Major exhibit devoted to Baroque painter Brandl opens in Prague's National Gallery

Starting Friday and running through Feb. 11, the exhibition will showcase Brandl's monumental altarpieces, portraits, and genre scenes. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 20.10.2023 11:07:00 (updated on 20.10.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

The National Gallery Prague is unveiling a major exhibition focusing on one of the most important Baroque artists of his time, Petr Brandl. Starting Friday and running through Feb. 11, the exhibition will showcase Brandl's monumental altarpieces, portraits, and genre scenes.

Brandl, who lived from 1668 to 1735, was a skilled yet unpredictable painter known for his bohemian lifestyle. "He experienced many ups and downs in his life, as we all do, but he left behind an extraordinary legacy as a world-class Baroque artist," said NGP Director Alicja Knastová.

The exhibition is being held at the Valdštejnská jízdárna, the Gallery's Baroque premises located within Prague's vast Wallenstein Palace complex.

Curator Andrea Stecker has placed Brandl's life and work in a historical context using archival documents that detail the artist's debts, marital disputes, and broken contracts with patrons.

Photo via the National Gallery Prague.
Photo via the National Gallery Prague.

Visitors will see Brandl's newly discovered works as well as X-ray images and close-up photographs revealing his spontaneous painting technique. Unlike many artists who prepared compositions with sketches, Brandl painted directly onto canvases with energetic brushstrokes, resembling the Action Painting styles of modern art.

On display

  • The exhibition, comprising 64 mainly large-format paintings by the artist will also feature newly discovered and previously unexhibited works.
  • Brandl's greatest work, The History of Joseph of Egypt, underwent an intensive two-year restoration for the exhibition.
  • Intricately detailed monumental altarpieces such as The Baptism of Christ spanning multiple meters.
  • Brandl's haptic, nearly sculptural painting technique on display through macro photographs and X-ray images.
  • Comparative pieces from Brandl's teacher Kristián Schröder and other artistic influences like Karel Škréta.
  • Behind-the-scenes time-lapse videos of the complex restoration of Brandl's greatest work over two years.

Brandl's free spirit is said to have inspired the contemporary play "Three Women and a Hunter in Love," which will be performed live during the exhibition run. Though often indebted and jailed, Brandl was the highest-paid artist of his time thanks to his distinctive style showing similarities to Rembrandt.

The exhibition tells the parallel stories of Brandl's prolific body of work and his remarkable yet tumultuous life, showcasing Prague's most famous Bohemian Baroque master.

Petr Brandl: The Story of a Bohemian
Oct. 20, 2023–Feb. 11, 2024
Waldstein Riding School
Tuesday–Sunday: 10 a.m–6 p.m.

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