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Exhibitions and Projects
1 October 2020 – 3 January 2021

The Masterpieces of the Prague Castle Picture Gallery

Tizian, Tintoretto, Veronese, Rubens and others

The Prague Castle Picture Gallery (Obrazárna Pražského hradu) belongs to the rare European art collections that have continuously existed for a number of centuries to the present. Its existence and fate were impacted greatly by the turbulent events of Czech and general European history. Emperor Rudolf II was considered a passionate collector, but his ultimate goal was not to endlessly amass rare, outstanding, interesting or bizarre items and curiosities. He appreciated and was interested in everything created by nature and by humans through the ingenuity of their mind in the fields of arts and crafts, in which the artists and scientists gathered at his court were involved. During Rudolf’s reign, Prague became the metropolis of the Holy Roman Empire and a “mecca for sciences and arts” for the second time in its history. His gallery, which housed about three thousand paintings, and the collections in the so-called Kunstkammer, cabinet of curiosities, were not meant to be admired by the public but by those who knew how to appreciate their quality and profit from their message.

The war that engulfed Europe after Rudolf's death affected the collection of paintings as well. Everything that had not been taken to Vienna was seized by the Swedish army. In 1648, at the request of Queen Christina, it took away some valuable paintings and statues from the Prague imperial collection.

Judging by the inventory, merely empty frames and damaged paintings were left in the gallery in 1650. Nevertheless, superintendent Miseroni had managed to hide a few pieces from the Swedes and those artworks were subsequently returned to the Picture Gallery. They, together with the new acquisitions that were bought by Archduke Leopold Wilhelm for Ferdinand III at the auction of Lord Buckingham’s collection in Antwerp in 1650, made up the reestablished gallery. Even later, through transports to Vienna, changes in the purpose of rooms during the reign of Maria Theresa, sales and the 1782 public auction of the Kunstkammerobjects, the most outstanding works would be taken away from the collection or adapted to fit the placement in new rooms. The collection underwent a peculiar fate also at the time of the Czechoslovak Republic and during the political changes after the Second World War.

It was only after careful examination and the reconstruction of the rooms of Rudolf II’s time that the most beautiful works were put on display in the reopened Prague Castle Picture Gallery in 1965. Since then, the public can enjoy masterpieces by the early Netherlandish masters, works of art by Titian, Paolo Veronese, Jacopo Tintoretto, the Bassano family painters, Domenico Fetti, Guido Reni, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Hans Holbein the Younger, Johann Heinrich Schönfeld, Peter Paul Rubens, and many others.

At the exhibition, we present to the public 46 finest works of art – paintings, statues and goldsmith's products, which, together with reproductions of archival documents, provide a view that for centuries was reserved only for the eyes of the Emperors.

  • Exhibition opening (video), RTV Slovenija, MMC
    Exhibition opening (video), RTV Slovenija, MMC
  • History of exhibited works (video), Eliška Fučíková
    History of exhibited works (video), Eliška Fučíková

The exhibition is organized by
National Gallery of Slovenia
Office of the President of the Czech Republic
Prague Castle Administration

The exhibition is under the Honorary Patronage of
President of the Republic of Slovenia Mr. Borut Pahor
President of the Czech Republic Mr. Miloš Zeman
Minister of Culture of the Czech Republic Mr. Lubomír Zaorálek
Minister of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia Mr. Vasko Simoniti

Author of the exhibition and of the exhibition texts
Eliška Fučíková

Project leader
Barbara Jaki

Idea of the exhibition project
Barbara Jaki, Ivo Velíšek, Eliška Fučíková, Václav Beránek

Coordination
Katra Meke, Andrea Hozáková, Martin Herda

Conservation-restoration preparation of materials
Radana Hamsíková, Dagmar Junek Hamsíková, Zdeněk Novotný, Jitka Jirkovská, Zdeněk Juppe

Exhibition set-up and graphic design
Ranko Novak

The works of art were loaned by
The Archives of Prague Castle
The metropolitan chapter of St. Vitus in Prague
National Museum
National Gallery Prague
Prague Castle Administration
Private collection, Czech Republic

The exhibition was supported by
Narodna galerija
Kancelář prezidenta republiky
Správa Pražského hradu
Urad predsednika Republike Slovenije
Ministrstvo za kulturo Republike Slovenije
Ministerstvo kultury České republiky
Ministerstvo zahraničních věcí České republiky
Veleposlaništvo Republike Slovenije Praga
Paloma d. d.
Generali zavarovalnica d. d., Ljubljana
Europlakat
Radgonske gorice d. d.
Cvetličarna Galerija Marjan Lovšin

1 October 2020 – 3 January 2021
National Gallery of Slovenia
Prešernova 24
1000 Ljubljana