Page:The Bohemian Review, vol1, 1917.djvu/178

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The Bohemian Review

Václav Vavřinec Rainer was born in Prague in 1686, and from 1720 he devoted his gifts entirely to fresco painting. In Prague his best work can be seen in the copula of the church of the Order of the Cross, on the vaults of the Dominican church (The War of the Catholic Church against the Infidels) , in the Czernin palace (The Battle of the Titans), etc. These splendid paintings, high above the visitor’s head, still compel our admiration. Rainer has also done many altar paintings, in St. Havel’s church, in the Dominican church—where the artist was buried in 1743—in St. James’, which has Rainer’s last work, a tremendous painting behind the altar in a wide barocco frame, for which Rainer received 1,200 gulden.

Peter Jan Brandl (1668–1735) is the second painter of the period. His pictures are also scattered through the Prague churches and in many churches and convents in the country towns. He revenged himself upon the citizens of Kolín, when they refused to pay the agreed price for a painting of St. Bartholomew. Brandl gave the saint his own likeness, while the cruel men who tortured the saint were made to look like the councilmen of Kolín.

The great masters among the sculptors were John Ferdinand Prokoff (Brokov, Brokoff), and Matthew Braun. The Brokoff family hailed from Slovakland; the father, himself a sculptor, came to Prague in 1675. He was of Lutheran religion, but in Bohemia he conformed to the Catholic Church. Brokoff (1688–1731), created several groups on the Charles bridge, such as St. Kajetán, founder of the Theatine Order, further a group ordered for the bridge by Count Fr. Jos Thun in memory of the passing of the plague and the conclusion of peace after the wars of the Spanish succession. In this group is St.John of Matha and St. Felix of the Trinitarian Order; as this order was founded for the purpose of buying Christians from Turkish slavery, the lower part of the group represents a jail guarded by a dog and a Turk, which Turk is popularly known in Prague as the Turk from the Bridge. Other statues of saints, made by Brokoff for the bridge, are St. Ivan, St. Vincent and St. Procopius, and St. Francis Xaverius. This last statue of the apostle of India was swept away by the flood of September 4, 1890. Braun’s most splendid memorial on the Charles bridge is the “Dream of St. Luitgard”, a wonderful group of statuary carrying out a painting by Brandl, further a figure of St. Ivo, patron saint of lawyers, and in this case the gift of the law faculty of the Prague University. We must not forget to mention here also Brokoff’s gorgeous caryatids supporting the balcony of the Morzin palace in Prague, a bust of Day and Night and the Four Parts of the World, on the same palace, and the sarcophagus of Count Vratislav of Mitrovice in the St. James church.

In architecture the Prague barocco is connected with the immortal name of Kilian Jan Dienzenhofer, who built the St. Nicholas church on the Small Side of Prague, the principal monument of the barocco style in all Austria. The ornamental steeple of this church, of flowing virginal lines, and the majestically beautiful cupola are the pride of Prague. Our present-day graphic artists, Šimon, Stretti, Vondrouš, and others, in their etchings find ever new poetical beauty in the lines of this wonderful structure.

Dienzenhofer’s death in 1752 closes the period of Bohemian barocco, and a decay in art sets in lasting for nearly one hundred years.

(To be continued.)


Among the newspaper clippings received by the Bohemian National Alliance there was one from a small town in the State of New York; it possesses considerable human interest. Two Bohemian musicians who came originally from Prague, had been making a living in this up state town for about two years by giving music lessons. A Bohemian in this neighborhood was a sight more rare than a hippopotamus. When war broke out, suspicion was turned against the poor musicians who were known to have come from Austria and therefore were presumably German emissaries. What were the Bohemians to do, if they did not want to lose their pupils and their only means of livelihood? They called on three of the most prominent local celebrities, submitted to them copies of the Bohemian Review and pamphlets published by the Bohemian National Alliance and convinced them that they were far less likely to favor Germany than the most patriotic Yankee. And then the three great men published a certificate of loyalty to the Bohemian musicians in the local paper, and thus the story in due course through the medium of a clipping bureau reached the offices of the Bohemian National Alliance.

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