Sunday, 14 February 2016

More Decorative Details from Prague's Obecni Dum


In a previous post I talked about my tour of Prague's Municipal House (Obecni Dum). And mostly I talked about the building in terms of Art Nouveau. Its architectural style is indeed Art Nouveau. And clearly that is also the case with the exterior decoration and much of the interior.

But it is a bit of a simplification. The building was at the forefront of architectural and decorative trends when it was built between 1905 and 1912. Indeed the Czechs often were breaking new ground in the first part of the twentieth century. As a result some of the decorative details are art deco and indeed cubist.

The decoration is everywhere. From the concert hall to the ticket office, from basement to the salons upstairs, from the lift (photograph above) to the lights (below).

As an introduction to the architecture of the early part of the 20th Century a visit to the Obecni Dum is an excellent idea.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Masopust at the train station

Tuesday was Shrove Tuesday and so Masopust was celebrated in the Czech Republic. I have blogged about Masopust in previous posts and so I will simply share with you this photograph of two Masopusters waiting for the train to Horni Plana in the waiting room at Cesky Krumlov station.

You can see my video of Masopust in my nearest town here:

and my post about the Masopusters visit to my village here:

Monday, 1 February 2016

Happy 1938

When you start collecting Czech ex libris, you will also be offered PFs. These are New Year cards and usually feature the letters PF (which stands for the French greeting pour feliciter) and the year and perhaps the name of the family sending the card. The Czechs refer to these cards as peefko. Sometimes families will make their own cards and sometimes they will commission artists to produce cards for them.

Some cards are humourous and many reveal the interests of the family sending the card, which is another reason (other than their artistic value) why they are fascinating to collect. This signed card in our collection is by the well-known artist Alois Moravec. As you can see it is a happy new year card for 1938, which was to be a far from a happy year for the Czechs. The choice of subject matter for this card would seem to be indicative of the impending Nazi invasion and Czech determination to resist.

This is a picture of Jan Zizka, the one-eyed military genius who successfully resisted a series of anti-Hussite crusader armies. These invading armies were for a large part made up of the Teutonic knights - the panzer divisions of their day - and on the face of it the Czech Hussites didn't stand a chance in the face of such military superiority. But the undefeated Zizka shattered the knights' reputation and in so doing entered into the Czech nationalist pantheon. No wonder he features on this 1938 PF.


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