In Prague there are 5 different branches of the Czech National Gallery; this one exhibits Moravian art of the Baroque period.
The museum has three distinct parts. On the ground floor there are the sculptures (in my opinion this is the most interesting part of the museum). On the first floor there are the paintings (some are beautiful, some are rather melodramatic). On the second floor there are paintings and other works made by the artists working for the emperor Rudolph II of Habsburg (mannerism and rhetoric prevail in this section). Although it may seem that a museum devoted to one single style is too specialized for the general public, actually the visit is pleasant, since the setting is scenic, many works are definitely good and the exhibit is not repetitious. On the whole, one can easily spend one hour in this museum even if Baroque is not his favourite style. To be noted that from the windows at the rear of the museum there are extraordinary views of the Mala Strana quarter below.
I liked very much the section dedicated to the sculpture, but also three small and interesting exhibits.
The first one is a cabinet on the ground floor, where the preparatory work needed for painting large frescoes is illustrated; first the painter drew scaled-down sketches of the important details and of the whole fresco; these drawings were then discussed with the sponsor of the work, and adjustments were made to take into account his remarks and wishes; finally, the drawings were delivered to the assistants who carried out the actual painting work, and were used by them as a guide. The cabinet shows a nice selection of these preparatory works.
The second one, also on the ground floor, is a cabinet where certain marketing techniques of the sculptors of the baroque period are explained. The sculptors currently kept in their studios a large collection of models, i.e. miniature statues representing historical or mythical characters in various attitudes. This collection was a sort of catalogue to be shown to the potential customers for arising his interest. If the customer was tempted by a particular subject, the sculptor proposed appropriate adaptations of the sculpture to suit his needs and his taste; finally, when all the details were fixed, the deal was struck and the artist could start his work. Very cute and very effective. A large selection of models is shown in this cabinet.
The third exhibit is devoted to the blind people, who can explore with there hands the sculptures and the paintings presented in the room; explanations are given in Braille writing; this exhibit is in the basement.
The museum is in the beautiful Schwarzenberg Palace (16th century, Renaissance style), which is fronting the main entrance to the Prague Castle. It is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., except Monday. The ticket for the Sternberg museum (European art at large, on the opposite side of the same square) includes free admission to this museum. Available infrastructure: cloakroom, toilets, lifts, access for disabled people, comfortable seats everywhere. It is allowed to take pictures, but without flash. In most rooms the lighting is artificial and correct reproduction of the colours may be difficult.
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