Bohemians and Saxons: Cross-Cultural Relations in the Middle Ages

Without Borders—Art in the Ore Mountains between the Gothic and the Renaissance

Without Borders—Art in the Ore Mountains between the Gothic and the Renaissance,” an exhibit at Prague’s Wallenstein Riding School, reveals remarkable works of Christian art, with the potential to intrigue just about anyone. The exhibit showcases numerous paintings, statues, sculptures and artifacts collected from the northwest Bohemian region from the early 1400s till the late 1600s.

The title of the exhibit stresses the close relations and common economic and religious developments of Bohemia and Saxony during the Middle Ages. There were two historical trade routes connecting these regions, and the cities along the routes include the previously royal towns, such as Litomerice, Usti nad Labem, Most or Zatec and vassal towns such as Decin or Kadan.

“Without Borders” is divided into small sections, each designed for a specific town. This creates the feeling of taking a walk through a maze in which the visitor is transported from one city to another. And each town seems to show its own unique understanding and appreciation of Catholicism under the Habsburg Empire.

Although many works represent similar motives, such as the Virgin and Child or a crucified Jesus, there are also small dissimilarities. One figure of crucifixion, for example, reveals a brutal aspect of Christ’s suffering by using blood to highlight the severity of his wounds. While others are shown without bloodstains and the wounds are represented as discreetly as possible.

A figure of Christ in distress from the Franciscan monastery in Kadan from 1520 is truly a unique piece of art. This statuette presents Jesus unusually sitting with his legs crossed and using his arm to support his head, just before his crucifixion. The facial expression of this wood cut statuette is posed to perfection, and this all adds to an overall dark mood, which alludes to the suffering of Christ. The use of a horse-hair wig on the statuette adds to the allure of this powerful image.

The exhibition has two floors; the ground floor is devoted to the various artworks of different regions, while the second floor is divided into two parts. The first serves as a continuation of the exhibition, displaying more art pieces of mining towns in the Ore Mountains. The second part, which is located on the opposite side, is interactive, with a library and area where children can play by designing various arts and crafts from wood or by using paper and chalk to draw.

The exhibition closes soon, on Sunday, March 13. 016. The Wallenstein Riding School is a part of Prague’s National Gallery, and it is located in Mala Strana.

The exhibit is reasonably priced, in order to attract as many viewers as possible. The basic price is 180 CZK but students receive a discount of 90 CZK. School groups only have to pay 20 CZK per person and families are 350 CZK.

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