfully composed in accord with classical rules and his travel memories. They contain architectural vestiges of the glorious past and are animated by means of tiny pastoral scenes. 

The painting output by Kavčič had some influence on his numerous Viennese students in the first half of the 19th century, while in the history of art he also left trace by taking part in the intense polemics with the members of the Brotherhood of St Luke, when he defended the then already conservative ideas.