Fortunat Bergant and his Works - Abbot Leopold Buset of Kostanjevica
Date of issue: 28.05.2021
Author: Robert Žvokelj
Motive: Fortunat Bergant and his Works - Abbot Leopold Buset of Kostanjevica
Printed by: Agencija za komercijalnu djelatnost d.o.o., Zagreb, Croatia
Printing Process and Layout: 4-colour offset in sheetlets of 10 stamps
Paper: Tullis Russell Chancellor Litho PVA RMS GUM, 102 g/m2
Size: 25.56 x 48.28 mm
Perforation: Comb 14 : 14
Photo: Janko Dermastja, Narodna galerija
FORTUNAT BERGANT AND HIS WORKS
300th Anniversary of the Birth of the Painter Fortunat Bergant
In 2021 we are marking the 300th anniversary of the birth of one of the most important figures in baroque art in Slovenia, the painter Fortunat Bergant (1721– 1769).
He was born on 6 July 1721 in the village of Mekinje, but soon moved with his family to the nearby town of Kamnik. Even today, relatively little is known about his early years and work. His paintings are found across the whole of Slovenia and even beyond its borders – in Austrian Carinthia, in the Lika region of Croatia (Sinac, Otočac), in Hungary and in Italy. Among the painter’s greatest achievements from this period we may certainly count the first prizes he won in 1756 and 1758 for his drawings of male nudes while a student at the Scuola del Nudo in Rome, part of the famous Accademia di San Luca.
Bergant’s oeuvre is characterised by a distinctive style that ranges from vernacular, almost workmanlike depictions to works of remarkable technical virtuosity. It includes numerous sacred works. It is precisely in these religious images that the folk elements of his painting find expression, something that persuaded Rihard Jakopič (1869–1943) to label him “our best” painter of the past.
Among the nobility, Bergant made a name for himself as a portrait painter. No doubt potential clients were impressed by the masterfully depicted jewellery and sumptuous textiles we find in his portraits. These elements are particularly visible in the two portraits of Bergant’s patrons – Baron Wolfgang Daniel von Erberg and his wife Maria Anna. To both of them, the painter added special attributes – a letter in the Baron’s portrait and a rose in that of the Baroness. It was at his patrons’ house in Ljubljana’s Mestni Trg (Town Square) that the painter died in 1769.
In addition to Carniolan nobility, numerous ecclesiastical dignitaries found their way onto Bergant’s canvases. The lace vestments in his portrait of Abbot Leopold Buset of Kostjanevica Abbey are depicted with remarkable exactitude, while the gold pectoral cross decorated with precious stones that hangs from the Abbot’s neck is particularly distinctive. Like Bergant’s other subjects, the Abbot holds an attribute in his hands: the plans for the baroque remodelling of the Cistercian abbey at Kostanjevica na Krki, on a folded corner of which the painter has added his own signature – as he did on many of his paintings.
His paintings of a pretzel maker and bird seller, shown holding (respectively) a pretzel and a birdcage and dressed in poor, shabby clothes, have a more humorous tone and symbolise another side of the society of that age.
Katra Meke, National Gallery