National Gallery’s app reveals hidden medieval secrets

Convent of St. Agnes of Bohemia

The National Gallery in Prague has launched its first mobile application, called Hidden Secrets of Medieval Paintings. It offers visitors an interactive viewing of selected panel paintings, which are on display in the Convent of St. Agnes of Bohemia, and uncovers some interesting facts about their origin as well as some secrets hidden under the top layer.

Photo: archive of National Gallery
The collection of paintings which are on display at the National Gallery’s Convent of St Agnes of Bohemia represents some of the most renowned works of art created throughout two centuries in Bohemia and Central Europe.

Thanks to the newly launched application, which can be downloaded to mobile phones and tablets free of charge, visitors will now be able to see below the surface of the paintings and discover more about the process of their creation. Štěpánka Chlumská is the curator at the National Gallery:

“The application allows interactive viewing of the paintings, which are on permanent display in the St. Agnes convent. It provides a commentary on the details, including the authorship, the content and the symbolism of the paintings. We are talking about medieval art, so every detail bears some significance.

“We were also interested in what is not visible to the naked eye, allowing users to look below the surface of the painting. They can see the first layer of the painting, the so-called under-drawing, which was a very important step in the process of creation and outlined the final composition of the painting.”

The selection includes some of the earliest examples of panel paintings associated with the 14th century Gothic Master of the Vyšší Brod Altarpiece, Master of the Třeboň Altarpiece and Master Theodoricus, as well as late Gothic and early Renaissance panel paintings produced in the workshops of the Master of the St George Altarpiece and Master of the Litoměřice Altarpiece.

The application Hidden Secrets of Medieval Paintings is another step in the National Gallery’s attempt to revive the premises of its oldest building, a beautiful Gothic convent situated in the city centre right by the Vltava River.

Last summer, the National Gallery launched a successful summer programme called Anežka live!, which is located in the recently renovated garden of the convent. Curator Štěpánka Chlumská outlines the details of its second edition, which has just got underway:

Convent of St. Agnes of Bohemia | Photo: Dominika Bernáthová,  Radio Prague International
“The second edition of Anežka Live! was launched this Friday and it will run until September the 7th. There will be a rich programme throughout the whole summer for adults, children, groups and individuals.

“It will include film screenings, yoga lessons, charity markets and all sorts of programmes for families with children and everything will be open to the public free of charge.”

To find out more about Anežka live! and the mobile application Hidden Secrets of Medieval Paintings, visit the National Gallery’s website at