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Permanent Collection


Friedrich Gauermann

(Miesenbach, 1807 – Vienna, 1862)

A Capercaillie
(mid–19th cent.), oil, canvas, 95,5 x 137 cm
signed lower right: F. Gauermann

NG S 2200, National Gallery of Slovenia, Ljubljana
This is a brilliant naturalistic portrayal of a capercaillie (tetrao urogallus) flying around over grass and bushes on rocky terrain. In the background at the right is a snow-capped mountain. This is an excellent example of the veristic vein in painting devoted to nature in all its diversity, which was widespread in Western Europe from the middle of the 19th century onwards.

Since the painter died in 1862, this work is particularly interesting as an early example of this trend in painting.

Restored: 1991, Kemal Selmanović.
Provenance: Unknown. After World War II in the entrance hall of Brdo Castle near Kranj; entrusted to the Narodna galerija by the Government of Slovenia in 1986.
Exhibition: 1993, Ljubljana, No. 74.
Lit.: Zeri and Rozman 1993, pp. 114, 190, Cat. No. 74, Fig. 73 (Blackcock).

Biedermeier and Romanticism
Heavily censored public life between the Congress of Vienna and the Spring of Nations in 1848, weakened Church patronage, and the ascending middle class marked the era when life focused on the privacy of the family circle, individual dignity and the sense of belonging; this is expressed in the Central European art as the style of Biedermeier which coexisted with a Romantic view of nature. 

Portraiture was the genre of painting that saw its heyday in this era. Matevž Langus, Jožef Tominc, Mihael Stroj and Anton Karinger established themselves as individually formed portraitists who demonstrated their self-confidence as artists also through their self-portraits. The painters initially relied on formal characteristics of Neoclassicism. Stroj’s late portraits and particularly those by Karinger abandoned the Biedermeier manner and adopted a more realistic approach. 

Interest in landscape first appeared as the background of portraits; towards the mid-century first autonomous city vedute emerged. The Biedermaier landscape is idyllic, descriptive, and furnished with staffage figures. Painters were attracted by tourist destinations and locations that were related to homeland identity: Mt. Triglav, Lake Bohinj, Bled. Anton Karinger and Marko Pernhart established themselves as explicit landscapists. The latter became famous for his multi-part panoramas from mountain peaks. 

Still lifes became an attractive decoration of a middle-class home, and they also found favour with amateur women painters, one of whom was Countess Maria Auersperg Attems.