The City Fountain in Ljubljana:An Echo of Roman Fountains by a Venetian Sculptor in a Habsburg Town

Matej Klemenčič, Professor of Art History, University of Ljubljana
Wednesday, May 31, 2017 - 4:30pm
Art Building Room 120

In 1743 city authorities commissioned a communal fountain for Ljubljana, capital of the Duchy of Carniola (now capital of the Republic of Slovenia). They turned to the Venetian-born Francesco Robba (1698–1757), arguably the leading sculptor in the region, who completed and signed his work in 1751. Robba’s monument alludes to two important Roman models: Gianlorenzo Bernini's Four Rivers Fountain in Piazza Navona and – even more specifically – Filippo Barigioni's fountain in front of the Pantheon. The work raises several interesting issues, from the circumstances of its commission and intended iconography through its reception in local art historiography to questions concerning the re-elaboration of Roman models in a different urbanistic and cultural setting.
Matej Klemenčič has published extensively on Baroque art and architecture in Central Europe, Venice and the Veneto, with particular emphasis on sculptors of the 17th and 18th centuries. Among his recent publications are monographs on Francesco Robba (Francesco Robba (1698–1757). Beneški kipar in arhitekt v baročni Ljubljani [= A Venetian Sculptor and Architect in Baroque Ljubljana], Maribor 2013) and his communal fountain in Ljubljana (Robbov vodnjak. Zgodba mestnega simbola [=The Robba Fountain. The Story of the City's Symbol], Ljubljana 2010). Current research projects include explorations of artistic mobility between Venice and former Habsburg lands, the social status of sculptors in 18th Century Venice, and a book project on Antonio Corradini. He is visiting UW as a participant in the UW-University of Washington Scholars Exchange.