In the Name of Wisdom. The Iconography of the Baroque Libraries in Moravia in the 18th Century

Michaela Šeferisová Loudová,  Ve jménu moudrosti. Ikonografie barokních knihoven na Moravě v 18. století [In the Name of Wisdom. The Iconography of the Baroque Libraries in Moravia in the 18th Century], Brno 2019, 501 pp., ISBN: 978-80-7422-663-2

This book is the first monograph on the artistic decoration of Baroque library halls created in the 18th century and still preserved in now days Moravia, namely libraries in the former Canonry of Premonstratensians Hradisko near Olomouc, in the Benedictine Abbey in Rajhrad, in the monastery of Franciscans in Uherské Hradiště, in the monasteries of Minorites and Capuchins in Brno, in the Canonry of Premonstratensians in Nová Říše and in the former Premonstratensian Canonry Louka near Znojmo, where the library no longer exists, but its visual aspect is brought to use in the preserved library of the Premonstratensian Canonry at Strahov in Prague, called the Philosophical Hall, which was created as a replica of the Louka library. These monastic libraries are followed by the only one castle library in the (arch)bishop residence in Kroměříž.

The monograph is primarily focused on the reconstruction of the iconographic programs of the wall paintings in libraries, but also takes into account the style of the paintings, their authorship and last, but not least the iconography and iconology of the whole monastery (respective castle), where library halls are located. The iconographic themes in the Moravian libraries, in some cases decoded for the first time, are presented in the context of decoration of other Baroque monastic libraries in the Czech Republic as well in the Central Europe.

The unique iconography, mostly linked to the apotheoses of the Divine Wisdom, possess a large scale of variations, containing rare motifs, which make their interpretation difficult without deep understanding of the Baroque iconology and thorough knowledge of the cultural milieu, in which the paintings were ordered and produced. The monograph shows that in the future the aim of Baroque libraries should not be restricted on the research for common features in their artistic decoration and related or identical motifs in their iconographic programmes, but also to examine the specificity of individual realisations that should be emphasised. Every Baroque library is firmly connected to the environment of a particular monastery, and the ideological concept of its decoration always grows out of the iconological concept of the entire monastery. The artistic decoration of libraries, especially the wall paintings, is becoming a kind of conceptual battleground for its conceivers – here, unlike other convent premises, are presented complex multi-layered iconographic programmes, often including completely original motifs, demonstrating the spiritual maturity of a particular monastic community.

In the Name of Wisdom (English Resumé)



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