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Robba Fountain at the National Gallery

Photo: Matej Družnik/Delo

This baroque Fountain of the Three Rivers of Carniola by sculptor Francesco Robba can be found at the National Gallery in Ljubljana, where numerous paintings and sculptures are housed.

One of the most beautiful symbols of Ljubljana is the Robba Fountain  – symbolising the gods of three rivers: the Sava, the Krka and the Ljubljanica. 

This baroque work of sculpture and architecture, commissioned by the city in 1743, was created by Francesco Robba (1698–1757). Born in Venice, Robba was one of the finest sculptors and stonemasons working in Ljubljana at the time, and is still today considered the most important baroque sculptor in Slovenia. The artist took his inspiration from the fountain in Rome's Piazza della Rotonda, although the Ljubljana fountain differs from the latter in that it is lighter and has three sides rather than four. In this way Robba emphasised the symbolic power of three – the three Ljubljana streets from which pedestrians could reach the square in front of the Town Hall. Water pours into the basin of the fountain from jugs held by three male figures in white marble representing the gods of the rivers Sava, Krka and Ljubljanica. Since the first half of the twentieth century, the fountain has also been known as the Fountain of the Three Carniolan Rivers.

The present fountain is actually a replica. Since 2008 the original has stood in the National Gallery, where it was moved because of its great historical value. 

The National Gallery of Slovenia  is the country's most important art museum. Founded in 1918, it contains the largest collection of works of art created in Slovenia in the period running from the Middle Ages to modernism.

In September 1869 a group of Slovenian patriots undertook to build a "Slovenski Dom" – a house of national culture. To fund the project they collected voluntary contributions and organised public entertainments. The National Gallery Society was established on 18 September 1918 and took over part of the new premises in 1919.  The National Gallery moved into the premises of the Narodni Dom (or National House, as the Slovenski Dom was later renamed) in 1928. The first exhibition of works by Slovenian artists opened in 1928 and arrangement of the gallery was completed in 1933. In 1945 the building became the sole property of the National Gallery, which was proclaimed a national foundation in 1946.

Text by Tanja Glogovčan