This drawing is an excellent example of Gaspari’s idyllic style that combines several of his characteristic features. Dominating the scene, in front of a symbolically rendered typical Slovene landscape with mountains and a hilltop church is a wayside shrine or chapel with a shingle roof and folk art decoration. Inside the chapel, a seated Virgin Mary and Child are depicted not as a sculpture but as actual living figures. A mother and daughter, both in Slovene national costume, are portrayed in front of the chapel in an attitude of supplication.
Using fragmented brushstrokes, muted colours and a variety of details (such as the pot in the little girl’s hands, the stream flowing over the ground and the flowering shrub), Gaspari created a fairy-tale atmosphere while at the same time expressing an idea of national pride. A wide circle of people in the Slovene lands would have been able to identify with the depiction and Gaspari’s addition of certain characteristically Slovene elements warns us not to forget who we are and where we come from. The picture was probably included in the exhibition at Jakopič’s Art Pavilion in 1917, just three months after the May Declaration (a set of demands relating to the unification of the South Slav territories in Austria-Hungary), when Gaspari exhibited his “Slovene Madonnas” for the first time.
References: New Acquisitions 2011−2021, National Gallery, Ljubljana 2022