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The Brothers Kreuzer Collection

Vinzenz (1808-1888) and Conrad (1810-1861) Kreuzer were artists of the Graz Biedermeier. They lived more or less quiet lives and occupied themselves drawing veduta, still life and landscapes. They created many pictures of Graz as well as some places in Slovenia, a painting of Rogaška Slatina is one example.

The drawings, graphics and coloured pictures sometimes also served as teaching resources. They had to be clearly documented, but the authors, as a rule, remained anonymous, so too did the Kreutzer brothers.

The bunches of grapes, leaves, tendrils, and berries that were depicted by the brothers Kreuzer are, in all their plenitude, a reflection of their attentive observation and consistent copying. Next to the pictures are accurate descriptions of the species, written by the great ampelographer, Franz Xaver Trummer. Trummer, from 1835 to 1839, travelled to Styria and other Slovenian regions and catalogued the local varieties of vines. It is possible that the Kreuzer brothers travelled with him and made drafts for their further work. His extensive ampelography from 1841 was the basis for the formation of the collection, which was created during a period of about twenty years and initially contained a supposed 175 or even 185 illustrations. The images were drawn using the gouache technique.

These pictures of the various varieties of vines have great documentary and historic value, among some of the depictions, there are many vines that are no longer found in Slovenia. They are precious ampelographic documents that bear witness to the variety of types of vines found in Štajerska more than 150 years ago, at the same time that Archduke Johann was also active in Štajerska.

Twenty-seven of the Kreuzers’ originals later served as samples when the Ampelographic Atlas was printed; it was published in Vienna in 1873 and edited by the brothers Herman and Rudolph Goethe; the first brother was the principal of the previously mentioned fruit growing-viticulture school in Maribor, and the second was the principal of the imperial fruit growing school in Brumath near Strasbourg.

It is not known precisely what happened to the collection of ampelographic pictures after that time. Stormy periods followed, we must not overlook the destruction of our vineyards by Grape Phylloxera, two World Wars and much more.

In 1923, the paintings, which had already begun to rot, were discovered by chance behind one of the cupboards in a school library by Ivo Zupanič. There were 132 sheets of paper of ampelographic originals.  Aware of their great value, as noted in his diary, Ivo Zupanič had the pictures immediately coated with paper and properly stored.  These unearthed pictures disappeared during the decades that followed for various reasons. 

In 2005, the Maribor Tourist Board joined the project “The Wine and Cultural Path of Archduke Johann”. The project integrated protections into the pictures and restored them; when this was complete the pictures were handed over into the care of Pokrajinski muzej Maribor (Regional Museum Maribor). 

In 1872, the Kmetijska družba za Štajersko (Agricultural Society of Štajerska) donated the collection of pictures to the newly founded Štajerska provincial fruit growing-viticulture school in Maribor, it was first mentioned in the fruit growing-viticulture school’s annual report in 1882. The collection of pictures was laying there almost forgotten and falling apart in the library of the viticulture school in Maribor. In 1923, by pure chance, the paintings were discovered behind one of the cupboards in the school library by Ivo Zupanič. There were 132 sheets of paper of ampelographic originals.  Aware of their great value, Ivo Zupanič had the pictures immediately coated with paper and properly stored. These unearthed pictures disappeared during the decades that followed to an unknown location.

In 1997, the Agriculture and Forestry Institute Maribor, as a trustee of exceptional standing, received European financial support to publish a book presenting the pictures of vine varieties with Primož Premzl systematically describing them. He recorded 125 images with detailed descriptions. In 1999, another original was found in Ptuj and in 2001 Premzl published, “The Collection of Ampelographic Pictures by Vinzenz and Conrad Kreuzer”.

In 2005, the Maribor Tourist Board joined the project “The Wine and Cultural Path of Archduke Johann”. The project integrated protections into the pictures and restored them; when this was complete the pictures were handed over into the care of Pokrajinski muzej Maribor (Regional Museum Maribor).  

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