LIVE AND ART IN THE KRUMLOV MONASTERIES

 

The former Minorite monastery, The former Clarissine Monastery

This exhibition introduces the architecture and art of this medieval double monastery, how religion spread throughout the world through missionary and diplomatic travels, and the life in the monasteries itself. The former Minorite monastery, now owned by the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star, offers gems such as the St. Wolfgang Chapel, where original Gothic murals were found on the bottom part of the walls beneath all the mound and later layers, continuing with Baroque draperies and Art Nouveau ceiling depicting the life of St. Wolfgang. The Gothic arches of the ambit provide a space for the uniquely preserved lunette painting cycle depicting the birth, life, and death of St. Francis of Assisi. From the original 25 paintings, 18 were restored. The paradise garden of the ambit was overbuilt with the Virgin Mary of Einsiedeln Chapel, gifted to the monastery by Johann Christian of Eggenberg in 1680. Even though the chapel is much younger than the monastery itself, it was built in the Gothic style. Apart from the statue of the Black Madonna in the Einsiedeln Chapel, you can also admire a statue of the Krumlov Madonna, the Třeboň Madonna, and a painting of the Roudnice Madonna, located in the Clarissine monastery. The most remarkable part of the exhibition is the Corpus Christi Church, where you can see the authentic altars, religious paintings, and murals formerly hidden under layers of paint and plaster. The Corpus Christi Church still serves its purpose with regular masses of the Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic church. The former Clarissine monastery acquaints visitors with the life of St. Clare and everyday monastery life. You can see the contrast between the penury of nunhood and the ornate magnificence of sacral objects.

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Photos

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CURIOSITIES FROM OUR EXHIBITIONS

THE CITY OF ČESKÝ KRUMLOV AND ITS MONASTERIES

Our visitors can acquaint themselves with the history of Český Krumlov and its monasteries. A clear timeline shows the most significant historical events of the city and of both monasteries. The exhibition poignantly captures the time between the first written mentions of the town in 1253, its golden age at the time of Rožmberk rule, and the establishment of the monasteries. Many other important events are mentioned, such as the commencement of silver mining, Renaissance modifications to the monastery, and, in modern history, the dissolution of the Minorite monastery in 1950.

This exhibition is barrier-free by request.

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HISTORY OF THE MONASTERY

This part of the exhibition introduces our visitors to the establishment and history of the Clarissine monastery in Český Krumlov. A comparison of “before” and “after” the reconstruction of the monastery is also presented. Emphasis is placed on the monastery’s modern history, preserved stencil decorations, and the activity of the school Notre Damme sisters, who, on demand of the count of Schwarzenberg, ran a girls’ school in the monastery premises. One particularly unique material is the chronicle of Bertilla, the abbess of the monastery between 1930 and 1932 who wrote about the daily life of the school and the sisters.

This exhibition is barrier-free by request.

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MADONNAS

Our copy of the Einsiedeln Madonna is displayed in the chapel of our Lady of Einsiedeln, which was built in the paradise court of the former Minorite monastery in Český Krumlov by Marie Ernestina of Eggenberg in 1680. The wooden polychrome statue is ca. 100 cm tall and dates back to the 17th century. The Madonna is depicted standing, poised on her left foot with her hair falling down, a red gown with golden detail and a golden cloak pinned with a clasp, which sets her apart from other copies. She holds a scepter in her right hand and the little Jesus in a diaper in her left. Jesus is holding a little bird in his left hand. They are both crowned and of a dark incarnate.

Black Madonnas are a specific phenomenon embracing icons and statues of Madonnas either standing or enthroned with a dark incarnate. Literature offers a number of more or less trustworthy hypotheses of why some Madonnas are black. One theory offers that black Madonnas are simply darkened depictions that originally were of light incarnate. They have supposedly darkened as an effect of a long-term exposure to candle smoke, because of chemical processes in the paint colors or their questionable storing. Another theory proposes that the Madonnas were additionally colored black because people grew used to their darkened exterior. Another theory connects black Madonnas to the Song of Songs that was interpreted as a love song between God and the peoples of Israel and incorporated into the Bible. A bride is mentioned in the Song, who says: "I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon..." The designation 'black Madonna' essentially comprises three types of portrayal: Byzantine icons and statues of Madonnas enthroned and standing. The black Madonna in Český Krumlov is a type of a devotion copy, which were spread since mid-16th century together with the construction of pilgrimage sites replicas. Our Lady of Einsiedeln has been worshipped since the second half of the 15th century in a Swiss village of Einsiedeln in a chapel that was, according to a legend, built in 835 by St. Meinard. Nine copies of this Madonna are documented in Czech lands, including one that used to decorate the former chapel of Prague castle.

The Krumlov Madonna is a peak gothic period statue that was created in 1393 at the Krumlov court. The replica that dates back to the beginning of the 15th century was created at a time when a local carving production was blooming. The artwork therefore has a strong connection to Český Krumlov and as the 'Schöne Stil' artwork it finely represents gothic Bohemian sculpting. A replica of the Madonna is on display in the National Gallery in Prague in its permanent exhibition of Bohemian medieval art in the monastery of St. Agnes of Bohemia. Its copy, displayed in the ambit of the Minorite monastery, is even by itself a very valuable work of art from a historical and artistic point of view.
The Třeboň Madonna was created in ca. 1400, also in 'Schöne Stil'. Its author probably comes from the circle of the Master of the Krumlov Madonna. The original of the statue is marl and can be found in the monastery church of St. Giles in Třeboň. Augustinians often traveled to Prague to visit their brothers and probably brought the piece back from the prosperous workshop. The Třeboň Madonna is closely associated with the Madonnas of Vimperk and Chlum sv. Maří. The Vimperk statue probably shows the same patterns as the Třeboň Madonna. They both meet in a common space.

Klášter minoritů je ve vlastnictví Rytířského řádu Křižovníků s červenou hvězdou.

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EXPOSITION OF SCULPTING

This exposition presents significant plastics from high and late medieval era, which are directly connected to the monastery of Minorites. The best pieces of the beautiful style, replicas of Krumlov and Třeboň Madonnas, are the highlight of the exposition. Famous Krumlov Madonna is followed by Madonna medallion from the Minorite monastery, which takes motifs also from the Pilsen Madonna. 

Two plastics of Madonna and The Resurrected Christ from 15th century Kájov are also on display. The emphasis was given on return of artworks to their original location. That is why an above life-size statue of St. Wolfgang from 16th century returned to the chapel of St. Wolfgang, which was built by Václav Juleus and consecrated in 1491. Above life-size statue of The Crucified from 1520 closes the exposition.

The monastery of Minorites is in the possession of the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star. This exposition is barrier-free.

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MINORITES IN THE MIDDLE AGES

The monastery of Minorites and Clarisses was established by the widow of Petr I, Kateřina together with her sons Petr, Oldřich, Jan and Jošt as a part of the new city widening. The monastery was consecrated in 1358 in the honour of Corpus Christi and Virgin Mary. After convent settling, the founding documents were published in 1362.

The contemporary character of the monastery results from two construction phases: at its base are the buildings from the second half of the 14th century, rebuilt at late-gothic times between 1490 and 1500. The monastery was rebuilt in baroque style into contemporary form in 17th and 18th century and typologically it is closest to the St. Agnes monastery in Prague. The exposition of Minorites introduces the founding of the order and its history, the complicated issue of obtaining the papal confirmation of its Rule and following fission of the order in 13th century. The visitor learns about medieval history of Minorite order and important personas in Czech lands.

One part of the exposition shows the visitors the development of architecture and artwork of this order in Czech lends with a link to Czech Minorite convents and houses, which influenced contemporary architecture. Attention is also given to the phenomenon of double monasteries and their function in Czech lands.

The monastery of Minorites is in the possession of the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star. This exposition is barrier-free.

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THE LUNETTE CYCLE LIFE OF ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI

The main topic of this exposition is a presentation of baroque lunette cycle with depictions from the life of St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the mendicant order of Minorites. The lunette cycle, placed on the walls of the cloister, was created between 1657 and 1667. Painted stories point out the propriety of following the virtues of St. Francis.

The Stigmatisation of St. Francis from 1657 was made by Eggenberg court painter Melichar Otto. The same author can be ascribed also The birth of St. Francis, Transformation to a better life, Unfortunate parents ask Francis to find their lost child, Francis and his brothers in the refectory in distress, brought food and drink by angels, Heavenly strengthening in the fatigue and sickness of St. Francis, The temptation of St. Francis by the world, The humbling of St. Francis.

The monastery of Minorites is in the possession of the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star. This exposition is barrier-free.

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MISSIONARY AND DIPLOMATIC TRAVELS OF THE MINORITES

This exposition introduces attractive, exotic topics of diplomatic a missionary missions of the Minorites and other orders´ members to medieval Orient. It was especially Minorites who were sought out to become messengers, diplomats and missionaries because of their persistence, modesty and education.

The exposition shows not only the problematics of Minorite missions in the Middle Ages but also of medieval travel and the intercultural relations between the West and the Orient. It offers other view on history and culture of the Middle and Far East, through which these Christian envoys travelled.

The monastery of Minorites is in the possession of the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star. This exposition is barrier-free.

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JOHN OF CAPISTRANO

Next part of the exposition is devoted to the persona of an important member of the Minorite order, an Italian preacher John of Capistrano. He was a missionary, general vicar of the order of St. Francis and a very important preacher of his time, called the apostle of Europe. He was the leader in the crusade against the Osman empire in the besiege of Belgrade. Later he was declared holy and became the patron of lawyers. At the request of emperor Friedrich III, Capistrano was sent to Czech lands in 1451.

His many hours long sermons were held in Latin, he however scrupulously prepared for his journey and started learning German. His communication with public was held though Czech and German translators. The audience was surprisingly most taken by his Latin, and therefore incomprehensible, lectures. He was an exceptional speaker: he could change voices, include the whole body in his speech, and the most important moments were expressed by mimics and gesticulation. His appearance added to his theatrics. According to period documents, he was a very small, thin and bald old man, whose exceptionally long hands went all down to his knees. He walked barefoot, wore thick cape with fur on the inside and was girded with a wooden hoop. He also went to sleep in this attire.

He slept only little, survived only by begging and often fasted. This saint-like image was by a large part carefully crafted and promoted. The diorama of John of Capistrano´s lectures invites the visitor for a short stop in the exposition of missionary and diplomatic travels in the Minorite monastery.

The monastery of Minorites is in the possession of the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star. This exposition is not barrier-free.

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MONASTERY LIFE

One of the cells of Clarisses is devoted to the daily life in a monastery, the daily schedule of the nuns, and their work. The basis of monastery life was, apart from listening to the mass, the daily communion, physical work, study, meditation and other activities according to their education and abilities.

The sisters practiced a lot of practical activities, among others for example candle making and decorating, weaving, embroidering of liturgical robes, exceptionally also illuminating liturgical texts and rewriting documents and religious texts, growing medicinal herbs and healing.

This exposition is barrier-free on demand.

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HOW DID THE CLARISSES LIVE?

This exposition will take our visitors to the last of the six preserved cells of the Clarisses. The dormitories in monasteries were in time replaced by these cells, which granted the Clarisses with privacy for praying and meditation. Preserved cells in the Clarissine monastery in Český Krumlov are a result of baroque renovations of the monastery by architect Jan Dominik Spacius in the beginning of 18th century. The cell authentically illustrates the private space of the nuns, intended for prayer, contemplation, and rest, with authentic equipment for intimacy and minimalist comfort of their lives.

This exposition is not barrier-free.

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THE PERSON OF ST. CLARE

The visitors of the exposition are introduced to the persona of St. Clare. St. Clare, the admirer and, in her own words ´the seed of St. Francis´, came from a noble family in Assisi. Similarly to St. Francis, who she wanted to follow, also she was being prevented from life in a monastery and taking her religious vows. She was being forced to marry, she, however, secretly ran away from home and sought out St. Francis, to whom she in 1212 at 18 years gave her vow of living in poverty, cleanness, and obedience. She established a female branch of the new order, the company of “poor ladies”. The first members of the order were taken into the church of St. Damian near Assisi and St. Francis established simple rules of their regular life, which were derived from the Franciscan was of living. They were based on an example of Christ´s living in poverty and spirituality. The Poor Clares of San Damiano lived in a strict clause since the beginning, separated from the outside world. Unlike their male counterparts, they didn´t have to carry out any preaching or missionary activities, they however concentrated on caring for poor and sick. Clare´s order quickly spread across Europe and the first monastery of poor ladies beyond Alps was established in 1231 in Prague by the daughter of Czech king Přemysl Otakar I. Clare became the first Abbess of her order already in 1216. She received the papal confirmation of the order rule written by St. Francis in 1241 and, two days before his death, the same was done by the pope Alexander IV. After Clare´s death, the order accepted a new name: The order of St. Clare. Clare was canonised in 1255.

This exposition is not barrier-free.

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RELIGIOSITY AND PIETY

This exposition is dedicated to the life in the Clarissine monastery and its main topic: religiosity and piety. The nuns had to participate in the liturgical life: daily officium, convent mass and the Holy Communion. At the centre of their religiosity was the piety to Corpus Christi and Virgin Mary, with an emphasis on Christ´s and Mary´s humanity. Female religiosity was different in middle ages, with an important aspect of emotions, which were sometimes of extreme forms. The nuns were not allowed to touch the liturgical receptacles and had no access to the main altar in the monastery church (they had their own chapel).

This exposition is not barrier-free.

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ART IN THE MONASTERY

A couple of artworks were preserved alongside Krumlov double monastery, which document its significance and its rich history reaching far into 14th century. The small exposition shows our visitors the most important relics connected truly or hypothetically with the monastery or the town of Český Krumlov. Art played a role that we don´t know much about yet in the female monasteries. It is called the paraliturgical role. Some works were used for private piety, experiencing a mythical connection with Christ or an interaction with him. These works enabled an interactive exchange with the artwork. Common statues of naked little Jesus may serve as an example, which the nuns dressed and carried around with them, or a statue of pregnant Virgin Mary, which had a small statue of little Jesus in her belly. What were these works for? How could they have been used? Most people were not able to read or write in middle ages and therefore art and paintings were very important. It was thanks to them that people learned the biblical stories. Vast mural painting or painted books can be found in old churches, with no or very little text and a lot of paintings – a medieval comic book. One of the most famous ones is the Liber depictus (´The picture book´ in English) from the 14th century Krumlov. It depicts a number of biblical events as well as legends about Czech patrons.

This exposition is not barrier-free.

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THE VAULT ROOM

A vault room was built in the Clarissine monastery, which meets the strictest climatic and safety requirements. The room will serve for short-term expositions of the top artworks, lent by Czech and European institutions, which are tied to the history of the monastery as well as the South-Bohemian region and the town of Český Krumlov. The top artworks are to be seen in a separate exposition. There will be sculpture and painting works, illuminated manuscripts or top works of the artistic craft from medieval until baroque times.

This exposition is barrier-free on demand.

 

 

                                      

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