Prague Castle Gallery
On Wednesday, Prague's famous Hradcany castle re-opened its newly renovated gallery to the public. The gallery's permanent collection - works of art collected by Emperor Rudolf II - was originally housed in the castle until the 16th century. But when Rudolf died, in 1612, his collection was dispersed throughout Europe and it wasn't until recently that Prague Castle began buying back the paintings. Now the collection will be shown in its original home, and Radio Prague's Nicole Klement spoke to Eliska Fucikova - director of the national heritage department of the President's Office - about the gallery and the collection.
"This is the permanent exhibition of the Castle gallery, which 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."
"We are exhibiting about 120 paintings, the stock is much bigger but not as big as it was originally. So in fact it is only a remnant of the original collection, which we are exhibiting just now."
Could you maybe describe your favourite painting here in the exhibit?
"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."
Is the collection permanent? How long will it be here?
"Well, I think we will keep it as a permanent exhibition. But we are thinking about closing for a short period because we may need this space- because it is the safest in the Republic- for another exhibition which will be open only for a short time. So we are thinking, for example, to use this space for an exhibition of 14th century Bohemian paintings which we are preparing together with the Metropolitan Museum in New York."
Could you tell me, how this was organised? Is the Castle that organises it or the Ministry of Culture?
"The Castle is a self standing institution so all the exhibitions are prepared but the Prague Castle Administration and the President's Office. Also, the National Heritage Department co-operates with the Prague Castle Administration on all events and exhibitions."
And that was Eliska Fucikova - director of the national heritage department of the President's Office - talking to Nicole Klement about the newly-reopened Castle Gallery.