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Zuzana Všetečková - Dalibor Prix

Nástěnné malby v kapli sv. Prokopa v Praskolesích u Hořovic

The Chapel of St Procopius in Praskolesy is a plain, single-naved hall church with a simple polygonal termination and a nearly square nave. Sandstone blocks may have been brought to Praskolesy from the same workshop that participated in the construction of Karlštejn Castle in the 1350s and 1360s. It was built as a funeral chapel. The chapel´s strikingly plain, united and intimate interior lacked any sculptural decoration or ribbing and was never vaulted. The right of patronage belonged to the Bohemian monarchs, Emperor Charles IV and Wenceslas IV, and the work may have been commissioned by the parish priests Velík (1359-1360), Matyáš (1360-1368), and Valentin (1371-1380). In 2005-2008 Miroslav Slavík here uncovered and restored the monumental Legend of St Procopius, the figures of St Michael, John the Baptist, St Apolena, Margaret, and probably Agnes of Rome. The Legend of St Procopius is found in the manuscript Liber depictus (1358, Vienna, ÖNB, Cod. 370, fol. 70v-73r.), and it appears in monumental paintings for the first time. The Praskolesy painter apportioned it into two bands showing narrative and court scenes. Particularly noteworthy is the scene 'Expulsion of Demons from the Cave' and 'Expulsion of the German Monks from Sázava Monastery', 'Miracle of the Tunic Given to a Beggar', 'Soběslav and Břetislav among the Prelates / Princes' and 'An Encounter between dux Oldřich and St Procopius on a Deer Hunt'. A text of the Czech legend from the age of Charles IV was selected to help identify the scenes. The compact outlines of the figures of St Procopius and the monks, the idealised faces of the rulers (prelates), and the elegant poise of Sts Michael and Margaret appear in paintings in the 1380s and 1390s. The scene 'Expulsion of the German Monks from Sázava Monastery' was associated with the contemporary national patriotism of the court of Wenceslas IV. The monumental legend of St Procopius in Praskolesy thus far remains unique. Two scenes in a church in Pardubičky represent younger work.

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