New Town Hall
Brno, Moravia, Czech Republic
1659–1672; 1717–1745; 1766–1777
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)
Secular – administration building
Moravian Provincial Assembly – Moravian Provincial Governors Zachariáš of Hradec, Friedrich of Žerotín, Gabriel Serényi, František Liebštejnský of Kolowraty, Maxmilián Oldřich Kounic (1679–1746)
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.
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.
The Moravian Provincial Assembly held sessions in the Dominican Monastery. 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.
D. Gran’s mural in the Assembly Hall sealed his reputation as one of the most sought-after fresco artists of the first half of the 18th century.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Zora Wörgötter "Provincial House" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. http://www.discoverbaroqueart.org/database_item.php?id=monument;BAR;cz;Mon11_F;4;en
Prepared by: Zora WörgötterZora Wörgötter
AFFILIATION: Moravian Gallery in Brno
TITLE: Museum Curator and Local Co-ordinator
Zora Wörgötter studied Applied Painting at the Secondary School of Applied Arts, Video Art (Faculty of Fine Arts) at the University of Technology in Brno and Art History and Ethnology (Faculty of Arts) at Masaryk University, Brno. She has worked at the Moravian Gallery since 1997 and was curator of the Ancient Art Collection up until 2008. Specialising in Dutch and Central European painting of the 17th and 18th centuries, she has participated in the preparation of several exhibitions, catalogues and research projects in the Czech Republic and abroad, and published in the Moravian Gallery Bulletin, Opuscula historiae artium, and other journals. She is co-ordinator of the Art History Database www.ahice.net for the Czech Republic.
Copyedited by: Jiří KroupaJiří Kroupa
AFFILIATION: Department of the History of Art (Faculty of Arts) Masaryk
Professor Jiří Kroupa studied Art History, History and Sociology Masaryk University, Brno. He was a curator at the Kroměříž Museum and the Moravian Gallery in Brno before joining the staff at Masaryk University in 1988 (Head of the Department 1992–2002; Professor 1999 to present). His particular fields of interest are in the history of architecture, 18th-century cultural history and the methodology of art history. His long list of publications includes an edition on the architect Franz Anton Grimm and an essay “The alchemy of happiness: the Enlightenment in the Moravian context”. He was contributing editor for the volume Dans le miroir des ombres. Moravie a la age baroque. 1670–1790 (2002).
Translation by: Irma Charvátová
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: CZ 04