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Alphonse Mucha, Prague, and Mucha’s Art

Princess Hyacinth by Alfons Mucha via Wikimedia.org

“The purpose of my work was never to destroy but always to create, to construct bridges, because we must live in the hope that humankind will draw together and that the better we understand each other the easier this will become.” -Alphonse Mucha

 St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague
St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague

One of my favorite of Mucha’s works is located in the Prague Castle, on a stained glass window inside the St. Vitus Cathedral (above).

Alphonse Mucha (Alfons Mucha, said Al-fons Moo-ha) is an artist you may not have heard of, but it’s likely you’ve seen his work. Mucha lived and painted in Paris at the turn of the century 1900s in the Art Nouveau style, but he was from Czechoslovakia. He was prolific with his lithographs for commercial art.

Biscuits Champagne by Alfons Mucha via Wikimedia Commons
Biscuits Champagne by Alfons Mucha

I’m continuing a series on art and artists I saw while I lived in Europe. I loved getting to tour the Mucha Museum in Prague, Czech Republic, with a group of friends. The museum is located at the Kaunický palác Panská 7, 110 00 Prague 1. {All photos related to Mucha’s work in this post, other than the St. Vitus stained glass photo, have been found under public domain at Wikimedia Commons.org (free media) because inside the Mucha Museum, photography is not allowed.}

Princess Hyacinth by Alfons Mucha via Wikimedia.org
Princess Hyacinth by Alfons Mucha
Peonies by A. Mucha via Wikimedia.org
Peonies by A. Mucha

Mucha gained initial success for designing a poster for the 1894 play called Gismonda, which starred the most famous Parisian actress at the time, Sara Bernhardt.

Gismonda by Mucha via Wikimedia.org
Gismonda by Mucha

A few of my favorite Mucha pieces remind me of antique soap boxes and other advertising I saw at my relatives’ homes when I was a child.

Chansons Eternelles by Mucha via Wikimedia.org
Chansons Eternelles by Mucha

 

Winter by Alfons Mucha via Wikimedia.org
Winter by Alfons Mucha

Do you remember seeing any of Mucha’s work? What do you recognize his work from?

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Reflections: Prague Castle at Night

Prague Castle at night

 “History teaches everything including the future.” -Lamartine

Prague Castle at night
Prague Castle at night

Last week, I celebrated my 4th blogiversary and yesterday I posted about the photograph I took of the Prague Castle at night reflected in the Vltava River.

Technology works and doesn’t work sometimes, and the email feature connected to my blog has been a good example. It hasn’t worked for a few weeks. So, I’m posting the links to my three prior blogs here.

My Favorite Italian Hideaways

A Birthday, a Blogiversary, and Gifts for You

Reflections of Prague Castle at Night

I’m switching services from Feedburner (Google) to the reliable and new WordPress Jetpack version. If you are an email subscriber to my blog (thank you!), please click here to subscribe in the new service (the upper right hand box on my blog sidebar) to continue receiving posts reliably.

Thank you and I’ll see you back here again next Tuesday!

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Reflections of Prague Castle at Night

Prague Castle at night

 “History teaches everything including the future.” -Lamartine

Prague Castle at night
Prague Castle at night

When I stand in Prague along the Vltava River and see this view, I can hardly imagine the hundreds of years of stories and history tucked into the walls and crevices of the buildings:

  • Prague Castle (the long, horizontal building that stretches across much of this photograph) was founded around the year 880 and is made up of Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque architectural styles. The Castle has hosted the region’s ruling powers through countless wars, the Nazi occupation, the Soviet Communist rule, and the post-Velvet Revolution government — for over one thousand years.
  • St Vitus Cathedral, with its high Baroque and Gothic spires inside the Prague Castle walls, was founded on the 21st of November, 1344, during the reign of King Charles IV. The beauty inside is astounding, especially considering the cathedral is approaching 700 years old.
  • St Nicholas of Mala Strana Church, constructed around 1750 (the spires on the left of the photograph), was a favorite Nazi spying outpost, from the top of its bell tower. Also, famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart played the organ in the church.
  • Charles Bridge, the historic bridge that crosses the Vltava River, was constructed in the 1350s by King Charles IV. Its presence across the river helped make Prague an important trade route between eastern and western Europe.

There is so much to see, feel, and experience just by standing in one small spot in a historic city like Prague.

Imagine …

What do you think about when you experience something so much bigger than you and your time?

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3 Hours inside Prague Castle: 10 Favorite Sites to See

the unforgettable view from the Prague Castle gates, over Prague

“Prague never lets you go… this dear little mother has sharp claws.” Franz Kafka (1883-1924), Prague German Jewish author, novelist

Prague is the most beautiful city on earth, and I think Franz Kafka agreed with me.

Even after living in Prague as an expat for three years, I still have not tired of Prague’s beauty. From the steep city hills to the winding Vltava River, to the time-worn cobblestones to the thousand spires skyline, Prague is a city like no other. If you haven’t visited Prague yet, you must. Start a jar for saving nickles and dimes today.

majestic Prague Castle
the majestic Prague Castle

When you arrive in Prague, you’ll realize the centerpiece of the city is the Prague Castle, which sits high on a ridge overlooking the Vltava River. The Czech government still meets in Prague Castle today, yet the first structures within the Castle date back to around the year 880 AD. It is a fascinating place to tour.

If you have 3 hours, you can see much of Prague Castle. Here, my 10 favorite sites within the Castle walls:

1)  Golden Lane.

Golden Lane, Prague Castle, Prague
Golden Lane, Prague Castle, Prague

 

Golden Lane, in the other direction, Prague
Golden Lane, in the other direction, Prague

2)  Kafka’s house on Golden Lane. Continue reading 3 Hours inside Prague Castle: 10 Favorite Sites to See

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5 Quick Steps to Managing Your Digital Photos

“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.” – Aaron Siskind

 

A Great Tit bird in winter, Prague
A Great Tit bird in winter, Prague

Today, I had the immense privilege of venturing into Prague with a dear photo-loving friend, despite the bitter cold temps, to take photographs of gorgeous Prague under a dusting of snow. In the matter of a few hours, I took a couple hundred photographs. :o)

One of the hardest things about digital photography is the ability to take thousands of photographs.

Yes, the ability to take thousands of photographs is a wonderful thing, especially considering the time and effort and money involved in the old-style method of developing film. But there is one drawback to digital and the thousands of photographs: how do you organize and find the photographs once you’ve taken them? Continue reading 5 Quick Steps to Managing Your Digital Photos

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Amazing Restitution after Complete Loss: Regaining Six Centuries of Lobkowicz Family Collections

the Majestic Prague Castle

“Attracting the attention of invading armies … objects in precious metals were the first to disappear from a household …” -The Lobkowicz Collections, on the value of their family’s vast decorative arts collections

 

The Prague Castle, the Lobkowicz Palace at the right-hand end in creamy white

As I look to wrap up my thoughts for 2011, after traveling more than 12 countries and dipping my toes in the Seven Seas in 2011, I must reflect on one event that has changed my thinking and altered my view of the world more than any other. And this event happened just last week, on December 15, in the Prague Castle grounds … at the Palace of friends we have the immense privilege to get to know a bit.

What do you think of when you hear the word CONFISCATION? Do you recall the bottle shampoo the security agent at the most recent airport you traveled took away because it was too large? Or the contraband you saw taken away at a school event, or other official venue, because it simply wasn’t allowed? I can think of a million things that might be confiscated at different places on different occasions …

But no confiscation ever could be as significant as the one I heard William Lobkowicz speak about last week, in relation to his family, and what the Nazis, and later the Communists so hastily took away. Continue reading Amazing Restitution after Complete Loss: Regaining Six Centuries of Lobkowicz Family Collections

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Prague and the Longest Day of the Year

Painted Lady on Lavender

“If a June night could talk, it would probably boast it invented romance.”  -Bern Williams

In Prague, there is one sure way know that it is the longest day of the year: it is officially dark  from 11:30pm to 2:30am. Yes, we are at the shortest night of the year, and I can hardly imagine how people North of Prague are able to get any sleep … it is a really strange sensation to see light along the horizon when it should be the middle of the night.

But, I have to say now that we are officially at the Summer Solstice, that this past Spring was the most beautiful of my life. While the rest of the world has been wrecked with tornadoes, earthquakes, violent storms, and tsunamis, Prague and the majority of Europe has coasted through Spring 2011 with sunshine, 75*F, and a few rain showers. We have so many reasons to be grateful:

Swans Paddling the Canal in Brugges, Belgium
Swans Paddling the Canal in Brugges, Belgium

Continue reading Prague and the Longest Day of the Year

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Breathtaking Fields of Gold

Golden Fields of Colza and the View over Prague and the Prague Castle

“Well, I’ve moved to the country for the first time in my life, and there are barley fields right next door. And I remember walking through one day and seeing this crop being moved by the wind and the sunshine, and … I thought it was a great metaphor for love, and, its a kind of love song.” -Sting, about his song Fields of Gold from ‘Ten Summoner’s Tales’ Promotional Interview Disc, ’93

Golden Fields of Colza and the View over Prague and the Prague Castle
Golden Fields of Colza and the View over Prague and the Prague Castle

This photo, and the next, capture what I believe is the most beautiful time of year in Prague. All across Czech Republic, fields of Colza checker the countryside in yellow brighter than New York City taxi cabs. Usually, fog and haze clothe Prague in its cloak of mystique. But on clear days, from the high hills surrounding Prague’s Vltava River, the German-Czech border mountains line the horizon to the North, and in every direction around Prague, fields of gold rim the City.

Fields of Gold and the View over Prague
Fields of Gold and the View over Prague

Though difficult to capture in a photograph or two, here you can see two of my favorite views. One toward the Prague Castle and the swirls of orange tile roofs surging across the Prague hills, one zoomed in, and one of the Prague Castle lapped in fog in the morning. I hope you enjoy seeing it!

Morning haze around Prague Castle
Morning haze around Prague Castle

What beauty captivates you? What have you noticed recently that takes your breath away?

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Bruges, Belgium and the Night at the Palace

Bruges, Belgium

Bruges, Belgium: Flemish name: Brugge a city in NW Belgium, capital of West Flanders province: centre of the medieval European wool and cloth trade. Connected to its seaport, Zeebrugges, by canal. “the Venice of the North”

Bruges, Belgium
Bruges, Belgium

 

 

Last weekend, my husband and I had the most amazing experience as part of our time in Prague. We were invited to attend a formal event at our friends’ Palace within the Prague Castle grounds. If I had to choose one experience I soaked up most from our two years here so far, it was the Night at the Palace. Here, a photo of me (on the right) and two of my closest friends. Thought you might enjoy a peek at the setting (view over Prague), and of the magical fun.

Jennifer Lyn King
the Magical Night at the Palace

Bruges, Belgium

Okay– now on to my Travel Friday Photojournal:  Two weeks ago, my family drove West from Prague to Belgium, to see their beautiful country over Easter weekend. Last week, I wrote about the Dutch and Belgian countryside, which I loved. But, we spent Easter in Bruges. And, if I were to recommend a place to see for a day in Western Europe for an authentic experience, I would say Bruges.

Following, a collection of my favorite scenes from Bruges:

Bruges's Stunning Architecture
Bruges’s Stunning Architecture
Regal Towers in Bruges
Regal Towers in Bruges
Bicycles and Carriages on the Main Bruges Square
Bicycles and Carriages on the Main Bruges Square
Bruges
Bruges
The Serenity of Bruges
The Serenity of Bruges
Bruges Canal, Swans and Reflections
Bruges Canal, Swans and Reflections
A wisteria-draped Bruges lane
A wisteria-draped Bruges lane

 

Have you been to Bruges? What was your favorite element your visit there?

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The Artistic Mystique in Prague’s Vltava Bridges

Prague and the Vltava River

“Life is an art, and you are the artist.” -unknown

Prague and the Vltava River
Prague and the Vltava River

Last week, I took this photo from Prague’s Mala Strana (Lesser Side), standing beside the Prague Castle complex near the ancient Golden Lane. Artists and writers (Franz Kafka) and dreamers are known to have lived and worked near this outlook. It is no wonder …

I am inspired by the view, for it overlooks the turn in the Vltava River which runs through Prague. On the other side of the river, Prague’s Old Town stretches out in the haze with endless tile rooftops and countless beautiful spires. And the bridges— from the Charles Bridge to the furthest turns in the River, the bridges crossing the Vltava fade into the haze and fog that often lingers in Prague.

The fact is: Prague has inspired artists and musicians and people who take the time to notice, for centuries. The bridges and the spires poking up skyward through the fog stop my heart, endlessly. Every view here in this beautiful Prague is a piece of art. Living here is a dream just waiting to be photographed, painted, and written about.

There is so much living to do, so many places to discover, so much beauty to inspire our lives … Do you have a favorite view that inspires you? Of mountains, plains, a city, or the ocean?