Central European Art Seminar Travels to Prague

Professor Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann’s graduate seminar Art 553, “Seminar in Central European Art,” studied art and architecture in Bohemia and Moravia ca. 1500–1620 in relation to neighboring lands. The class concentrated on Prague in the era of Rudolf II, when the city was one of Europe’s leading centers of art patronage and collecting.

During spring break, the seminar traveled to Prague, where it visited many of the city’s monuments and museums, among them the collections of the National Gallery and the picture gallery of Prague Castle.  One of the highlights was an extensive tour of Prague’s Wallenstein Palace and its renowned astrological corridor, which is normally not open to the public.

The class also made several excursions: to the Star Villa, the Rudolfine grotto, and to the Czech state archives, as well as making a day-long trip to towns in Eastern Bohemia. On an overnight visit to Brno, the capital city of Moravia, the Princeton seminar joined students of the art history seminar of Masaryk University in exploring the architecture of that city, as well as Renaissance castles in Moravia that were opened especially for them. In Prague, Brno, and on the other excursions, the class was fortunate to be accompanied by some of the Czech Republic’s leading experts in the fields of art and architectural history, who provided stimulating on-site discussions of architecture, sculpture, frescoes, and other art.

The Princeton students also had the opportunity to participate in two symposiums—one at the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague, and another at Masaryk University in Brno—where they joined Czech professors and graduate students in panel discussions and workshops. At both venues Professor Kaufmann spoke on the topic of Linz ca. 1600. The students’ presentations will be published in various journals, and some have already been published in a special volume that includes the work of both Princeton and Czech students: Parallel Inquiries: Art and Visual Culture in Early Modern Central Europe, edited by Ondřej Jakubec (Masaryk University Press, 2013).

Professor Kaufmann gestures towards carvings