National Museum shows "Mute Witnesses of the Luxembourg Rule"

Prague's Lapidarium

Last week saw the opening of a major exhibition devoted to the 14th century king and emperor, Charles IV, at Prague Castle. It brings together priceless works from dozens of museums in fifteen countries, and covers not only the reign of Charles IV himself, but the whole period when the Luxembourg dynasty ruled the Czech lands in the 14th and 15th centuries. But some objects from that time were simply too large to be transported to Prague Castle. They are on show at a separate exhibition at the National Museum's Lapidarium in Prague 7.

Dancers in colourful period costumes opened the exhibition entitled "Mute Witnesses of the Luxembourg Rule" at Prague's Lapidarium - or depository of stone sculpture. And indeed most of the exhibits are sculptures and statues, many of them the originals of works that can be seen around the centre of Prague. Dana Stehlikova is the curator of the exhibition.

"This exhibition is an addition to the main exhibition of Luxembourg Gothic at Prague Castle. We are showing here all the stone sculptures and statues which could not be moved to Prague Castle. So for example the main statues from the Charles Bridge Tower are the portrait statues of Charles IV and his son Wenceslas IV and the saints."

On display are also the well-known busts of Charles IV's four wives and several noblemen and clergymen of the time, as well as restored fragments of Charles IV's burial shroud. But Dana Stehlikova says the most precious exhibits are much more humble.

"I suppose it can be the oldest dated tombstone from the Jewish cemetery in Prague. This cemetery was one of the oldest in the whole of Central Europe. It was founded by King Premysl Otakar II in 1254 and all Jews from the whole country ought to be buried here in Prague. It was a large garden which was quite hidden for centuries under the New Town of Prague and we didn't know we had such old tombstones because we could not understand Hebraic letters, so for us it was a great discovery. And the second one is just a head of a statue from a Cistercian monastery in Zbraslav near Prague. It was one of the largest churches and monasteries and a royal necropolis, and this is the only on which remained."

The venue of the exhibition, the stone works depository, was opened a hundred years ago at the trade fair grounds in Holesovice. You can visit it all year round, to see the originals of precious sculptural works which if left outside could be damaged by vandals or could suffer in the city's polluted air.

The exhibition lasts until September 30th.