God’s emissary has descended to the snow-covered landscape to feed the animals that are facing hunger in the depths of winter. The rabbits, hares and various birds including a jay, a bullfinch, a tomtit and a kingfisher are given seeds, while the vegetables in the basket are intended for the deer that is cautiously approaching from the forest on the right.
God’s Provisionportrays the message of biblical and exegetic parables of God’s bounty. The ravens in the picture are presumably linked to Jesus’ advice to his disciples on the road to Jerusalem, when he told them: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. . . . Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! (Luke 12, 22–24). The work also calls to mind the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6, 26) and is reminiscent of St Francis of Assisi preaching to the birds. Stroj based the angel’s garment on the modelling of drapery pioneered by Joseph von Führich (1800–1876), one of the principal Austrian representatives of the Nazarene movement.
The work dates from a period in which a series of pro-Slovene bishops were strengthening the role of the Church, which had been greatly weakened by the Theresian and Josephinian reforms. Works with a religious theme are a rarity in Stroj’s oeuvre, who was best known as a portraitist of Ljubljana’s upper classes.