The Lobkowicz Collections

The oldest and largest privately owned art collection in the Czech Republic, The Lobkowicz Collections draws its significance from its comprehensive nature, which reflects the cultural, social, political and economic life of Central Europe for over seven centuries. With the passage of the restitution laws in the early 1990s, it became possible for the Lobkowicz family to reassemble most of The Collections, making them available to the public in a family context after more than 50 years.

 
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Paintings

The Lobkowicz Collections are comprised of approximately 1,500 paintings, including iconic images by Brueghel the Elder and Canaletto; the finest collection of Spanish portraits outside Madrid and Vienna; representative works by Veronese, Velázquez, Rubens, Bellotto, and Cranach; Central European portraits by Hans von Aachen and the School of Prague; Dutch, Flemish and German genre paintings; and over 50 paintings and watercolors of Lobkowicz residences by Croll.

 
 
 
 

Decorative Arts

While not as well-known as the paintings, books and music associated with the Lobkowiczes, decorative and sacred art objects, dating from the 13th through the 20th centuries, form a significant part of The Collections.

 
 
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Religious Objects

During the forced occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Nazis and the later period of Communist rule, the private chapels in the family’s principal residences were desecrated and their contents dispersed. Important artifacts survived, including a 12th-century reliquary cross of rock crystal and gilded copper. The gold reliquary head of a female saint, possibly St. Ursula, dated c. 1300, was found in a trunk of theatrical props and recognized for the ancient treasure it is. This treasure, today known as the Jezeří Bust, is on display at the Lobkowicz Palace Museum in Prague.

The spectacular Hassenstein altarpiece at Nelahozeves Castle is a masterpiece of decorative workmanship. Created by Hans Plock, it was originally commissioned by the Archbishop of Mainz in 1522, and later adapted to commemorate the marriage of Bohuslav Felix of Lobkowicz (of the Hassenstein line) and Anna Fictum. Three-dimensional figures inspired by the style adopted from the school of Cranach are mounted against elaborate backgrounds of rich gold and silver thread embroidery set with seed pearls and semi-precious stones.

 
 
 

Arms & Armor

Bearing witness to these hunting parties and their participants are hundreds of mounted trophies in the Lobkowicz Collections that date from the 18th to the early 20th centuries. The social aspects of the hunt are also reflected in the many paintings and graphics by local artists in the collection, among them pictures of favorite horses, dogs and trophies. The most potent totems of the hunt, however, are the firearms themselves. After being in storage for many years, some of the finest are now on display in two armory rooms at the Lobkowicz Palace at Prague Castle, while others from the collection are on view at Nelahozeves Castle. 

 
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Music

The Music Archive, contained within The Lobkowicz Archives, holds over 5,000 items. Originally housed in The Lobkowicz Library at the principal family seat of Roudnice Castle, the entire archive was confiscated first by the Nazis in 1941, and again under the Communist regime, which sent it to the Museum of Czech Music. In October 1998, the Music Archive was physically returned to the family in its entirety and moved to Nelahozeves Castle under the auspices of the Roudnice-Lobkowicz Foundation.

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The Music Archive

The Music Archive, begun by Ferdinand August, the 3rd Prince Lobkowicz, was assembled over three centuries by principal members of the family who were not only great patrons but also enthusiastic collectors, and often talented performers. The Music Archive contains works by over five hundred composers and musicians. These include a rare collection of late 17th- and early 18th-century lute, mandolin, and guitar scores. This collection, regarded as the world’s largest private collection of baroque music for plucked instruments, is particularly rich in works by French composers, such as E. and D. Gaultier, J. de Saint-Luc, Ch. Mouton, J. de Gallot, and others. The Music Archive is most celebrated, however, for its late 18th- and early 19th-century collection, including works by Handel, Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven.

Philip Hyacinth, the 4th Prince Lobkowicz, and his second wife, Anna Wilhelmina Althan, were both distinguished lutenists and he was an accomplished composer as well. The Prince and the Princess were both taught by some of the finest contemporary lutenists including Sylvius Leopold Weiss and Andreas Bohr and their fine period instruments still reside in The Collections. Their son, Ferdinand Philip played the glass harmonica and championed the gifted son of one of the family's foresters, the remarkable opera composer Christoph Willibald Gluck.

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Beethoven Manuscripts

The family member who had the greatest impact on the history of Western music, however, was undoubtedly the 7th Prince, Josef František Maxmilián. A talented singer, violinist and cellist, the 7th Prince was a great patron of Beethoven. Beethoven dedicated the 3rd (Eroica), the 5th, and the 6th (Pastoral) symphonies to the Prince, as well as other works.

It was the annual stipend provided by the Prince (and continued by his son until the composer’s death), supplemented by support from the Archduke Rudolf and Prince Kinsky, that allowed Beethoven the freedom to compose without dependence on commissions and time-consuming teaching.

 
 
 

Library & Archives

The family archive alone, which consists of boxes that would stretch to 1.5km, contains a treasure trove of documents detailing social history, politics, diplomacy, arts, family correspondences and much more, from the Middles Ages to the early 20th century. This collection is waiting to be discovered and connected to the world of library science and archival research around the globe.

 
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Annual Report

To read our most recent annual report describing our ongoing projects and successes please click the button below.

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