Cabinets. Masterpieces of 16th and 17th Century Craftsmanship from Czech Collections

December 6, 2023 – March 17, 2024

Organized in collaboration with the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague and the National Heritage Institute

A new exhibition at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague introduces an exclusive selection of rare cabinets from their collections, the National Heritage Institute, and regional and private collections – including the Lobkowicz Collections.

As part of a reciprocal loan, the Lobkowicz Collections lent a Portable Altar, which is usually on display at the Lobkowicz Palace Museum, as well as the painting Cabinet of Curiosities by Cornelis de Baellieur, from the permanent exhibition at Nelahozeves Castle. Visitors can see these two works in the main building of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague.

The Lobkowicz Palace Museum now has on temporary display a cabinet with double doors from the collections of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague. Its interior is divided by a central tabernacle, on each side of which there are four drawers, two others are hidden in the pedestal and pediment of the aedicule. The interior of the cabinet is decorated with enamel paintings of the Old Testament motifs and their typological parallels in the New Testament.

“Cabinets from the 16th and 17th centuries are among the most interesting works in the history of craftsmanship. Their sophisticated decoration was only possible thanks to collaboration between many different specialists such as cabinetmakers, engravers, stonecutters, goldsmiths, sculptors and painters. A cabinet’s primary purpose was to serve as a repository for precious objects, and this, together with its exquisite craftsmanship, meant it departed from the usual categories of furniture making. It played a supreme role in the age of Mannerism and the Early Baroque, when as a “Kunstkammer en miniature” it became a work of art in its own right, representing the complex intellectual world of modern natural philosophy. At this time the cabinet began to be seen and appreciated as a precious collector’s item, an opulent showpiece that reflected its owner’s status.” (UPM)

The cabinet with double doors from the collections of The Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague.
On display until March 17, 2024 in the permanent exhibition of the Lobkowicz Palace Museum.

Bohemian School, Portable Altar, c. 1600, painted ebonized wood, 64 cm

Cornelis de Baellieur (1607-1671), A Cabinet of Curiosities, oil on canvas, 56.5 x 88.5 cm

Organized in collaboration with the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague and the National Heritage Institute. 

The Museum of Decorative Arts – main building
17. listopadu 2
110 00 Prague 1

Opening hours
Tuesday 10:00–20:00
Wednesday – Sunday 10:00–18:00
Monday closed