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ARTICLES

Roberta Cerone, Jana Michalčáková
Contesti cistercensi a confronto: committenza e soluzioni costruttive in Moravia e in Sicilia
(secoli XII–XIII)
Comparing Cistercian Contexts: Patronage and Architecture in Moravia and in Sicily
(12th–13th centuries)

Abstract
The paper is the result of the collaboration between Roberta Cerone from Sapienza
University of Rome and Jana Michalčáková from Palacký University in Olomouc, both
interested in the architecture of the Cistercian order during the Middle Age. The goal of their
research is to highlight possible points of connection and differentiation in the “Cistercian
approach” to monastery foundation in two different areas between 12th and 13th centuries:
Sicily and Moravia, where the Order arrived following two lines of filiation, respectively
Clairvaux and Morimond. In both instances, in fact, monastery foundation did not originate
from the direct interest of the Order, but from the needs of local aristocrats. For the abbeys
in Moravia, there was nearly always a royal intention, with evident connections with the
ruling house – Přemysl Otakar I and Vladislav Jindřich –, while in Sicily a similar relation can
only be attested by the time of Frederick II. Moreover, in the two regions, the Cistercians
arrived in different periods (after 1160 in Sicily, after 1200 in Moravia), yet the appearance
of their construction principles, influenced by the Order’s regulations, is nearly contemporary
(c. 1210–1230). In Sicily, the beginning of the emergence of Cistercian architecture was
delayed because of the strength of local traditions and is directly linked to the reign of
Frederick II. In Moravia the arrival of the Order was marked by the linear intersection of both
cultural and construction principles (enriched through the knowledge and formal vocabulary
brought from the original region of affiliation) with extant local traditions.


Pavol Černý
Einige Aspekte der künstlerischen Beziehungen zwischen den böhmischen und österreichischen
Ländern während des Hochmittelalters, insbesondere im Bereich der Buchmalerei
Certain Aspects of Artistic Relationships between the Czech and Austrian Lands in the High Middle Ages, Specifically with Reference to Book Illumination

Abstract
Roughly to the mid-14th century it was activity particularly in Lower Austria that
influenced the Czech lands. The homilary from the Zemský archiv in Olomouc, no. CO 258
from the 13th century, is an import from Lower Austria, while close ties to Lower Austrian
cultural centres are confirmed by the ‘Zackenstil’ of later missals nos. CO 585 (Olomouc)
and 18 (Archiv města Brna). The elements of a new Gothic style emerged in the initials of
‘fl euronnée’ type in the Moravian missal no. CO 141 from the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries,
and fully developed in the gradual no. CO 195, created in the Olomouc diocese in
the 1320s but illuminated by an artist evidently trained in Lower Austria. Further ties to
Lower Austria are documented by the ornament of a group of liturgical manuscripts from
the second quarter of the 14th century, including gradual no. CO 2, with numerous high quality
fl euronné initials, or homilary no. CO 12, in which we find, alongside analogies with
the initials from the manuscripts for Eliška Rejčka, striking motifs of Lower Austrian origin.
The immediate background of the production in this region is further documented by the
imported missal no. M III 44 from the Vědecká knihovna Olomouc, created c. 1330 evidently
in the Benedictine abbey in Garsten. The culmination of these Moravian-Austrian relations
is presented by missal no. CO 131, created in the Olomouc diocese c. 1350. Its chief illuminator
unquestionably was trained in one of the scriptoriums of Lower Austria, where he was
introduced to new tendencies both from the lower Rhineland and from northern Italy. This
anonymous artist prefigured a further important chapter in the development of painting in
the Czech lands, exemplified by the ‘Master of the Travel Breviary’ of Johann von Neumarkt
in the area of book illumination and Master Theodoricus in panel painting.


Petr Čehovský
Analysis of Microarchitecture and Decorative Sculptures in Southern and Northern Portals
of the Church of St. Wolfgang in Hnanice

Abstract
The Church of St. Wolfgang in Hnanice ranks among the most significant late-
Gothic sacred buildings in Moravia. Construction of this pilgrimage church was supported
by the Premonstrate monks from the nearby Louka monastery and the administrator of the
Olomouc bishopric, Jan Filipec. The architectonic sculptural work ornamenting the church
was created by stone-carvers from a Viennese workshop, and at its time ranked among the
very best in Moravia. The church’s southern portal is dated to 1483 and the northern portal,
considering its stylistically identical character, is assumed to be from roughly the same era.
The author analyses the micro-architecture of these unique massive portals, which clearly
derive from architectonic sculpture of the 15th century in Vienna and in Krems, and considers
the possible influence of Jan Filipec, whose coat of arms is on the tympanum of the
southern portal.
In addition, the author investigates the ‘Gerhaertesque’ style applied in the relief of the
Suffering Christ in the tympanum of the southern portal, and in the relief of the Assumption
of the Virgin Mary in the tympanum of the portal to the north. On the basis of stylistic analysis,
he concludes that the author of the reliefs could have been Anton Pilgram or Hanuš of
Olomouc, the latter of whom had spent time in Konstanz shortly before the portals’ creation
and was certainly well acquainted with the Gerhaertesque sculptural style in which both
reliefs were rendered.


Pavel Štěpánek
Notes on the Sojourn of Rudolf II at the Spanish Court: Spain and Bohemia over the period 1550–1650

Abstract
In the century from 1550 to 1650, Spain was the world’s first global imperial
power. Ruled by the Hapsburgs, it was also where the Austrian Hapsburgs sent their sons for
education. The future emperor Rudolf II spent his youth here under the supervision of his
uncle, Philip II, then the most powerful monarch in the world. This king was hardly the figure
depicted by romantics such as Friedrich Schiller. During the construction of El Escorial, the
royal summer residence (as well as the royal pantheon and a functioning monastery), Philip
conceived the building in part as Solomon’s Temple, and hence (as proven by René Taylor)
a kind of symbolic alchemical work, including application of Italian hermetic-Neoplatonist
philosophy. At the same time, the building was an homage to St. Lawrence, since it was on
his feast-day that Philip II won the battle of St. Quentin (10 August 1557). For this reason,
he first employed as his architect Juan Bautista de Toledo, who had been Michelangelo’s
assistant in Rome during the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica; further work was led by
Juan de Herrera, also erudite in alchemy and esoteric lore. In the Escorial, the idea was of
an esoteric interpretation of geometric principles (figura cúbica). And Philip II himself initiated
his nephew Rudolf into esoteric philosophy and alchemy, grounded in the works of
the medieval mystic Ramón Llull; another expert in his work, later, was the Spanish envoy
to Rudolf’s court in Prague, Guillermo de San Clemente. In addition, there was in Madrid
a public mathematical academy and a secret alchemist’s workshop. It was here, in the Spanish
capital, that Rudolf II first encountered the principles of alchemy, which accompanied
his entire later life in Prague.


Ladislav Daniel
On the Figuralism of Giuseppe Heintz Il Giovane

Abstract
This previously unpublished painting from a private collection in Prague is, in
contrast to the earlier assumed title-themes such as ‘Young Woman Brought before a Ruler or
Judge’ or ‘St. Justine’ (?), newly determined iconographically as ‘Daniel Defending Susanna’
(oil on canvas, 100 × 145 cm), i. e. the Biblical theme from chapter 13 of the Book of Daniel in
the Old Testament. Here, the young Israelite prophet Daniel is convicting two of the Babylonian
elders of false witness, and proving the innocence of Susannah, the wife of Jójakím.
From a stylistically critical standpoint, the painting would appear to have been influenced
by the Rudolfine style of Bartholomeo Spranger, Hans von Aachen and Joseph Heintz the
Elder, or the Italian circle of Jacopo Palma Il Giovane, as a pasticcio of Italian, Flemish and
Central European styles; in terms of technical analysis and technical elements, it is closer to
the oeuvre of Matthäus Gundelach. In the article, authorship of the painting is ascribed to
Joseph Heintz the Younger (Augsburg, c. 1600 – Venice 1678), adopted and trained by Gundelach
and after 1625 active in Venice as Joseph, Gioseppe or Giuseppe Heintz Il Giovane,
as well as using the names Giuseppe Enz or Enzo, and the Latinised form of Heintius. Comparison
with Heintz’s paintings ‘The Adoration of the Magi’ in the church of San Andrea in
Breguzzo, Trentino-Alto Adige (in which the author also proposes the ascription of a cryptoportrait
of the author as the figure of St. Joseph to the right) and the ‘Adoration of the Magi’
in the Museo di Castelvecchio, Verona as confirming the authorship of the Prague painting,
believed to have been completed sometime after 1669 by Heintz the Younger with the aid
of his workshop, as revealed by the relatively low number of upper layers of painting. In conclusion,
the author also mentions three confirmed examples of Heintz’s oeuvre from Czech
and Moravian collections: Fistfight on the Bridge, Dis Riding Out from Tartarus and Carnival in
Venice.


Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Horní Jiřetín
Memorandum on the church in Horní Jiřetín
Marina Righetti, Laurent Toulouse (salutations).

Petr Macek
Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and the North Bohemia coal mining area

Abstract
The Jean Baptiste Mathey church in Horní Jiřetín is only one in a series of historic
buildings in Northwest Bohemia endangered by the coal mining industry. The opencast
mining has long posed a threat to the region but despite much devastation the area
remains an ancient cultivated landscape with continual settlement from prehistoric ages,
with many significant monuments. In the past, the area attracted praise from Caspar David
Friedrich or Johann Wolfgang Goethe. However, the mining of coal through open pits culminated
under Communist rule, with over 300 square kilometres of landscape destroyed,
including 106 towns and villages, including the old royal town of Most. A statistical report
notes that during World War II, i. e. from the start of German occupation in 1938 until 1945,
the region saw the destruction of 1 church, 9 synagogues and 7 Jewish cemeteries, while in
the peacetime years of 1945–1989 the list of destroyed heritage comprised 104 churches,
411 chapels, 4 monasteries, 12 synagogues and 5 Jewish cemeteries. Even after 1989, despite
the exceptional efforts of heritage specialists, museum professionals and engaged
citizens, the situation has continued to worsen. Many valuable buildings are, even now,
assigned to the list of threatened or vanished landmarks. In Horní Jiřetín, though, the situation
is different: the village is in relatively good condition, and the recently restored church
is in use for both services and cultural events. The local residents view this landmark as an
important part of their life. Abolishing the mining restrictions would be an unfortunate return
to the state of affairs before 1989, and of little benefit for the Czech nation as a whole.


Richard Biegel
Jean Baptiste Mathey and 17th century European architecture

Abstract
Jean Baptiste Mathey ranks among the most significant architectural figures
of the Czech lands in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. His arrival in 1675 represented
a transition point bringing the level of local architecture to that of the era’s great architectural
centres. In his palaces, chateaus and sacred architecture, Mathey developed motifs
and themes that he had absorbed during his long period in Rome. The exceptional qualities
of his buildings and their clear international connotations have always led researchers to
seek out the inspiration and the sources that would place Mathey’s oeuvre within one of
the then-prevalent currents of European architecture. In his work, it is possible to discern in
order not only the echoes of Roman architecture, but also possible influences from France,
where Mathey was born. The level of the currency of the influences (ranging in various evaluations
from allegations of strong conservatism to possible reflections of highly contemporary
tendencies), as well as the question of a Roman or a French orientation, led researchers
to present entirely contradictory evaluations of the architect’s personality and work. Based
on analyses of his most significant buildings, such as the Archbishops’ Palace, Church of
St. Francis of Assisi or Troja Chateau in Prague, as well as the recently evaluated church in
Horní Jiřetín, it becomes clear that all of these previously mentioned aspects merged within
Mathey’s work into a unified synthesis, and that excessive stress on any one of them would
obscure or weaken our understanding of it. Jean Baptiste Mathey thus emerges as a notably
synthetic and style-formative individual, who can without any questions be ranked among
the most significant Central European architects of the final decades of the 17th century.


Pavla Priknerová
Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Horní Jiřetín

Abstract
Little attention in the past has been devoted to the Church of the Assumption
of the Virgin Mary in Horní Jiřetín in professional literature. The church, the same as the
later works of Jean Baptiste Mathey, was thought to be evidence of a decline in the architect’s
creative energies. However, a detailed investigation shows the building in a new light.
Although Mathey’s work is a feat of lesser significance based on domestic traditions, the
church presents itself as a structure that is well composed as a whole and with respect to
specific details. The characteristic traits include a monumental block façade with an axial
tower, which as one of the first in Bohemia, was exemplary for this later, more common
style. In addition, it is characterized by a light centralized nave with a short transept and an
unusually prolonged polygonal presbytery. The architect strongly reflected this basic disposition
in the interior as well. With the help of segmentation, low vaulting, and pronounced
lighting, he created the effect of an airy and spacious hall. For some of these elements, examples
may be found in Rome or France. An analysis of the rear of the church and its structure
revealed latent gothicism, which points to the remarkable quality of Mathey’s work
with various forms of inspiration. Hence, the church can be considered a structure of high
quality that further demonstrates the personality of this important architect and validates
the sophisticated level of his later works.


Rostislav Švácha
The Type of Jean Baptiste Mathey’s Church in Horní Jiřetín

Abstract
Architectural heritage from the 18th century in the Czech lands is marked by
a large number of newly constructed rural churches, in contrast to their relative rarity in the
previous century. This delay can be explained by the slow consolidation of Bohemia and
Moravia after the Thirty Years’ War and the time needed to restore the parish network. The
Prague archbishop Johann Friedrich Waldstein (+1694), who took up the struggle for better
financial security for the church, found himself in this aim in dispute with both the Czech
regional assembly and Emperor Leopold. When these disputes came to a head, twice over,
in both instances Waldstein founded new churches on his North Bohemian dominion of
Duchcov, in Litvínov (1685) and Horní Jiřetín (1694). The second of these churches became
frequently used as a model for many rural churches through the 18th century. The architect
of the archbishopric, Jean Baptiste Mathey, here addressed a problem typical for the vaulted
lengthwise nave in many Catholic nations: how to deal with centrifugal forces in a barrelvault.
What is used as the reinforcement system to resist such pressures is not, in Horní
Jiřetín, a row of lower side chapels, as found in previous examples of urban churches, nor
pillars in the inside, but instead the arms of the short transept. At the same period, a similar
construction type appeared in Moravia in several village churches linked to Domenico
Martinelli. In Horní Jiřetín, what seems unusual is the position of the transept, not placed at
the centre of the layout or in front of the presbytery, but instead at the centre of the nave,
close to the main entrance to the church. Such a positioning of the transept was evidently
assumed by Mathey from Rome’s Church of S. Maria in Campitelli by Carlo Rainaldi.


Jakub Bachtík, Jaroslav Horáček
The Pilgrimage Site in Horní Jiřetín: Unknown Plans for a Vanished Complex

Abstract
A little known part of the history of the Horní Jiřetín church was the fate of the
local pilgrimage site. There is evidence of at least its partial existence in a painting by Carl
Robert Croll from 1843 and the land register map from a year later. However, convincing
pictorial evidence was found recently on the site in the form of two plans, preserved in the
collections of the National Heritage Institute at the castle in Mnichovo Hradiště (inv. no.
MH 2390, MH 2391). The floor plan and design of the façade show the Horní Jiřetín church
surrounded by a distinctly segmented rectangular cloister with seven chapels, whose west
wing was connected with the ground floor of the rectory. Thanks to the data from the Horní
Jiřetín parish chronicle, the fate of the entire complex could be partially clarified. Construction
of the cloister with the chapels and the rectory was planned from 1730, at which time
Count Johann Josef of Waldstein provided funds. However, these funds were not sufficient,
and the actual construction did not begin until after 1750. The rectory was built during the
first stage, while work on the cloister continued in several stages essentially until the end
of the eighteenth century and was never entirely completed. Thus, at the end of the 1830s,
the site was to be torn down. The chronicle mentions that the construction began according
to the plans filed in the archives. However, it is not clear whether it actually relates to the
drawings found in Mnichovo Hradiště. The form and design of these plans indicate more
that they are only copies of the original, older design made in relation to a later date of
construction. Hence, the author of the plans and the original design still remains unclear.
The striking similarity of the composition and form of the designed complex to the site in
Mariánské Radčice demonstrates that the original design for Horní Jiřetín was in some way
connected to the Litoměřice builder Giulio Broggio.


Vladimír Hašek, Jan Tomešek, Josef Bláha
Geophysical Survey of the Horní Jiřetín Church

Abstract
The records on the Horní Jiřetín church indicate that the church existed no later
than by 1263. However, no traces of the medieval precursor to the current structure were
preserved. Non-destructive archaeological testing, though, could contribute more information
about the history of the church. In addition to other spaces originating in the early
modern era (cellar vaults, crypts), the current Baroque church may also conceal older substructures
under its stones. Hence, in the spring of 2014, we proceeded with a geophysical
survey of the church’s interior. The survey took place on an area of 540 square metres, and
41 mutually perpendicular profiles were measured with an overall length of 411.6 metres.
The ground penetrating radar method (GPR) was used with an integrated radar control unit
RAMAC X3M having a range of three to four metres. For more complex sections, all indications
of non-homogeneities processed in the form of radargrams in a ratio of 1 : 100 were
assessed using the software REFLEX W. A number of flat and linear non-homogeneities
were segmented on the surface by interpreting the geophysical data in the form of a correlated
schematic, which can be ascribed to the manifestation of foundation walls from the
older medieval structure. In the eastern to mid-section of the interior of the contemporary
church, masonry relicts with a width of about one metre can be detected, most likely from
the smaller medieval structure with a main axis length of around 24 to 27 metres (dimensions
of the nave 15 × 9 metres, rectangular presbytery 10 to 12 × 6 metres). The peripheral
masonry is parallel, though not identical, to existing church. It is located inside approximately
1 to 2 metres from the walls of the new structure. In addition, other non-homogeneities
have appeared in the measurement results. We do not even rule out the existence of several
graves and a larger space (approx. 4 m × 3 m), perhaps a crypt, in the space under the tower.
The selected archaeological survey can establish other non-homogeneity characteristics.


Marek Pučalík
Architectural section of St. Francis’s church in the Old Town of Prague

Abstract
A magnificent drawing remained hidden in the collection of plans of the Order of
the Knights of the Cross containing a section of St Francis’ church. In all likelihood, it could
be the work of Jean Baptiste Mathey, who created several other plans for the church. These,
however, were intended for construction purposes. The piece is a brilliant drawing. In the
upper part, we can see a cross-section of the church’s nave, the choir, and other spaces. The
lower part shows the floor plan. In my opinion, this perfect rendition could serve as a model
for engravers, and thus, a famous structure of European significance could be reproduced
as gifts by the grand masters. If the author actually is Mathey, then the drawing could be
ascribed to the period before 1679, at which time the construction of the exquisite shrine at
Charles Bridge was commenced for the grand master archbishop Johann Friedrich of Waldstein
(grand master 1668–1694), which replaced the medieval triple nave.
Reports from that time period also demonstrate the importance of the structure. Already
in 1691, Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach copied the plans, and during the high
Baroque period, the church served as a representative building that was admired by even
high clerical and lay officers who visited the grand master Böhmb (grand master 1722–1750)
for a tour of the church.


Martin Mádl
“…mio capital nemico a causa della professione”. Mathey’s not altogether friendly encounter in Prague with Domenico Egidio Rossi

Abstract
The Roman educated, Burgundian architect, Jean Baptiste Mathey (1630–1695),
is one of the most important creative personalities of the second half of the seventeenth
century in central Europe. In Bohemia, important aristocrats and prelates expressed interest
in his services. However, Mathey also came into conflict with other architects and builders
who saw him as a competitor and rival. One of Mathey’s enemies was the quarrelsome Italian,
Bologna educated architect and painter, Domenico Egidio Rossi (1659–1715), who presumably
contributed to the decorative work on the Troja castle in 1687/88, constructed for
Count Wenzel Adalbert of Sternberg. After finishing the work, Rossi was arrested in Prague
in 1688 due to a debt. Following this, he had to leave Prague and started working for the
Liechtensteins. In 1692, he returned to Prague for a short time and worked at the Czernin
Palace. On 20 December, Rossi encountered the Sternberg stucco artist, Giovanni Pietro
Palliardi, who reminded him of his older incident and hence earned a beating from Rossi.
In his testimony, Rossi stated that Palliardi reported this incident to Mathey, who he considered
as his mortal enemy, and the whole affair was even taken as far as Count Sternberg. So
Rossi had to flee Prague. With respect to the documented contacts with Mathey and Wenzel
Adalbert of Sternberg, Rossi was credited with the illusory paintings in three rooms on the
ground floor of the Troja chateau, which we can compare with the drafts that Rossi made
in 1696 for the Czernin Palace in Prague. Rossi’s paintings are based on actual Bolognese
models, and they exceed the quality of central European work of that time.


Ivo Hlobil
Die Glorifikation des heiligen Wenzels – ein abgelehntes Werk des Wiener Malers Anton Petter
aus dem Jahre 1844 für den Olmützer Dom
The glorification of St Wenceslas – the rejected painting by the Viennese artist Anton Petter from 1844 for the Olomouc cathedral

Abstract
Archbishop Maximilian Josef Sommerau-Beeckh (1769–1853) ordered a monumental
painting of St Wenceslas from the Viennese painter Anton Petter (1782–1858), director
of the school of painting and sculpture at the Viennese Academy of Art, for the main
altar of the Olomouc cathedral. Petter completed his work in 1844. However, the bishop was
not satisfied. The painting had been located for some time on the grounds of the Kroměříž
chateau, and up to now, has been awaiting rediscovery and restoration. With the consent of
the Olomouc archbishop, Jan Graubner, and with the financial support of the CEO of Vitkovice
železárny, Jan Světlík, the painting was restored by the Berger family. According to the
project of the architect Josef Pleskot, it was installed in place of the main altar in the former
Dominican church in Opava as a permanent loan from the Archbishopric of Olomouc. This
was made possible thanks to the town of Opava, Mayor Zdeněk Jirásek, and Deputy Mayor
Dalibor Halátek.


Pavel Šopák
Liechtensteiniana and regional identity of the Czech Silesia

Abstract
The connection of the Liechtensteins to the region of Czech Silesia, especially
the Opava region, can be observed through the activities of museums as cultural institutions
that express the identity of society through specific environments. This involved the
specific engagement of the Liechtensteins in formulating the generally accepted values
that create the identity of a location and region. The Liechtensteins’ interest in the regions
of Opava and Krnov culminated around 1720, at a time when there was serious discussion
about constructing a residence in Opava or somewhere in the Opava region. The structure
was never realized, and the relationship of the princes to their principalities was expressed
only in the family crests on the facades of patron buildings. A new relationship to the region
was not established until Johann II, the prince of Liechtenstein (1840–1929). As a patron of
culture and the arts, he liberally subsidized the Opavian Museum of Emperor Franz Josef
for arts and crafts. He donated land for its construction, obtained after the demolition of
the old Opava chateau. In May 1911, the main space of the museum building was permanently
adapted as the Liechtenstein Hall. A pivotal project, declaring the relationship of the
prince to the Opava region, was the Liechtenstein exhibition, which opened on 4 January
1914. However, the historical and cultural narrative relating to the unity of the land and the
Liechtenstein dynasty as an arbitrator of cultural norms and modern society provided by
the exhibition did not last long: it was interrupted by the First World War.


Martina Flekačová
Beautiful Boxes or Technocratic Grey? Towards a Periodic Defi nition of Czech Housing Estates
Using the Example of Prague

Abstract
Prefabricated housing estates, which were created in the Czech lands between
the late 1950s up until the mid-1990s, have in recent years emerged as a subject of interest,
and not only for architectural history. An extensive interdisciplinary research project into
Czech housing estates, covered by the five-year grant “Prefabricated Estates in the Czech
Republic as Part of the Urban Living Environment”, has also included the participation of the
Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague.
In the over four decades of their construction, these housing estates underwent architectural
development, though this need not immediately be apparent on first view. For us
to deal with all of the theoretical as well as practical problems posed by the phenomenon
of the prefabricated housing estate, we need first of all to find a suitable terminology and
a basic periodicisation, which has been the aim of our work.
Because it has been found within the documentation of selected housing estates to be
impossible to accept any of the previous chronological and stylistic divisions of mass housing
without reservations, the article discusses a concept for periodicisation that would apply
on the level of the entire nation. The proposal is based on the architectonic and urban
analysis of the estates, the development of prefabrication and panel technology, as well as
on the era’s political and economic situations, which directly influenced the construction of
public housing. The housing estates of Prague have been selected as a model instance for
the reason that they provide the hitherto most thoroughly researched locality in the Czech
Republic, while the national capital at the same time acts as the nation’s most influential
cultural centre.


Eric Dluhosch
Walter Benjamin on the Life of Students

Abstract
The German philosopher and critical theorist, Walter Benjamin (1892–1940) published
only one larger volume during his lifetime. Today, however, everyone who is more
deeply interested in the history of modernism refers to it. Benjamin’s essay “The Work of
Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” or his unfinished work on “Paris of the Second
Empire in Baudelaire” have in this respect opened up new worlds.
Lovers of avant-garde art and architecture know Eric Dluhosch (*1927), Professor Emeritus
of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a native of Jindřichův Hradec, as the translator
of works by El Lissitzky and Karel Teige into English and as the co-editor of a major
book on Teige published in the USA in 1999. However, in our case, Dluhosch did not refer
to Benjamin as a follower of avant-garde, but as an author concerned with the purpose of
universities. Not only is Benjamin’s interest in the university system and its policies noteworthy,
but also how students behaved in this system. In his early thoughts from 1914, the
German scholar refused to see the purpose of study as a leisure activity or preparation for
a well-paid career. In his opinion, students do not fulfil their mission if they do not fully and
painstakingly give in to the subject of study. Eric Dluhosch used the lens of Benjamin’s text
in order to gloss the situation at American universities today.