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František Schmoranz Jr. (1845–1892), an Austrian architect of Czech origin, was the founding director of the School of Applied Arts in Prague and one of the pioneers of scientifically based Orientalism in the 19th century. He spent several years studying Islamic architecture in Egypt, and upon his return to Europe became a recognised specialist in Oriental buildings and arts and crafts. In 1873, he designed the Egyptian pavilion for the Vienna World’s Fair. This issue presents fragments of both work-related and personal letters that he wrote, which are scattered around various Czech and Austrian archives. A large collection of papers is held by the Wienbibliothek im Rathaus. The letters addressed to the art historian Rudolf Eitelberger and the painter Bernhard Fiedler relate to the preparation of a historical exhibition of Islamic architecture that Schmoranz organised in 1876. A particularly fascinating letter is that sent to the architect Andreas Streit, informing him of goings-on behind the scenes during the election of a committee overseeing the ceremonial parade for the silver wedding of the Austrian royal couple in 1879, and of the tensions between Viennese artists that accompanied the election. From the correspondence stored in Czech archives, the issue includes letters from the National Museum’s collection addressed to the architect Josef Schulz and Vojtěch Náprstek, in which Schmoranz writes about his stay in Cairo. Schulz’s estate contains other of Schmoranz’s papers, from which we learn details of the preparation of an exhibition of Islamic architecture and Schulz’s efforts to reprise the exhibition in Prague. In other letters Schmoranz reports on his activities during the organisation of the Austrian exhibition at the Exposition Universelle in Paris, and recommends Viennese craftsmen to a colleague in Prague. Along with other material, Schmoranz’s letter to Karel Boromejský Mádl regarding the latter’s role as director of the School of Applied Arts in Prague has been preserved at the Museum of Czech Literature.

vybiral@vsup.cz


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