Lavric AHAS 8angl


The Roman painting collection of Bishop Otto Friedrich Buchheim and his contribution to the renovation of the Germanicum college and the church of St. Apollinare

Otto Friedrich Buchheim (Vienna 1604 – Passau 1664), canon of Salzburg, Halberstadt and Passau, was appointed bishop of Ljubljana in 1641. During his years as a boarder (convictor) and alumnus of the German college, Germanicum, in Rome (1622–1626), he grew to have a special liking for the eternal city, so that later he purchased a small palace there. Rome, into which artists from all over Europe poured, was at the height of its artistic development, and Buchheim, who evidently had good contacts with this international artistic community, gathered a considerable collection of their works. Two hitherto unknown archival documents reveal what works were in Buchheim's collection: they are a list of paintings and an inventory made after he had donated his Roman house to the Germanicum; these are complemented by a list that the bishop made when he moved some of the paintings to Salzburg, to Ljubljana and to other residences in his diocese.

The collection contained original works as well as copies of paintings by famous Italian masters. And, besides Italian painters, French, Flemish, Dutch and German artists are also listed: Domenichino, Giovanni Lanfranco, Sassoferrato, Rosso “Genovese”, Simon Vouet, Gaspard Dughet, Claude Lorrain, Johannes van Bronchorst, Paul Bril, Matthäus Gundelach and others, some of whom cannot be reliably identified. Most of them were Buchheim's contemporaries and only very few older masters are listed (Paolo Veronese, Palma Vecchio, Paris Bordone, Battista Dossi). As to themes, as well as religious subjects, secular works are also included: portraits, still-life, landscape, seascape, and genre pictures. Buchheim purchased paintings both from the artists themselves and from art dealers with whom he was on bussines terms. For a limited period of time he occasionally hired artists to work in his Roman palace; they tended to be copyists who were willing to paint at his behest for low pay (Janez Frančišek Gladič, Orlando Milord, Paolo “Francese”). The documents presented in this paper are not only a valuable testimony of Buchheim's artistic zeal and of his taste, but they also provide information on the oeuvre of both popular and less familiar European painters.

The paintings that were not moved from Rome were left in the Germanicum and Buchheim bequeathed them to the church of St. Apollinare (at a value estimated to be 1,000 scudi). Their later fate is not known. If they escaped being sold when the college closed down in 1798, they are no longer in the Germanicum today (as can be seen from its inventory list). The paintings taken from Rome to enrich the collections in Buchheim's other residences will be discussed in the paper to appear in the next volume of the Acta historiae artis Slovenica.

Buchheim was a great benefactor of the church of St. Apollinare; besides the paintings, he also bequeathed it several valuable vestments and a substantial sum of money (just before his death in 1664 he added 850 scudi to the original sum of 1,500 scudi). He also wanted to erect a chapel in the church (600 scudi from his Roman debtors were earmarked for this purpose) and place his tomb in it, for which purpose he commissioned a marble bust from a certain “Siciliano”, but he did not live to see its construction start. Nor did he live to become a cardinal, an honour that was realistically within his reach after such a distinguished career. Since he gave Girolamo Galeno, the procurator of the Germanicum, a free hand to handle his bequest, the funds that were intended for the chapel in St. Apollinare were, in fact, used for the renovation of the college, which was enlarged in 1664 with a new wing. It is not known whether the church, also renovated a few years later, contained a memorial dedicated to the generous benefactor who was gallantly prepared to forego his own wishes. Obviously, the present building, whose foundation stone was laid in 1748 by pope Benedict XIV, has never contained any memorial of the bishop of Ljubljana.