Murovec AHAS 2angl

Ceiling decoration in the castle of Maribor: The Four Seasons of Gérard de Lairesse, Susanna Maria von Sandrart, and Lorenzo Lauriga
One of the most extensive rebuilding campaigns in the Castle of Maribor (Ger. Marburg an der Drau) was undertaken by Johann Jakob Zwickl, the adoptive son and heir of Count Georg Bartholomaeus Khiessl, between 1668 and 1681; and from this period also dates the major part of the ceiling decoration in the spacious Festsaal. On stylistic grounds Barbara Jaki Mozetič recently attributed its lavish stuccowork to Alessandro Serenio of Lugano (d. 1688) and tentatively dated it around 1670. Moreover, even though the battle scene painted on the cavetto (which is believed to represent the Battle of Parma) only dates from 1763, when it was signed by Josef Michael Gebler, all the remaining mural paintings are clearly contemporary with Serenio's seventeenth-century stuccoes. With the exception of two smaller narrative scenes (allegedly showing Odysseus's Homecoming) on the flanks of Gebler's fresco, they are embedded in exuberant stuccowork along the coving. Above each longer side-wall two multi-figure allegories alternate with a cartouche containing an image of a single seated Olympian god: in the east Jupiter is flanked by Spring and Summer, in the west Mars appears between Autumn and Winter. Each of the narrower sides of the coving in turn contains a battle scene; that in the north has been identified as the Sack of Rome, and that in the south as the Battle of St. Gotthard on the River Raab. These murals suffered severe damage and have been in consequence incompetently repainted beyond repair. Fortunately, however, their author is known to have been the Styrian painter Lorenzo Lauriga (1632-1681); in 1945 his signature (now lost) was still legible in the lower right corner of the Allegory of Autumn (according to France Stelč it read as follows: "Lo: Lauriago pin[x]").
The present study analyses pictorial sources of Lauriga's Four Seasons, which ultimately go back to a series of panel paintings by Gérard de Lairesse (1640-1711) executed between 1672 and 1675 for the city palace of Andries de Graeff in Amsterdam. As is well known, Lairesse himself executed reproductive prints of his cycle, which Jean Joseph Marie Timmers dated between 1680 and 1685. Yet recently Alain Roy compellingly argued for an earlier date of ca. 1675 that is certainly more plausible given the fact that the derivative Four Seasons in Maribor must have been painted prior to Lauriga’s death in 1681. Still, the fact that the latter are reversed copies of the multi-figure compositions known from Lairesse's autograph etchings indicates that Lauriga’s direct visual models were reproductive prints engraved by another artist ex post facto. In all probability this go-between can be identified with Susanna Maria von Sandrart (1658-1716) who signed but not dated the only surviving seventeenth-century cycle of reproductive prints that duplicates Lairesse's etchings in reverse. The newly identified pictorial sources of the Four Seasons in the Castle of Maribor are therefore of some importance not only for the chronology of Lauriga's paintings and Serenio's stuccowork but also for the dating of Susanna Maria's four engravings; for in the light of this evidence the hypothetical dating of the former around 1670 is probably too early, and the date between 1680 and 1685 habitually proposed for the latter is obviously too late.
In 1674 Joachim von Sandrart (1606-1688), Susanna Maria's famous great-uncle, settled down in Nuremberg. Hence it is conceivable that he has directly or indirectly encouraged his grandniece to copy Lairesse's engravings of the Four Seasons. In his Teutsche Akademie that appeared in 1679 Sandrart discussed Lairesse's oeuvre only in passing. Latin edition of the Teutsche Akademie, published in 1683 as the Academia nobilissimae artis pictoriae, however, contains a substantially expanded account of Lairesse's life and work, which even explicitly refers the reader to the Four Seasons. It seems therefore likely that Joachim von Sandrart became interested in Lairesse's felicitous allegorical inventions after he had given definitive form to the text of the German edition and before the final redaction of its abridged version in Latin.
On all these grounds the most plausible date for Susanna Maria's reproductive prints would seem to be around 1679. If so, neither Lauriga himself nor his patron, Johann Jakob Khiessl, could have got hold of Susanna Maria Sandrart's reproductive prints before the very end of the decade. It follows, then, that the mural paintings in the Castle of Maribor were in all likelihood not commissioned earlier than 1680. (This late date also offers an explanation why the central field of the cavetto was not painted by the same artist as the rest of the ceiling; apparently this part of the Festsaal's decoration was still unfinished at the time of Lauriga's death in 1681.) Furthermore, since until 1679 Alessandro Serenio had been working on the stucco decoration of the Church of Maria Elend in Graz, whereas in 1682 he was already employed at the Castle of Eggenberg, the balance of probability is that his stuccowork in Maribor is practically contemporary with Lauriga's mural paintings.
According to Alain Roy, in showing each of the Four Seasons in the guise of a thematically appropriate classical deity surrounded by three ephebus-like winged personifications of the pertaining months, Lairesse drew inspiration from Cesare Ripa's Iconologia: Spring is impersonated by Flora, Summer by Pomona, Autumn by Bacchus, and Winter by Aeolus. On closer examination, however, only Roy's identification of Bacchus turns out to be beyond reasonable doubt. But since mythological imagery of Lairesse's other three allegorical inventions begs much closer analysis, I can at this juncture only anticipate more detailed future research by adding a few preliminary observations on specific points of iconography.
The goddess in the center of the Allegory of Spring is crowned with flowers (which Lauriga seems to have misinterpreted as laurel leafs), she holds a plucked rose in her left hand and a garland in her right hand, while a basket filled with flowers is presented to her by one of the months. Although Ripa actually says that Spring can be depicted as Flora, a number of tell-tale details strongly suggest that Lairesse's "goddess of spring" represents Venus. This interpretation is not only indicated by her sensuously rendered breast, the rose, and the garland, which are all standard attributes of the goddess of love; it is also supported by the peculiar headgear of the month approaching from the left – his crested helmet designates him as the Month of March named after Venus's impetuous mythic lover, Mars (cf. Ripa, ed. 1611, p. 337: "Marzo. Giovane di aspetto fiero, habbia in capo un' elmo ... & che tenga in capo l'elmo, dimostra esser stato dedicato da Romolo ŕ Marte suo genitore, e da quello cosě chiamato").
Lairesse's "summer goddess" raises a burning torch in her left hand and in her right hand wields a sickle; while one of the months offers her a bunch of spikes, the other crowns her with a wreath of ears. These attributes unequivocally designate her as Ceres rather than as Pomona despite the basket of fruit presented to her by the third month. After all, Ceres does frequently appear in painted and sculptured allegories of summer; and Ripa himself explicitly associated her with that season, while he invoked Pomona's presence only in connection with Autumn.
By contrast with the Spring and the Summer, the pivotal figure of Lairesse's Allegory of Winter is not a gracious goddess but a raging god that in his fist clenches a knotty branch or a root of an uprooted tree. Roy calls him Aeolus, even though he is not crowned, nor is he equipped with Aeolus's other conventional attribute, the bridle. This figure could thus easily represent the bearded north wind Boreas; especially since its most distinctive single attribute is the torn branch or root that may well have been intended to evoke in the viewer's mind a suggestive line from Boreas's monologue in Ovid's Metamorphoses (6. 691) paraphrased in Ripa's Iconologia: ". . . il soffio mio gl'arbori attera" (ed. 1611, p. 528).