It’s not often that we get to speak to a world leader about the cultural life of their country, but Slovenia’s President, Dr Danilo Türk, is no mere politician. He’s a statesman with a very broad understanding of both Slovenian and European cultural heritage.
With this in mind, Michael Shirrefs spoke to President Türk about an extraordinary gift of books that has been made to the State Library of Victoria—and it’s the only set to come to Australia. In fact this limited edition collection, called the Iconotheca Valvasoriana, has only been given to a handful of institutions around the world, including the Royal Society in London and the European Commission in Brussels.
But what on earth is the Iconotheca Valvasoriana? Well, it’s the first-ever reproduction of a vast collection of prints and drawings assembled by a 17th century noble-man called Janez Vajkard Valasor. Valvasor was a polymath who hailed from the region that is now the Slovenian capital Ljubljana, but he travelled the length and breadth of Europe, gathering a total of 7,752 prints and drawings by German, Austrian, Dutch, Flemish, French, Italian, English and Carynthian masters of 15th, 16th and 17th centuries—from Rembrandt to Dürer; Callot to van Dyck; Carracci to Mantegna.
So on the occasion of this remarkable gift, President Danilo Türk is speaking to Michael Shirrefs from the Slovenian capital.
Dr Danilo Türk—President of the Republic of Slovenia 2007-2012