Photograph: Pavel Čech
© Moravská galerie v Brně

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On display in the Exhibition(s)
The Age of Enlightenment | Toward a rational art: reshaping rhetoric and splendour

Name of Monument:
Premonstratensian Abbey, Nová Říše
Also known as:
Nová Říše, Moravia, Czech Republic
1616; 1676; 1683; 1797–1807
Denomination / Type of monument:
Religious – Monastery
Pavel Weinberger, Bartoloměj Hassler, Bernhard Jiří Rothmiller, Adam Enz, Johann Ignaz Hennevogel (1727–1790) Johann Lucas Kracker (1717 Vienna – 1779 Eger), Ignaz Mayer Sr. (c. 1720 Graz – 1785 Brno)
Premonstratensian order, Abbot Josef Pelikán (1755–1792)
The original convent of the Virgin Mary was taken over by the Premonstratensians from Brno-Zábrdovice in the early 17th century. The unfinished building by P. Weinberger was destroyed by fire in 1683. In 1733 the monastery was promoted to abbey status. As it housed a grammar school, the monastery was not dissolved in the course of the religious reforms undertaken by Joseph II. When the monastery was refurbished and refurnished, a prelature was constructed. The monastery houses a picture gallery; some of the works of which were purchased from F. Mayerswald, secretary to the Viennese court in 1804. In 1942, the monastery was occupied by SS troops after the assassination of Reichsprotektor Heydrich and it was turned into a Hitler Youth centre. All the members of the Premonstratensian order died in concentration camps. Shortly after the Second World War, the restored monastery became undesirable for the communist regime. In 1950 the monks were arrested and in a staged trial sentenced to many years in prison and labour camps. The monastery was then converted into a military storehouse. The buildings, by now in a dilapidated state, were returned to the Premonstratensian order in 1991.
The church is a single-nave building with two side chapels and two square towers. It is 45 m long, 12 m wide at the nave, and 9 m wide in the presbytery. The high altar of the monastery church is by the Venetian artist A. Entz (1705); the retable was created by the marble craftsman J. I. Hennevogel, also active in an affiliated monastery in Geras. The “real” architecture merges with illusionary painting (the masonry trimmings and ledges), creating a unified space. Above the chancel is the Giving of the Keys to St. Peter – the establishment of the Church. Four figurative allegories above the presbytery pillars represent the four continents (at the time) to which the Gospel is spread. The fresco on the nave vault represents the spiritual transformation of Saul on the road to Damascus. The paintings are by J. L. Kracker, an artist active in Prague, Znojmo and Hungary.
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How Monument was dated:
The Chapel of St. Anne is dated 1616 by a chronogram on the entrance portal. In 1688 the monastery concluded a contract with B. Hassler a master bricklayer in Znojmo, for the reconstruction of the church that burnt down in 1683. The altar in the chapel is dated 1702. Kracker signed and dated the ceiling painting 1766. A preparatory drawing for the picture of St. Norbert has survived in the museum in Széged in Hungary, while a sketch for the ceiling painting in the library is preserved in the collections of the Moravian Gallery in Brno.


Special features

Vojslava of Hrádek

Nová Říše, Monastery

c. 1758

Johann Lucas Kracker (1717–1779, Jager)

Legend has it that the monastery was founded in 1211 by Markvard of Hrádek and his wife Vojslava. Their fictitious portraits originally decorated the refectory. The couple is represented in 17th-century attire. Their spiritual intentions made clear by their gestures, their majestic posture illustrates their determination in the execution of theose intentions. The composition, a richly ornamented table and background covered in drapery, is a traditional painting scheme.
Chapel of St. Anne

Nová Říše, Monastery

1616; 1675; 1702

Bernhard Jiří Rothmiller

The chapel protrudes from the otherwise smooth façade of the east wing of the monastery, adjoining the sacristy. In 1639 a crypt was built there to contain the tomb of Provost Plocar who commissioned the construction of the monastery. The chapel vaults and walls are covered with illusionary painting. The coats of arms are associated with the “mother” monastery in Brno-Zábrdovice. The richly carved retable from 1702, holding an image of God the Father, frames a Gothic statue of St. Anne.
St. Norbert

Nová Říše, Church


Johann Lucas Kracker (1717–1779, Jager)

The painting of a side altar altarpiece is dedicated to the founder of the Premonstratensian order, St. Norbert, set into an illusionary painted altar with other “statues” of saints. The scene, climaxing in the Host, symbol of the Lord’s body, opens with the figure of an angel in counter-light. The light emanates from inside the picture and the viewer, deceived by the optical illusion of altar architecture, is pulled into the scene – a celestial sphere with glorified saint.

Nová Říše, Church


The baptismal font, organ and particularly the pulpit, are remarkable carved pieces. Contrary to common practice they are not made of stone or stucco, and the pulpit is situated on the right decorated with plant garlands and tendrils with pomegranates. The ambo with semi-relief herm has the figures of the four Evangelists in its niches.

Nová Říše, Monastery


Ignaz Mayer Sr. (c. 1720 Graz – 1785 Brno)

Above the sacristy and the Chapel of St. Anne is one of a few surviving monastery libraries. The vault features scenes from the life of St. Norbert connected with the celebration of the Eucharist. The painting’s concept, flying in the face of common iconography, was probably by the monastery abbot. The relief decorations of the library cases are symbols of the sciences and arts. A large quantity of the books came from dissolved monasteries in the surrounding area, especially Louka u Znojma; one section was assembled by the abbot of the Cistercian Monastery in Düsselthal in the Rhine basin, which was purchased by the monastery in 1802.
  Selected bibliography:

Bohumil Samek, Umělecké památky Moravy a Slezska II, J–N, Prague, 1999, pp. 677–687.
Friedrich Polleroß (ed), Reiselust & Kunstgenuss. Barockes Böhmen, Mähren und Österreich, Petersberg, 2004, pp. 187–200, 224–226.
Václav Mílek, Johann Lucas Kracker in Neu-Reisch/Nová Říše: Addenda a corrigenda, in Eduard Hindelang – Lubomír Slavíček, Franz Anton Maulbertsch und Mitteleuropa. Beiträge zum 30-jährigen Bestehen des Museums Langenargen, Langenargen–Brno, 2007, pp. 185–197.
Michaela Šeferisová Loudová, Barockbibliotheken in Mähren, in Martin Mádl – Michaela Šeferisová Loudová – Zora Wörgötter (eds), Baroque ceiling painting in Central Europe/Barocke Deckenmalaerei in Mitteleuropa, Prague, 2007, p. 63.
Citation of this web page:
Zora Wörgötter "Premonstratensian Abbey, Nová Říše" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2016.;BAR;cz;Mon11_F;10;en
Prepared by: Zora Wörgötter
Copyedited by: Jiří Kroupa
Translation by: Irma Charvátová
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: CZ 10