Gothic Art in South-western Bohemia: Images of Beauty and Salvation

Date: 28.03.2014 - 06.07.2014
Place: Sternberg Palace

March 28, 2014 – July 6, 2014

The National Gallery in Prague, Sternberg Palace, 2nd floor
Authors: Michaela Ottová, Jan Royt, cooperation: Petr Jindra
Curator: Olga Kotková

Organized in cooperation with the West Bohemian Gallery in Plzeň and the Institute of Art History, Faculty of Arts,Charles University


The first part of the exhibition’s title combines three terms – “images” refers to the general mediaeval designation of sculptures and paintings with the word “imagines”; these images yield an experience of beauty for modern man while the original mediaeval viewer linked them with hope for personal salvation.

The exhibition is designed in three sections: Aristocracy / Towns / Woodcarving Workshops. The first section presents artworks that owe their existence to the wealthy aristocrats of the Kingdom of Bohemia who commissioned them. These artworks represent the high cultural standard and social prestige of their patrons. South-western Bohemia was united in the late Middle Ages (turn of the 15th–16th centuries) with the expansion of the estate of the Švihovský family of Rýzmberk, one of the most important aristocratic families of the Kingdom of Bohemia in Jagiellonian times. Půta Švihovský of Rýzmberk was this family’s most distinctive personality. The extensive art collection of their vast dominion forms the basis for this exhibition’s concept; torsos of altarpieces from Švihov and Rabí Castles predominate. The aristocrats who commissioned art were also joined by royal and liege towns (section Towns), primarily Utraquist Klatovy, but also Horažďovice belonging to the Švihovský family, Sušice and the mining town of Kašperské Hory (altarpiece from St Margaret Church in Kašperské Hory). The world of artefact producers, i.e. woodcarvers, painters and other craftsmen is shown in the exhibition’s third section called Woodcarving Workshops

The unique juxtaposition of artworks by the Master of the Lamentation of Christ from Zvíkov Castle and the Master of the Lamentation of Christ from Žebrák Castle dating from the first third of the 16th century (Master of the Lamentation of Christ from Zvíkov Castle and Master of the Lamentation of Christ from Žebrák Castle), two irrefutable high points of late Gothic art in the Czech Lands, will show how woodcarvers worked and forged an artistic tradition based on sharing and passing on stylistic forms. The workshop craftsmen were unfamiliar with today’s concept of art and the collective character of their work precluded the emergence of artists as individual personalities in the modern sense.

An extensive catalogue accompanies the exhibition. It is published by the Arbor Vitae publishing house.


Opening hours
Daily except Monday 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Sternberg Palace, Hradčanské náměstí 15, Prague 1

Getting here
Tram 22 – Pražský hrad / Pohořelec
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