Thursday, 9 September 2010

Civic Savings Bank, Vršovice

From the late 1800s onwards the spirit of the Czech National Revival became enshrined in grand architectural statements such as Prague's National Theatre (1881) and National Museum (1885). The turn of the century brought even greater opportunities for aspiring architects as the city began to expand, along with an outpouring of Art Nouveau, the 'new style' which swept across Europe in the wake of artists such as Moravian-born Alfons Mucha.

As far as most visitors to Prague are concerned the most celebrated Art Nouveau building in the city is the 1912 Obecní Dům or Municipal House (whose lower levels, by the way, conceal one of Prague's best-kept secrets, which I will show you when you visit).

What's not so well-known, though, is that the same architects and artists engaged on that huge project went on to work on this building in Vršovice (at Vršovické Náměstí 67), the Civic Savings Bank, completed in the same year.

Today it's still a bank - a branch of Česká Spořitelna -  and its exterior and interior decoration have been magnificently preserved.  Even on a dull day the lantern roof strikingly illuminates the large allegorical painting by Jakub Obrovský, representing industry, and František Uprka's white Carrara marble statue of a woman spinning, the symbol of thrift. Mind you, given our current financial mess, she might as well be spinning the thread of Fate...
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3 comments:

ramy_v said...

Nice capture... looks like you had to sneak that shot. I can imagine banks don't care for people taking photos of their lobbies.

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Randy said...

Wow that is a beautiful bank!

Alex Went said...

@ramy_v Very well spotted: you're quite right; mind you my heart wasn't beating quite as loudly as it was the time I tried to get two (non-Russian) prints out of St Petersburg airport (they let me do so eventually but they threw up every conceivable obstacle, including makng off with the country's patrimony. The prints were Italian!)

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