Curator: prom. hist. Helena Brožková
Special consultancy: Jana Černovská
Exhibition design: Ing. Dušan Seidl
Graphic design: Johan Vlach and Matěj Brnický, MiniMaxStudio
Organised for the UPM’s 135th anniversary and assembled almost exclusively from its own collections, the exhibition is the result of years of specialised research in close collaboration with restoration surveys. The objects on display encompass a wide range of periods from Late Antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and Baroque eras all the way to the second half of the 18th and especially the 19th century.
Reverse paintings on glass form a diverse miscellany of objects in the collection of historical glass of the UPM, with a total of 387 items dating from Antiquity to the nineteenth century. The exhibition presents 135 of the most distinctive paintings, often small in size but great in value, regarded as rare curiosities in today’s art market. The selected exhibits include a set of thirty reverse paintings that underwent demanding restorative treatment in 2001–2017.
The exhibition illustrates the historical evolution of this specific form of art, which was manifested in refined and highly prized works maintained in church treasuries and the inventories of nobles and burghers. Such artwork was always of interest to collectors, as is shown by 13 exhibits from the original collection of the UPM’s founder Vojtěch, Baron Lanna. His contribution amounted to 17 reverse paintings in all – a seemingly insignificant sum that includes some of the most precious and essential artefacts of the whole collection.
The most valuable Renaissance paintings are represented by the works of Hans Jakob Sprüngli (1559–1637) from Zurich and by the miniature paintings of the anonymous “Master VBL”. The Baroque era is illustrated by the art of the Dutch painter Gerhard Janssen (1636–1725), Kunštát-based Daniel Preissler (1636–1733), works ascribed to the so-called Bohemian-Franconian School, or paintings from eighteenth-century workshops in Augsburg. The vast majority of the exhibits come from the collections of the UPM, but further complementary objects have been loaned both from other public galleries and museums in the Czech Republic and from private collections. On display is also a selection of prints that served as the templates for some of the reverse paintings.