‘Buy Them!’ showcases Castle’s painting collection

Works of art collected by Masaryk and his successors are on display

Prague Castle has opened another exhibit related to the 100th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia.

People can see artworks collected by the first Czechoslovak president, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, and his successors for use in Prague Castle. The exhibition called "Buy Them!" TGM and the Art Collection for Prague Castle (Tož to kupte! TGM a sbírka umění pro Pražský hrad) opened Sept. 12, and will be in the Imperial Stables until Dec. 9. The exhibition is open daily from 10 pm to 6 pm, and entry is free of charge.

The name of the exhibition comes from when Masaryk was offered a series of 16 paintings by Josef Mánes for what was a very large sum at the time. After thinking for a moment, Masaryk said the phrase that is now the name of show.

The artworks were collected between 1920 and 1952 with money from the Masaryk National Fund.

When the First Republic began in 1918, much of the space of Prague Castle, which was going to be used for official purposes by the new country, was empty of any art for decoration.

Visitors will see over a 100 paintings and also learn the story of how the artworks were used as a symbol of the new democratic republic, and also used to create the image of Prague Castle as a center of culture.

One of the first paintings that visitors will see is of Masaryk himself by Otto Peters. Later in the exhibit, there is a portrait of Edvard Beneš by the same artist. A portrait of First Republic politician Přemysl Šámal by Viktor Stretti is being displayed in public for the first time.

But the bulk of the collection is not portraits of politicians.

The paintings bought by Masaryk heavily favored Czech artists, with historical themes and landscapes as favorite topics. Since this was meant as a national collection to be displayed in official spaces, there were no nudes included in Masaryk’s time.

Aside from works by Manes and Peters, there are also examples from other famous artists like Mikoláš Aleš and Antonín Slavíček.

Probably the most famous work in the exhibition is a portrait of writer Božena Němcová by Josef Vojtěch Hellich. It used to be in the president’s study.

The second Czechoslovak president, Edvard Beneš, added to the collection but was more interested in modern art, as he felt the collection has enough classics and needed some diversity.

The collection continued to be expanded until the fund was discontinued in the early 1950s after a monetary reform.

For more information visit www.hrad.cz.

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