Showing posts with label Prague. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Prague. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

K700 - Exhibition on Emperor Charles IV and his Era in Prague and Nuremberg

Ten years after the most recent major exhibition about Emperor Charles IV and the Luxembourg dyansty (shown in New York and Prague), the National Gallery in Prague and curator/director Jiři Fajt returned to the topic, and organized a major exhibition dedicated to the Emperor. The occasion was the 700th anniversary of the birth of Charles IV, King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor - hence the short logo-title of the exhibition: K700. The exhibition was jointly organized by the National Gallery in Prague and the House of of Bavarian History, and will be shown later this year in Nuremberg as well. I managed to catch it in Prague before it closed on September 25, 2016, at the Waldstein Riding School.

Titled Emperor Charles IV 1316-2016, the topic of the Czech-Bavarian exhibition is summarized in the press release of the National Gallery:
"Charles IV is among the most frequently portrayed medieval monarchs. Not only was he a wise and pious ruler, but also a successful collector of royal crowns. He liked to dress in the latest Paris fashion and participated in jousting tournaments. One of them was nearly fatal, permanently affecting his appearance as shown in his many portraits. The first Czech-Bavarian Land Exhibition Emperor Charles IV 1316–2016, held at the Waldstein Riding School of the National Gallery in Prague, not only gets to the heart of the traditional Charles IV themes but also focuses on the less popularised ones. About 200 precious exhibits will present the emperor’s personality, a perspective on him by his adherents and opponents, art, and Jewish pogroms." Along with other materials, this press release can be downloaded from the website of the National Gallery.

What follows is not a proper review of the exhibition - I would merely like to summarize a few of my observations about the exhibition. As the court of Charles IV was one of the most important artistic centers of 14th century Europe, it is no surprise that the exhibition was full of beautiful, even breathtaking works of art. The highlights for me were some of the reliquaries commissioned by the Emperor, as well as the statues and paintings made for Prague or Karlstein castle. Some monumental works also made it into the exhibition hall, including the tympanum relief with Passion scenes from the north portal of Tyn Church (Prague). Given the partnership with Nuremberg, one of the richest section of the exhibition consisted of works stemming from Nuremberg, including the monumental Waldstromer’s window from the hospital church of St Martha in Nuremberg, which rose over 5 meters high in the exhibition space. Further sections focused on other artistic centers in Bohemia, apart from Prague and Karlstein, as well as on artistic developments in the northern German areas of Brandenburg and neighboring territories. Special attention was given to the French upbringing of Charles, and the influence of Parisian court art at his court - high-quality loan objects illustrated the types of objects likely available in Prague, and one of the last sections focuses on the final journey of Charles to Paris in 1378.

Cat.04.08. - Ewer for the tablecloth
 of the Last Supper
A special section was dedicated to the contemporaries and opponents of Charles IV - however, I felt that rather little attention was given to his Central European neighbors in Vienna, Cracow or Buda. I would like to make a few small observations about objects with Hungarian connections. One of these was a centerpiece of the display of reliquaries: a rock crystal ewer once holding the tablecloth used for the Last Supper. The relic was a gift of Hungarian King Louis the Great before 1350. Some high-quality goldsmith works commissioned by Louis the Great are also on view: a mantle clasp and escutcheons with the coat of arms of Hungary, coming from the Hungarian chapel by Aachen Cathedral. The chapel was established in 1367, and these objects are part of a larger group donated by the ruler. Contrary to the label in the exhibition, Hungarian art historians have long disproved the identification of their makers as the brothers Martin and George of Klausenburg (Kolozsvár/Cluj). Next to these objects the wonderful Fonthill vase was on view (from the National Museum of Ireland) - which is the first documented Chinese porcelain object in Europe. Unfortunately, it has no connection either to Charles IV or the Hungarian Angevin Court - it has long been demonstrated that the object was mounted in the Neapolitan Angevin court (as I summarized it here in this blog a few years ago).

These are minor points. Another issue is a bit more significant - unfortunately, the catalogue of the exhibition has not yet been published. As far as I know, the catalogue is in preparation, and will be published for the second, Nuremberg venue of the exhibition. So far only a guide to the exhibition is available (In English, German and Czech editions), which includes the text of the exhibition labels and illustrations (Emperor Charles IV 1316-2016, Exhibition guide. Jiří Fajt, in cooperation with Helena Dáňová. Prague, 2016, 188 pp.). The exhibition, however, has its own website, and an illustrated visual and audioguide is also available, as well as additional publications.

Cat. 08.11. - Tympanum of Tyn Church, Prague

It should also be mentioned, that at the occasion of the 700th anniversary, a series of other exhibitions were organized in Prague by the Prague Castle. These include an exhibition dedicated to the Cathedral of St. Vitus, with life-size replicas of the famous triforium busts, as well as a display of the burial costumes of Bohemian rulers. Another exhibition focused on royal coronations in Bohemia. Information on these exhibitions is available on the website of Prague Castle.
Cat. 09.06. Panel from Retable of the Virgin, Nuremberg, St. Clare

The main exhibition, now simply titled Charles IV., will be on wiew at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg from 20 October 2016 until 5 March 2017. See also the website of the Haus der Bayerischen Geschichte, one of the co-organizers.

Photos in this blog post come from the websites associated with the exhibition, and linked to above. In addition, I have collected a number of objects included in the exhibition on Pinterest. Some images come with links to fully digitized manuscripts.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Medieval art exhibitions in late 2014

We already had a chance to enjoy numerous medieval exhibitions this year - see for example my overview of exhibitions dedicated to various Holy Roman emperors -, but 2014 will close with a wonderful series of major exhibitions dedicated to the Middle Ages. I have collected information and links about the most important ones that came to my knowledge. Dear Readers, as you can see there is lots to choose from - feel free to let me know in a comment if you are planning to see some of these exhibitions. I will try to make it to Prague for the Benedictine exhibition, and will also have a chance to see two of the most famous medieval manuscripts during the Christmas holiday in New York. Here are some more details about the exhibitions, with texts copied from the various exhibition websites:

Open the Gates of Paradise - The Benedictines in the Heart of Europe, 800-1300

Prague, National Gallery (Waldstein Riding School and the Clementinum Gallery).
November 7, 2014 - March 15, 2015

"The purpose of this exhibition project is to introduce to scholars and general audiences the spiritual wealth and material culture of the Benedictine monasteries of the Early and High Middle Ages in Central Europe. The project is also intended to highlight the role of the Order of Saint Benedict in facilitating the acceptance of Christianity by the Central European nations, the adoption of Ancient Christian Mediterranean culture, and the process of the emergence and strengthening of states and statehood in Central Europe. Within this context, the term “Central Europe” is chiefly understood as the area occupied by the medieval states of Bohemia, Poland and Hungary, with the indispensable and entirely natural extension into the regions of the Holy Roman Empire. The exhibition will focus on prominent personalities of the Benedictine Order and its individual monastic centres, notably on the intermediary role they played in the cultural exchange between Western and Southern Europe, and the newly-Christianized Slavic and Hungarian territories."

The Magi. Legend, Art and Cult

Cologne, Museum Schnütgen
25 October 2014 – 25 January 2015

"In Cologne, the year 2014 will be devoted to the Magi, whose remains arrived in the cathedral city in 1164. During the Middle Ages, their relics transformed Cologne into a pilgrimage metropolis, and they became the patron saints of Cologne together with St. Ursula and St. Gereon. This is attested to by the Shrine of the Magi at Cologne Cathedral, Cologne’s coat of arms with the three crowns and numerous sculptures throughout the city.
The Museum Schnütgen has taken the anniversary as an opportunity to hold a large special exhibition. Throughout the centuries, the Magi have played a central role in art since the Three Wise Men were the first to recognise the Christ child as the Son of God. The exhibition will bring together ivories, sculptures, paintings, manuscripts and works of treasury art from Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain that offer a particularly interesting interpretation of the subject and are artistically of especially high quality."

Saint Louis

Paris, Conciergerie
8 October 2014 - 11 January 2015

"A major exhibition entitled "Saint Louis" will be held in the Hall of Men-at-Armsat the Conciergerie from 8 October to 11 January 2015. This will be the culminating point of the events organised by the Centre des monuments nationaux to celebrate the 8th centenary of the birth of Louis IX in 1214.
At the age of 12, in 1226, Louis became King of France as Louis IX, in what went on to become one of the longest and most remarkable reigns in medieval France. He became a model and source of prestige for the kingdom and the Capetian dynasty, both as a king and as a saint subsequent to his canonisation just 27 years after his death.
Where better to understand Saint Louis and the issues that faced 13th-century France than in the Conciergerie, the royal residence on which he left his stamp and where he built his greatest masterpiece, the Sainte-Chapelle ? He was responsible for extending and embellishing the former Palais de la Cité, and for the time of the exhibition it will act as the showcase for 130 remarkable works which stand testimony to the intellectual energy and grace that invigorated Parisian art during his reign, and which are on loan from the collections of the greatest cultural institutions in France and abroad."

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Martin and Georg of Klausenburg

Martin and Georg of Klausenburg: St. George
Prague, National Gallery 

I haven't had a lot of time to update my blog recently - but I thought I would post this for St. George's day. The image above depicts what may be the most beautiful statue made in the medieval Kingdom of Hungary. Made by the brothers Martin and Georg of Klausenburg (Kolozsvár / Cluj) in 1373, the statue is the only surviving work from the production of their bronze workshop. Their other works - bronze statues of the Hungarian kings St. Stephen, Prince St. Emeric and St. Ladislas, as well as a large equestrian statue of St. Ladislas (all of these at Várad / Oradea) all got destroyed during the Ottoman wars, after the capture of Várad in 1660. The statue of St. George has been in Prague at least since the 16th century - but it is not known when and how exactly it got there. It is regarded as the first free-standing monumental bronze equestrian statue since antiquity. Information about its makers and the date was preserved on the now-lost shield (and is known from 18th century transcriptions):


Today, a copy of the statue is still standing in the third courtyard of Prague Castle, near the cathedral of St. Vitus. The original has been in the National Gallery in Prague since the 1960s.

A lot has been written on the statue in recent years, especially in a series of articles published in the Bohemian art history journal Umeni. See in particular the studies of Klara Benesovska and Ivo Hlobil from 2007, or the study of Ernő Marosi published in the 1999 volume of the journal. The connections of the bronze statue to the art of Trecento Italy (especially the Cathedral of Orvieto), the naturalism of some of  its details, the historical context of the statue as well as its connections to other works by the brothers are all topics worthy of even further investigation.

Finally, by clicking here, you will find a few more photographs of the statue on the Fine Arts in Hungary website.