Prague’s Orloj clock at centre of row over artist’s ‘amateur’ restoration | Czech Republic

Just one of Prague’s most well-known landmarks, a 15th-century astronomical clock, is at the centre of an embarrassing row amid claims that an artist endowed it with likenesses of his mates and acquaintances in an high priced restoration job, quite possibly as a joke.

The 600-calendar year-old Orloj – lengthy a magnet for travelers who gaze up in ponder as the 12 apostles are established in movement by the clock striking the hour – reopened in a blaze of fanfare in 2018 following a £2.1m refurbishment to the city’s medieval outdated city hall that incorporated an up grade to the clock’s intricate machinery.

Between the work’s showpieces was a meant copy of a 19th-century calendar painting by Josef Mánes adorning the clock’s astrolabe and depicting the months of the yr in the sort of the zodiac symptoms.

Detail from the astronomical calendar, showing the original scene and the restored version
Element from the astronomical calendar, exhibiting the unique scene and the restored model. Photograph: Martin Frouz/Town Corridor / City of Prague

Now the artwork has been engulfed in controversy just after a neighborhood heritage preservation team alleged that its painter, Stanislav Jirčík, had deviated from the spirit and detail of Mánes’ portray, which dates from 1866 and is now stored in Prague’s town museum.

Discrepancies that originally handed unnoticed had been belatedly brought to light immediately after a member of the Club for Aged Prague lodged a criticism with the Czech lifestyle ministry, which has now launched an investigation.

The complainant, Milan Patka, said the reproduction radically improved the look, ages, pores and skin tone, costume and even genders of the figures portrayed by Mánes.

In one depiction, supposed to symbolize Virgo, the original of a girl with purple hair and a unique ribbon is changed with a middle-aged, modern day-wanting girl with grey or highlighted hair and an earring. In another occasion, a smiling woman Aquarius has been reworked into a person with short hair.

Another figure and the updated version
Yet another determine and the up-to-date variation. The artist has not commented and has not responded to journalists’ cell phone phone calls. Photograph: Martin Frouz/City Corridor / City of Prague

Jiřčík also alterations Mánes’ initial painting of a predominantly black pet to 1 with a brown and white coat and elevated tail.

Jirčík, an educational painter and restorer, was even said to have offered some figures with likenesses of his mates, which includes Kateřina Tučková, an award-winning Czech novelist.

Tučková appeared to admit the resemblance in a Fb publish, crafting: “As an art historian, I would initially of all like to point out that Mr Stanislav Jirčík plainly did not have the undertaking of restoring Mánes’ primary, but to make a duplicate, or in point a completely new artefact.”

Deník N, a Czech news web-site that broke the story, quoted professionals as saying the alterations had been so radical that they must have been intentional, maybe finished as a joke.

Renovation work on Prague Orloj
Renovation do the job on Prague Orloj. Photograph: Martin Frouz/Metropolis Corridor / City of Prague

The artist has not commented and has not responded to journalists’ mobile phone calls.

Patka claimed the effort was poorer than these of beginner artists on Prague’s Charles Bridge, who make on-the-location portraits of passing travelers. “I envisioned an truthful method from copying the calendar – even the rapid painters on Charles Bridge [make] an exertion to seize the look of the figures and hairstyles,” he wrote.

Adam Scheinherr, the deputy mayor for transportation and heritage for Prague city council, which owns the clock, explained preliminary investigations showed the painting to be “banal and finished by an amateur”.

He explained a replacement would possibly be commissioned but he would very first discuss to the artist. “I want to have a serious dialogue with him and request him about the high-quality of the portray, what was his inspiration, did he research Josef Manes,” said Scheinherr. “We have several sketches of the first do the job, so it’s surely probable to do a copy. I want to know if he was attempting. The benefit of the astronomical clock is incalculable to us, so it is not about expense.”

Kenneth Proto

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