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Photograph: Pavel Čech
© Moravská galerie v Brně


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Name of Monument:
Provincial House
Also known as:
New Town Hall
Location:
Brno, Moravia, Czech Republic
Date:
1659–1672; 1717–1745; 1766–1777
Denomination / Type of monument:
Secular – administration building
Artists:
Pavel Weinberger, Mořic Grimm (1669 Achdorf – 1757 Brno), František Řehoř Ignác Eckstein (1689? Židovice u Žatce – 1741 Lviv), Daniel Gran (1694 Vienna – 1757 St. Pölten), Gaetano Fanti (1687 Bologna – 1759 Vienna), Josef Winterhalder Jr. (1743 Vöhrenbach – 1807 Znojmo)
Patron(s):
Moravian Provincial Assembly – Moravian Provincial Governors Zachariáš of Hradec, Friedrich of Žerotín, Gabriel Serényi, František Liebštejnský of Kolowraty, Maxmilián Oldřich Kounic (1679–1746)
History:
The construction of the New Town Hall complex took place in the early 13th century and the late 18th century. From 1297 onwards a section of the Dominican Monastery was used for sessions of the Provincial Court and Assembly. In 1783, both Court and Assembly were transferred to the Augustinian Monastery and the premises of the dissolved Dominican order served military purposes. After reconstruction in 1934–5, the premises became the headquarters of the city administration. The courtyard contains Renaissance and Baroque portals from houses demolished during the course of Brno’s redevelopment in the late 19th century.
Description:
The Provincial Assembly held sessions in the monastery refectory. Not much survives of the original decoration, only a record of the decoration by J. Spillenberger, a canvas by M. A. Lublinský and the 35 coats of arms of the lords supervising the construction of the Assembly Hall in the 1580s. The hall was reconstructed in 1733 by M. Grimm. The decorative subject matter in the Assembly Hall is encompassed by the slogan “Civil Virtue Makes the Moravian Land Happy”, a saying defined by the Provincial Governor M. O. Kounic in accordance with his policies, which included acknowledgement of the right to rule in the female line and the guarantee of Moravian virtue and wealth through affiliation with the Danube states.
The original architecture determined the division of the paintings on the ceiling into two sections. The main part is the Allegory of the Virtues and Wealth of Moravia. The walls are covered with “statues” of emperors painted in an illusionary manner, while medallions feature Marobud, the mythical founder of the Moravian empire and Anna of Jagellon, heiress of the Moravian Margraviate.
How monument was dated:
The building is dated 1692, F. Ř. I. Eckstein’s painting is signed and dated. Receipts and correspondence for individual phases of the construction survive.

 

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Celebration of Emperor Charles VI

Provincial House

1732

František Řehoř Ignác Eckstein (1689? Židovice u Žatce – 1741 Lviv)

Governor Kounic was a follower of Charles VI and a promoter of the “pragmatic sanction”. He systematically addressed the modernisation of the country and reforms in public administration. With the emperor’s support Kounic unified the administration and the royal tribunal into a Provincial Governorate, which spurred the construction of a new entrance wing by M. Grimm, its central bay with two passageways symbolising the new office. The staircase and the new Assembly Hall were decorated by local artists.
The artist, F. Ř. I. Eckstein also tendered for the commission to decorate the Assembly Hall but he was spurned and left Brno to work for the Jesuits in Lviv where he later died.

 
 
Allegory of Beneficent Reign

1734

Daniel Gran (1694 Vienna – 1757 St. Pölten)

An Allegory of Beneficent Reign observes the governor's decisions from above his throne. The original vaulting acquired the symbolic function of a “triumphal arch”. D. Gran was an exponent of Vienna academicism, well versed in producing iconographic programmes on given subjects. Gran's decoration of the Court Library in Vienna inspired M. O. Kounic to commission him rather tha Brno artists Etgens and Eckstein; B. Altomonte also tendered for the commission. Together with the quadraturist G. Fanti, Gran created a mural in the Assembly Hall that sealed his reputation as one of the most sought-after fresco artists of the first half of the 18th century. Several surviving sketches demonstrate the artist's careful preparation for the commission.
 
 
Glory of Moravia

1734

Daniel Gran (1694 Vienna – 1757 St. Pölten)

An obelisk, symbol of eternity, carries the emblem of Moravia. The upper section of the main element of the ceiling painting features a zodiac, the eternal cycle of time. The personifications of the sun and moon at the sides accentuate the eternal validity of the central slogan being unfurled by Fame.
 
 
Muse

1734

Daniel Gran (1694 Vienna – 1757 St. Pölten), Gaetano Fanti (1687 Bologna – 1759 Vienna)

The quadrature contains figures of the Muses, without whose help fame and prosperity are unthinkable. The detail shows the engraved under-drawing.
 
 
The Twelve Tablets of the Law

1776–1777

Josef Winterhalder Jr. (1743 Vöhrenbach – 1807 Znojmo)

The Hall, containing the provincial tablets of the law, is decorated with scenes featuring Emperor Ferdinand II, Moses' Decalogue, the Defence of the Provincial Tablets and the Guardians of the Public Trust, represented by the figures of an aristocrat, a clergyman and a burgher, as well as a scrivener. The tablets, introduced in 1348, were a code of law that preceded the land books where all enactments of provincial assemblies were recorded. Joseph II's reform of 1783 abolished the tablets' office, and legal authority passed to the new provincial court. Leges XII tabularum, written according to tradition in 450, formulated Roman consuetudinary law. The interpretation of its regulations laid the foundations of continental legal science, while the interpretation of its ancient language provided a basis for philology.
  Selected bibliography:
Jaroslav Dřímal, Zemský dům v Brně, Brno, 1947.
Bohumil Samek, Umělecké památky Moravy a Slezska I, A-J, Prague, 1994, pp. 136–138.
Jiří Kroupa, Umělci, objednavatelé a styl. Studie z dějin umění, Brno, 2006, pp. 197–217.
Johann Kronbichler, Grandezza. Der Barockmaler Daniel Gran, St. Pölten, 2007, pp. 48–49.
Tomáš Valeš, in: Lubomír Slavíček (ed.), Josef Winterhalder d. J. (1743 Vöhrenbach – 1807 Znojmo), Maulbertschs bester Schüler, Langenargen–Brno, 2009.
Citation of this web page:
Zora Wörgötter "Provincial House" in Discover Baroque Art. Place: Museum With No Frontiers, 2014. http://www.discoverbaroqueart.org/database_item.php?id=monument;BAR;cz;Mon11_F;4;en
Prepared by: Zora Wörgötter
Copyedited by: Jiří Kroupa
Translation by: Irma Charvátová
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: CZ 04