This museum is a little bit out of the way in the northern part of the city but a great collection of czech and european modern art. The best of czech art is here with a smattering of Van Gogh's Picasso's and Gaugan's.
Adjoining St. Georges Basilica, is St.Georges Convent. It is no longer used as a Convent, instead is part of the National Gallery. I noticed a statue of St. George on the corner wall, and then one above a doorway.
During the Protestant Hussite Wars, the nuns had to leave the convent and the buildings were left empty. It is another building that has met with disaster and has been built in Renaissance and Baroque styles. In 1782, the convent was dissolved, then the Artillery Regiment used it till 1826.
Now, you can come here and see Art.
The exhibition is open every day of the week, from 9 am to 5 pm.
There is a free entry every first Wednesday in a month.
Standing next to St. George's Basilica in the Prague Castle area, St. George's Convent originally was a Benedictine convent. Founded in 963, it was the first Catholic convent to be established in Bohemia. It remained in use until 1782, at which point it was converted into military barracks. The convent was extensively restored in the 20th century to house the 19th century Bohemian art collection of the National Gallery. To be honest, I much preferred it to the nearby royal picture gallery. It features several stunning pieces by Czech Romantic painters and sculptors, including works by the famous Manes family. Admission is included in the general Prague Castle ticket.
This portion of the National Gallery contains Mannerist and Baroque paintings. I don't know if I was allowed to take pictures, so I quietly took a few. My favorite was the Queen accusing the two knights of killer her husband the king.
I am often mesmerized by fantastic biographies of early Christian saints, especially women. As I was leaving the gallery at the Convent of St. Agnes I noticed this panel painting: it depicts a woman saint, her body covered with hair – an image that had been haunting me for some years and I had not been able to attach a name to it. All I remembered was that the woman was a hermit who spent her life in an Egyptian dessert. The caption next to the picture said ‘St Mary of Egypt’. Bingo! I read the information carefully. Allegedly, before she became a saint, Mary was a prostitute from Alexandria. She was converted to Christianity on a pilgrimage to the city of Jerusalem. Once converted she decided to spend the rest of her life as a hermit living in the desert in Egypt. According to a legend her dress fell apart and immediately thick hair grew on her body to cover her nakedness. And the three loafs depicted in the painting was the only food she had in the desert, which miraculously kept her alive for 47 years she spent there. Wow.
The painting of St Mary of Egypt made me think of another, even stranger story of a woman saint, who ended up as a man. Again, my interest was kindled when I saw a strange painting of a half-naked old man with grey beard and… woman’s breasts! It was a wall painting in one of the churches in the Open Air Museum in Goreme, Cappadocia. The strange person turned out to be St. Onuphrius, a male saint who used to be a pretty girl. In Eastern Orthodoxy Onuphrius, when still a girl, was oppressed by a rather violent suitor. She was keen to retain her chastity and wished to become a man. Soon a divine power changed her into one according to her wish and male St Onufrius spent the rest of his life as a hermit.
This brings another association, with Bernini’s amazing sculpture ‘Apollo and Daphne’ displayed in Villa Borghese in Rome. This is no longer a Christian theme but still a religious one. The sculpture shows a story from Metamorphosis in which Daphne, a nymph, escapes being raped by Apollo by turning into a laurel tree. I still remember Daphne’s face in the sculpture, the look of horror in her face. The composition of this work is so dramatic that it can send shivers down your spine.
Should you have the bad luck to catch a rainy day, a visit to the National gallery in Veletrzni Palac is a good thing to do. The building is from 1928, it looks amazingly modern and must have been way ahead of its time when it was built. Very good collection of impressionists, also some extremely fine Czech works of art in all fields. Many wonderful sculptures by the genius Rodin. Only drawback: the gastronomy gives the impression of a factory canteen.
Collection of European Art from Antiquity to the End of the Baroque of National Gallery in Prague is housed in Sternberg Palace. It is neither huge castle nor huge collection, but it contains significant works of some of the greatest artists.
Among the masterpieces of this collection are "Adoration of the Magi" by Geertgen tot Sint Jans, Albrecht Durer's "Feast of the Rose Garlands", El Greco's "Praying Christ", "Portrait of Jasper Schade" by Frans Hals, but also works of Hans Baldung Grien, Lucas Cranach, Francesco Melzi, Agnolo Bronzino, Francisco Goya, Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt van Rijn…
This short preview could not be complete without mentioning two beautiful Faiyum Portraits.
Permanent exhibitions placed in several buildings in Prague:
1. European Art from Classic Era to the Close of the Baroque: Sternberg Palace (Prague Castle area)
2. Mannerism and Baroque in Bohemia:
St George's Convent (Prague Castle area)
3. Mediaeval Art in Bohemia and Central Europe: St Agnes' Convent (Old Town area)
4. Permanent exhibition of 19th, 20th and 21st Century Art: Veletrzni palace (Prague 7 area)
5. Collection of Asian Art: Zbraslav Chateau
More info about this exhibition in my Off the beaten path list
6. Collection of Cubism Art: House at the Black Madonna
We took the tram from the centre of Prague up to the National Gallery. It should be walkable, but it a bit away from the main centre. The gallery it's self is split over 4 floors, and you pick the floor you wish to visit. There was Picasso's, Van Gogh's, and other very famous painters hung here, but there was also a lot of other painters, and Czech artisits as well which were also great to see.
The cost per floor was at most 100K, others were 50k, depended which floor you wanted to visit.
A highlight of the art collection is the work of Master Theodoric, who painted hundreds of small, moon-faced portraits of saints for Charles IV's summer palace at Karlstejn. Admission 120Kc. Open 10am-6pm, closed Mon
The National Gallery's fabulous medieval and Gothic art collection could not have been given a more appropriate new home than St Agnes's Convent.
The oldest surviving Gothic structure in the city, its blackened stone walls emanate mystery and gloom.