An exhibition of an American artist Robert Horvitz opened recently in Prague's Jewish museum. It is conceived as the first show within a whole cycle of exhibitions in Prague featuring Jewish artists from various countries.

Robert Horvitz is one of those artists, who lay the main stress on the very process of creating a piece of art. He only uses a pen and paper and has been using that simple technique for many years. Yet, his drawings are full of life and motion. I asked Mr. Horvitz first why his exhibition was called Essence?

Rudolf II - Holy Roman Emperor and king of the Czech lands is known as an exceptional patron of the arts, a monarch who created the largest kunstkammer in Europe. What is interesting about Rudolf's collecting activities is the fact that he did not only amass antiques, but also contemporary art. His collections were housed in the Prague castle until the 16th century but, when Rudolf II died, in 1612, his collections were dispersed throughout Europe, bereaving the Czech lands of his treasures.

It wasn't until recently that the Prague Castle began buying back the paintings in the hope of bringing, at least, a piece of Rudolf's grand collection back to its original home. Finally this year, the Prague castle re-opened a permanent picture gallery with a collection of 120 paintings.

I asked Eliska Fucikova an art historian and the director of the National Heritage Department of the President's Office how the collection ended up being taken from Prague..

"The permanent exhibition of the Castle gallery, it has a very long history, lasting to the second half of the sixteenth century. It was an imperial collection created by Rudolf II, then it slowly disappeared. Partly to Vienna, then taken by Swedish troops to Stockholm in 1648. Then the Habsburgs bought another collection, which by the way originated from Lord Buckingham, they bought the collection in Antwerp so they created another gallery filling these spaces - constructed especially as a gallery for the Prague Castle."

How much of the original collection will be on show at the Prague castle?

"We are exhibiting about 120 paintings, the stock is much bigger but not as big as it was originally. Because as I mentioned already at the start the same happened at the second gallery paintings were taken to Vienna and also sold too Dresden. So, in fact it is only a remnant of the original collection, which we are exhibiting just now."

I couldn't help myself, I asked Mrs. Fucikova which paintings were her favourite?

"Well my favourite, of course, are the Italian 16th century paintings by Veronese, Tintoretto and Bordone, but of course there are many others, like Bassano's and many 17th century paintings like Domenico Fetti's and so on. So, this is a classical picture gallery except just in a bit of a smaller scale."

Though the gallery is quite small with four main rooms. It's richly painted walls and high ceilings do justice to the grand collection the Prague castle has managed to buy back. The gallery is open to the public year round and for a small fee you can get a taste of the richness that surrounded Rudolf the II during his reign in Bohemia.