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Before the Museums Came

A Social History of The Fine Arts in the Twin Cities

Leo J. Harris

Open access

Marta Vaculínová

Abstract

The aim of the paper is to show the situation of the National Museum Library (NML) in the period of 1939–1945 based on archival documents. Central changes made by the Nazis affected people as well as their work in the NML. It was not possible to continue as before – some employees had been arrested or executed by the Gestapo. Nevertheless, the number of the NML staff increased as a result of the transfer of officials from the closed Ministry of War and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Two employees of German nationality joined the NML based on the new rules concerning the relations between Czechs and Germans in public services. The operation of the library came under the supervision of Professor Carl Wehmer, who planned a cataloguing reform, was in charge of the book collections and ensured their later evacuation. The plans for a new NML exhibition were cancelled and replaced by propagandistic exhibitions imported from Germany, such as Deutsche Größe. The Nazi ideologists planned to return the National Museum and its library to the original idea of the land museum. Also Emil Franzel, a former leading member of the German Social Democracy in Czechoslovakia, a later member of the Sudeten German Party and in 1940–1941 an official in the NML, followed the idea of a land museum in his book History of the National Museum Library (Prague 1942), the first monograph on the history of the NML.

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Martina Ohlídalová, Karel Křenek, Jana Tvrzníková, Michal Pech and Radka Šefců

Abstract

In 2017, the National Museum commemorated the bicentenary of the discovery of the Manuscript of Dvůr Králové and the Manuscript of Zelená Hora by further material research into both works and especially by an exhibition of their originals. The main aims of this research into the manuscripts included the documentation and evaluation of their current physical condition and the mapping of the effect of the microchemical analyses performed in the context of the disputes over the authenticity of the manuscripts between the middle of the 19th century and the 1970s. For the achievement of these objectives, a detailed documentation of all the pages of the manuscripts in different types of lighting (visible direct, lateral, transmitted, ultraviolet, infrared), optical microscopy, and the identification of the degradation productions of damaged places by means of X-ray fluorescence analysis and Raman spectroscopy were used. This provided new information on the current physical condition of the manuscripts and documentation of the damage caused by historical microchemical testing. In addition, some previously unpublished historical tests were identified, thus offering a new perspective on some current damage of the two manuscripts.

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Barbora Půtová

Abstract

The article focuses on the life and work of Božena Jelínková-Jirásková (1880–1951), which are described and interpreted by means of a content analysis of her correspondence and artistic production. It presents the basic phases in the artist’s life and work in terms of the influence of her father, the writer Alois Jirásek, and subsequently her husband, the diplomat and writer Hanuš Jelínek. The study provides a chronological overview of the course of her education, life in Paris, exhibition activities, social contacts and artistic movements that affected her paintings. In this respect, a source of inspiration for the work of Jelínková-Jirásková can mainly be seen in the work of Paul Cézanne and Otakar Kubín, with the latter of whom she maintained long-term contacts. The central motif of their work was a landscape, comprising not only a major theme of her artistic production, but also a form of search for personal identity, internal security and a familiar home. A partial objective of the article is to cover the artistic development of Jelínková-Jirásková from Impressionism to realistic and figural work, her subsequent inclination to Neoclassical landscape painting and eventually a return to Realist painting, the Czech landscape and still lifes. The article presents Jelínková-Jirásková as one of the first Czech professional painters to have achieved recognition in both Czechoslovakia and France.

Open access

Vlasta Reittererová

Abstract

In June of 1892, Smetana’s Prodaná nevěsta (The Bartered Bride) was heard in Vienna for the first time as part of a guest appearance by the Czech National Theatre at the International Musical and Theatrical Exhibition. The clear success of the opera and of the performances of the National Theatre ensemble was reflected in the reviews of the Viennese critics, who were calling for German-language performances of Prodaná nevěsta on the stage of the Court Opera. On the basis of information from the archives of the Court Opera (Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv), one can document the reasons why, as it turned out, the first Viennese (and German-language) stage to produce the opera was the Theater an der Wien in April 1893, and why the premiere at the Court Opera did not occur until three years later. The study also devotes attention to the first performers for both productions of Prodaná nevěsta and to the circumstances of the two Viennese premieres, which opened up the pathway to other stages around the world after a thirty-year delay.