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Permanent Collection


Alojz Gangl

(Metlika, 1859 – Prague, 1935)

Baron Joseph Schwegel
1887, bronze, 49 x 46 x 21 cm
signed and dated right shoulder: Al Gangl / 1887

NG P 684, National Gallery of Slovenia, Ljubljana

The politician, deputy and diplomat Baron Jožef Schwegel (1836–1914) was interested in diplomacy from an early age, and after finishing his studies at the St Aloysius institute, where he was a classmate of Stritar, he decided to study at the Vienna Oriental Academy, a school created to train diplomatic staff expected to continue their careers mainly in the Orient. After graduating in 1859, his first posting was at the Austrian Consulate General in Alexandria in Egypt. He was later elevated to the rank of Baron in recognition of his conscientious consular service and achievements such as overseeing the visit of Emperor Franz Joseph I to Egypt and establishing the Austro-Egyptian Bank. While stationed in Egypt, his finances improved significantly. He also collaborated with local archaeologists and kept up with archaeological discoveries. He was later appointed Consul General in Istanbul, and in 1873 he established the Oriental section of the World’s Fair in Vienna. In 1879, Schwegel became a representative of Carniolan landowners in the Imperial Council House of Deputies in Vienna. He also held several mandates in the Carniolan Provincial Assembly, where he was credited with the construction of railways. In his memoirs, Fran Šuklje gave the following description of his “determined political opponent, with whom he had been in close contact for 31 years”: “He was short rather than tall, yet stocky and broad-shouldered, his hair and beard were yellowish, or better flaxen, and later snow-white, his eyes were light grey, his gaze sharp, his features bold, tremendously energetic.”

In 1887, Alojz Gangl painted a portrait of Baron Jožef Schwegel. It is softer in treatment than Šuklje’s portrait from a year earlier, and the face is more individualised. The clothing is not symmetrical, and the left end of the neck scarf juts out from under the coat in a vibrant way.

In his will, the Baron bequeathed his artistic estate to the Carniolan Provincial Museum. The portrait was purchased by the National Gallery from a private owner in 1975.

From Romanticism to Realism
The first traces of realism can be observed in the late landscapes by Anton Karinger. In the late 1860s, encouraged by examples from Munich, he gradually discovered the value of a random landscape view. Possibly from direct observation in situ his pictures of forest sections were made then, oil sketches on a small-scale, rendered in free, painterly brushwork, which can also be traced in his select mountainscapes. 

With his highly moral and artistic attitude Janez Wolf paved the way for realist tendencies. He was a teacher to the Šubic brothers, Janez and Jurij, and Anton Ažbe. Wolf elevated the status of the artist from the previous level of a craftsman to the level of an artist with a higher mission. He stimulated his pupils to take up studies at art academies and facilitated their enrolments through his personal connections. Wolf’s religious works demonstrate inclination to the art of the Nazarenes, which replaced the older rural Baroque tradition. Wolf’s monumental manner of presenting the human figure by way of emphasizing volume was carried on in the sphere of religious painting by Janez Šubic. While Janez Šubic made use of traditional models of above all Venetian painting, realism in Jurij Šubic’s religious subjects is manifest in pedantic historical and topographical definition of costumes, e.g. in his painting Sts Cosmas and Damien. During his years in Paris, Jurij Šubic worked with the Czech artists Vojteˇch Hynais and Václav Brožík, the Hungarian Mihály Munkácsy and the Croat Vlaho Bukovac, who later took a teaching post at the Prague academy. 

Ivan Franke’s travel to the Far East gave rise to a more original style of vedute painting, with an obvious intention of rendering light in a different way.
Weak and unambitious local demand and the absence of academic centres meant that most Realist and academically trained artists spent a great deal of their creative lives in major art centres, first in Venice, Rome and Vienna, then also in Munich and Paris. 

Slovenian painters of the Realist period can be divided into two generations. In the works by the older generation, which includes Janez Šubic and Jurij Šubic, detachment can be observed from the contents and formal language of traditional religious themes and tendencies towards a more exact observation of reality and ever more obvious dealing with painting issues. Realistic approach is evident in Janez’s treatment of the sitters in the portraits of his family members and in Jurij’s down¬to-earth portraits of his contemporaries. Both brothers also tackled the question of psychological characterization in their portraits. The landscape studies in oil which Janez spontaneously sketched in the vicinity of Rome are our earliest plein-air vedute. Jurij’s professional paths led him to Athens and Paris, then to Normandy. While there, he painted minute genre scenes, rendered as plain-air pieces, and he devised the motif which he subsequently elaborated into the picture Before the Hunt which was successfully exhibited at the Salon in Paris. Jointly with his brother Janez he received a prestigious commission to paint frescoes in the Provincial (now National) Museum in Ljubljana. 

Jožef Petkovšek, too, relied on French realists and traditions of salon painting in his realist plein-air picture Washerwomen by the Ljubljanica. In his Landscape by a River he already dealt with a purely artistic issue of light and reflections, which brought him close to the Impressionist search. In contrast, his interiors are marked with dark, cool metallic colouring with sharp beams of light, which imbues the genre-like protagonists with anxious, frozen expression. 

Ferdo Vesel was inclined to experiment extensively with figure, colour, and technique, which brought him close to the Impressionist search.