This exhibition presents a selection of paintings and sculptures of the distant and recent past, with an emphasis on famous works in the context of the remarkable achievement of lesser-known artists and with examples from several contemporary artists in this field.
The tradition of the classical portrait of the 19th century is represented by A. Machek and J. Mánes. One of the most beautiful pieces in the installation is a portrait of Božena Němcová by J. V. Hellich, which comes from the family of the writer Čelakovský and is one of the jewels of the Castle Collections. Academic portraits from the second half of the 19th century include art pieces by V. Brožík, V. Hynais or F. Ženíšek, whose Portrait of Mother is one of the most touching portraits ever produced.
The generation of the eighteen-nineties and the Art Nouveau period are variously represented, with names such as Marold, Mucha, Kupka, Mašek or Brunner Dvořák as representatives of the foppish and spiritual portraiture style with their shoots of decorative stylism and ornamental arabesque. The solitaire was M. Švabinský, who is introduced in the exhibition as a variationally interesting master of the representative and intimate portrait in painting and drawing, where he occupied a prime position. We can recognize J. Preisler´s outstanding personality in examples of his early academic paintings, and also in his career-crowning self-portraits or in the Portrait Of The Archictect J. Gočár.
Older sculptural portraits are represented by the works of J. V. Myslbek, S. Sucharda, J. Štursa, B. Kafka and L. Šaloun.
The period of the advent of modernism before the Great War is marked by expressionism and diverse stimuli from the word. They are symbolically represented in the bewitching torso of B. Kubišta. The strong works by E. Filla, J. Čapek, R. Kremlička and J. Prucha, whose self-portrait created just a few months before his tragic end, strongly reflect the hopes, desires and doubts of the generation at the break of the old and new ages.
Early and later works are represented by V. Špála, A. Procházka, L. Kuba and V. Nechleba.
The relaxed atmosphere of interwar Czechoslovakia is convincingly demonstrated by the masterful artefacts of A. Procházka, O. Kubín, O. Guttfreund and J. Šíma. The twentieth century brought a loosening of the painter´s form towards greater diversity and hyperbole, as can be seen in the works of J. Zrzavý, K. Lhoták, F. Jiroudek, J. Liesler, J. Jíra or J. Kolář.
Contemporary sculptural portraits are represented by Z. Fibichová, V. Preclík, J. Klimeš and S. Hanzlík. the youngest generation is represented by I. Exner, B. Valchářová, X. Hoffmeisterová, J. Kremanová, J. Houska, J. Čuška, Z. Daněk and others.
Through the ages these artists have created thousands of portraits, and this exhibition cannot present even a fraction. The organizers´goal was to gather and install a dignified collection of exhibits that accurately reflect the forms, shapes and materials of portraits of the last two centuries, and present it in the representative exhibition areas of Prague Castle. (Michael Zachař)
The exhibition is organised by the Office of the President of the Republic, Prague Castle Administration and the Mánes Association of Fine Artists.
The exhibition is held under the auspices of the President of the Czech Republic, Mr. Miloš Zeman.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog and an exhibition guide.