Menu Shopping cart
Your basket is empty.
Support us


Permanent Collection


Alojz Gangl

(Metlika, 1859 – Prague, 1935)

Valentin Vodnik
1888, bronze, 130 x 50 x 40 cm
signed and dated back of the base: Al. Gangl. 88.

NG P 316, National Gallery of Slovenia, Ljubljana

As a second-year student at the Vienna Academy, Alojz Gangl received a commission from his homeland to design the first Slovenian monument to a poet Valentin Vodnik (1887–1889).

Gangl created the monument to the national revivalist, poet, priest, teacher, editor and translator in Hellmer’s studio in Prater in Vienna. The figure in this half-scale maquette for the Vodnik Monument, dated 1888, is wearing a draped cassock. The poet stands in a contrapposto position, holding a folded scroll in his left hand, leaning slightly on a classical fluted column on his left. His right hand lifts his heavy outer garment, animating its folds along the right side of his body, from beneath which his slightly bent right leg protrudes. His head is turned to the left and looks down at the viewer.

The finished monument, which differs in many respects from the maquette, was placed in front of the former Ljubljana Lyceum in the then Valvasor Square. It was inaugurated on 30 June 1889, following three days of celebrations, with cannon shots fired from the castle. The crowds admired Gangl’s Vodnik, dressed in his signature cassock and a richly draped heavy cloak, holding a scroll of papers, a symbol of poetry, in his right hand. The drapery of his cloak, still in the Baroque manner, flows over his right forearm, while his left arm extends expressively and his head turns to the right. The fluted column of the maquette was removed from the final composition by Gangl, probably under the influence of Kaspar von Zumbusch.

This academic realist work with neoclassical and neo-Baroque sculptural elements is an important milestone in the development of Slovenian sculpture, as it paved the way for other depictions of prominent Slovenian cultural figures, which served to promote national values. With the Vodnik monument, the 30-year-old Gangl became a “champion of sculpture”, creating the first Slovenian figural monument to the first Slovene poet.

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.