Archive for September, 2009


The very goal of the Lechner’s work was not exactly the development of the art nouveau style in Hungary.No doubt that the Lechner style was influencing as far the development of a national way to the art fin-de-siècle is concerned. But this influence was a corollary beside the Lechner’s goal to define a real Hungarian formal artistic language.

A very interesting evidence of these researches, is the so called Blue Church in Bratislava, actually capital city of the Republic of Slovakia but at the time (1907) of the church building, part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.

From wikipedia:

The Church of St. Elisabeth (Slovak: Kostol svätej Alžbety, Hungarian: Szent Erzsébet templom), commonly known as Blue Church (Modrý kostolík, Kék templom), is an Hungarian Secessionist (Jugendstil) Catholic church located in the eastern part of the Old Town in Bratislava, Slovakia. It is consecrated to Elisabeth of Hungary, daughter of Andrew II, who grew up in the Pressburg Castle (pozsonyi vár). It is called "Blue Church" because of the colour of its façade, mosaics, majolicas and blue-glazed roof.

The structure of this catholic church is a single nave architecture solution. Beside the church itself is also present a grammar school, work of Lechner, with the typical lines and rounded forms characteristic of the Lechner’s own style:

This building is actually under reconstruction: if the façade is completed yet (see pictures above), the courtyard is being reconstructed nowadays:

Back to the church, it is characterized by a tall 36.8 meter high cylindrical church tower. At first, a cupola was planned, but was never constructed; instead, a barrel vault was built, topped by a hip roof. The roof is covered with glazed bricks with decoration, for the purpose of parting. The church was originally painted with pastel pale yellow color and, at a later time, painted in the nowadays famous blue/pale blue color. A recent restoration of the building charged more the blue tones:

The entire façade as well as the tower is decorated by geometric and linear stylized elements. The lines of the small windows and portals are also designed with curve lines:


Quite interesting the church represents something unique in the development of Lechner’s own style. The geometric Hungarian patterns which heavily characterized about the totality of previous Lechner works were, in the Bratislava church, noticeably mitigated; the floral decorations are completely absent here; the traditional Lechner lines of the roof is in case of the St. Elisabeth Church realized in a smother way, lines and curves being much more morbid than in other building of the architect, with rounded structural elements on the façade which contribute to a general curvilinear and morbid aesthetic feelings.

Oriental and Hungarian traditional artistic patterns, which constitute one of the very typical aspect of Lechner’s own aesthetic, in this building were mitigated by typical rounded lines which are characteristic of the European Art Nouveau. Linear ornament characterizes every part of the building, instead of Lechner’s classic This is probably the most Art nouveau styled work of Lechner.

The interior is richly decorated with altarpieces. On the altar there is an illustration of St. Elisabeth, depicted giving out abilities to the beggars and poor. On the top of the main entrance door there is a mosaic, too, painted in the typical style of Gödöllő school.


As a follow up to the post dedicated to the work of Osvald Polivka I would like to present two decorative elements on the façade of the Topič building, work due to the Czech sculptor Ladislav Jan Šaloun.

Ladislav Jan Šaloun (b Prague, 1 Aug 1870; d Prague, 18 Oct 1946). was student of the sculptors Thomas Seidan (1830-90) and Bohuslav Schnirch. As many artists and sculptures at the turn-of-the-century, Šaloun  too was influenced by the work and style of Auguste Rodin, whose Prague exhibition he saw in 1902. The vagueness of the shapes, the formation of figures from the raw marble, the pathos of the composition, the dramatic expressions of the characters, were elements which Šaloun admired in the works of Rodin.

In Hradecko, in the Secession building due to the architect Osvald Polívka 1912 other works of Ladislav Šaloun are characterized by an evident sensual and melancholic mood. Abandoned the vagueness of the unformed marble material, shapesd in a more classicist or neo-renaissance style, these statues are notwithstanding characterized by an introspective attitude, a typical “humor noir”, a melancholic expression of the faces which recalls the title of a philosophical work of Theophrastus, the Melancholy of the Genius. This feeling is typical symbolist and decadent attitude:

Symbolism. The symbolic element, remarked by the beauty of the Art Nouveau line, engraved by typical Secese female figures. The smooth gesture and the dreaming attitude of the sculptured women on the Topič building façade are somewhat similar to a magazine vignette rather than a plastic sculpture, completely different from the style of the previous Šaloun works.

By a pure aesthetic point of view, some noticeable similarities between one of the sculpture and a woman depicted for a poster of Alphonse Mucha: position of the head, dreaming and ecstatic sight, spatial position of bodies and shoulders. A typical fin-de-siécle Czech sensibility toward arts ?



Ok then. As many readers should know, I am really an admirer of the work of Lajos Kozma, and specially as far as his graphic work is concerned. I wrote an aesthetic analysis some time ago ( on his outstanding contribution on the history of Hungarian Art Nouveau. Today I went to a very interesting conference at the ELTE University, and I met Historians of Arts who were interested in this author. I then decided to completely rescan this incredible book illustrated by Kozma from my personal collection, using the new digital scan processing I put together some weeks ago. For all the relevant information related to this book, I would suggest you to follow the link I provided some lines above. I hope you will enjoy the unusual style of my so beloved Lajos Kozma.



Some of my twelve readers maybe wondered why the restyling of the web site removed some of the typical curves of the previous layout in favor of a completely new decoration, which doesn’t look coherent with the typical art nouveau stylistic  background.

Well, my dear readers, you are wrong 🙂 The new site layout, and in particular the new floral decoration which adorns is really typical as far as the Hungarian Secession is concerned. One of the stylistic topic of the development of the New Style here in Hungary, was exactly the use (and sometimes the abuse) of flowers related decors.

The fundamental work was the essay on the Hungarian folklore art  due to the ethnologist József Huszka. In 1885 he published a booklet entitled “Magyar dicsőítő styl”, “The Hungarian Floral Style”. In his essay, Huszka pointed out that the Hungarian folk art was filled by decorations which basically recalls, in an essential manner, the forms and the lines of the countryside flowers. This essay was really influending as far as the development of the Art Nouveau in Hungary is concerned and, more in general, if one considers the quest of a very specific National Style. That quest, as we pointed out in this blog several times, was a topic of many Secessionist Hungarian artists, from Karoly Kos, to Odon Lechner, from the architect Bela Lajta to the influencing art historian and critic Karoly Lyka. Just to mention some of the work which are evidently influenced by this Floral Style:

Not surprisingly, this attitude towards stylized floral decorations was not typical as decors for building’s façades. At the turn of the century, a reprisal of the National folk art elements, and mainly the floral style was a common topic even for book illustrations. I have found some very interesting examples, some days ago, in a book in my Africa library. The publication is really the almanac for the year 1907 of the Hungarian Printers Association (Magyar Nyomda Évkönyv). In an article on the Hunfarian Floral Folk style, several plates filled by example of such a style are eventually presented, due to the drawings of Antal Aigner. Here you go !


A very mysterious manuscript was traveling through north and center Europe in the last few months as well as in the last few centuries. The Story itself is quite intriguing since the legends wants the Manuscript have being written by a monk under the Faustian supervision and consulting of Lucifer himself. From The Prague Post, September 12th, 2007 issue


By Sezin Rajandran

For the Post

How does one gauge the value of a soul? Faust learned this lesson the hard way, by selling his soul and then regretting it. American musician Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul in order to become the best guitar player the blues had ever seen.

To the Bohemian monk who created the Codex Gigas,otherwise known as the Devil’s Bible, legend has it the price of his soul was worth the one night it took to create the biggest medieval book in the world.

The Devil’s Bible was taken as war booty from a small monastery in Podlažice, near Chrudim, by the Swedish Army during the Thirty Years’ War. For the past 359 years, it’s been on display in the National Library of Sweden. And now it’s coming back — albeit only temporarily, in a special exhibit at the National Library in Prague that opens Sept. 20 and runs through Jan. 6.

The air of mystery surrounding this amazing artifact has been deepened by the National Library’s refusal to say a single word about the exhibit prior to a press conference Sept. 18. But the basic facts about the book are well-known.

Made of the skins of about 160 animals — some say donkeys, others say calves — the manuscript measures a king-size 90 x 50 x 22 centimeters (roughly 36 x 20 x 9 inches) and weighs 75 kilos (165 pounds), requiring two people to lift it.

According to the National Library’s Web site (, legend holds that a monk was sentenced to be buried alive for a breach in Benedictine conduct. In order to forgo his punishment, he agreed to make the most magnificent book the world had ever seen in honor of his brotherhood. The catch was that he was given just one night to complete this Herculean task.

Around midnight, the monk realized he would not be able to finish by daylight, so he invoked the devil to help him, selling his soul in the process. As a tribute to his helper, the monk included a quirky image of the devil within the manuscript, thus giving the book its nickname.

The real story of the Codex Gigas is not fully known, but no less intriguing. Although there are no records of the origins of the book or its author, the first mention of theCodex Gigas appeared in the year 1295. However, the National Library Web site notes it is very likely that the Devil’s Bible dates to as early as 1229. Scholars believe the book was most likely the life’s work of one scribe, who is estimated to have spent 20 years or more creating it. The unity of the writing, as well as the synchronization of the overall composition and minute details, supports the idea that it was the work of a single person.

The leather parchment pages contain both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible in pre-Vulgate Latin and much more: a Penitential (a priest’s manual of sins and suitable penance); Isidore of Seville’s Etymologiae, a 20-volume encyclopedia from the seventh century; Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews; a necrology of the Podlažice monastery as well as a list of all the living monks in Podlažice; and numerous texts of mystical incantations for everything from curing illnesses to catching thieves.

In terms of local history, perhaps the most significant entry is the Chronicle of Bohemia (Chronica Bohemorum), written by Cosmas of Prague, which details major points of Bohemian history and genealogy.

While the secrecy surrounding the return of the Devil’s Bible is intriguing and curious, it’s not entirely inappropriate. Years ago, the Codex Gigas was attacked while on display in the National Library of Sweden; details of that event are still sketchy. Access to the book’s various incantations has always been restricted. And the fact that a primarily religious work includes codified pagan and mystical beliefs makes the book an extremely rare and even more bizarre artifact.


The special Lucifer signature in form of an illuminated figure of a Daemon, is well visible in the infamous page 289 recto:

and what about the relationship with Prague ? Within the several manuscripts which constitute the whole book, there is also the famous text  Chronica Bohemorum, written by Cosmas of Prague. The books 4 till 9 of this text report the legend of Princess Libuse, the mythical founder of the city of Prague ! (courtesy of Czech Digital Library,

Capitulum quartum

Quarum maior natu nuncupata est Kazi que Medee Cholchice herbis et carmine nec Peonio magistro arte medicinali cessit, quia sepe Parcas cessare interminali ab opere.

Ipsaque fata sequi fecit sua carmine iussa. Unde et incole huius terre, quando aliquid est perditum et quod se posse rehaberedesperant, tale proverbium de ea ferunt: "Illud nec ipsa potestrecuperare Kazi."

Ad Cereris natam hec est ubi rapta tyrannam, eius usque hodie cernitur tumulus, ab incolis terre ob memoriam sue domme nimis alte congestus, super ripam fluminis Mse iuxta viam, qua itur in partes provincie Behin, per montem qui dicitur Osseca ..

Laude fuit digna, sed natu Tethka secunda, Expers et maris, emuncte femine naris, que ex suo nomine Tethin castrum natura loci firmissimum prerupte rupis in culmine iuxta fluvium Msam edificavit. Hec stulto et insipienti populo Oreadas, Driadas, Amadriadasadorare et colere et omnem supersticiosam sectam ac sacrilegosritus instituit et docuit; sicut actenus multi villani velut pagani, hic latices seu ignes colit, iste lucos et arbores aut lapides adorat, ille montibus sive collibus litat, alius, que ipse fecit, idola surda et muta rogat et orat, ut domum suam et se ipsum regant.

Tertia natu minor, sed prudentia maior, vocitata est Lubossa, que etiam tunc potentissimam iuxta silvam, que tendit ad pagumZtibecnam, construxit et ex suo nomine eam Lubossin vocitavit. Hec fuit inter femi

nas una prorsus femina in
consilio provida, in sermone strennua, corpore casta, moribus proba, ad dirimenda populi iudicia nulli secunda, omnibus affabilis, sed plus amabilis, feminei sexus decus et gloria, dictans negocia providenter virilia. Sed quia nemo ex omni parte beatuspozn., talis ac tante laudis femina – heu dira conditio humana – fuit phitonissa. Et quia populo multa et certa predixit futura, omnis illa gens commune cnsilium iniens patris eius post necem hanc sibi prefecit in iudicem. Ea tempestate inter duos cives, opibus et genere eminentiores et qui videbantur populi esse rectores, orta est non modica litigio agri contigui de termino pozn.. Qui in tantum proruperunt in mutuam rixam, ut alter alterius spissam unguibus volaret in barbam, et nudis conviciis semet ipsos turpiter digito sub nasum confundentes intrant bachantes curiam ac non sine magno strepitu adeunt domnam et, ut ratione iusticie dubiam inter eosdirimat causam, suppliciter rogant. Illa interim, ut est lasciva mollicies mulierum, quando non habet quem timeat virum, cubito subnixapozn.ceu puerum enixa, alte in pictis stratis nimis molliter acubabat.Cumque per callem iusticiepozn.incedens, personam hominum non respiciens tocius controversie inter eos orte causam ad statum rectitudinis perduceret, tunc is, cuius causa in iudicio non obtinuit palmam, plus iusto indignatus terque quaterque caput more suo terram ter baculo percussit ac barbam pleno ore saliva conspergenspozn.exclamat: O iniuria viris haud toleranda! Femina rimosa virilia iudicia mente tractat dolosa. Scimus profecto, quia femina sive stans seu in solio residens parum sapit, quanto minus, cum in stratis accubat? Re vera tunc magis est ad accessum mariti apta quam dictare militibus iura. Certum est enim longos esse crinespozn. omnibus, sed breves sensus mulieribus. Satius est moripozn., quam viris talia pati. Nos solos obprobrium nationibus et gentibus destituit natura, quibus deest rector et virilis censura, et quos premunt feminae iura. Ad hec domna illatam sibi contumeliam dissimulans et dolorem cordis femineo pudore celans subrisit et Ita est, inquit, ut ais; femina sum, femina vivo, sed ideo parum vobissapere videor, quia vos non in virga ferreapozn. iudico, et quoniam sine timore vivitis, merito me despicitis. Nam ubi est timorpozn. pozn., ibi honor. Nunc autem necesse est valde, ut habeatis rectorem femina ferociorem. Sic et columbepozn. olim albiculum milvum, quemsibi elegerant in regem, spreverunt, ut vos me spernitis, et accipitrem multo ferociorem sibi ducem prefecerunt, qui fingens culpas tam nocentes quam innocentes cepit necare; et ex tunc usque hodie vescitur columbis accipiter. Ite nunc domum, ut quem vos cras eligatis in dominum, ego assumam mihi in maritum.

Interea predictas advocat sorores, quas non inpares agitabantfurores, quarum magica arte et propria ludificabat populum per omnia; ipsa enim Lubossa fuit, sicut prediximus, phitonissa, utChumeaSibilla, altera venefica ut Colchis Medea, tercia malefica, ut Aeaeae Circes pozn.. Illa nocte quid consilii inierint ille tres Eumenidesaut quid secreti egerint, quamvis ignotum fuerit, tamen omnibus luce clarius mane patuit, cum soror earum Lubossa et locum, ubi duxfuturus latuit, et quis esset nomine indicavit. Quis enim cerederet, quod de aratro sibi ducem prerogarent? Aut quis sciret, ubi araret, qui rector populi fieret? Quid enim phitonicus furor nescit? Aut quid est, quod magica ars non efficit? Potuit Sibilla Romano populo seriem fatorum fere usque in diem iudicii predicere, que etiam, si fas est crederepozn., de Christo vaticinata est, sicut quidam doctorpozn. in sermone sue predicationis versus Virgilii pozn. ex persona Sibille de adventu Domini compositos introducit. Potuit Medea herbis et carmine sepe e celo Hyperionem et Berecinthiam deducerepozn.; potuit ymbres, fulgura et tonitrua elicere de nubibus; potuit regemEgacum pozn. de sene facere iuvenem. Carmine Circes socii Ulixesconversi suntpozn. in diversas ferarum formas et rex Picuspozn. in volucrem, que nunc dicitur picus. Quid mirum? Quanta egerunt artibus suis magi in Egypto, qui pene totidem mira carminibus suis fecerunt, quot Dei famulus Moyses ex virtute Dei exhibuisse perhibetur. Hactenus hecpozn..

Capitulum quintum

Posterea die, ut iussum fuerat, sine mora convocant cetum,congregant populum; conveniunt simul omnes in unum, feminaresidens in sublimi solio concionatur ad agrestes viros: O plebs miseranda nimis, que libera vivere nescit, et quam nemo bonus nisi cum vita amittitpozn., illam vos non inviti libertatem fugitis et insuete servituti colla sponte submittitis. Heu tarde frustra vos penitebit, sicut ranaspozn.penituit, cum ydrus, quem sibi fecerant regem, eas necare cepit. Aut si nescitis, que sint iura ducis, temptabo vobis ea verbis dicere paucis. Imprimis facile est ducem ponere, sed difficile est positum deponere; nam qui modo est sub vestra potestate, utrum eum constituatis ducem an non, postquam vero constitutus fuerit, vos et omnia vestra erunt eius in potestate. Huius in conspectu vestra febricitabunt genua, et muta sicco palato adherebit lingua pozn.pozn.. Ad cuius vocem pre nimio pavore vix respondebitis: „Ita domine, ita domine“, cum ipse solo suo nutu sine vestro preiudicio hunc dampnabit et hunc obtruncabit, istum in carcerem mitti, illum precipiet in patibulo suspendi. Vospozn.ipsos et ex vobis, quos sibi libet, alios servos, alios rusticos, alios tributarios, alios exactores, alios tortores, alios precones, alios cocos seu pistores aut molendinarios faciet. Constituet etiam sibi tribunos, centuriones, villicos, cultores vinearum simul et agrorum, messores segetum, fabros armorum, sutores pellium diversarum et coriorum. Filios vestros et filias in obsequiis suis ponet; de bubus etiam et equis sive equabus seu peccoribus vestris optima queque ad suumplacitumtollet. Omnia vestra, que sunt potiora in villis, in campis, in agris, in pratis, in vineis, auferet et in usus suos rediget. Quid multis moror
? Aut ad quid hec, quasi vos ut terream, loquor? Si persistitis inincepto et non fallitis voto, iam vobis et nomen ducis et locum ubi est indicabo. Ad hec vulgus ignobilepozn. confuso exultat clamore; omnes uno ore ducem sibi poscunt dari. Quibus illa: En, inquit, en ultra illos montes – et monstravit digito montes – est fluvius non adeo magnus nomine Belina, cuius super ripam dinoscitur esse villa, nomineZtadici pozn.. Huius in territorio est novale unum in longitudine et inlatitudineXII passuum, quod mirum in modum, cum sit inter tot agros in medio positum, ad nullum tamen pertinet agrum. Ibi dux vester duobus variis bubus arat; unus bos precinctus est albedine et albo capite, alter a fronte post tergum albus et pedes posteriores habens albos. Nunc, si vobis placet, meum accipite thalitarium et clamidem ac mutatoria duce digna et pergite ac mandata populi atque mea referte viro et adducite vobis ducem et mihi maritum. Viro nomenestPrimizl, qui super colla et capita vestra iura excogitabit plura; nam hoc nomen latine sonat premeditans vel superexcogitans. Huius proles posterahac in omni terra in eternum regnabit et ultra pozn..

Capitulum sextum

Interea destinantur, qui iussa domne et plebis ad virum perferant nuncii; quos ut vidit domna quasi inscios de via cunctari: Quid, inquit,cunctamini? Ite securi, meum equum sequimini, ipse vos ducet recta via et reducetpozn., quia ab illo non semel illa via est trita.

Vana volat famapozn., nec non et opinio falsa, quod ipsa domna equitatu phantasmatico semper in noctis conticinio solita sit ire illo et redire pre gallicinio, quod Iudeus credat Apellapozn.. Quid tum? Procedunt nuncii sapienter indocti, vadunt scienter nesciipozn.vestigia sequentes equi. Iamque montes transierant, iam iamque appropinquabant ville, ad quam ibant, tum illlis puer unus obviam currit, quem interrogantes aiunt: Heus bone indolis puer, estne villa ista nomine Ztadici aut si, est in illa vir nomine Primizl? Ipsa est, inquit, quam queritis villa, et ecce vir Primizl prope in agro boves stimulat, ut quod agit cicius opus peragat. Ad quem nuncii accendentes inquiunt: Vir fortunate, dux nobis diis generate! pozn. Et, sicut mos est rustieis, non sufficit semel dixisse, sed inflata bucca ingeminant: Salve dux, salve, magna dignissime laude, Solve boves, muta vestes, ascende caballum!Et monstrant vestessternutantemquecaballum. Domna nostra Lubossa et plebs universa mandat, ut cito venias et tibi ac tuis nepotibus fatale regnum accipias. Omnia nostra et nos ipsi in tua manu sumuspozn., te ducem, te iudicem, te rectorem, te protectorem, te solum nobis in dominum eligimus. Ad quam vocem vir prudens, quasi futuroruminscius, substitit et stimulum, quem manu gestabat, in terram fixit et solvens boves: Ite illuc, unde venistis!dixit; qui statim cicius dicto ab oculis evanueruntpozn., et nusquam amplius comparuerunt. Corilus autem, quam humi fixit, tres altas propaginespozn. et, quod est mirabilius, cum follis et nucibus produxit. Viri autem ili videntes hec talia ita fieri stabant obstupefacti. Quos ille grata vice hospitum invitat ad prandium et de pera subere contexta excutit muscidum panem et formatici partem et ipsam peram in cespite pro mensa et super rude textum ponit et cetera. Interea dum prandium sumunt, dum aquam de anphora bibunt, due propagines sive virgulta duo aruerunt et ceciderunt, sed tercia multo alcius et lacius accrescebat. Unde hospitibus maior excrevit ammiratio cum timore. Et ille: Quid ammiramini? inquit. Sciatis, ex nostra progenie multos dominos nasci, sed unum semper dominari. Atqui si domna vestra non adeo de hac re festinaret, sed permodicum tempus currentia fata expectaret, ut pro me tam cito non mitteret, quot natos heriles natura proferret, tot dominos terra vestra haberet.

Capitulum septimum

Post hec indutus veste principali et calciatus calciamento regali acrem ascendit equum arator; tamen sue sortis non inmemor tollit secum suos coturnos ex omni parte subere consutos, quos fecit servari in posterum; et servantur Wissegrad in camera ducis usque hodie et in sempiternumpozn.. Factum est autem, dum per compendia viarumpozn. irent nec tamen adhuc illi nuncii ceu ad novicium dominum familiarius loqui auderent, sed sicut columbe, si quando aliqua peregrina ad eas accedit, inprimis eam pavescunt et mox in ipso volatu eam assuefaciunt et eam quasi propriam faciuntet diligunt; sic illi cum fabularentur equitantes et sermocinationibus iter adbreviarent ac iocando per scurilia verba laborem fallerent, unus, qui erat audacior et lingua promptior: O domine, dic, inquit,nobis, ad quid hos coturnos subere consutos et ad nihilum nisi utproiciantur aptos nos servare fecisti; non satis possumus admiraripozn.. Quibus ille: Ad hec , inquit, eos feci et faciam in evum servari, ut nostri posteri sciant, unde sint orti, et ut semper vivant pavidi et suspecti neu homines a Deo sibi commissospozn. iniuste opprimant per superbiam, quia facti sumus omnes equales per naturam. Nunc autem et mihi liceat vos vicissim percontari, utrum magis laudabile est de paupertate ad dignitatem provehi an de dignitate in paupertatem redigi? Nimirum respondebitis mihi, melius esse provehi ad gloriam quam redigi ad inopiam. Atqui sunt nonnuli parentela geniti ex nobili, sed post ad turpem inopiam redacti et miseri facti; cum suos parentespozn. gloriosos fuisse et potentes aliis predicant, haudignorant, quod semetipsos inde plus confundunt et deturpant, cum ipsi per suam hoc amiserunt ignaviam, quod illi habuerunt per industriam. Nam fortuna semper hanc ludit aleam sua rota, ut nunc hos erigat ad summa, nunc illos mergat in infima. Unde fit, ut dignitas terrena, que erat aliquando ad gloriam, amissa sit ad ignominiam. At vero paupertas per virtutem victa non se celat sub pelle lupina, sed victorem suum tollit ad sydera, quem olim secum traxerat ad inferapozn..

Capitulum octavum

Postea vero quam iter emensi fuerant et iam iamque prope ad urbem venerant, obviam eis domna stipata suis satellitibus accelerat et inter se consertis dextris cum magna leticia tecta subeunt, thoris discumbunt, Cerere et Bacho corpora reficiunt, cetera noctis spacia Veneri et Himineo indulgent. Hic vir, qui vere ex virtutis merito dicendus est virpozn., hanc efferam gentem legibus frenavit et indomitum populum imperio domuit et servituti, qua nunc premitur, subiugavit atque omnia iura, quibus hec terra utitur et regitur
, solus cum sola Lubossa dictavit.

Capitulum nonum

Inter hec primordia legum quandam die predicta domna phitone concicata presente viro suo Primizl et aliis senioribus populiastantibus sic est vaticinata: Urbem conspicio, fama que sydera tangetpozn. pozn., Est locus in silva, villa qui distat ab ista Terdenis stadiis, quem Wlitaua terminat undis. Hunc ex parte aquilonali valde munit valle profunda rivulus Bruznica; at australi ex latere latus mons nimis petrosus, qui a petris dicitur Petrin, supereminet loca. Loci autem mons curvatur in modum delphini, marini porci, tendens usque in predictum amnem. Ad quem cum perveneritis, invenietis hominem in media silva limen domus operantem. Et quia ad humile limen etiam magni domini se inclinant, ex eventu rei urbem, quam edificabitis, vocabitis Pragampozn.. Hac in urbe olim in futurum bine auree ascendent olivepozn. pozn., que cacumine suo usque adseptimum penetrabunt celumpozn. et per totum mundum signis et miraculis coruscabunt. Has in hostiis et muneribus colent et adorabunt omnes tribus terrepozn. Boemie et nationes relique. Una ex his vocabitur Maior Gloria, altera Exercitus Consolacio pozn. pozn..

Plura locutura erat, si non fugisset spiritus pestilens et prophetans a plasmate Dei. Continuo itur in antiquam silvampozn. et reperto dato signo in predicto loco urbem, tocius Boemie domnam, edificantPragam. Et quia ea tempestate virgines huius terre sine iugo pubescentes veluti Amazonespozn. militaria arma affectantes et sibi ductrices facientes pari modo uti tirones militabant, venacionibus per silvas viriliter insistebant, non eas viri, sed ipsemet sibi viros, quos et quando voluerunt, accipiebant et, sicut gens Scitica Plauci sivePicenatici pozn., vir et femina in habitu nullum discrimen habebant. Unde in tantum feminae excrevit audacia, ut in quadam rupe non longe a predicta urbe oppidum natura loci firmum sibi construerent, cui a virginali vocabulo inditum est nomen Devin pozn.. Quod videntes iuvenes contra eas nimio zelo indignantes multo plures insimul conglobati non longius quam unius bucine in altera rupe inter arbusta edificant urbem, quam moderni nuncupant Wissegrad, tunc autem ab arbustis traxerat nomen Hvrastenpozn. pozn.. Et quia sepe virgines sollertiores ad decipiendos iuvenes fiebant, sepe autem iuvenes virginibus fortiores existebant, modo bellum, modo pax inter eos agebatur. Et dum interposita pace pociuntur, placuit utrisque partibus, ut componerent cibis et potibus symbolum et per tres dies sine armis sollempnem insimul agerent ludum in constituto loco. Quid plura? Non aliter iuvenes cum puellis ineunt convivia, ac si lupi rapaces querentes edulia, ut intrarent ovilia. Primam diem epulis et nimiis potibus hilarem ducunt. Dumque volunt sedare sitim, sitis altera crevitpozn., Leticiamque suam iuvenes vix noctis ad horamdifferunt. Nox erat et celo fulgebat luna serenopozn., Inflans tunc lituum dedit unus eis ita signum dicens: Lusistis satis, edistis satis atque bibistispozn.; Surgite, vos rauco clamat Venus aurea sistropozn.. Moxque singulipozn. singulas rapuere puellas. Mane autem facto iam pacis inito pacto, sublatis Cerere et Bacho ex earum oppido murus Lemniaco vacuos indulgent Vulcano. Et ex illa tempestate post obitum principis Lubosse sunt mulieris nostrates virorum sub potestate.

Sed quoniam omnibus Ire quidem restat, Numa quo venit et Ancuspozn., Primizl iam plenus dierumpozn., postquam iura instituit legum, quemcoluitvivus ut deum, raptus est ad Cereris generumpozn.. Cui Nezamizl succcessit in regnum. Hunc ubi mors rapuit, Mnata principales obtinuit fasces. Quo decedente ab hac vitaVoyn suscepit rerum gubernacula. Huius post fatum Vnizlau rexit ducatum. Cuius vitam dum rumpunt Parce, Crezomizl locatur sedis in arce. Hoc sublato e medio Neclan ducatus potitur solio. Hic ubi vitadiscessit, Gostivit throno successitpozn.. Horum ugitur principum de vita eque et morte siletur, tum quia ventri et somno dediti, inculti et indocti assimilati sunt peccori, quibus profecto contra naturam corpus voluptati, anima fuit oneripozn.; tum quia non erat illo in tempore, qui stilo acta eorum commendaret memorie. Sed sileamus, de quibus siletur, et redeamus, unde paulo deviavimus.



Osvald Polívka born 24. 5. 1859 was one of the most influencing Czech Architect. He studied architecture as well as building engineering. Polívka began the career under the guide of  prof. J. Zítka, and finally began his first project in 1890. His style was definitively influenced by Art Nouveau. Serpentine lines as well as phytomorphic motifs are present on his facades.

Combination of naturalistic and phytomorphic elements are well noticeable in this apartment house build in 1901-2:

Even if the facade is clearly Secese styled however it has still some neoclassic and eclectic elements and the curves of the decor´s lines are contrasting the classicist elements of the building (in the detail, the female face and the phytomorphic element seem struggle in a battle with the conservative static container of the neo-greek frieze).

Fully Secessionist, on the contrary, the building for the U Novaků Department Store, which also include a mosaic sketched by the famous Czech painter Jan Preisler. 


Really outstanding are the zoomorphological decorations:

And the mosaic of Jan Preisler, also, characterized this building, one of the most interesting of the Czech Secese:

And, finally, the internal galleria, with decorated glasses and mirrors:

Topič building, 1903-6, another great work, with a façade which mixes Viennese elements with the outstanding decorative taste of Osvald Polívka:



This post will be the first of a series.I will try to digitize my very Art Nouveau/Jugendstil/Secession oriented library and share it with you.
First digitizedbook of the new Bibliophilia section is Die Träumenden Knaben, a poem written and illustrated by the Austrian artist Oskar Kokoschka. This version is a close copy of the original booklet printed in 1908.


Nel pieno della noia che circonda la mia esistenza in questo periodo, mi sono infin risolto a leggere un testo che da tempo pendeva da uno scaffale della mia libreria (di Europa, come è denominata quella parta della Biblioteca), minacciando di cadere e, di conseguenza, di obbligare il sottoscritto ad intervenire, possibilmente leggendolo. Il libro in questione in verità è una antologia di testi sulla storia dell’Arte, come quasi ogni testo che abbia l’ardire di trovarsi in “Europa”.

Coraggiosamente, senza farmi ulteriormente intimidire da fisiche newtoniane o da evocazioni di mistiche Spade greche, ho afferrato il volume e ne ho letto alcuni saggi. Uno di questi, redatto niente meno che Maurice Denis nel 1898, tratta di un argomento invero assai spinoso. Nell’ambito della Estetica Simbolista, del cui movimento Denis stesso fece parte sia come artista, e dunque poieticamente, sia come teorico del movimento. In questo breve testo, Denis si occupa di una particolare forma simbolica, non relata ad una qualche espressione geometrica od astratta, ma correlata ad una particolare forma di linea, quella dell’espressione del volto. Linee che si sviluppano dagli angoli della bocca, dal contorno degli occhi, dalle rughe corrucciate della fronte, dalle fossette sulle guance, dalle occlusioni delle palpebre che donano agli occhi espressioni di volta in volta gravi, felici, terrorizzate, melanconiche …

Così Denis rintraccia in due geni della pittura, come Leonardo e Rembrandt, la straordinaria capacità di rendere l’ambiguità dell’espressione facciale e, dunque, di caricare le linee del volto di eccedenti significati simbolici.

Una tradizione che lo stesso Denis cercò di vivificare, marcando ancor più l’uso di linee ed elementi geometrici semplificati (assieme a larghe campiture di colore, come caratteristica tipica del suo stile), volendo dunque cogliere l’essenza dell’espressione simbolica:

Altri maestri Simbolisti usarono il loro potenziale stilistico per la medesima finalità:

L’espressione diviene l’elemento simbolico dominante nell’ambito della composizione, fino a render insignificanti ulteriori dettagli. La complessità dei significati mistificati dall’espressione è talmente vasta da esser sufficiente per se, anche nelle produzioni di autori simbolisti le cui “foreste di simboli” sono tra le più ricche in assoluto. Jean Delville:

E, soprattutto, il Maestro indiscusso dell’ambigua espressione simbolista: Fernand Khnopff …



Ho visto il tuo azzurro

Mi ha risucchiato, eccitato

Una Mano Possente mi

ha trascinato

Aquila, delfino sinuoso

Nuotare nell’azzurro

ed avvertire il freddo

senza più Fuoco

              Mattia Moretti