Friday, 29 April 2011

Frescoes in the church of St Ludmila

The neo-gothic church of St Ludmila is a triple-naved basilica dating from the late 1800s. Impressive enough from the outside, the interior is a model of the 19th century decorative arts (and in my opinion, of supreme aesthetic reserve and proportion) which would have Pugin-lovers in a flat spin.  Particularly notable is this exquisite yet subdued fresco-work by the little-known Viennese painter Johann Jobst.

The ceiling of the narthex (the entrance to the nave) depicts the four Old Testament characters known as the 'major' prophets: Ezekiel, Daniel, Isaiah and Jeremiah, pictured here.

Further along are Isaac, Abraham, Jacob and Noah, and the group of saints most closely associated with the Czech lands: Prokopius, Adalbert (also called Vojtěch), Agnes, Cyril and Methodius, Jan Nepomuk - and, of course, St Wenceslas and his grandmother Ludmila.

Other notable features of the church are the gilded high altar by Antonín Turek and the stained glass windows, repeating the litany of saints along both side aisles. But the greatest achievement is perhaps the delicately-decorated cream-washed pillars, which give this magnificent city church real architectural poise and elegance. More tomorrow.

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