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Romuald Kaczmarek

Bemerkungen zum Turmwächter des Altstädter Brückenturms

Romuald Kaczmarek responds to the article by Ivo Hlobil published in the third issue of Umění LXI, 2013, about the Watchman in the Old-Town Tower on Charles Bridge. Kaczmarek agrees with Hlobil’s proposal to date the sculpture from the year 1450, but he has two comments on the work’s interpretation: (1) Referring to his own, more accurate photo-documentation, Kaczmarek claims that art historian Anton Grueber, mentioned in Hlobil’s paper, was imagining things when he wrote that the Watchman was originally holding the latch to the gate of the bridge tower in his now missing left hand. According to the surviving fingers the destroyed hand was only tucked in behind his belt. (2) The fragment of a hand on the Watchman’s head is not a right hand, as Hlobil assumed, but a left hand. Based on the size and dimensions of the hand Kaczmarek agrees with Hlobil that it is the hand of a monkey/devil. However, he leaves the meaning of the scene open to interpretation: ‘The sculpture may artfully combine multiple meanings that were gradually revealed as one walked around it – Atlantus versus a shameless figure showing off his backside, an allusion to St Christopher versus a figure who could cross the swollen river as this saint, with the key to the bridge gate in his hand, but devoid of the good nature and kindness of a giant from early Christianity.’

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