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VALVASOR, Janez Vajkard

* about 27.05.1641, Ljubljana, Slovenia
† 19. 9. 1693, Krško, Slovenia

polymath, publisher

The multi-talented and learned Baron V. was baptised on 24th May 1641 in Ljubljana (the exact date of his birth is unknown). He attended the Jesuit school in Ljubljana until 1658 and then spent 14 years abroad, travelling widely across Europe, visiting north Africa and joining the army in the Austrian-Turkish War. In 1672 he returned to his homeland, married and acquired the Bogenšperk Castle (Wagensberg) near Litija. His intention was to establish an extensive publishing business and he set up his own graphics workshop and printed his books abroad. His publishing bibliography is composed of nine volumes embellished with copperplate engravings and descriptions of his land's heritage.
In addition, V. was also involved in natural sciences and technology, and in his youth, in alchemy. His research of karst phenomena and his extensive treatise on the hydrology of the intermittent Cerknica Lake, won him a Fellowship of the Royal Society in London in 1687.
He invented a »method of casting statues in metal«, designed and tendered to build a tunnel near the modern-day Jubal tunnel.
In the early 1680s he conceived an encyclopaedic illustration of Carniola; his life's work was published in 1689, in four volumes, under the title Die Ehre des Hertzogthums Crain (The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola). It totalled over 3,500 pages and included 528 copperplate engravings and 24 appendices which provide a vivid description of the land together with its natural and cultural heritage. Financing this gigantic work not only physically and mentally exhausted V. but also placed him in huge debt. He was forced to sell his entire property, including the Bogenšperk Castle and move to a house in Krško. He wanted to realise his next project, the encyclopaedic illustration of current technologies (Lumen naturae and Flos phisyco-mathematicus), but never accomplished his plans.
Together with Matthäus Merian d. Ä. and Georg Matthäus Vischer, V. is considered one of the greatest topographers of the 17th and 18th centuries.

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20. 04. 2011 - Opening of CESA in Budapest

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