Baroque in Bohemia
On the three floors of the reconstructed building of the palace, the new permanent exhibition presents about 160 sculptural exhibits and 280 pieces of late Renaissance and Baroque painting, created in the territory of the lands of the Crown of Bohemia from the late 16th to the end of the 18th centuries.
As early as 2002, the interior disposition of the building of Schwarzenberg Palace and the distribution of the rooms designed for the needs of the permanent exhibition, „Baroque in Bohemia“ resulted in a decision to present the collections of sculpture and painting separately. The monumental stone sculptures „welcome“ the visitors when they enter the building. These include the renowned stone sculptures by Matthias Bernhard Braun from the attic of the Clam-Gallas Palace in Prague (1714-1716) and the two Angels from the hermitage near Lysá nad Labem, accompanied by the Moor figures from the gate of Kounice Castle, created by Maximilian Brokof. Three interconnected rooms present then en exhibition conceived according to traditional chronology and stylistic periods of the Early, High and Late Baroque. For the first time in such an extent, the adjoining space shows the best-quality surviving examples of everyday workshop practice of art studios, particularly those of the 18th century: sculptural and painting sketches, modellos, authorial and workshop replicas and copies.
The main installation on the 2nd and 1st floors of the palace is based on high-quality paintings, mostly known from the previous exhibition spaces in St George’s Convent. The collection was again conceived according to the accepted chronology in the sequence of stylistic cycles, spanning the time from the Late Renaissance, represented by the production of the artists active at the Prague court of Emperor Rudolf II, to the waning of Baroque culture in the late 18th century. The new exhibition includes all the great names of local fine arts of the 17th-18th centuries, with the emphasis on key figures. Well-balanced ensembles thus present the paintings by Hans von Aachen, Bartholomaeus Spranger, Roelant Savery, Michael Willmann, Johann Christoph Liška, Wenzel Lorenz Reiner, Anton Kern, Johann Peter Molitor, and Norbert Grund. The world of late Renaissance collections – cabinets of arts and curiosities – will be recalled in a partial reconstruction of such a collection with characteristic examples of small pictures and sculptures, and samples of the period crafts. The most important figures of Baroque painting in Bohemia – Karel Škréta and Peter Brandl – have intentionally been allocated prestigious spaces which will do justice to the qualities of both the ensembles of paintings, by right considered the gems of the Gallery’s Collection of Old Masters. One of the rooms on the 1st floor also presents in deliberate confrontation the portraits by Peter Brandl, and those by Johann Kupecký. Both painters explored similar (French and Dutch) sources of inspiration found in European portraiture. A specific form of „panel“ installation of paintings, with the principle of contrast and symmetry in mind, of the pendant pairs (compagnons) – be it landscapes, still lifes or figural compositions – is to recall the character of the period aristocratic picture galleries, most popular and wide-spread around 1700. It was precisely in the interiors of the city or country residences of local aristocrats that rare artifacts were also to be found, including cabinet sculptural pieces, made mostly of exclusive materials, such as bronze, ivory, tortoise-shell, marble and alabaster. Painting collections of 18th-century artists are accompanied by carefully selected samples of small-size carving of definitive character, coming from the Prague studios of Franz Ignaz Weiss, Karl Joseph Hiernle, Johann Anton Quitainer, and Ignaz Franz Platzer, installed in modern glasscases with perfect lighting.