Central Slovak Gallery in Banska Bystrica dedicates a major overview exhibition to Johan Jacob Stunder (1759-1811), one of the most respectful portraitists of the age of Enlightenment and Sentimentalism in the former Upper Hungary. An artist long called a foreign painter in Slovak art history thus receives a belated recognition.
Johan Jacob Stunder, according to a cosmopolitan poet and intellectual Ferenc Kazinczy, a cultivated man ‘with the soul as sweet as honey‘ was highly praised for his artistic talent and a character. He became a productive and inspiring portraitist of the cosmopolitan nobility and the intellectual elite. He served the local educated public well and introduced them to new, modern ways of representation which were popular in Europe in the late 18th and early 19th century.
The title Nowhere a Stranger is a reference to a French Encyclopaedia that describes a cosmopolitan man with the newly acclaimed right to visit and settle in the foreign places (Besuchrecht) that Kant formulated as an important outcome of the French Revolution. Originally a Danish painter who studied at the Royal Art Academy in Copenhagen, then went on a Grand Tour to Rome, settled in the period of the French Revolution first in Vienna, then in Pest. He married at Spiš and died and is buried in Banska Bystrica, now Slovakia.
The exhibition rooms display the portraits around the figures of cosmopolitan friendship and love, political and cultural engagement and the embodiment of a cultivated soul. A significant number of approximately 5O paintings from the Hungarian and Slovak public collections will be presented to the public in the artist´s first overview exhibition together with the prints based on his paintings. Most of the portraits are not normally on public display. The exhibition is the part of a recent recontextualisation of a portrait painting around 18OO in European galleries.
You can explore his life and work in the first comprehensive book under the same title edited by an art historian Katarína Beňová. This overview volume focuses not only on Stunder as a portraitist but also on his lost and destroyed landscape work and his impact. The catalogue presents one hundred of his paintings, including new discoveries.
Two contemporary conceptual artists Marianna Mlynárčíková and Nóra Ružičková present their sound portraits, audio intervention into the exhibition.
Exhibition title: Ján Jakub Stunder (1759-1811). Nowhere to strangers.
Venue: Bethlen House, Dolná 8, Banská Bystrica
Opening: January 20, 2022 at 5:00 p.m.
Duration: 21 January – 27 March 2022
Author: Johan Jacob Stunder
Curator: Ivana Komanická
Expert cooperation: Katarína Beňová
Exhibition architecture: Mira a Peter Maukš
Graphics: Midfield Studio
Implemented with the financial support of the Banská Bystrica self-governing region. The exhibition, accompanying activities from public sources were supported by the Art Support Fund. Photo of the exhibition: Tatiana Takáčová