The Profane in Sacral Spaces: Representing Secular Interests in Church Art


Hitherto, no study has been made for the Slovenian space on the interrelations between the profane and sacral in the Middle Ages and Modern period, which would focus on the various aspects of the presence of the profane in the sacral spaces and would analyze its secular as well as religious aspects. The project will shed light on the so-far unresearched aspects of the understanding the monuments and artworks, the secular interests behind the religious art and church interests for the secular contents in the Slovenian artistic space. It will focus on Christian iconography in the secular spaces, including central political architectures. The research will base on a thorough study of secular influences and motifs in the sacral spaces on the one hand and religious influences and motifs in the secular spaces on the other hand. It will analyse interests for and motives behind both aspects from the secular as well as religious points of view. 
Studies into the Middle Ages will tackle upon the so far unsearched role (as regards art history) of Berthold of Andechs Meran, a member of one of the most renown 13th century noble families in Europe, in the development and artistic appearance of individual important monuments of the High Middle Ages in Slovenia. A part of research will focus on Medieval, especially figural architectural sculpture, as the segment of sacral art production which was most influenced by the newly adopted secular elements. The other two research themes which will be studied in detail are 14th and 15th century representations of donors in Styria, and the tombstones of aristocrats and townsmen in monastic, parish and subsidiary churches. The main objective of these two research themes is to identify the commissioners and their motives for the erection of tombstones on a particular place in a church or the reasons behind a specific manner of depiction in a painting or sculpture. 
The research of the art of modern period will encompass an in-depth analysis of probate inventories of aristocracy and clergy as well as records of monastery collections. Based on this analysis, the role, function and meaning of secular artworks in castle chapels, monasteries and bishops’ residences in the 17th and 18th century in Slovenian lands will be studied. Moreover, the national aspects of sacral art will be researched, as well as its national-constitutional, national-protective function and national hagiography. The study of the 20th century will tackle the position of Christian iconography in 20th century public painting.
The research methods and approaches which will be applied in the project research include an in-depth analysis and critical interpretation of all the relevant archival sources and all published theme-related publications on individual artworks and itineraries of secular and church individuals, extensive field work and a comprehensive stylistic, iconographical, iconological and chronological analysis. In addition, methods and approaches of other humanistic disciplines will be applied. The field work will take place in Slovenia and abroad, especially in Croatia, Hungary,  Austria, Italy, Germany, France.
Research results will confirm of reject the existing theses, and, above all, widen the existing knowledge and understanding of the secular influences in sacral art in the secular spaces in Slovenia. As engaging into these research questions is extremely important for the understanding and evaluation of art in the sacral in secular spaces, this research theme is one of the crucial ones for the study of Slovenian art history.