Menu Shopping cart
Your basket is empty.
Support us


Permanent Collection


Marko Pernhart

(Mieger bei Völkermarkt, 1824 − Klagenfurt, 1871)

1854, oil, canvas, 52,5 x 79 cm
signed and dated lower right: Pernhart / 854

NG S 2840, National Gallery of Slovenia, Ljubljana

The view of Lake Bled with its island and the little Church of the Assumption, the castle on its cliff overlooking the lake and the mountains in the background, most prominently Stol, is the most iconic of all images of the Slovenian landscape. Marko Pernhart painted Bled several times, in the period in which it was becoming an important tourist resort.

Pernhart came from Austrian Carinthia and was predominantly a chronicler of the Alpine region. His image of Bled, framed in such a way as to include three aspects of an ideal pastoral civilisation (nature, religion and a romantic little castle), must be placed alongside his other scenes of lakes, castles and churches: his sketches and oil paintings of the Wörthersee (Maria Wörth and Maria Loretto, see NG S 299), for example, show the lake and the peninsula with its church, and sometimes also the ruins of Schloss Leonstain, while in his images of the Traunsee (around fifty kilometres from Salzburg), a church called the Traunkirche stands on a steep cliff above the lake. The juxtaposition of Lake Bled and the Wörthersee is very significant, since they lie, respectively, south and north of the Karavanke/Karawanken range (of which Stol is the highest peak), today’s border between the Slovene lands and the German-speaking lands to the north, a border that in Pernhart’s day was still not fixed and was an area of cultural competition between the two nations.

The Alpine iconography that Bled embodies became even more important for Slovenians in the new Yugoslav state, since in cultural terms it distanced Slovenia from the provinces to the south, with a different topography, climate and tradition. After the Second World War, the mountainous Gorenjska region, thanks in part to the enormous popularity of “Oberkrainer” music, represented a tie between Slovenia and the other Alpine countries and “returned” Slovenians to Central Europe following the separation from Yugoslavia. The symbolism of Bled, which Pernhart helped consolidate, became not only cultural but political – the Karageorgeviches visited Bled, Marshal Tito holidayed here, and today, in independent Slovenia, Bled is the home of the Bled Strategic Forum, an annual international conference for leaders from Central and South-East Europe.

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.