A Travellerspoint blog

July 2015

Art for Art's sake part 2

The next day of wallowing in art took place at the unlikely looking (from the outside it looks like any office building) Trade Fair Palace. Inside it works really well, as it should as one of the first functionalism (form follows function) buildings built in Prague in 1926. Since it is easier to walk down stairs than up them, I took the lift to the top and worked my way down the levels stopping halfway to grab a bite at the cafe on the ground floor. This turned into an exercise in delayed gratification since the Klimt paintings I really wanted to see were on the first floor. However I enjoyed the two floors of Czech 19th and 20th century modern art, and then I reached the amazing collection of French art of the 19th and 20th centuries. On this floor they included a whole room full of early Picassos, and paintings from Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Delacroix, Gaugin, and Toulouse-Lautrec, plus a dozen other well known painters. Eventually I reached the first floor and reached the large painting of the Virgins by Klimt. It was wonderful to see it up close, but difficult to take a photo of since it was covered in a sheet of plastic which reflected the strong lighting in the room ( this is a common problem when trying to get good photos, but we do what we can) There were two more Klimts in the room. The landscape didn't photo well, but I was happy to capture Woman behind a Muff. I spent five hours slowly working through this large collection and have only included what I think were some of the highlights of the day for me..... I spent another day in the city, but decided not to do another blog on Prague. I must be getting ready to return to New Zealand, since I think I may have done too many cities on this years trip. Only one more week in Berlin, and then I can put my camera away for another year...

seven floors of the ultramodern gallery

seven floors of the ultramodern gallery


Hours of pleasure

Hours of pleasure


the artist

the artist


his wife

his wife


he liked painting women

he liked painting women


in nature

in nature


old woman in Serbian costume

old woman in Serbian costume


sun reflecting on a stream

sun reflecting on a stream


morning bathe in stream

morning bathe in stream


Bum in the sun

Bum in the sun


Alfons Mucha famous Czech art nouveau artist

Alfons Mucha famous Czech art nouveau artist


sorrowful return

sorrowful return


close up

close up


All Souls Day

All Souls Day


self portrait Henri Rousseau

self portrait Henri Rousseau


Picasso

Picasso


Picasso landscape with bridge

Picasso landscape with bridge


Early Picasso self portrait

Early Picasso self portrait


Picasso

Picasso


A room full of early Picassos

A room full of early Picassos


Moulon Rouge Toulouse-Lautrec

Moulon Rouge Toulouse-Lautrec


Gaugin

Gaugin


Gaugin

Gaugin


Van Gogh

Van Gogh


Cezanne

Cezanne


Claude Monet

Claude Monet


Claude Monet

Claude Monet


Renoir

Renoir


Delacroix..Rider attacked by leopard

Delacroix..Rider attacked by leopard


Carpeaux..sculptor of La Danse

Carpeaux..sculptor of La Danse


so lifelike

so lifelike


Cleopatra of course

Cleopatra of course


amusing

amusing


weird

weird


Disturbing

Disturbing


disturbing contemporary art

disturbing contemporary art


and the same

and the same


entitled My Father

entitled My Father


is this deep or not?

is this deep or not?


she's an oil painting

she's an oil painting


small but perfect

small but perfect


Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt


The virgins

The virgins


One of my favourite artists

One of my favourite artists


close up

close up


and again

and again


Klimt lady with a muff

Klimt lady with a muff


close up

close up


disturbed Edvard Munch-...dancing on the shore

disturbed Edvard Munch-...dancing on the shore


more Edvard Munch

more Edvard Munch


self portrait Munch

self portrait Munch


folding screen

folding screen


with scary masklike faces

with scary masklike faces


like they have been taken over by demons

like they have been taken over by demons


haunting image

haunting image


one of my favourites

one of my favourites


Asian baby with flowers...the end..

Asian baby with flowers...the end..

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

Art for Art's Sake

I just spent two days self-indulgently walking around parts of the Czech National art gallery, which is scattered between several buildings in Prague. It was great. and the photos in this blog are only a fraction of those I took. The first day was spent up on the Castle hill where two palaces hold Old world and Baroque art from Czechoslovakian artists and a fair scattering of European Masters. Amongst the Old European Masters that I recognised were Reubens, Van Dyk, Goya, El Greco, Breughel, and Rembrandt. There were some paintings I wanted to take home with me, but they wouldn't let me. There were also many stunning paintings by artists I have never heard of. The most disturbing painting I saw all day was the Tearful Bride painted by Jan Sanders Van Hemessen in 1450. The information about it on the internet is scarce, but it is supposed to be a Parody on the tearful bride who is a virgin and afraid of the coming wedding night. I believe that satire is often a cruel form of humour, and I don't find it funny. However I believe that the raw vivid emotion captured in this painting elevates it above parody, and that once you have seen the painting it becomes one of those that can not be forgotten....

one of two Art Palaces next to the Castle

one of two Art Palaces next to the Castle


first palace courtyard

first palace courtyard


japanese style garden

japanese style garden


portrait 1

portrait 1


portrait 2

portrait 2


portrait 3

portrait 3


portrait 4

portrait 4


portrait 5

portrait 5


portrait 6

portrait 6


portrait 7

portrait 7


portrait 8

portrait 8


strange looking children

strange looking children


love the hat

love the hat


she reminds me of someone

she reminds me of someone


portrait 9

portrait 9


portrait 10

portrait 10


nice bust

nice bust


another nice Bust

another nice Bust


life size and lifelike

life size and lifelike


lovely palace ceilings

lovely palace ceilings


and more

and more


only glass cased item I took photo of

only glass cased item I took photo of


Mary, Jesus, John the Baptist

Mary, Jesus, John the Baptist


on motherhood

on motherhood


view from art gallery window

view from art gallery window


Second Palace used as art gallery

Second Palace used as art gallery


gallery

gallery


lovely ceilings

lovely ceilings


more painted ceilings

more painted ceilings


tiny little art nouveau room

tiny little art nouveau room


with lovely ornate

with lovely ornate


ceiling and

ceiling and


walls

walls


Painted by El Greco

Painted by El Greco


portrait 11 painted by Goya

portrait 11 painted by Goya


portrait 12

portrait 12


portrait 13

portrait 13


portrait 14

portrait 14


portrait 15

portrait 15


Painting by Breughel

Painting by Breughel


part of a large painting

part of a large painting


more of the large painting

more of the large painting


Nice outfit

Nice outfit


man of sorrows

man of sorrows


more sorrowful man of sorrows

more sorrowful man of sorrows


large screen with 12 saints

large screen with 12 saints


one of saints

one of saints


another

another


looks like a da Vinci, but isn't

looks like a da Vinci, but isn't


unusual madonna and child

unusual madonna and child


The Tearful Bride.1540 . a disturbing Dutch Parody

The Tearful Bride.1540 . a disturbing Dutch Parody

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

A morning in the Old Town of Prague

I did spend a morning in the Old Town Square, but the night before I took my camera out on the way to my favourite restaurant and took some photos of the nicely finished buildings in the area. If you spend the time to look up it's amazing how much trouble the builders went to in the early 20th century to individualise each building. One of the sad things is that if you get down to the street level, stupid taggers have done their best to make every street look like it was in the ghetto. In Prague my favourite eating place is an Italian Restaurant about 100 yards down the street. In Rome my favourite Restaurant was Chinese (it must be the Irish in me). It is a quality restaurant so the prices may be a little high for Prague, but the quality of the food is the best that I have eaten so far on my trip, and I'm worth it. Having said that, the soup (which was a meal in itself), the huge bowl of Risotto (I took half of it home for lunch the next day), and the small vase full of Tiramisu, plus a pint of lager came to just NZ$19. The previous meal I had there was a thick chicken and vegetable soup with floating gnocci, and a huge bowl of Spaghetti Bolognase covered in Parmessan cheese, plus a 1/2 pint of lager came to NZ$13. I limit myself to every second night cos I can't handle those size of portions every day. So at about ten am the next morning I headed out on the tram which took me half way to the Old Town Square. I got off at the right station and then proceeded to get lost( not a lot lost though, just a little bit lost) It didn't matter because I found another square to look at called Republik Square and that had a few really cool buildings on it like the Powder Tower (which was originally the Old Town Gate, but then it was used to store gunpowder in the 17th century and so they changed it's name) By then I noticed a steady stream of people following tour guides down a certain street, so I joined them and it wasn't long before I got to where I was supposed to be Prague Old Town Square. It is a huge square surrounded by monumental buildings that have in some cases been there for hundreds of years. After I had walked all around it I noticed a couple of hundred people gathering in one corner, so I strolled over to have a look. There was the oldest working astronomical clock in the world, and it was almost time to do its thing, so I squeezed into the crowd to try and get a photo of what was going on. On the dot of 11 o'clock the bells started chiming, the little statues started to move and the top doors upened so you could just see the 12 apostles moving past. The crowd was dead silent while this was going on, but when the golden rooster popped out and made a loud SQWAWK noise everyone burst out laughing. After that bit of excitement I decided that following the crowds was a good idea, so I followed them down lots of little shopping lanes and arcades, until we came to the river and the Charles bridge. It is one of the must see places in Prague because there is always a crowd on the bridge and several musicians or bands play on it every day, and there are lots of artists and craft stalls selling souvenirs all along it. The 30 statue groupings were a focus for people taking photos or selfies and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. On the other side I found a tram stop and by 1pm I was home having a well earned cuppa having walked for miles...

in my street

in my street


up the road

up the road


up the road

up the road


down the road/ tram stop

down the road/ tram stop


tram stop building

tram stop building


Seen from my room balcony

Seen from my room balcony


around the corner

around the corner


across from restaurant

across from restaurant


this too

this too


tram passing restaurant

tram passing restaurant


Creamy spinach soup with salmon & dill

Creamy spinach soup with salmon & dill


Ham & sundried tomato risotto & chicken breast

Ham & sundried tomato risotto & chicken breast


with parmesan (enough for 2 meals)

with parmesan (enough for 2 meals)


Boxed 1/2 the risotto to order Tiramisu dessert.

Boxed 1/2 the risotto to order Tiramisu dessert.


But didn't expect it to come in a huge "vase"

But didn't expect it to come in a huge "vase"


Powder Gate/Tower 1475

Powder Gate/Tower 1475


Municipal House Art Nouveau

Municipal House Art Nouveau


Venue for Classical Concerts on Republik Square

Venue for Classical Concerts on Republik Square


Church on Republik Square

Church on Republik Square


Finally found my way to Old Town Square

Finally found my way to Old Town Square


Old Town Hall

Old Town Hall


Each building on the Square is unique

Each building on the Square is unique


The Jan Hus Memorial

The Jan Hus Memorial


Burned at stake for Heresy in 1415

Burned at stake for Heresy in 1415


one of four bands playing in the Square

one of four bands playing in the Square


It is a big Square

It is a big Square


with many interesting buildings

with many interesting buildings


like the "Kinsky Palace"1758 now an Art Gallery

like the "Kinsky Palace"1758 now an Art Gallery


for victims of Prague Uprising-We Remain Faithful

for victims of Prague Uprising-We Remain Faithful


Interesting plaque on side of fish restaurant

Interesting plaque on side of fish restaurant


Medieval astronomical clock 1410

Medieval astronomical clock 1410


attracts huge crowds on the hour

attracts huge crowds on the hour


the doors open and 12 apostles are shown

the doors open and 12 apostles are shown


death rings the chimes

death rings the chimes


The crowd is hushed then

The crowd is hushed then


SQUAWK says the rooster and everybody laughs

SQUAWK says the rooster and everybody laughs


Gothic Church of our lady before Tyn. 14th century

Gothic Church of our lady before Tyn. 14th century


more pretty buildings

more pretty buildings


and more

and more


closer view

closer view


This one holds a Starbucks

This one holds a Starbucks


This a theatre

This a theatre


and this one the Hard Rock Cafe

and this one the Hard Rock Cafe


last view of pretty buildings off Square

last view of pretty buildings off Square


Charles Bridge Tower on Old Town side

Charles Bridge Tower on Old Town side


Built in 14th century/close up of details

Built in 14th century/close up of details


view down river Vlatava

view down river Vlatava


View across to Castle

View across to Castle


Full of Tourists

Full of Tourists


View upriver

View upriver


Bridge is 10 metres wide and 620 metres long

Bridge is 10 metres wide and 620 metres long


decorated by 30 statues from 1700

decorated by 30 statues from 1700


and half a dozen bands or performers

and half a dozen bands or performers


the spot where Saint John was drowned

the spot where Saint John was drowned


Rubbed for luck

Rubbed for luck


Saint John of Nepomuk

Saint John of Nepomuk


Bridge Tower on the other side

Bridge Tower on the other side


Top of building seen from bridge

Top of building seen from bridge

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

Prague Castle part 2

When I first took a photo of the building with the red and cream facade, I had no idea that it was the Basilica of St. George, which was founded in 920 by King Wenceslas's father. I later found out that the Baroque facade was added in the 17th century. Inside the Basilica ( which once housed a Benedictine Convent) the building is much plainer. The high wooden ceilings and Romanesque stone walls coupled with atmospheric lighting give the interior an old world look and feel. There is nothing grandiose about this building or it's furnishings, and the rather empty interior give it excellent acoustics for the classical music concerts that are held there. The bones of many early Bohemian Kings, Queens, and Princes are interred there, and I thought it was interesting when I noticed the skull of Prince Vratislav peeking out at me from a window in his sepulchre. The miniature houses in Golden Lane were what prompted me to buy a ticket to enter the castle buildings, and I admit that looking around them was fun and enjoyable. The street was first called Archery Lane. Houses were originally built there in the 16th century to accommodate 24 marksmen and their families ( they guarded the castle walls from a gallery that ran across the top of all the houses, and is today a museum/armoury) The first houses built were much smaller than those there today, and they had to share a single toilet and a single outdoor freshwater tap and basin. Life would not have been easy, but life was lived in that manner by just about everyone in those days. By the 17th century there was little need for marksmen and the houses were let out to Goldsmiths and the occasional alchymist ( who was attempting to create gold out of base metals). Frank Kafka's sister owned one and the writer spent two years there in the early 20th century. In the 1950's they were restored and painted in bright colours. Today they house souvenir shops and a large collection of arms and suits of armour in the long gallery that runs above the houses. Once I'd seen all I wanted to see, it was an easy walk for me down a series of steps and ramps that took me down the hill to a place where I could catch a tram back to where I am staying....

St George statue outside Basilica

St George statue outside Basilica


Facade of St. George's Basilica

Facade of St. George's Basilica


Medieval stone carving above sidedoor of Basilica

Medieval stone carving above sidedoor of Basilica


Romanesque plain interior of Basilica

Romanesque plain interior of Basilica


plain little statue in Basilica

plain little statue in Basilica


tomb of a Duke Vratislaus 1 of Bohemia

tomb of a Duke Vratislaus 1 of Bohemia


It's where the bones of kings and queens are kept

It's where the bones of kings and queens are kept


Sepulchre for Vratislav 11 Prince of Bohemia

Sepulchre for Vratislav 11 Prince of Bohemia


skeleton looking out of Prince Vratislav Sepulchre

skeleton looking out of Prince Vratislav Sepulchre


Houses in Golden Lane

Houses in Golden Lane


One house has little shop selling wreaths

One house has little shop selling wreaths


Doorways and ceilings are low

Doorways and ceilings are low


This one has little shop selling puppets

This one has little shop selling puppets


some are smaller than others

some are smaller than others


Writer Franz Kafka lived here for two years

Writer Franz Kafka lived here for two years


Original houses were much smaller

Original houses were much smaller


end of Lane

end of Lane


Raw end wall of gold lane cottages

Raw end wall of gold lane cottages


serious artillary

serious artillary


wish I had a $ for every one of these I been up

wish I had a $ for every one of these I been up


put another log on...no cancel that

put another log on...no cancel that


one toilet shared between 24 cottages

one toilet shared between 24 cottages


armoury above cottages

armoury above cottages


armoury

armoury


big stabbers

big stabbers


little stabbers

little stabbers


big guy and little guy

big guy and little guy


fancy little stabbers

fancy little stabbers


Fancy big stabbers

Fancy big stabbers


Don't know and didn't ask...needs a fig leaf

Don't know and didn't ask...needs a fig leaf


walking out of Castle

walking out of Castle


glad I'm walking down...not up

glad I'm walking down...not up


easy as for me

easy as for me


hard going for some

hard going for some


view on way down

view on way down

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

And then there's Prague- Castle part 1

My first morning in Prague was cloudy and a refreshing 23 degrees (lovely after the last few weeks of 35 to 42). I walked 100 mtrs down the road and caught a modern tram which took me for a half hour ride through town, over the river, and up a steep hill to the Prague Castle complex. That cost me a $2 ticket and was a good way to see some of Prague on the way. Building on the Castle and the churches inside the grounds was started in 870 by Saint Wenceslas and his father King Vratislav of Bohemia. They started work on the Church of St Vitus, and the St. George Basilica. Over the centuries various Palaces were built on the grounds and it was the seat of power for Bohemian Kings, Holy Roman Emperors, and Presidents of Czechoslovakia. In 1060 St. Vitus church was enlarged to a Basilica and in 1344 a start was made to turn that into the Gothic Cathedral that exists today. Things moved slowly and it took 600 years to complete a unified vision of the present day Cathedral. Within the Cathedral is the Saint Wenceslas Chapel ( the same Good King Wenceslas as the Christmas carol) where his body is laid to rest. Within that chapel is a room which holds the Coronation jewels and regalia that have been used to crown Kings of Bohemia in the Cathedral, since the 14th century. The door to the room has seven locks, and each of the seven keys is held by seven different high officials in the church and the Czech government. They have to be turned at the same time to open the room, and this only happens now every ten years or so when the Crown Jewels are exhibited for a limited time in the Prague Castle. I bought a ticket for entrance to the Cathedral, the Old Palace, the St George Basilica, and Gold Street (used to be full of Goldsmiths). It was good value for about $8 (for over 65s). When I looked at all my photos though I had to break the blog into two parts, starting with the St Vitus Cathedral and the Old Palace. The Cathedral was all a Gothic Cathedral should be with high vaulted ceilings, colourful stained glass windows, and a spooky feeling that made you feel you wouldn't want to be locked in there for the night. As well as King/Saint Wenceslas being buried here, and multiple Kings of Bohemia, the tomb of Saint John of Nepomuk is a huge fixture in the front of the Cathedral. Now life is stranger than fiction, and when I first saw the name Saint John of Nepomuk I thought "hold on, someone is joking". But no it's true, and it is an amazing story. The story is that King Wenceslas 1V had a beautiful wife whom he thought was cheating on him with another man. He ordered his wife's confessor ( the vicar John of the town of Nepomuk) to tell him if she had confessed to having a lover, but John refused to break the Sacred seal of confession. Even under torture he refused to tell the King anything that his wife had confessed to him. This infuriated the King and he had John thrown off the Charles Bridge tied to a cartwheel to be drowned. His body was later found and he was buried, but the next year Bohemia suffered a severe drought. The church leaders who knew what had happened told the people that the drought was the fault of the King for martyring John, and the King was pressured to build a grandiose tomb in the Cathedral of St. Vitus for the Vicar, who later became Saint John of Nepomuk (Patron Saint of The Seal of the Confessional, and of Bridges.) Next up was the Old Palace, and it felt like an old and uncomfortable empty space to live in. They did however have a crown room on an upper floor and there they showed copies of the Crown Jewels......

entry to Castle complex grounds

entry to Castle complex grounds


When they renovate- the gold paint comes out first

When they renovate- the gold paint comes out first


First courtyard of castle complex

First courtyard of castle complex


big deep well...well covered

big deep well...well covered


Now that's what you call Gothic

Now that's what you call Gothic


Saint Vitus Cathedral Inside Prague Castle grounds

Saint Vitus Cathedral Inside Prague Castle grounds


The main entrance

The main entrance


above Cathedral doors

above Cathedral doors


Long View facing Palace

Long View facing Palace


showing more features of long view

showing more features of long view


golden window screen detail

golden window screen detail


Mosaic of the last judgement 1372

Mosaic of the last judgement 1372


back view of Cathedral

back view of Cathedral


view from front door to nave

view from front door to nave


another inside view

another inside view


organ loft

organ loft


That's what it is all about

That's what it is all about


No expense spared to stop droughts occurring

No expense spared to stop droughts occurring


Tomb of St John of Nepomuk

Tomb of St John of Nepomuk


They did him proud

They did him proud


stained glass windows

stained glass windows


and another

and another


and another

and another


another interior view

another interior view


and another

and another


and another

and another


Plain wooden plaques in Cathedral

Plain wooden plaques in Cathedral


eloquent in their plainness

eloquent in their plainness


entrance to Saint Wenceslas Chapel

entrance to Saint Wenceslas Chapel


cleaning marble inside Cathedral

cleaning marble inside Cathedral


Embellishing the Cathedral gates are

Embellishing the Cathedral gates are


lovely little gate details showing daily life

lovely little gate details showing daily life


like this

like this


and this

and this


and this

and this


and another

and another


and another

and another


and another

and another


Main hall in old palace

Main hall in old palace


another view

another view


old Palace furniture

old Palace furniture


complex lock and hinges in old Palace

complex lock and hinges in old Palace


King of Bohemia

King of Bohemia


Kings throne room in old Palace

Kings throne room in old Palace


coronation jewels for Kings of Bohemia

coronation jewels for Kings of Bohemia


copy of coronation orb of Bohemian Kings

copy of coronation orb of Bohemian Kings


copy of coronation crown

copy of coronation crown


copy of sceptre of Bohemian Kings

copy of sceptre of Bohemian Kings

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)