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1/2010

Articles

Michal Šroněk - Kateřina Horníčková

Der Cranach-Altar im Veitsdom - seine Entstehung und sein Untergang

Cranach's Altar in St Vitus Cathedral: Origin and Demise

pp. 2-16

Around the year 1520 an altar was commissioned for St Vitus Cathedral in Prague and was made by Lucas Cranach. Depicted on the altar were the figures of the Virgin Mary and Sts. Apollonia (?), Agnes of Rome, Dorothy, Catherine, Barbara, Margaret, Christine, and Ursula. The location of the altar had thus far been in the Chapel of St Sigismund, but it was clearly intended for the cathedral's Marian sacrarium. Charles IV founded a corps of missionaries there, who were also assigned with the task of attending to the soul of the royal benefactor. Karel planned to locate the royal sepulchre there, and, although the burial place was changed, an Imperial cenotaph was left in the Marian sacrarium as the place of the ruler's memorie. The bond between the Imperial monument and Marian devotion remained vigorous even later on, and Ferdinand I re-established here the liturgies in veneration of the Virgin Mary and in memory of deceased monarchs. The importance of this place as a centre of monarchical prestige culminated in the founding of the royal tomb with the 'Habsburg Mausoleum', which marked the fulfilment of Charles' initial idea, and required the creation of an altar with liturgical allusions to monarchical and Marian devotions. Cranach's tablet was well suited to such depictions. In December 1619 the Cathedral suffered destruction from an iconoclastic attack, and the altar in the Chapel of St Sigismund was allegedly destroyed on 27-28 December. At that time the priest Friedrich Salmuth and some carpenter cut seven tablets out of the altar, and these were later documented in the castle inventory. However, they were cut in such a way that none of the heads was damaged - this action was not the work of mindless destroyers or ideologically motivated efforts to remove the objects from religious services, but rather was the work of a craftsman trying to protect, probably at the urging of King Friedrich himself, whatever he could. The altar's demise can thus with certainty be said to have been not the result of planned or spontaneous iconoclastic destruction, but was a contemplated step disguised as an iconoclastic act.

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Štěpán Vácha

Šlechtické kaple v kostele Panny Marie ve Staré Boleslavi. Oltářní výzdoba a fundace v 17. století

The Nobility's Chapels in the Church of the Virgin Mary in Stará Boleslav: Altar Decoration and Donations in the 17th Century

pp. 17-41

The pilgrimage Church of the Virgin Mary in Stará Boleslav (Alt Bunzlau), built in 1613-1623 under the auspices of the Imperial family, is one of the most important sacred early Baroque monuments in Bohemia. In due proportion to the religious significance accorded to the site as a place of veneration of a medieval sacred relief of the Virgin Mary, high demands were placed on the quality of the artistic decoration in the new church building, which was done in two stages. The Emperor Ferdinand II donated the high altar, while high-ranking members of the Czech nobility paid for the altars located in the side chapels. The interior was destroyed in 1639-1640 when the Swedish army pillaged Stará Boleslav. The chapel's surviving stucco and perhaps portions of the fresco decorations were evidently done by artists who had previously worked for Albrecht von Wallenstein. In the 1660s and the 1670s the side chapels were thoroughly redone. The study follows the continuity and discontinuity of donations from the nobility in Stará Boleslav over three generations, reveals the motivations of individual donors, presents to readers the very valuable and thus far little researched stock of paintings, and identifies for the first time the artists behind certain works. The study includes a series of selected written documents that illustrate the construction of the altars in both the first and second stages of fitting out the interior of the church in Stará Boleslav.

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Pavel Kalina

In opere gotico unicus: The Hybrid Architecture of Jan Blažej Santini-Aichl and Patterns of Memory in Post-Reformation Bohemia

In opere gotico unicus. Hybridní architektury Jana Blažeje Santiniho-Aichla a struktury paměti v poreformačních Čechách

pp. 42-56

There is a group consensus that lies behind Santini's hybrid, 'Baroque-Gothic' architecture, a consensus based on a particular construction of the past. Central Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries is usually regarded as a region that was less advanced than Western Europe. Czech history in this period, viewed somewhat anachronistically from the perspective of modern liberalism, has especially been seen as a period of political and economic decline. In reality, the situation was more complicated. The defeat of the Turks was followed by a certain amount of economic revival and saw the emergence of elements of a market economy, often so in a rural setting, which was where Santini did much of his work. While the Czech lands had no history of architectural treatises written in the main language of the land, the region was not a cultural hinterland. Jesuit education included instruction in mathematics, and that covered such applied fields as architecture. However, it is not clear whether Santini was able, for instance, to make use of modern treatises on stereotomy. Another question is how Santini's contemporaries understood 'Gothic'. The use of 'Gothic' within the 'Baroque' cannot be reduced just to its political or ecclesiastical-political meaning, as its foundation must have been wider. In this regard, Santini's traditional family profession, whether as a stonemason or a painter, may have had a constitutive influence. Recent renovations have revealed that the central vault of the abbey in Sedlec was reinforced with brick ribs, which means that Santini viewed ribs not just as a form of decoration, but also as a geometrically generated part of the structure itself. Santini's most important sacred structures served as pilgrimage sites, and therefore, they were able to appeal to wide strata of viewers. Pilgrims no doubt had some, now hard to reconstruct, notion of history. Clearly this is not a matter of an ideal communitas, but rather of a socially heterogeneous group.

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Shorter notices

Agata Kaczmarek

Geyner versus Reiner. Zum fraglichen Mitautor der Fresken in der Hochbergschen Kapelle zu Wrocław (Breslau)

Geyner versus Reiner: On the Disputed Authorship of the Frescoes in the Chapel of Abbot Hochberg in Vratislav

pp. 57-62

The article touches on the questions surrounding the authorship of a series of frescoes that decorate the vault of the chapel of Abbot Hochberg at the Premonstratensian Church in Vratislav. In the literature that makes mention of these paintings Wenzel Lorenz Reiner is most often identified as the author, but authorship or co-authorship has also been ascribed to the mysterious painter Martin Geyner (Geyer). An analysis of the literature on this theme tells us that Geyner's surname appeared in this connection owing to a mistake made by Johann Christian Kundmann, who eleven years after the chapel was built was the first to compose a short description of its decorative paintings. It is interesting that in his text Kundmann never even mentioned Reiner's name, ascribed all the frescoes to Geyner, and described him as 'a famous painter from Prague'. Many subsequent scholars repeated the information about Geyner, although he was never again mentioned as the sole author of the paintings. Nevertheless, these writings significantly contributed to the formation of a myth around the authorship of these frescoes. However, the contract commissioning the paintings is preserved in the State Archives in Vratislav and it leaves no doubt about who the author was. The contract was signed between Abbot Hochberg and Reiner on 16 July 1725, and from its contents it is possible to assume that Reiner was most likely the sole author of the designs of the paintings and the frescoes themselves. In the light of analyses of the paintings conducting using photography this opinion appears to be correct.

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Archives

Helena Čapková

Vojnina - záhada několika dopisů. Korespondence malíře Vojtěcha Chytila s architektem Bedřichem Feuersteinem

Vojnina - The Mystery of Several Letters: Correspondence between the Painter Vojtěch Chytil and the Architect Bedřich Feuerstein

pp. 63-72

Recently discovered correspondence between the architect Bedřich Feuerstein and the painter Vojtěch Chytil provides a new look at Chytil's activities as an art collector in China and at his exhibition work, in particular two exhibitions in London held in 1933 and 1934. Part of the reason these letters remained hidden in archives is that the sender was a mystery, but it was also because Feuerstein's collecting and travels to China had yet to be thoroughly studied. The correspondence adds the missing stone to the mosaic of Feuerstein's international career, but it also fills in the intricate circumstances surrounding Chytil's activities. In addition to shedding light on his relationship to the famous Chinese painter Qi Baishi and the state of his great collection, the correspondence also provides information on Chytil's exhibitions in Czechoslovakia and abroad. The research revealed that Chytil was the first collector to show contemporary Chinese painting in Great Britain and that he did so twice. Chytil's exhibition and collecting work was thus of much more fundamental importance than was initially assumed, and he rightly deserves recognition for his role in the introduction and promotion of Chinese modern art in Europe and even worldwide. An analysis of Feuerstein's and later Chytil's activities also showed that groups of Chinese, Japanese, and foreigners working in the Far East formed - at least in the interwar years - densely interlaced networks, and these cannot be studied by limiting the scope of view to just the territory of one nation-state or to individual styles or schools. The letters paint a contemporary picture of life in China in the early 1930s within the community of artists and foreigners living in Peking, but they also reveal Chytil as a man with a sense of humour.

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Polemics

Libor Gottfried

Patřily Praskolesy před 16. stoletím kapitule karlštejnské?

pp. 72-73

Reviews

Kateřina Horníčková

Zoë Opačič (ed.), Prague and Bohemia: Medieval Art, Architecture and Cultural Exchange in Central Europe

pp. 73-75

Klára Benešovská

Christoph Brachmann, Um 1300. Vorparlerische Architektur im Elsaß, in Lothringen und Südwestdeutschland

pp. 75-79

Hedvika Kuchařová

Ondřej Zatloukal - Pavel Zatloukal (edd.), Luk & lyra. Ze sbírek Arcidiecézního muzea Kroměříž

pp. 79-81

Cathleen M. Giustino

Alena Janatková, Modernisierung und Metropole: Architektur und Repräsentation auf den Landesausstellungen in Prag 1891 und Brünn 1928

pp. 81-83

Annotations

pp. 84-86

Acquisitions of Art History Sources

pp. 87-90 

Česká resumé / English Summaries

pp. 91-95 

Zásady úpravy textů v časopise Umění/Art / Editing Principles for Publications in Umění/Art

pp. 96-97