Interventions on

Kremser Schmidt ceiling painting

Between 2018 and 2022, under the direction of Martina Lesar Kikelj, an extremely extensive and technically demanding project was carried out on the ceiling painting at the top of the staircase of the Gruber Palace.
Gruber Palace is an art historical monument, as its interior contains works of art of outstanding importance for both Slovenian and European art.

Text by Martina Lesar Kikelj

LJ - Gruber Palace, painting in the dome after the intervention
The ceiling painting in Gruber Palace, Ljubljana, before the intervention

The oval staircase with its stucco decoration is a jewel of bourgeois baroque from the last quarter of the 18th century in Ljubljana. The staircase is crowned by a ceiling painting which, due to the prominent signature Herrlein Pinxit 1786, was until recently attributed to the painter Andrej Janez Herrlein, a portraitist of the Ljubljana bourgeoisie. The erroneous authorship of the paintings was refuted by conservation and restoration work in 2020, when the signature of the renowned Baroque painter Johannes Kremser-Schmidt, dated 1775, was discovered under Herrlein's signature. The discovery of the painting's true date of creation and its author has also resolved the ambiguity surrounding its iconographic conception.

Ceiling painting in Gruber Palace, Ljubljana, detail


The painting on the staircase by Andre Herrlein has undergone many restoration works since its "creation" in 1786. There were many reasons for the most recent work on the painting, the key ones being the darkness and the indistinctness of the scene in the oval-framed painting, which raised many questions for art historians and visitors about the iconography, and for restorers about the painting technique and the restoration methods used.

Until recently, it was thought to represent an allegory of craft, trade and technology, but new findings have now made it possible to argue that it is an allegory of industriousness and idleness or laziness.

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