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Permanent Collection


Jožef Tominc

(Gorizia, 1790 – Gradišče nad Prvačino, 1866)

Countess Cecilia Auersperg
1821, oil, canvas, 94,5 x 79 cm

NG S 1647, National Gallery of Slovenia, Ljubljana
Countess Cecilia Auersperg, née Billichgrätz, was the daughter of an old noble family. In 1805, aged nineteen, she married Count Alexander Auersperg. Their son was Count Anton Alexander Auersperg, a prominent politician who was also a poet and translator (under the nom de plume Anastasius Grün). In 1819, having completed her mourning for her late first husband, Cecilia remarried. Her second husband was Baron Leopold Liechtenberg Janežič. She died in Ljubljana in 1836. 
The portrait has traditionally been dated to the early 1820s, a period in which Tominc visited Ljubljana several times. The sitter’s white dress is consistent with contemporary female fashions, with white coming into favour as a colour for wedding dresses and precious evening gowns after 1820. As well as the artist’s virtuosic treatment of the details of the dress itself, we can admire the rich jewellery, feather-trimmed turban and cashmere shawl. Since the members of the upper classes desired to be portrayed at the height of their splendour for the benefit of posterity, they surrounded themselves in their portraits with luxurious items that underlined the status, elegance and taste of the owner.

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.