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The Four Seasons and the Four Temperaments in the Rococo frescoes by Anton Lerchinger

The paper discusses the painted decoration of the drawing-room on the first floor of Miljana Palace in the Hrvaško Zagorje area (Croatia) and justifies the attribution of these frescoes to the painter Anton Lerchinger (ca. 1720–1787 or after). Scholarly literature is cautious about the author, stating that the frescoes are just »attributed to Lerchinger« or that they are the work of two painters.

Presented as one of the arguments that corroborate Lerchinger's authorship is the painter's relationship to Jurij Konjović, the parish priest at Taborsko. The priest married Lerchinger in his parish in 1751 and was subsequently a godfather to five of his children. Evidence also exists of Konjović's connection with the owner of Miljana Palace, Josip Ratkay, who was a benefactor to the Taborsko church, where he is also buried. Lerchinger was executing frescoes in the church at Taborsko around 1751; so it seems reasonable to believe that Konjović recommended the painter to Ratkay for the decoration of the drawing-room in Miljana.

Lerchinger's authorship is further corroborated by a stylistic analysis of the frescoes: typical of his brush are particularly the type and modelling of the faces and the colouring. The painter often relied on the prints by Johann Georg Bergmüller. In Miljana he made use of two series of prints, the Four Temperaments and the Four Seasons, engraved by Johann Evangelist Holzer after Bergmüller's inventions and published in Augsburg in 1731 and 1731–32. The painter combined the scenes into a thematic unit on the reveals by the windows. In the fields above the doors and windows he painted landscapes with miniature staffage figures in the style of Norbert Grund, Gottfried Bernhard Götz or Johann Wolfgang Baumgartner and surrounded the scenes with Rococo frames. The present paper parallels them with the painted wall coverings from the palace of Novo Celje (Slovenia), where Lerchinger's presence is documented with several bills and items of correspondence in the year 1763. The wall coverings from Novo Celje are now housed with various owners, the majority of them at Banski Dvori in Zagreb.

The Rococo style of both the motifs and the colouring dates the decoration of the drawing-room of Miljana Palace – with its picturesque figural scenes on the reveals, landscape motifs over the doors and windows and the painted walls, seemingly inserted with panel paintings decorated with flowers and rocaille – into the artist's decorative stage. The room was presumably painted after 1763, when the palace was taken over by Josip Ratkay. The painter of the reveals by the windows was Anton Lerchinger, while simpler decorations of the walls were probably executed with the help of his assistants.