The entire city of Prague is a magnificent collage of artwork. Each building has different artwork, not only in the architecture of medieval stonemasons, but most buildings actually have sculptures attached to their facades, and intricate details carved into stone windowsills. There are stone and marble sculptures everywhere on the streets and in parks. You can often find art exhibits in the streets and town squares, and sometimes historical photos on display for the public. The National Gallery is spread out among many buildings in Prague. Additionally, there are 10 major museums in Prague (for example their Technical Museum is like American Science Museums) - but not all of them are dedicated to artwork. The Czech Republic is also known worldwide for its individually made, mouth-blown and decorated Bohemian glass.
Venus of Dolní Věstonice is a treasure of prehistoric art. Theodoric of Prague, who decorated the castle Karlstejn, was the most famous Czech painter in the Gothic era. The most famous painters of the Baroque era were: Wenceslaus Hollar, Jan Kupecký, Karel Škréta, Anton Raphael Mengs, and Petr Brandl; and sculptors Matthias Braun and Ferdinand Brokoff. In the first half of the 19th century, Josef Mánes joined the romantic movement. The second half of the 19th century was called the "National Theater generation": sculptor Josef Václav Myslbek, and painters Mikoláš Aleš, Václav Brožík, Vojtěch Hynais, and Julius Mařák.
At the end of the 19th century came a wave of Art Nouveau, when Alfons Mucha became famous. Still today Alfons Mucha is the most famous Czech painter, mainly known for Art Nouveau posters and his cycle of 20 large canvases named the Slav Epic, which depicts the history of Czechs and other Slavs. Since 2012, the Slav Epic can be seen in the Veletržní Palace of the National Gallery in Prague, which manages the largest collection of art in the Czech Republic. Max Švabinský was another important Art nouveau painter.
The 20th century brought avant-garde revolution, in the Czech lands mainly expressionist and cubist: Josef Čapek, Emil Filla, Bohumil Kubišta, and Jan Zrzavý. Surrealism emerged particularly in the work of Toyen, Josef Šíma, and Karel Teige. František Kupka was a pioneer of abstract painting. Illustrators and cartoonists gained fame in the first half of the 20th century: Josef Lada, Zdeněk Burian, and Emil Orlík. Art photography has become a new field (František Drtikol, Josef Sudek, later Jan Saudek or Josef Koudelka).
The National Gallery in Prague
The National Gallery in Prague (Czech: Národní galerie v Praze) is a state-owned art gallery in Prague, which manages the largest collection of art in the Czech Republic. The collections of the gallery are not housed in one single building, but are presented in a number of historic structures within the city of Prague, as well as other places. The largest of the gallery sites is the Veletržní Palác, which houses the National Gallery's collection of modern art. It is one of the largest museums in Central Europe.
The history of the National Gallery dates back to the end of the 18th century (namely February 5, 1796), when a group of prominent representatives of Bohemia patriotic aristocracy (Kolowrat, Sternberg, Nostitz) and Enlightened middle-class intellectuals decided to elevate what they called the "debased artistic taste" of the local population. The Society of Patriotic Friends of the Arts established the Academy of Fine Arts and the Picture Gallery. In 1918 the Picture Gallery became a central collection of newly formed Czechoslovakia.
In 1995 a new gallery dedicated to modern art opened in the refurbished Veletržní Palác (Trade-fair Palace). It is one of the first and largest functionalism building in Prague, built in 1925-1928. St. George's Convent (Hradčany) was formerly used to display Art of the Middle Ages in Bohemia and Central Europe, Baroque art, and 19th-century art of Bohemia.
- Convent of St. Agnes of Bohemia (Old Town) - Art of the Middle Ages in Bohemia and Central Europe
- Šternberk Palace (Hradčany) - European Art from Antiquity to the end of the Baroque period
- Schwarzenberg Palace (Hradčany) - Baroque in Bohemia
19th Century Art:
Modern and Contemporary Art:
- Veletržní Palác (English: Trade Fair Palace, Holešovice) - 19th-, 20th- and 21st-century art. It houses the largest collection of National Gallery art. Since 2012 The Slav Epic has been on display here.
- House of the Black Madonna (Old Town) - Czech Cubism
- Kinský Palace (Old Town) - Art of Asia and Art of the Ancient World
Collections Displayed *Outside Prague:
- Kinský Castle Žďár nad Sázavou - Baroque Art from the Collections of the National Gallery in Prague
- Fryštát Castle - 19th-century Czech art from the Collections of the National Gallery in Prague
Artists & Artwork in the National Gallery
The international collection includes numerous works by artists such as Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh, Rodin, Gauguin, Cézanne, Renoir, Schiele, Munch, Miró, and Klimt; many of these are donations from the collection of art historian Vincenc Kramář.
Picasso, who has a spacious room to himself in the gallery, has two self-portraits and two of his nudes in addition to more abstract work. Works by Rodin, whose exhibition in Prague in the early 20th century had a profound impact on Czech sculpture for many years afterwards, include a series of busts and full-sized figure on a variety of subjects in the gallery.
The vast collection contains a large number of Czech and Slovak paintings and sculptures, including works by Alfons Mucha, Otto Gutfreund, František Kupka, Rudolf Fila, Vincenc Beneš, and Bohumil Kubišta. Along with the Black Madonna House and the Museum Kampa, the Trade fair palace collection is one of the most notable collections of Czech Cubism in Prague. Notable works include Don Quixote by Gutfreund, Military Funeral by Beneš, an array of paintings by Kupka covering almost all of the styles with which he experimented, and the Slav Epic, a cycle of 20 large canvases by Mucha.
Troja Palace is a Baroque palace located in Troja, Prague's north-west borough (Czech Republic). It was built for the Counts of Sternberg from 1679 to 1691. The palace is owned by the city of Prague and hosts the 19th century Czech art collections of the City Gallery.
The palace's design has been influenced by French and Italian architecture, and is mostly the work of French architect Jean Baptiste Mathey. The latter also built the Buquoy Palace in Prague, which is currently the French embassy. Prior to Mathey, Domenico Orsi worked on the castle. Silvestro Carlone was the Master Builder.
The stairs between the palace and the gardens are the work of two sculptors from Dresden: Johann Georg & Paul Heermann. They sculpted statues representing the fight of gods and giants. The terrace is decorated with a rare collection of vases made by Bombelli, also active in Slavkov u Brna, at Slavkov-Austerlitz Castle (close to Brno). The central axis of the garden projects towards the spires of the St. Vitus Cathedral in the Prague Castle.
The palace's main rooms are decorated with a magnificent baroque Habsburg's apotheosis. Many mythological elements are presented in this trompe-l'œil decoration. It was realized by the brothers Abraham and Izaac Godijn, painters from Anvers who arrived at the castle in 1690. Francesco Marchetti and his son Giovanni realized most of the other paintings in the castle.
The palace was bought in 1922 by the Czechoslovak state, which started a restoration in the 1970s. Since this period the palace has been hosting an exhibition of Czech paintings of the 19th century: Josef Čermák, Václav Brožík, Julius Mařák, Antonin Chittussi, Jan Preisler, and Mikoláš Aleš.
Czech art is the visual and plastic arts that have been created in the present day Czech Republic and the various states that occupied the Czech Lands in the preceding centuries. The Czech Lands have produced artists that have gained recognition throughout the world, including Alfons Mucha widely regarded as one of the key exponents of the Art Nouveau style, and František Kupka who was a pioneer of abstract art.
The lands now forming the Czech Republic have produced several important finds of prehistoric art, notably the Venus of Dolní Věstonice, a pottery Venus figurine of a nude female dated from 29,000 - 25,000 BC, and a distinct style of Celtic art. For most subsequent periods, Czech art was especially close to Austrian and German art, and participated in most phases of this. In periods when Prague was the capital of the Holy Roman Empire, it was a key center of the current artistic style, using artists of both Czech and foreign origin. This was especially the case for the International Gothic style of the 14th century, and the Northern Mannerism of the late 16th and early 17th. After the Thirty Years War, when the largely Protestant Czech Lands were returned to Catholic Habsburg control, a massive propaganda effort by the church has left rich remains of Baroque art and architecture. From the 19th century, Czech nationalism had a strong influence on all the arts.
The Czech National Gallery is the main institution for the display of artistic creation in the Czech Republic. It consists of many departments which each focus on a different aspect of art. The collection of pre-19th-century art is divided between the Convent of St. Agnes, which contains Medieval art, the Šternberský Palace, dedicated to the Old Masters of Western European art, and the Schwarzenberský Palace which focuses on works from the Renaissance to the Baroque created in the Czech Lands. The main center for the display of Czech art from the 19th century is St. George's Convent, Prague.
The Moravian Gallery in Brno is the second largest art gallery in the Czech Republic. Its collection of modern art (both fine art and performance art) focuses particularly on the works of artists from the Czech Lands.
"Wrestling Titans" Gate
Wrestling Titans (Czech: Sousoší Souboj Titánů), also known as Fighting Giants and Giants' Gate, is a pair of outdoor sculptures leading to the first courtyard of Prague Castle, in the Czech Republic.
Kohl's Fountain is a fountain installed in the second courtyard of Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic.
Statue of Saint George
The statue of Saint George is an equestrian statue installed at Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic.
Statue of President Tomáš Masaryk
The statue of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk is a bronze sculpture installed at Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic. The statue was supported by the Masaryk Democratic Movement [sic. it's a Constitutional Republic - not a democracy], and revealed on March 7, 2000 for Masaryk's 150th birthday anniversary.
Youth (Czech: Mládí) is an outdoor bronze sculpture of a naked boy with a golden penis by Miloš Zet, installed outside the Toy Museum inside Prague Castle.
The obelisk at Prague Castle is granite monolith and World War I memorial by Jože Plečnik, installed at Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic.
Winged Lion Memorial
The Winged Lion Memorial (in Czech: Památník Okřídleného lva) was unveiled on 17 June 2014 at Klárov in Prague by the British Member of Parliament, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Soames MP, grandson of Sir Winston Churchill. It is dedicated to the Czechoslovak airmen who served in the Royal Air Force (RAF) during World War II and who achieved acclaim for their contribution to the Battle of Britain.
The 2-meter high Winged Lion is the work of the contemporary British sculptor Colin Spofforth. The Lion was cast in bronze at the artistic foundry in Horní Kalná, Hradec Králové Region. The Lion is placed on a concrete plinth covered by Czech granite. When viewed from above, the circular pedestal resembles the insignia of the Czech Air Force. The plinth side coverings with rivets replicate the fuselage surface of aircraft of the day.
Inscribed on the monument is in Czech and English language: This monument is an expression of the British Community’s lasting gratitude to the 2,500 Czechoslovak airmen who served with the Royal Air Force between 1940 and 1945 for the freedom of Europe. Many were subsequently persecuted by the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. It was unveiled by the right honorable Sir Nicholas Soames MP on 17th June 2014. It is a gift to the Czech and Slovak peoples from the British community living and working in the Czech and Slovak Republics.
During World War II, some 2460 Czech and Slovak men and women served in the British Royal Air Force. About a fifth of them did not survive the war. Not all of them were pilots. In addition to the well-known men in blue, there was the ground crew. Other men worked in administrative positions such as liaison officers in the Royal Air Force or in the training units. Among the RAF pilots there were also airmen from many other countries. Czechoslovaks, like their Polish comrades, earned a great reputation in the RAF.
After February 1948 these Czechoslovaks who had served in the RAF became victims of the communist regime. Having lived in the West, and many of them married Englishwomen.
The installation of the monument met with the criticism of Prague's conservationists, who protested against its location. The protest was not upheld.
Art Collections of Prague's National Gallery
Green Wheat Field with Cypress (1889)
Green Wheat Field with Cypress (French: Champ de blé vert avec cyprès) is an oil on canvas painting by a Dutch Post-Impressionist Vincent van Gogh. It was completed in 1889, while van Gogh was voluntarily incarcerated at the asylum of St. Paul near Saint-Rémy in Provence. Several paintings of wheat fields with cypresses were made when van Gogh was able to leave the asylum grounds and explore the local landscape. Besides a fondness for cypresses, van Gogh had a special affinty with wheat fields; he depicted them dozens of times over the years; to Vincent they symbolized the cycle of life and death, and he found in them both solace and inspiration.
Feast of the Rosary (1506)
The Feast of the Rosary (German: Rosenkranzfest, Rose Garlands) is a 1506 oil painting by Albrecht Dürer, now in the National Gallery, Prague, Czech Republic.
The work was acquired by emperor Rudolf II in 1606, who had it moved to Prague. It was assigned to the Strahov Monastery and, during the centuries, it underwent to several restorations, causing damage to the painted surface. Later it was moved to the Rudolfinum and then to the National Gallery of Prague.
The painting shows the Virgin Enthroned holding the Child in the center, with two flying angels who are holding, above her, an elaborated royal crown made of gold, pearls and gems; this was a Flemish art scheme already widespread in the German area at the time. The throne's backrest is covered with a green drape and by a baldachin which is also held by two flying cherubim. Below is an angel playing a lute, an evident homage to Giovanni Bellini's altarpieces. Mary is depicted in the act of distributing rose garlands to two groups of kneeling worshippers, portrayed on two symmetrical rows at the sides.
Žebrák Lamentation of Christ (1510)
Lamentation of Christ from Žebrák is a lime wood relief of the common subject of the Lamentation of Christ, from about 1510. It ranks among the finest works of Late Gothic sculpture in Bohemia. The anonymous artist, who is called the "Master of the Žebrák Lamentation of Christ" after this work, probably had his workshop in České Budějovice and could have been the same person as the woodcarver Alexandr (Alexandr Schniczer) who was in charge of that town’s guild between 1503 and 1516. The relief is now part of the permanent collection of medieval art at the National Gallery in Prague.
The original location of the relief, which was created around 1510 and probably formed the central part of an altarpiece with side wings, is not known (possibly the castle chapel of Žebrák?). As recently as 1904 the relief was bought from a private owner in the village of Žebrák for the Prague City Museum. It was the art historian V.V. Štech who, in 1913, first mentioned the sculpture in literature. It was in the collection of the National Museum until 1922, and from 1957 it has been part of the collection of the National Gallery in Prague. It was there that Jiří Tesář restored it in 1965.
Portraying nine figures, the scene is arranged in two spatial planes. In the foreground, Mary holds the body of the dead Christ in her arms. She is accompanied on her left by St. John, who is taking the crown of thorns from Christ’s head, and Mary Magdalene who brings a vessel containing balsam. In the background there probably stands one of the Jews mentioned in the Gospel of Nicodemus together with one of the Marys (Mary of Clopas?); on the right there is a weeping woman, probably Salome, with Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea who is holding the cloth for wrapping the body.
Madonna of Michle (c. 1360)
The Michle Madonna is the work of an unknown sculptor called the "Master of the Michle Madonna" who probably worked in Brno or Prague during the second third of the 14th century. The name of the sculpture, brought from Brno in 1856, relates to its non-original location in the parish church in Michle from where it was purchased by the National Gallery in Prague.
The sculpture of the Michle Madonna is 120 cm tall and is carved from pear wood. It bears traces of polychromy. It is the most important example of the linear-rhythmic style of carving, dating from the second quarter of the 14th century in the Czech lands. This style is characterised by drapery that clings to a cylindrical torso in low, sagging pleats that have a decorative and finely drawn character, as does the linen cloth and locks of hair. The legs of the figure of the Madonna in contrapose are clearly distinguished between the standing and loose one. The child is resting on the Madonna’s jutting right side, towards which both the vertical and horizontal folds of the clothes converge, thus emphasising the bond between the mother and child. The lower position of the child enables the mother’s head to bow more, thereby making the sculptural composition more enclosed. The Infant Jesus’s hands have not survived but it is clear that he is making a blessing, and is thus not turned towards his mother but towards the faithful.
Madonna of Zahražany (c. 1380)
Madonna of Zahražany is sculpture of Mary and the Infant Jesus which comes from the former convent of the Sisters of the Magdalene Order in Most-Zahražany (1281-1442). It was created before 1380 and is on permanent display at the National Gallery in Prague
The 84 cm tall sculpture is made of lime wood, with traces of the original polychromy. The strikingly S-shaped figure of the Madonna holds the Infant Jesus in her right arm. Putting his finger to his lips, Jesus symbolises the nuns’ vow of silence. The Virgin Mary’s garments fit closely around her body, accentuating its natural movement and, on the right-hand side, compositionally balancing the figure of the child. The drapery is elaborated into an intricate system of folds and combines transverse deep hollows and the complex pleating of the merging bottom edges of her clothes. The use of perspectival shortening and the downward views of both Mary and the Infant Jesus indicate that the sculpture was originally located on a high console or in the uppermost part of an altar.
The Madonna of Zahražany is exceptional high-quality and stylistically well-defined carving that, in the context of Central European sculpture of the third quarter of the 14th century, has no parallel in other workshop pieces. It represents an important stage of development and a stylistic shift in Bohemian Gothic sculpture from the Madonna of Michle towards the Madonnas of the International Gothic style.
Madonna of Zbraslav (c. 1360)
The Zbraslav Madonna (c. 1360) comes from the parish church of the St. James the Greater in Zbraslav. It is on long-term loan at the permanent exhibition of the National Gallery in Prague.
The Cistercian abbey in Zbraslav near Prague was founded by king Wenceslaus II in imitation of the royal necropolis of Saint Denis near Paris. Elisabeth of Bohemia, mother of Emperor Charles IV was also buried in the monastery. Although the origin of this picture is not known and its existence is not recorded in any written documents, comparative analyses have shown that it dates from the period between 1350 and 1360. The early character of the engraved drawing and the pentiments that have been revealed prove that it isn’t a later copy. The story that the picture was dedicated to the monastery by its founder Wenceslaus II (1278–1305) dates from the late 18th century. In the past, there was an excerpt of poetry on the rear side of panel, glorifying the Virgin Mary that was misinterpreted by preceding generations of historians. In 1420 the monastery was burned down by the Hussites and the picture was reputedly found 200 years later in the rubble, restored and exhibited in a newly built church in 1654. Its current state follows restoration in 1945, and in the 1990s old areas of retouching and overpainting were removed.
The picture is painted in tempera on a chalk base with an engraved drawing outlined in black. It is on a lime-wood panel and measures 89 x 59.5 cm. Compared with older Italian-Byzantine models, the drawing is suppressed and the painter models volume using the technique of thin, glazed paint layers of colour gradation in the incarnates. The Madonna has a gold-embroidered white cloak and a blue cloak with green lining decorated with gold stars. The Madonna’s cloak and white veil and the transparent shirt of the child are decorated along their hems with gold embroidery. The crown is decorated with curly leaves. The stones and pearls on the crown, halos, hems and clasp were mounted later on, while the background was also subsequently gilded over. The ring on the Madonna’s finger refers to the mystic betrothal of Christ and Mary that symbolises the Christian Church. This allegorical identification of Mary with the Church is characteristic of the Cistercian context and stems from the preaching of St. Bernard of Clairvaux.
The Zbraslav Madonna was one of the most celebrated Marian pictures in Bohemia. It was originally intended for the church of the Cistercian monastery, where Bohemian kings from the Přemyslid dynasty were buried. Some people believe that Charles IV himself commissioned the picture. The Zbraslav Madonna was greatly revered and there exist many copies of it, dating mainly from the Baroque period. The Zbraslav Madonna was consecrated as the 43rd chapel of the Holy Route from Prague to Mladá Boleslav that was established by the Jesuits between 1674 and 1690.
Portrait of the Gem-Cutter Dionysio Miseroni & His Family (1653)
The Portrait of the Gem-cutter Dionysio Miseroni and his Family (Czech: Podobizna řezače drahokamů Dionysia Miseroniho a jeho rodiny) is a 1653 group portrait by Czech artist Karel Škréta of a craftsman's family. This representative example of the Bohemian Baroque style is currently deposited in the Schwarzenberg Palace, a part of collection of the National Gallery in Prague, Czech Republic.
The Miseroni family, of Italian origin, was a well known producer of precious gems and metalwork in Bohemia. The painting shows its most famous member Dionysio Miseroni (1607–1661) at the height of his fame wearing his gold medal that he received from Emperor Ferdinand III. He is surrounded by members of his family, who all helped in the workshop – it is visible in the background on the right, with big wheels used for propel saws and machines which grind precious stones. His second son Ferdinand Eusebius is reaching towards a cabinet holding rock crystal vases, many of which have been identified. The central vase is considered to be the "Rock crystal pyramid" (German: Bergkristall-Pyramide) in the collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, Austria. Behind the curtain on the right, the uncertain form of a vase is sometimes considered to be the large emerald vessel that Miseroni produced in 1641 and today in the collection of the Imperial Treasury in Vienna.
Miseroni inherited the workshop from his father Ottavio (1588–1624), who had been Treasurer before him at the Prague court. His first-born son Jan Octavius (with a beard and leaning towards his father) inherited the workshop in turn from him.
Dionysio with his older sons (on left) Jan Octavius and Ferdinand Eusebius. Gem cutting workshop in the back, and in the middle are Dionysio's wife Marie Ludmila and daughter Marie Laura. Younger Miseroni sons, Václav Eusebius (sitting) and Ignác František (with a piece of smoky quartz in hand).
St. Vitus Madonna (c. 1395-1415)
The St. Vitus Madonna (c. 1395-1415) comes from the treasure of St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague and is exhibited in its original frame in the permanent collection of the National Gallery in Prague.
Jan of Jenštejn, chancellor of King Wenceslaus IV and the Archbishop of Prague, was usually quoted as the donor of this picture. It is more likely, however, that the picture was painted later on, meaning that a more probable donor was Oldřich Zajíc of Hazmburk, brother of Zbyněk Zajíc of Hazmburk, fifth Archbishop of Prague, who died in 1411. In memory of his brother, Oldřich Zajíc of Hazmburk founded the altarpiece of St. Johns in their family chapel at St. Vitus Cathedral.
The picture itself survived separately in the possession of the Metropolitan Chapter. The picture’s frame was purchased in 1883 from the estate of Josef Vojtěch Hellich for the Prague City Museum, from where it came to gallery of the Society of Patriotic Friends of Art. In 1937 Vincenc Kramář, director of the Society, joined both parts and since 1940 the picture and its frame have been loaned for display at the National Gallery in Prague. Information from the St. Vitus inventory of the late 15th century mentions a beautiful panel of the Virgin Mary with the portraits of the four Evangelists and four patron saints of the Czech lands. It is recorded that they were painted by ‘Prague bachelors’ (Prague young men) – free artists who appear in written sources from the 15th century. The St. Vitus Madonna was exhibited in New York City in 2005.
The picture in a cut frame decorated with twelve portraits is painted in tempera on a chalk base, on a soft-wood panel covered with stretched canvas. It is 51 x 39.5 cm in size. In the 1850s amethysts donated by Canon Pešina were added to the halo (these were later removed). The composition as a whole adheres to older models of Marian pictures. The picture of the St. Vitus Madonna is directly related to sculptures in the International Gothic style and demonstrates how painting could have been directly influenced by contemporary sculpture. Stylistically it corresponds to artistic development in Bohemia around 1400 and, with its perfection of form, became the prototype of the Beautiful Madonnas.
The medallions with portraits in low detailed reliefs, that decorate the frame, depict half-figures of four patron saints of the Czech lands: St. Wenceslaus, St. Sigisgmund, St. Vitus, and St. Adalbert (vertically); John the Baptist and John the Evangelist (top) and St. Procopius (?) and a kneeling archbishop, possibly the donor Jan of Jenštejn or the deceased Zbyněk Zajíc of Hazmburk (bottom). In the corners of the frame there are four quadrilobes with figures of angels bearing ribbons on which there are fragments of the text of the popular 12th-century Marian antiphon Regina coeli, laetare in which the faithful looked for protection against the plaque. Gemstones are indicated between the portraits; these were usually part of works meant for worshipping. The picture originally stood on the altar independently, since on its reverse it was decorated with silver foil.
Třeboň Altarpiece (c. 1380-1390)
The Třeboň or Wittingau Altarpiece is a now dismantled retable altarpiece commissioned for the Augustinian Canons church of St. Aegidius, Trebon. It was completed c 1380-1390 by the unidentified Bohemian painter known by the notname Master of the Třeboň Altarpiece or Master of Wittingau; one of the most important gothic artists of the international style.
The altarpiece depicts events around the death and resurrection of Christ. It was influenced by the Devotio Moderna religious movement, emphasising contemplation, meditation and a focus on the inner life. The Třeboň Altarpiece is regarded for its intense use of colour and light, and its loose brushwork and elegant, rhythmical forms.
At some point the work was broken up, with two surviving panels in the National Gallery, Prague, and a third in the Alsová Jihoceská Galeria, Hluboká nad Vltavou, Czech Republic. The extant panels are the The Agony in the Garden, Entombment and the Resurrection. The reverse of the Agony shows languid, touching, "rosy-cheeked" representations of Saints Catherine, Mary Magdalene and Margaret.
It is not known how many panels made up the original altarpiece, or how they were arranged. A total of five is considered the most likely number, which would allow for four wings and a larger center piece.
It is thought the work consisted of five panels; a main (now lost) crucifixion and two pairs of wings, of which three survive. The outer panels, visible when the wings were folded, showed groupings of saints and apostles.
Votive Panel of Jan Očko of Vlašim (1371)
The Votive Panel of Jan Očko of Vlašim is a Gothic panel painting currently housed in the National Gallery in Prague, Czech Republic. It is one of the most important artworks made in medieval Bohemia. The panel was painted for the Prague archbishop Jan Očko of Vlašim who is depicted kneeling before St. Adalbert of Prague in the lower part of the picture (donor portrait). The author(s) of the painting is (are) not known. The style of the painting stands between the works of Theodoric of Prague and the Master of the Třeboň Altarpiece (who represents the so-called Beautiful style, Central European form of International Gothic).
The panel was originally placed in the chapel of Roudnice Castle, which belonged to the bishops and archbishops of Prague who used it as their residence. In 1371 the chapel was consecrated in honor of the Virgin Mary and patron saints of Bohemia, and this is probably the date when the picture was finished.
The picture measures 181 x 96 cm and it is painted on a panel made of lime wood. The painting is divided into two parts. In the middle of the upper part is the Virgin sitting on a throne with the infant Jesus. They are adored by kneeling Emperor Charles IV and his son King Wenceslaus IV. St. Sigismund of Burgundy stands behind Charles IV, while St. Wenceslaus of Bohemia stands behind the young king as his patron. In the lower part of the panel stand other Bohemian (Czech) patron saints (from the left): St. Procopius, St. Adalbert, St. Vitus and St. Ludmila. In the middle there is kneeling Archbishop Jan Očko of Vlašim who is adoring St. Adalbert, his predecessor in the post of bishop of Prague.
St. Peter of Slivice (1362)
The sculpture of St. Peter of Slivice comes from the Church of St. Peter in Slivice, founded by Jan of Jenštejn, Archbishop of Prague, in 1362. It ranks among early works by the "Master of the Krumlov Madonna" and is exhibited on loan at the permanent collection of the National Gallery in Prague.
The sculpture dates from the period around 1395 and is 91.5 cm tall. It was carved out of golden Prague marlstone and bears traces of polychromy and gilding. The figure lacks its traditional attributes (such as keys), though the fact that it is St. Peter is shown by the typology of the face and the sculpture’s original location in the Church of St. Peter. The figure is portrayed in counterpose, with a wealth of drapery that creates deep transverse hollows and vertical pleating, also obscuring the body’s proportions. The naturalistic face of an old man and the details of the hands contrast with the hair and beard that are stylised in corkscrew-shaped curls. The individualisation of the face’s expression follows on from tombstones by the Parler workshop, though in accordance with the trends of the International Gothic style its expression is more idealised and a sense of resignation is manifested in the posture of the figure. In terms of its type and, for example, the shape of its collar the sculpture has much in common with the figure of St. Bartholomew in the panel painting by a follower of the Master of the Třeboň Altarpiece, the Madonna between SS Batholomew and Margaret (c. 1400).
The most characteristic material of Prague sculpture production in the late 14th and early 15th century is marlstone, which was mined in quarries at White Mountain and in Přední Kopanina. For a short time after being quarried, marlstone retains its softness and moisture, enabling it to be worked in great detail with carving tools. On the basis of the analysis of material it is possible to determine the Prague origin of numerous sculptures exported from Bohemia to Silesia, Austria and the Rhineland. During the weak rule of Wenceslas IV, it was above all the Archbishop of Prague and leading noble families who commissioned these demanding works of art. Because of their stylised beauty, sculptures of the International Gothic style increasingly became a focus of criticism by church reformers in the period before the outbreak of the Hussite Wars and many fell victim to iconoclasm.
David Černý (born 15 December 1967) is a Czech sculptor who was born in Prague. His works are very popular tourist attractions, and can be found in many locations throughout the streets of Prague.
- Head of Franz Kafka
- Two Peeing Guys (Kafka Museum)
- Bronze Babies (Kampa Museum)
- Crawling Babies (TV Tower)
- Brown-Nosers (FUTURA gallery)
- Embryo (Charle's Bridge Tower)
- Hanging Out (New Town)
- Car with Legs (German Embassy)
- Nation for Itself Forever (2002)
- Golem, Poznan (2010-)
- Mommy in Pool
- Daddy Pushing the Ship
- Boy on the Roof
- Transparent Bar (Cafe Mlynska)
- Metalmorphosis (North Carolina)
- London Booster
- The "Gesture"
- Fast-Tuned Skull (2010)
- Sax (2011)
- CrossSections (2013)
- Speed (Amsterdam 2014)
- Thinker (San Moritz 2015)
- 20th Biennale (Netherlands)
- Fast-Tuned Little Home Catastrophe
- Stephen Hawking
- World War II Memorial
David Černý gained notoriety in 1991 by painting a Soviet tank pink, to serve as a war memorial in central Prague. As the Monument to Soviet tank crews was still a national cultural monument at that time, his act of civil disobedience was considered "hooliganism" and he was briefly arrested. Another of Černý's conspicuous contributions to Prague is "Tower Babies," a series of cast figures of crawling infants attached to Žižkov Television Tower.
In 2005, Černý created Shark, an image of Saddam Hussein in a tank of formaldehyde. The work was presented at the Prague Biennale 2 that same year. The work is a direct parody of a 1991 work by Damien Hirst, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. In 2006, the work was banned twice, first in Middelkerke, Belgium, then in Bielsko-Biała, Poland. With respect to the Belgian situation, the mayor of that town, Michel Landuyt, admitted that he was worried that the exhibit could "shock people, including Muslims" in a year already marred by tensions associated with Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed. The Deputy Mayor of Bielsko-Biała, Zbigniew Michniowski, contacted the city-funded gallery, galeria BWA on 9 September 2006 and threatened dire consequences if the artwork were not removed promptly. In response, Shark was transported to the Szara gallery, in the nearby town of Cieszyn. The mayor of Cieszyn, Bogdan Ficek, distanced himself from Bielsko-Biała City Hall's values. "I can not see any reason a politician should censor art," Ficek said.
METALmorphosis is on display in Charlotte, North Carolina. METALmorphosis is a large (7 meter, 13 ton) kinetic sculpture of a human head, by Czech artist David Cerný. The sculpture is in the Technology Plaza in Charlotte, North Carolina, where it sits in a large reflecting pool. The piece is executed in polished stainless steel. The sculpture spouts water from its mouth, and is made of some 40 layers which can rotate individually. A later and larger work, Head of Franz Kafka (Czech: Hlava Franze Kafky), a bust of Franz Kafka made of 45 tons of steel, is in Prague.
The "Head of Franz Kafka" (Czech: Hlava Franze Kafky), also known as the "Statue of Kafka", is an outdoor sculpture by David Černý depicting Bohemian German-language writer Franz Kafka, installed outside the Quadrio shopping centre in Prague, Czech Republic. The kinetic sculpture is 11 meters tall and made of 42 rotating panels.
His Entropa, created to mark the Czech presidency of the European Union Council during the first half of 2009, attracted controversy both for its stereotyped depictions of the various EU member states, and because it turned out to have been created by Černý and two friends rather than, as promised, being a collaboration between artists from each of the member states. Some EU members states reacted negatively to the depiction of their country. For instance, Bulgaria decided to summon the Czech Ambassador to Sofia in order to discuss the illustration of the Balkan country as a collection of squat toilets.
For 2012 Summer Olympics Černý created "London Booster" - a double decker bus with mechanical arms for doing push-ups.
Letná Park Monuments
In 1955, a large monument to Joseph Stalin was erected at the edge of Letná Park. That statue was destroyed in 1962, and the Prague Metronome now occupies the site.
- The oldest functioning carousel in Europe is located in the Letná Park. The carousel was constructed in 1892 and was originally located in another part of town. It was moved to the park in 1894. Coordinates: 50°05′47.75″N 14°25′30.00″E
- A large marble pedestal with a Metronome which used to be the base of a large statue of Stalin, is still referred to as Stalin's Monument. Coordinates: 50°05′41.38″N 14°24′57.97″E
Statues in Hidden Gardens
There are magical gardens and orchards hidden in the courtyards of every block in Prague! If you can find the door, and it's open, and they allow the public to access: you can walk around with the peacocks, or chill on a bench at amazing hidden gardens in Prague full of medieval sculptures and artwork.
The National Museum (Czech: Národní muzeum) is a Czech museum institution intended to systematically establish, prepare and publicly exhibit natural, scientific, and historical collections. At present the National Museum houses almost 14 million items from the areas of natural history, history, arts, music, and librarianship - located in dozens of separate buildings and palaces, mostly within the city of Prague.
History of The National Museum in Prague
The founding of the National Museum should be seen in the context of the times, where after the French Revolution, royal and private collections of art, science, and culture were being made available to the public. It was founded 1818 in Prague by Kašpar Maria Šternberg, and historian František Palacký was also very involved. The beginnings of the museum can be dated as far back as 1796, when the private Society of Patriotic Friends of the Arts was founded by Count Casper Sternberk-Manderschied and a group of other prominent nobles. The avowed purpose of the society was "the renewed promotion of art and taste", and during the time of Joseph II it would be adamantly opposed to the King. In 1800 the group founded the Academy of Fine Arts, which would train students in progressive forms of art and history.
The National Museum in Prague was founded on April 15, 1818, with the first president of the Society of the Patriotic Museum being Count Sternberk, who would serve as the trustee and operator of the museum. Early on, the focus of the museum was natural sciences, partially because Count Sternberk was a botanist, mineralogist, and eminent phytopaleontologist - but also because of the natural science slant of the times, as perpetrated by Emperor Joseph II of Austria.
The museum was originally located in the Sternberg Palace but it was soon apparent that this was too small to hold the museum's collections. The museum relocated to the Nostitz Palace but this was also found to be of insufficient capacity, which led to the decision to construct a new building for the museum in Wenceslas Square.
The museum did not become interested in the acquisition of historical objects until the 1830s and 1840s, when Romanticism became prevalent, and the institution of the museum was increasingly seen as a center for Czech nationalism. Serving as historian and secretary of the National Museum in 1841, Frantisek Palacky would try to balance natural science and history, as he described in his Treatise of 1841. It was a difficult task, and it would not be until nearly a century later that the National Museum’s historical treasures equaled its collection of natural science artifacts.
However, the importance of the museum was not in its focus, but rather that it signaled, and indeed helped bring about, an intellectual shift in Prague. The Bohemian nobility had been prominent until this time, indeed dominant both politically and fiscally in scholarly and scientific groups. However, the National Museum was created to serve all the inhabitants of the land, lifting the stranglehold the nobility had had on knowledge. This was further accelerated by the historian Frantisek Palacky, who in 1827 suggested that the museum publish separate journals in German and Czech. Previously, the vast majority of scholarly journals were written in German, but within a few years the German journal had ceased publication, while the Czech journal continued for more than a century.
In 1949, the national government took over the museum, and spelled out its role and leadership in the Museum and Galleries Act of 1959. In May 1964, the Museum was turned into an organization of 5 professionally autonomous components: the Museum of Natural Science; the Historical Museum; the Naprstek Museum of Asia, African, and American Cultures; the National Museum Library; and the Central Office of Museology. The Museum of Czech Music was established in 1976 as a 6th autonomous unit.
Křižík's Light Fountain
Křižík's fountain or Křižík's light fountain is an illuminated and musical fountain, which is used for cultural events. The fountain was built by František Křižík in 1891 on the occasion of the World Exhibition and became a unique European attraction. The Fountain was rebuilt in the 1920s by architect Z.Stašek. The bottom of the fountain plate is equipped with 1300 multicolored reflectors and water circuits composed of more than 2 kilometers of pipes with almost 3000 nozzles. Now it is amplified by classical and modern pop music, and other art projects.
Stromovka is a 95-hectacre park with a duck pond in Prague's Bubeneč district in a floodplain of Vltava. It was established in 13th century as the game reserve for a nearby summerhouse. At the beginning of 19th century it was converted into park, later in 19th and 20th century reduced by construction of railways, building of Academy of Fine Arts and Planetarium, ship canal, and last but not least by construction of the exhibition grounds. The park is maintained as an 11/5000 English landscape garden. Stromovka Park is protected as a natural monument as well as a cultural monument.
Réva (Wine), or Dívka s hrozny (Girl with grapes), is an outdoor statue, installed in 1960 at Kampa Park in Prague, Czech Republic. The statue is a typical work of Karla Vobišová-Žáková, the first Czech professional female sculptor, focused on figural and portrait sculptures. The almost life-size statue was created from Carrara marble, and the pedestal was created from sandstone. The statue is separately registered and protected as a cutural monument since 1964. The last restoration was made in 1997.
Holy Trinity Column
Olomouc, Czech Republic
The Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc is a Baroque monument (Trinity column) in the Czech Republic built from 1716 to 1754. The main purpose was to celebrate the Catholic Church and faith, partly caused by feeling of gratitude for ending a plague, which struck Moravia (now in the Czech Republic) between 1713 and 1715. The column was also understood to be an expression of local patriotism, since all artists and master craftsmen working on this monument were Olomouc citizens, and almost all depicted saints were connected with the city of Olomouc in some way.
It is the biggest Baroque sculptural group in the Czech Republic. In 2000 it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as "one of the most exceptional examples of the apogee of central European Baroque artistic expression".
The column is dominated by gilded copper sculptures of the Holy Trinity accompanied by the Archangel Gabriel on the top and the Assumption of the Virgin beneath it.
The base of the column, in three levels, is surrounded by 18 more stone sculptures of saints and 14 reliefs in elaborate cartouches. At the uppermost stage are saints connected with Jesus’ earth life – his mother’s parents St. Anne and St. Joachim, his foster-father St. Joseph, and St. John the Baptist, who was preparing his coming – who are accompanied by St. Lawrence and St. Jerome, saints to whom the chapel in the Olomouc town hall was dedicated. Three reliefs represent the Three theological virtues Faith, Hope, and Love.
Below them, the second stage is dedicated to Moravian saints St. Cyril and St. Methodius (Czech Metoděj), who came to Great Moravia to spread Christianity in 863 (St. Methodius became Moravian Archbishop), St. Blaise, in whose name one of the main Olomouc churches is consecrated, and patrons of neighbouring Bohemia St. Adalbert of Prague (Czech Vojtěch) and St. John of Nepomuk (Czech Jan Nepomucký), whose following was very strong there as well.
In the lowest stage one can see the figures of an Austrian patron St. Maurice and a Bohemian patron St. Wenceslas (Czech Václav), in whose names two important Olomouc churches were consecrated, another Austrian patron St. Florian, who was also viewed as a protector against various disasters, especially fire, St. John of Capistrano (Czech Jan Kapistránský), who used to preach in Olomouc, St. Anthony of Padua, a member of the Franciscan Order, which owned an important monastery in Olomouc, and St. Aloysius Gonzaga, a patron of students. His sculpture showed that Olomouc was very proud of its university.
Reliefs of all twelve apostles are placed among these sculptures.
Prague | Czech Republic | Castles | History
New Town | Old Town | Lesser Quarter
Money | Food | Tours | Travel | Shopping
Travel | Metro | Trams | Funicular | Airport
Prague Blog | Resources | Calendar | Maps
FAQs | About | Link to Us | Sitemap | Contact