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General Reading Room History

From the General Reading Room History


General Reading Room of National Library of the Czech Republic. author of the picture: Anton Fedorenko
The summer refectory

used as General reading room since the reconstruction of the library by Ladislav Machoň around 1929, was built from 1669 by the italian architect Francesco Lurago, who took over the construction project from his uncle Carlo Lurago.

The abundant pictorial and plaster decoration suggests that besides its use as refectory, the room was also designed for purposes of public reading, recitations and social events.

The vaulted ceiling is adorned by sixteen allegorical stucco representations of personified virtues, of which the four most important  – the theological virtues (Faith, Hope, Love of the neighbour, Love of God) are situated next the front wall on the east side, followed by the four cardinal virtues (Justice, Fortitude, Temperance and Prudence). Eight other christian virtues (Patience, Humility, Chastity, Poverty, Piety, Mortification, Obedience and Vigilance) occupy the western half of the space.

The front wall of the room shows the Wedding at Cana, a large oil painting realised in 1710 by Christoph Tausch following the draft of the jesuit painter Andrea Pozzo. The valuable pseudo-baroque book casements under the painting were purchased from the estate of the opera singer Emma Destinn.

The fresco on the entrance wall at the opposite side, attributed to Ignaz V. Raab, represents Jesus visiting the house of Lazarus. The 6m high rococo tiled stove at its feet, with figures of St. Ignatius and St. Francis Xavier, dates from 1762.

In 1791, the first Industrial exhibition was held here.

The anteroom is noteworthy for its two marble washing basins richly decorated with stuccowork. The left one, with the three angels, was made in the 1670’s by Johann-Georg Bendl following the design of Carlo Lurago. Visitors are greeted from the tympanums above the entrances to the main hall by St. Ignatius and St. Francis Xavier.

Ignatius of Loyola
Francis Xavier

Carlo Lurago
Ignaz V. Raab
Johann-Georg Bendl
Andrea Pozzo

General Reading Room
More History

Zdeněk Matušík

May 10, 2021
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