The paintings The Fowler and The Man with a Pretzel by Baroque master Fortunat Bergant (1721–1769) were missing since the Second World War. Sole documents were black and white photographs from 1922, when the pictures were shown at the historic exhibition of Slovenian painting in Ljubljana. The owner of the works during Second World War was supposedly Jožef Hudovernik from Ljubljana. Many more or less convincing stories surrounded their fate and ownership in the aftermath of the War.
Both works hold an exceptionally important place in Bergant’s oeuvre, since the pictures reveal the spirit of the times and the style of the painter’s late period. At the same time, the paintings are considered among the best works of Slovenian Baroque, whose disappearance art historians highlighted and regretted for over seventy years.
In reality, the paintings spent the decades in safe storage. The owners accidentally discovered them and turned to Dr Ferdinand Šerbelj of the National Gallery of Slovenia, who is also a certified appraiser of Baroque art. Dr Šerbelj immediately recognized Bergant’s masterpieces, making that one of the most elated moments of his career.
National Gallery of Slovenia, with the help of the Ministry of Culture, immediately began to negotiate the purchase of the paintings, which belong to the national collection.
The return of the paintings is one of the greatest discoveries of Slovenian fine arts. Both Bergant’s pictures are finally in their rightful place – in the ownership of all – and will be exhibited at the National Gallery of Slovenia. As soon as the restoration is complete, the works will become part of the Permanent Collection.