The exhibition at the National Gallery Prague tells the story of the art of Peter Brandl (1668 Prague – 1735 Kutná Hora), the most prominent Baroque painter in Bohemia. The concept of the project is based on two parallel narratives: the artist’s works and his life full of dramatic twists and turns. An immense number of archival materials exists about Brandl’s bohemian life, mapping his disputes with his wife, imprisonment for debts, and resistance against entering the painters’ guild as well as buying luxurious clothes and food. During his lifetime, Brandl was the best-paid artist in Bohemia, who also earned money from a gold-mining business.
Brandl was apprenticed with the court painter Christian Schröder (1655 Goslar – 1702 Prague), an inspector of the imperial Prague Castle Picture Gallery where Brandl could study the works of the Renaissance artists (Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, and others) as well as seventeenth-century painters such as Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, David II Teniers, Guido Reni, Jusepe de Ribera, and more.
The exhibition features Brandl’s several meters tall altarpiece paintings that reveal obvious inspiration from Italian painting, including Caravaggio and classicizing orientation. The portraits show a greater tendency towards Netherlandish painting – some demonstrate Brandl’s evident knowledge of portraits by Nicolas Maes.
As one of the few Czech artists, Brandl pursued genre painting whose themes were based on seventeenth-century Netherlandish genre painting. After all, the scene At the Quack’s was inventoried in the collection of Nová Říše Monastery under Gerrit van Honthorst.
Brandl’s interpretation of old men’s types is a special chapter – in these paintings, he very boldly experimented with thick layers of colors, using a paintbrush handle, nails, and fingers.
The exhibition also presents the works of Brandl’s contemporaries (e.g. Johann Kupezky) and followers such as Philipp Christian Bentum, born most likely in Leiden around 1690.
The exhibition is curated by Andrea Steckerová.