State Library of Victoria to receive facsimile of European masters print collection

During his first official visit to Australia the Minister for Slovenes Abroad of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr. Boštjan Žekš will hand over the collection Iconotheca Valvasoriana to the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne on 27 September 2010. On this occasion, the collection of 17 volumes of rare European art prints from 15th to 17th centuries will be exhibited.

State Library of Victoria, Melbourne

“Iconotheca Valvasoriana” is a facsimile edition of rare European art prints from 15th to 17th centuries, collected by the Austrian-Slovenian polymath and scholar Baron Johann Weichard von Valvasor during his travels between 1659 to 1672 in Europe. It consists of 7,752 prints and drawings by a pantheon of master artists of Europe, among them: Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach, Rembrandt van Rjin, and many others prominent Austrian, Carinthian, Dutch, English, Flemish, French, German, and Italian artists. This first edition is a publication arranged exactly as Valvasor himself organized it over 300 years ago, according to theme, technique and nationality of the authors.

The facsimile was published in 2008 by the Janez Vajkard Valvasor Foundation at the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts. The President of the Academy, Dr. Matjaž Kmecl, wrote in the introduction to the Catalogue, that this first edition, initiated by the editor-in-chief, Dr. Lozje Gostiša in 2000, was made available due to Gostiša, and that “this valuable book gallery, otherwise buried in the archives in vulnerable uniqueness, has been now made available to the Slovenian and European spiritual space.”

In this edition each of the graphics, prints and drawings are accompanied by critical commentary in three languages: Slovenian, English and Croatian. The original collection is housed at the Zagreb Archiepiscopal Bibliotheca Metropolitana, now part of the Croatian State Archives. Valvasor spent a fortune in publishing his books, and due to mounting debts was compelled to sell the prints collection, as well as his Castle Bogenšperk in Litija, and a vast personal library of 1,520 volumes. Around 1690 the Bishop of Zagreb, Aleksandar Mikulić bought the entire collection.

Valvasor was a distinguished scholar who became a member of the prestigious Royal Society of London in 1687, the oldest scientific organization in the world, for his scientific paper on the hydrology of the intermittent Lake Cerknica in Slovenia. Valvasor was a pioneer in fields of research and collection of scientific information, exemplifying the spirit of the new Age of Enlightenment in Europe.

State library of Victoria - La Trobe reading room 5th floor view

State library of Victoria - La Trobe reading room 5th floor view

In honour of the historical and solid connections between England and Europe, President of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr. Danilo Turk handed an edition of the facsimile collection to the Royal Society in March 2010 on his visit to the United Kingdom, where he met Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The President said in his address, that “England was the home of Enlightenment, rationalism, critical thought and scientific research. This new way of thinking influenced the entire European continent and inspired a number of personalities, including those living in the territory of Slovenia, which was then part of the Habsburg Empire.”

”The collection is the gift of the Book Agency of Republic of Slovenia”, said Aleksandra Ceferin, President of the Institute for Slovenian Studies of Victoria. “It is a valuable addition to the Library collection and a significant contribution to intercultural dialogue and understanding. Iconotheca Valvasoriana is a priceless historical record of European civilization. As such it creates a bridge to the past and our European heritage.”

The whole event is being organized by SLV in partnership with ISSV. The multimedia presentation and website is being developed by Neuropolis Institute, with the support of the Foundation of Janez Vajkard Valvasor, Slava Dežele Kranjske Institute and the Public Institute Bogenšperk which are providing research and presentation materials. The project is sponsored by the Office for Slovenes Abroad of the Republic of Slovenia.