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Mateusz Grzęda

Façade of the House at the Stone Bell and a new Paradigm of Representation

The paper discusses possible sources of inspiration for the sculptural decoration of the façade of the House at the Stone Bell in Prague, that is the figures of a king and queen seated on thrones and accompanied by two standing men-at-arms. The sculptural ensemble, created with all probability ca. 1310–1315, is associated with the actual Bohemian royal couple — John of Luxemburg and Elizabeth of Přemyslid shown together with two armed men, thus evoking rituals of their appearance in public. What is astonishing here, is a bold decision of exhibiting the statues of the king and queen directly before the eyes of their subjects; rather than appeal to traditional, ecclesiastical justifications for the use of images, this sculptural program set sovereigns’ representations in distinctly public space. This makes it close in character to sculpted ensembles founded in Paris by members of the French royal family from the Capetian dynasty, and especially by Philip IV the Fair. The article states that the concept of the façade in question results from a new — burgeoning in Capetian France — paradigm of representation in which those who shared in sacral kingship could be represented by sculpted, three-dimensional images not only due to strictly religious motivations but also institutional ones.

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