The Lobkowicz Collections
The Lobkowicz Collections draws its significance from its comprehensive nature, which reflects the cultural, social, political, and economic life of Central Europe for centuries. Highlights include world-famous paintings by Bruegel, Canaletto, Cranach, Rubens, and Velázquez, Medieval and Renaissance works of art, exceptional arms and armor, and ceramics, such as the largest-surviving 17th-century Delft dinner service in the world. The Collections also include the oldest, largest, and finest private library in Central Europe, housing such rare relics as a 9th-century Gospel Book and a 15th-century edition of The Apocalypse illustrated with exquisite Albrecht Dürer woodcuts. An unparalleled collection of musical instruments, manuscripts, and printed editions of scores, parts, and libretti dating from the 17th–19th centuries, is crowned by hand-annotated works by many of the world’s greatest composers and musicians, including Mozart and Beethoven.
The Lobkowicz Collections are comprised of approximately 1,500 paintings, including iconic images by Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Canaletto; the finest collection of Spanish Renaissance 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 almost 50 paintings and watercolors of Lobkowicz residences by Croll.
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.
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.
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 Music Archive, contained within the Lobkowicz Library, holds approximately 4,500 volumes. Originally housed 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 the 1990s, the Music Archive was returned to the family in its entirety.
The Music Archive
The Music Archive, begun by Ferdinand August, 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.
Beethoven and 7th Prince Lobkowicz
The family member who had the greatest impact on the history of Western music was undoubtedly Franz Joseph Maximilian, 7th Prince Lobkowicz. A talented singer, violinist and cellist, the 7th Prince was a life-long patron of Beethoven. Beethoven dedicated his 3rd (Eroica), 5th, and 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 Archduke Rudolf and Prince Kinsky, that allowed Beethoven the freedom to compose without dependence on commissions and time-consuming teaching.
Library and Archives
The history of the Library dates to the 14th century. Its approximately 65,000 volumes represent the oldest, largest, and finest private library in the Czech Republic. Since the 17th century, the Library was stored at Roudnice Castle in northern Bohemia, where it remained until 1942. Today, it is housed at Nelahozeves Castle. Among its many treasures is a rare 9th-century gospel book and 15th-century Albrecht Dürer woodcuts.
The Archives, which consist of boxes that would stretch to 1.5 km, contains a treasure trove of documents detailing social history, politics, diplomacy, arts, family correspondences and 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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If you would like to view the Czech Ministry of Justice public register for the Lobkowicz Collections, o.p.s. please click here.
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