The sculptural decoration of the portal
Putrih's figural frieze
The portal is supported on five pillars tiled with granite from Pohorje. The upper part of the portal is dominated by sculptures by Putrih. To the left, are three female figures, their arms raised to form the characteristic shape of Mt. Triglav. To the right, is a highly elaborate allegorical relief frieze depicting a female figure with a book lovingly bending down to a child, a mother playing with a child, and figures of workers performing various activities.
The centre of the composition is occupied by two female figures: one bearing a lictorian fasces and the other holding scales – of justice and harmony. These are followed by: a woman with a weaver's shuttle, a man with a gear cog, and allegories of fruitgrowing, agriculture, forestry, shipbuilding, and fishing. The group ends with three male figures with arms raised in the same manner as the three female figures on the left.
These allegories are not rigidly aligned one next to another, but fluidly interlinked, thus conjuring a cross-section of life, while emphasising all-encompassing human interdependence. All the figures on the portal are naked in the spirit of the old classical language of sculpture. They are full of energy and have something of a virile and rough-edged appearance, which is typical of Putrih’s style.
Zdenko Kalin provided the sculpture for the pillars. The main theme of his sculptural array is featured on the central pillar. At the base, a man is holding a child by the hand and teaching him to walk, a metaphor of the development of the Slovene nation and its path to the future. In the centre, a seated woman is holding grapes in her lap: happiness and prosperity are coming to the country. At the top, stands a female figure holding a dove, signifying the need for peace in order to establish a happy existence. Above, are two cherubs with a wreath, symbolically bestowing glory and honour on all those who strive to create a more beautiful and fulfilling life.
Kalin devoted the pillars to the left and right to the arts, which cannot develop freely if the conditions of the main theme are not fulfilled. At the top left, stands a woman with a mask – the performing arts; below is a man holding polyhedrons – architecture; to the top right is a woman dancing – the art of dance; below stands a male figure with a form in his hands – sculpture. The images of children in the central fields represent children's games, a joyful accompaniment to the serious work of adults. The sculptor's idea is extended still further; the outermost pillars carry sculptures of men and women armed for resistance, along with widows and frightened children. Peace and prosperity must always be earned; therefore, constant vigilance and preparedness are necessary to ensure them.
Vovk, M. (2012): Art at the People's Assembly. (PDF 19.5 MB)
The figures are made in a bronze RG5 composition (85% copper, 5% tin, 5% lead and 5% zinc). (From the report of the Restoration Centre of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia, 2004)
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