Castle Gallery

It is a generally accepted notion that some examples of inferior installations of castle galleries still survive, but rarely has there been such a contrast between true historical value and bad presentation as in Český Krumlov. There were already critical voices protesting almost a hundred years ago. Adolf Berger, for example,

Český Krumlov Castle, picture gallery

in his report of the 1st April 1884, states that there are too many paintings unsystematically displayed in the Krumlov Gallery. This applied right up to last year\'s reinstallation. All 188 pictures were displayed without any semblance of order on every available space, even in the window niches. The walls were completely covered with them, literally from top to bottom. It seems that this state of affairs was much worse than in the 18th century, and equally as bad as in the 19th century. Minor changes were carried out solely to accommodate more pictures. The situation remained the same even after 1945. It is only natural that the cluttered walls create a barrier between the pictures and the viewers, no matter how efficient the guide is. It also increases the security risk.

Another problem was the differences among the pictures, as far as period styles and quality were concerned. The paintings on display originated from an extensive period between the 16th and the 19th century, and exemplified many different schools. The old installation didn\'t even attempt to sort them into groups dating from the same period. For example, next to the Flemish landscape from the 17th century, there was an Italian composition of fantastic architecture from the 18th century. The reason for this was not lack of knowledge, since the pictures were correctly dated even in the old inventory lists. This disparity of styles went together with variations in quality. We know that in a gallery of this type it is not possible for each example to be authentic and that we cannot reach an equal level of quality of exhibits. It is not appropriate, however, to place original works alongside copies, some of which may be as obvious as those of Sporkman. Widely speaking, then, the impression made is more adverse than the favourable impression gained by the better works, and this leads to their aesthetic devaluation. In addition, there remain many high quality paintings in the depositories of Hluboká and Český Krumlov castles which merit display. The poor state of the gallery in Krumlov was in direct contrast to the research which showed that there is great potential here and the exhibition should be reinstalled. Extensive preparation work was done prior to the actual planning of the new installation. The aim of the planners was to consider all the possibilities of selecting and placing the right paintings in their appropriate places. Concurrently with the art-historical research of paintings in the castles in Český Krumlov, Hluboká, and Třeboň, there was also the archive research, which was to obtain a summary of the beginning of the Gallery and how it was managed by the Schwarzenbergs. The important thing was also to gather adequate material about the way they installed the galleries in the 17th and 18th century.

Český Krumlov Castle, picture gallery, Holy family with St. Francis, copy of an original by Peter Paul Rubens, middle 17th century

The actual building of the Castle Gallery was carried out while the Eggenbergs were in power, during the rebuilding of the castle between 1682 - 1687 by the builder Jakub de Maggi whle in archive sources the gallery is mentioned later, during the reign of the Schwarzenbergs. In the inventory list from 1724, the gallery is not referred to as a room at all, neither is its equipment. Only the corridor linking the gallery and the garden (Connecting Corridor). is mentioned. At that time there were 124 pictures and 311 engravings in the rooms and corridors of the castle. It seems that the actual founding of the gallery took place in the last years of the life of Adam Franz zu Schwarzenberg (1680 - 1732). The inventory list from 1733 is the first to refer to the gallery with its rich equipment. The subtitle "Neue Inventirung" indicates that the gallery was completed before the year 1733. In the introduction it states that it is not known exactly who the subjects of the portraits are, and therefore they are only identifiable by numbers. The list starts, as do all the others, with the large double portrait of Duchess Eleonora zu Schwarzenberg with the small Prince Josef by M. Haennel, which hangs in the middle of the wall opposite the windows. It continues anti-clockwise with a very brief list of all the other paintings. The pictures covered the walls entirely. There were 236 of them, plus 10 mirrors. This great number indicates the density of paintings on display and their size (for example there were eight pictures above the door). Among these smaller pictures, the portrait of Duchess Eleonora with her son was very noticeable and was probably the focal point of symmetry and the central point of the gallery. Apart from the pictures, there were also many pieces of furniture, ceramics, glass, and other works of art. The inventory lists from 1733 and 1740 emphasise the black cupboard (display cabinet) with gilded ornaments, where small glass, china, and silver items were kept, and to which only the Duchess had the key. The gallery was also an inhabitable room, with the windows fortunately facing the West. It is interesting, that the inventory lists from the 18th century make no mention of any small artefacts in the other castle rooms. In later times, the number of pictures in the castle gallery decreased. For example according to the inventory list from 1829 there were 488 pictures at the castle, out of which 189 were in the gallery. The gallery room was shortened by several metres because of the construction of a new staircase on the East side of the castle.

Another important phase in the preparation of the new installation was gathering information about methods of the display of pictures used in other galleries, mainly in Middle Europe. The name "gallery" was originally applied to an architectural feature. It was a long room connecting the various parts of a palace built in Renaissance or Baroque style, with a row of windows, intended for feasts, or as a place for the housing of art collections. The name then passed onto the actual collections placed there. The gallery of the French King Francois I (1528 - 1540) in Fontainebleau had a key position in the development of galleries, and was followed by those in Rome and Florence in the 16th century, the gallery of Karl Emanuel von Savoy in Turin, and Galleria della Mostra in Mantov, founded between 1592 and 1612.

A part of the art collection of Lord Arundel was contained in two galleries, one above the other. From the portraits of both spouses (1618 by Daniel Mytens sr.) it can be observed that the upper was for the display of plastic art, and the lower for paintings. Later these were referred to as the gallery of statues and the gallery of paintings. It is not by accident that the word gallery became a synonym for any art collection in the 16th and 17th century. The method of hanging pictures was very simple, but aesthetically satisfactory. Pairs of smaller pictures one on each side of the portal emphasised the vertical axes of the space, and larger paintings were hung between the windows. The positioning of pictures in the niches of windows was most interesting. The impression they gave there, because they were isolated from the larger pictures, greatly enhanced their appeal.

The gallery of Lord Arundel marks the end of the Renaissance epoch of development. Many painted galleries have survived from the 17th century, mainly Flemish. They take us into a world of different opinions and social behaviour. Even though in many cases, they are only imitation galleries, they often reflect contemporary opinion as to how art collections should be organised. These galleries, which no longer represented the original Renaissance architectural concept by then, are characterised by large numbers of pictures. But the development continued. It appears that in the first half of the century, the Renaissance philosophy relating to display of paintings was still observed. It is typified by considering, or even stressing, horizontal lines instead of symmetry. This does not infer that the pictures were not displayed correctly. Some compositions from 1630 to 1640 prove the growing importance of symmetry with a central axis, often accented by a fireplace, cutlery cabinet, or a large painting. The first half of the 17th century, documented by Teniers\' pictures from the Duke Leopold Wilhelm\'s gallery, for example, is an important period, in which pictures started to be displayed in symmetrical order under the influence of the Baroque style. Some examples from the 17th century show galleries with all the signs of mature Baroque compositions.

Painted galleries are fairly rare in Middle Europe. An interesting example, in many ways, is the "Music Entertainment in the Gallery", by J.H.Schoenfeld from the period after 1660. It matches the painting by Jan Ongerse (after 1691). Both paintings, together with some of the pictures depicted on them, were originally in the Vršovická collection in Prague. In 1723 they became the property of the Valdsteins and in 1741 were moved to the gallery in Dresden. The huge spaces portrayed indicate that this was the contemporary idea of the perfect gallery, where the pictures and the stucca decoration of the walls and ceiling form a united entity. Symmetry was applied here not only on the walls, but in the whole room, which meant that the opposite walls matched. It is interesting that in this gallery the pictures were displayed freely and could be clearly viewed by the visitors.

Český Krumlov Castle, picture gallery, Italian palace architecture, Jan van Kessel younger ?, Jan Miele ?, late 17th century

The Large Gallery in the castle Salzdahlum near Brunswick was significant to the overall development of galleries in the Baroque style. It was built in 1700 as the first entire building intended for this purpose. With its area of 800 m2, it was even larger than the Mirror Hall in Versailles. Unfortunately, we have no idea of its exact appearance. It was installed regardless of the value of the pictures. Each of them was displayed on the area best suited to its size. The only individual pictures were those which were extra large and formed the centres of symmetrical groups. The gallery was not an everyday part of its owner\'s life, and this probably influenced the overall evolution process of galleries.

The gallery at the castle Mosigkau (Germany), which was founded in 1757 and kept its original appearance until the Second World War, was a major source of ideas for the reinstallation of the Český Krumlov Castle Gallery. Despite the fact that the pictures, framed only in narrow battens, were displayed mosaically, the basic pattern was not disturbed. They were not in a strictly symmetrical order, but the walls were well balanced according to their central axis. On the dark parts of the walls were tables on consoles with a mirror, and one picture above each. The aesthetic appearance is very impressive even after the recent reconstruction, and the individual value of each picture can be well apreciated.

The gallery in Sanssouci in Potsdam is referred to as the oldest entire gallery building in the German region. It also represents the peak of late Baroque architecture. The building works started in 1750, and the exhibits were installed in 1763. The Gallery consists of two wings, each 26m long, connected by the Small Hall (originally containing only nine pictures). The cabinet for small-sized pictures is situated in the East wing. The gallery has windows, only on the South side, and the paintings were displayed on the North side. Between the windows was the furniture which consisted mainly of tables on consoles. G.Eckhardt, in his dissertation, proposed the reconstruction of the original building, which was very compact but impressive. The rule of symmetry was applied to the large walls as well as to groups of pictures. We can even confirm this by referring to the symmetry of the building itself, with its axis in the middle of the Small Hall. The paintings had to conform to the overall decorative harmony and therefore sacrifice some of their individuality, even though the viewer does have an opportunity to appreciate them individually. The pictures were, as they still are today, displayed in two rows, the larger above. The important innovation, compared to Salzhlum, was displaying them according to their country of origin: Italian in the West wing, and Dutch on the East wing (they were mainly Flemish). In 1764 the gallery contained a total of 146 pictures. The original Potsdam Gallery went through certain changes, and Baroque principles, especially rules of symmetry, were not applied as strictly as in 1763. Today, the Gallery is seen in its original state.

At the end of this brief digest we should not forget the Malta gallery, which unfortunately did not keep its original appearance and is now no longer in the Velkopřevorský palace in Prague where it was originally. The photographs taken in the 1930\'s show its appearance at it was at the end of the 18th century. The 56 pictures, framed in narrow golden battens, were displayed in excellent taste. They were displayed geometrically, but none of them lost their individuality and impact.

After this summary we can appreciate the various principles applying to the display of pictures in the galleries of kings, nobility, and sometimes ordinary citizens, in all phases of the Baroque period. The common aim was to fill the walls from top to bottom. It is interesting that we find mosaically displayed pictures at the beginning of the 17th century ( but only in imitation galleries ) as well as during the Rococo period -both phases differ in character. The main issue was how much the pictures and their surroundings matched and formed a united whole. This is obviously associated with the rules of symmetry. The best installations were complex but the pictures did not lose their individual qualities.

Český Krumlov Castle, picture gallery, Flower market at port, Flemish painter from early 17th century

The new plan for the reinstallation of the Krumlov gallery tried to conform to these rules as closely as possible. From the pictures in store, more priority was given to the more valuable Flemish paintings. The three Italian paintings that demand attention are placed in a separate part of the gallery in the northern part of the West wall. This is the only part of this wall that gets sufficient light from the north window.

Even when installing a selection of paintings such as this, we have to respect the basic principles of art values, for example by placing "Mars and Venus" by Willeboirts, at the short face wall, or the copy, "Rinaldo and Armida" by A. van Dyck in the middle of the East wall, where the large double portrait by M. Haenel was situated in the 18th century. Most of the pictures in the gallery are from the 17th century, when the major part of the collection was painted. This was to avoid all valueless paintings, mainly copies, all pictures from the 19th century without consideration of their value, and many smaller pictures. Instead of the original 188, only 48 pictures are displayed in the gallery. They all come from Český Krumlov, except for six from the Hluboká castle. This transfer is fully justified when considered from an historical point of view.

According to the general principle of installing Baroque galleries, we apply the basic rule of symmetry and composition in the reinstallation of the Krumlov gallery. On the face wall there is the above mentioned painting "Mars and Venus" by Willeboirst. This key picture connects both the long and the short wall of the gallery. In the middle of the North wall there is the large painting "Rinaldo and Armida", which is the most important painting on this wall. Despite the fact that the wall is separated by the door into two different sections, this painting represents the centre of the wall and the entire composition. It was difficult to achieve perfect symmetry, because there is one door "missing". It was replaced by two pictures (a,b) hanging above each other. By this means the East wall was divided into three parts, the central "A" and two smaller ones "B" and "C". The large group of pictures "A" represents the dominant and central feature of all three groups. It unites the great wall with the quality and number of pictures. As was common in Baroque galleries, there is double symmetry in the composition as a whole and in its various parts. The paintings are displayed in two rows, the larger in the upper, and the smaller in the lower, for close examination.

Český Krumlov Castle, picture gallery, Horse market in front of fortifications, Sebastian Vranx, early 17th century

The three parts of the West wall that have insufficient light for the display of pictures, are installed similarly as in Mosigkau and Sanssousi. In the upper parts there are some pictures with a completely decorative function, along with the mirrors, tables and chairs. This is also an attempt to furnish the gallery as it was originally furnished.

There will be no pictures in the window reveals, although there were many in the original installation, because here there would have to be small-sized pictures viewed only from short distances. This would not be acceptable from a security point of view.

The new installation thus basically means a return to the Baroque style of placing pictures, rather than their mechanical application. An attempt was made to prevent the pictures from losing their identity, and put them in places that would reveal their true qualities. The similarity of style, obvious in all the groups, shows the common elements of the different schools and the specific importance of this collection.