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2/2013

Articles

Jiří Sobek

Ornamentika fleuronné v rukopisu Mater verborum

The Fleuronné Ornament in the Manuscript Mater verborum

pp. 102-119

This article deals with the fleuronné ornament found in the etymological glossary Mater verborum in the Library of the National Museum in Prague (X A 11), examining it in the context of domestic and foreign manuscript illustrations from the middle of the 13th century. Fleuronné – ‘adorned with flowers’ – refers to an ornamental system based on plant forms, linearly drawn in several basic colours, usually blue, red, and black ink, and its basic elements comprise filaments, palmettos, semi-palmettos, buds, pearls, squares, seeds, and stems. The forerunners of this type of ornament were the so-called silhouette initials found in 12th-century manuscripts from northern and eastern France and southern England. The origin of this new system of embellishment generally can be seen in the gradual simplification of earlier elements that were used as decorative elements in traditional painted Romanesque and pre-Romanesque initials. In the Czech lands, an early basic type of fleuronné ornament appeared before the first quarter of the 13th century. Mater verborum, which dates from around 1240, is one of the earliest bound manuscripts in this country in which this type of ornamentation is found, but which still lacks the complex capillary patterns, so-called fadenwerk. The author believes that it is possible to distinguish approximately nineteen basic ornamental motifs in this literary gem, of which there are then multiple further variations. The prevailing forms are semi-palmettos, little buds, and acanthoids, often accompanied by capillaries. Besides these individual elements, it is also possible to identify by different criteria various groups of fleuronné initial which can be further divided into numerous subcategories. Decorative concepts employing this floral ornamentation are relatively heterogeneous in terms of quality and occurrence. In a qualitative perspective, the author is inclined to distinguish seven main groups of tertiary decor, and he also identifies seven artists who drew this type of initials, at least one of whom was a classic illustrator of illuminated manuscripts. One more illustrator can also be identified – the author of the rubrications, who was inspired by fleuronné ornament, but definitely did not directly contribute to the work of the seven creators mentioned. This manuscript fits logically within the context of domestic and foreign art of that time, many of its elements having been drawn from northern France, southern England, and southern Germany.

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Petr Uličný

Architektura pražských synagog 16. a 17. století

The Architecture of Prague’s Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Synagogues

pp. 120-137

In the seventeenth century, the Prague ghetto was the largest Jewish enclave in Europe, and its approximately ten thousand inhabitants made up one-half of the entire population of Prague’s Old Town. This status was reflected in the interiors of its nine exquisitely furnished synagogues and several small private schools. Because of the singular continuity of settlement in the ghetto between the twelfth and the nineteenth centuries, Prague boasted structures built in different periods across this long stretch of time: from the probably Romanesque Old School, the early Gothic Old New Synagogue, the Renaissance Pinkas, High, New, and Maisel synagogues, to the early Baroque Cikán, Velkodvorská and Klausen synagogues. This collection of exemplary renditions of so many architectural styles was unparalleled in Europe. And yet little or only marginal attention has been devoted to the architecture of Prague’s synagogues, even though they are a singular phenomenon within the context of European synagogue architecture and the now demolished Baroque Cikán Synagogue and Velkodvorská Synagogue were unique even compared to Christian Czech work of that era. These latter two structures are the subject of this article. Cikán Synagogue was built before the year 1613 by Salomon Salkind (also known as ‘Cikán’ or ‘the Gypsy’) and his wife Golde. It was a monumental work of architecture. Its interior was articulated with pilasters and furnished with a three-storey high aron ha-kodesh. The structure of the synagogue, the work of an unknown builder, abandoned the use of Gothic elements, and must for its splendour rank among the best works of architecture not just in the Prague ghetto but in the Czech lands. Velkodvorská Synagogue, built after 1627 by Jacob Bassevi, drew inspiration from the design of the interior of Cikán Synagogue. Its unusual aron ha-kodesh was probably designed by architect Giovanni Pieroni, who in this may have been influenced by the contemporary architecture of Rome and Giovanni Battista Montana’s treatise of 1628. Unfortunately, both synagogues were demolished at the start of the twentieth century during the clearing of the Prague ghetto, and today fragmentary historical sources are the only source of information on them.

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Věra Laštovičková

Zwischen Klassik und Romantik. Das architektonische Schaffen Bernhard Gruebers

Between Classicism and Romanticism: The Architectural Work of Bernhard Grueber

pp. 138-162

In Czech art history, it is customary to distinguish between Neoclassicism and Romanticism as two separate and by nature antithetical stylistic periods. This distinction fits the classification and evaluation of domestic art relatively well. However, the work of architect Bernhard Grueber, who was from a Bavarian cultural background, defies this classification. Although he belonged to the generation of Romantics, his work exhibits Classicist features, and yet they are not a product of anachronism or evolutionary delay, or of an unstudied and capricious eclecticism. What is even more surprising is that while his early scholarly writings rank him among the pioneers of Neo-Gothicism, his later theoretical reflections contain typically Classicist ideas. Art-historical assessments of his work have so far tended to contradict each other. On the one hand, Grueber is described as an ‘inveterate Gothicist’, and on the other a Classicist and pioneer of the Neo-Renaissance. However, there is no reason to regard the contradictions in his work negatively. We see it that way because art history’s method of working with polarising terminological pairs leads us to do so. The limitations to that method were already pointed out by Ernst Gombrich, who argued that no style fits unequivocally and exclusively in just one such category. It must also be remembered that assessments of Grueber’s work in the past were significantly influenced by nationalistic factors. It was assigned to Romanticism or Academism simply because they lay outside the accepted aesthetic norm. While Grueber’s work may seem ‘bipolar’ according to the codified evolution of Czech art, it was wholly consistent within the context of the ideas of the German Romantics, such as the Schlegel brothers or Schelling. Moreover, the cultural context of Munich, where Grueber received his art training and first began working, was characterised by a stylistic pluralism and fusion that combined both Classicist and Romantic elements.

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Reports

Simonetta Prosperi Valenti Rodinò

Seventeenth-Century Italian Drawings in Prague: Pietro Testa, Valentin Lefèvre, Giovanni Maria Morandi, Giuseppe Passeri

Italská kresba 17. století v Praze: Pietro Testa, Valentin Lefèvre, Giovanni Maria Morandi, Giuseppe Passeri

pp. 163-171

The international community of drawing scholars is well acquainted with the wealth of quality Italian sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century drawings contained in the collections of Czech museums, galleries, and libraries through the publications of Czech researchers. Additional findings and attributions, however, can be drawn from a close study of the drawings from the seventeenth century, which is the subject of this article. It focuses on several remarkable pieces of work from the vast and diverse collection of art that belonged to the poet and writer Jiří Karásek of Lvovice (1871–1951), which is now in the Museum of Czech Literature in Prague. A drawing by Pietro Testa, originally titled Old man with his right arm stretched out before him, has now been successfully identified as a study of the God the Father for the painting The Prophecy of Basilides (in the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples) and has been dated as originating around the year 1648. A second drawing, The Sacrifice of Iphigenia, presents a scene whose arrangement of figures is similar to an engraving by Testa on the same subject, but the style of the work is different: this is a sketch for the seventeenth-century painting The Sacrifice of Iphigenia by the Flemish painter Valentin Lefèvre, who worked in Venice. Giovanni Maria Morandi is represented in Karásek’s collection by a seventeenth-century study titled Mary at the Tomb, a preparatory study for the painting Three Marys at the Tomb (Palazzo Chigi, Ariccia). A stylistic analysis of a small sketch titled Holy Family or The Virgin and Child with a Saint reveals it to be the work of the late seventeenth-century artist from Rome Giuseppi Passeri. Attribution of the drawing Susanna and the Stoning of the Elders, which in the eighteenth century was in the collection of a banker named Pierre Crozat, has yet to be resolved: its style reflects the early seventeenth-century Genoa school, but none of the names proposed to date – Orazio de Ferrari, Andrea Ansaldo – has been sufficiently convincing. Towards its close the article leaves behind Karásek’s collection and focuses on the drawing Head of an Old Man from the outstanding collection of the Archbishopric of Olomouc. Evidence from comparisons of this drawing justify attributing it to the painter Giacinto Brandi of Rome and date it to the second half of the 1630s.

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Archives

Petra Kernová

Spor o Bílka: Z dopisů Josefa Maudera, Julia Zeyera, Zdenky Braunerové a jejich současníků

The Bílek Affair: From the Letters of Josef Mauder, Julius Zeyer, Zdenka Braunerová and Their Contemporaries

pp. 172-180

This article looks back on the atmosphere of the Czech art world in the nineteenth century, when the young generation began to move away from the values and creative methods defended in the conservative circles of the academy and replace them with new, modern methods of artistic self-expression. From a study of the wealth of correspondence among the papers of the Prague-based sculptor Josef Mauder (1854–1920) the author is able to observe the sharp debate sparked amongst the sculptor and his friends by the Symbolist work of František Bílek, Mauder’s student. In the late nineteenth century Mauder was at the peak of his creativity and by merit became a figure of high standing in Prague artistic circles, not just with respect to his sculptural work but also in the area of theory. Mauder supported the young sculptor František Bílek at the start of his career, but their paths were separated by the very different approaches they took to their work. The correspondence exchanged between Josef Mauder and painter Zdenka Braunerová, poet Julius Zeyer, and František Bílek himself, after the latter was stripped of his scholarship and then defended by Braunerová in an article published in Nový život [The New Life], sketch a picture of a period saturated with diverse opinions and debates, an era of artistic upheavals, when the principles of the academy were tossed aside in pursuit of modern twentieth-century art.

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Reviews

Petr Wittlich

Daniel Hornuff, Bildwissenschaft in Widerstreit. Belting, Boehm, Bredekamp, Burda

pp. 181-182

Martin Horáček

Ladislav Kesner – Colleen M. Schmitz (edd.), Obrazy mysli / Mysl v obrazech

pp. 183-185

Alena Pomajzlová

Hana Rousová (ed.), Konec avantgardy? Od mnichovské dohody ke komunistickému převratu

pp. 185-187

Rostislav Švácha

Henrieta Moravčíková – Mária Topolčanská – Peter Szalay – Matúš Dulla – Soňa Ščepánová – Slávka Toscherová – Katarína Haberlandová, Bratislava: Atlas sídlisk, Vítajte v panelstory! / Bratislava: Atlas of Mass Housing, Welcome to Prefab Story!

pp. 188-190

Annotations

pp. 191-194

Acquisitions of Art History Sources

pp. 195-198

Česká resumé / English Summaries

pp. 199-203