National Gallery honours Impressionist Matej Sternen

Preparations for Matej Sternen show at the National Gallery. Photo: STA

A major exhibition on Matej Sternen (1870-1949), arguably the most prolific of Slovenia’s four major Impressionist painters, has opened at the National Gallery in Ljubljana, featuring 74 of his paintings, 146 prints and drawings as well as his restoration oeuvre.

Sternen’s best known paintings include the Red Parasol, which depicts a lady carrying a red parasol, On the Sofa, a lady reclining on a sofa, and his nudes.

Unlike other major Slovenian Impressionists – Rihard Jakopič, Matija Jama and Ivan Grohar – Sternen actually finished his studies at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. He spent more time abroad than any of the other three artists. He taught freehand drawing at the newly established University of Ljubljana.

Sternen was inspired by French and Central European painters. He built his identity on the heritage of the golden age of Venetian painting of Tiziano Vecelli and Paolo Veronese, the early Baroque of Rubens and Rembrandt, and French painters Jean Honoré Fragonard and Francois Boucher; among Modernists his favourites were Edgar Degas, Félicien Rops and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

In preparation for the exhibition, which runs until 9 April 2023, the National Gallery documented as many as 446 paintings by the artist.