The Restoration of the Statue of St. Wenceslas Continues

10 2004 Aktuality English
obálka čísla

We shall be probably able to wish St. Wenceslas all the best on his name's day on September 28th.only through the scaffolding, which has been covering him for several weeks. Nevertheless, in the place called "under the tail" Prague citizens and tourists have been meeting and curiously looking what is going on under the semitransparent canvas. There specialists have been examining what the situation of the patron of Bohemia really is. The press has already reported that during the first inspections of the innards of Wenceslas' horse, forgotten tools of earlier restorers were found. But not everybody necessarily knows that until the seventies of the nineteenth century a different St. Wenceslas on horseback from the workshop of the sculptor J.J. Bendl adorned the Horse Market. And it is because of that statue that upon the suggestion of Karel Havlicek Borovsky the area was renamed Wenceslas Square. Myslbeks famous statue first became internationally famous as a sketch in exhibitions in Vienna and in Munich. In it however Wenceslas looks up to the banner. The final altered sketch, resulted from a later competition ordered the national patron rather to look forward or to look down at his people. And so he has been looking down for almost ninety years. However, no statue, which has the task of serving as a reminder through the ages, resists the corroding tooth of time. Therefore the gallery of the city of Prague, which is in charge of the professional preservation of the most significant Prague statues, made a basic decision. After about three decades a total renewal of the sculptural decoration and the architectural aspects of this monumental work is taking place. The work is scheduled to take two years. In the first phase, which is just taking place, a total documentation is being carried out and the condition of the statue including an examination of the interior with the help of a microcamera and an evaluation of its physical equilibrium is being carried out. Based for example on the analysis of the corrosion of materials used in the statue, the process of the actual restoration is to proceed, which will take place under the supervision of experts from the National Institute of memorials under the guidance of the experienced restorers Rene Sefr and Andrej Sumbera. The monument of St. Wenceslas was created by the famous Czech sculptor Josef Vaclav Myslbek in cooperation with the architect Alois Dryak, and ornaments were supplied by the sculptor Celda Kloucek. The monument was created in the years 1912-1913, when the central statue of St. Wenceslas on horseback and of the three Czech saints, St. Prokop, St. Agnes and St. Ludmila were created; the last, St. Vojtech completed it in 1924. Myslbek worked on the models of the individual figures for many years, allegedly as early as 1888. At the same time he worked on the whole composition of the monument; the statue of the prince on horseback became the central point of the newly conceived public space, with the important National Museum in the background. The significance of the monument, the older, more modest version of which by J.J. Bendl is preserved to this day: the original in the Lapidarium of the National Museum, a copy in the Vysehrad park.was emphasized by Myslbek's representative composition culminating in the knightly figure of the protector of the nation. It reflects the artist's inspiration by renaissance figures, but was clearly created in Myslbeks own style, expressing the feeling and social needs of the time. A short time after the work was completed, historical events placed the monument in the center of all important historic events. To this day it is an important cultural historical monument and reminder of of various acts and events, which almost overshadow the artistic value of the sculpture.

Myslbek worked on the individual figures for a long time and devoted the same care to the prince's horse. The stallion Ardo, which became the model of the proud horse, was brought to his studio from the Karlin barracks, and now, after many years, thanks to his name a sponsor was found for the work of restoration, the East Trading Company ltd., which represents products named Ardo on the Czech market.

Ph.Dr. Petra Hoftichova, director of the restoration of public monuments of the Gallery of the capiotol city of Prague.

PhDr. Petra Hoftichova
Translated by Vilma Iggers

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