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Views of Albion

The Reception of British Art and Design in Central Europe, 1890–1918


Andrzej Szczerski

Views of Albion is the first comprehensive study of the reception of British art and design in Central Europe at the turn of the twentieth century. The author proposes a new map of European Art Nouveau, where direct contacts between peripheral cultures were more significant than the influence of Paris. These new patterns of artistic exchange, often without historic precedence, gave art during this period its unique character and dynamism.
Beginning with an analysis of the concept of Central Europe, the book examines knowledge about British art and design in the region. In subsequent chapters the author looks at the reception of the Pre-Raphaelites in painting and graphic arts as well as analysing diverse responses to the Arts and Crafts Movement in Germany, Austria, Poland, Bohemia, Slovakia, Hungary and Southern Slavic countries. The epilogue reveals the British interest in Central Europe, echoed in the designs Walter Crane, Charles Robert Ashbee and publications of The Studio.
The book questions the insularity of British culture and offers new insights into art and design of Central Europe at the fin de siècle. It presents the region as a vital part of the international Art Nouveau, but also shows its specific features, visible in the works of artists such as Alfons Mucha, Gustav Klimt and Stanisław Wyspiański.
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CHAPTER 7: The Czech Lands, Slovakia, and the Southern Slavs


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The Czech Lands, Slovakia, and the Southern Slavs


Within the Habsburg Monarchy, the Czechs did not obtain as much autonomy as the Poles had in the province of Galicia; hence, national issues in Bohemia were a source of constant conflicts which seemed insoluble due to the political status quo. Such conflicts did not spare the art scene, although at the institutional level the Czechs enjoyed participation in decision-making about the cultural policy of their province. Around the year 1900, the key role in the revival of applied art was played by cultural institutions in Prague.

Exhibitions of applied art were held first at the Rudolfinum, a Neo-Renaissance building which functioned as a gallery and a concert hall, designed by Josef Zítek and Josef Schulz, and erected in 1876–84. The year 1885 saw the foundation of the Uměleckoprůmyslové museum (Museum of Applied Arts), which temporarily presented its collection, based on the objects purchased at the 1878 Paris World Exhibition, at the Rudolfinum. The museum’s permanent home, designed by Josef Schulz also in Neo-Renaissance style, was built next to Rudolfinum in 1897–1900. The museum, and the affiliated Uměleckoprůmyslová škola (School of Applied Arts) – founded in 1885 and located in a separate building designed by František Schmoranz and Jan Machytka (1882–5) next to the museum – were based on the model of the Österreichisches Museum für Kunst und Industrie in...

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