Prague Castle Picture Gallery masterpieces on display in Ljubljana
Ljubljana, 30 September - The National Gallery will open an exhibition of the Prague Castle Picture Gallery masterpieces on Wednesday. The rare European art collection features paintings from Titian, Rubens and Holbein the Younger and is a result of Emperor Rudolf II's zeal for collecting.
The exhibition will put on display 46 works of art, mostly including paintings as well as several statues and a couple of artistic craft works.
Running until 3 January 2021, it will present the essence of Emperor Rudolf II's collection, Barbara Jaki, the head of the National Gallery, told the STA ahead of the opening.
Privately-owned artworks will be replaced by reproductions since Covid-19 prevented the owner from accompanying the pieces on their way to Slovenia.
The exhibition layout follows the timeline of artworks as well as different styles, including the Italian, German and Dutch school of painting.
Titian's Woman With a Mirror, Tintoretto's The Flagellation of Christ and Rubens's The Annunciation will be one of the pieces exhibited in Ljubljana.
Moreover, masterpieces by the early Flemish, Italian Baroque and German Renaissance masters will grace the walls of the National Gallery.
The pieces which were dearest to Emperor Rudolf II's heart will symbolically be placed in the heart of the venue.
Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor, (1552-1612) was a member of the House of Habsburg and a passionate collector who moved his court from Vienna to Prague, turning the city into a mecca for scientists and artists and a centre of the Mannerism style.
He did not wish to hoard extraordinary or bizarre pieces, but aimed to show respect for whatever nature and men created in an ingenious way, reads the gallery's press release.
The dramatic events of European and Czech history left an indelible mark on Rudolf II's collection, which featured some 3,000 paintings and was not available to the public. During the war that followed after his death the pieces were dispersed, either to Austria or Sweden.
In 1650, what was left of the Prague Castle Picture Gallery were empty frames and damaged paintings. Nevertheless, a few pieces were saved and returned to the gallery on top of newly acquired artworks.
However, steady transfers to Vienna, sales and the 1782 public auction trimmed down the collection once again, taking away the most outstanding works.
The gallery faced a peculiar fate during the First Czechoslovak Republic and after the Second World War as well. It was only in 1965 when the most precious pieces were showcased in the reopened Prague Castle Picture Gallery based on research and reconstruction of the original layout.
The collection is one of the few in Europe which has existed continuously for centuries and persevered until the present day.
The exhibition in Slovenia's capital is a result of excellent cooperation between Ljubljana and Prague and has gone according to the initial plan despite the pandemic, said Jaki, highlighting that the project was all the more exceptional since the artworks very rarely travelled outside Prague.