Wall Paintings in the IIIrd Courtyard of Český Krumlov Castle

On each wall of the buildings that surround the IIIrd courtyard of the castle in Český Krumlov we find very well-preserved Renaissance paintings. They were executed on the orders of the second-to-last Rosenberg, Wilhelm von Rosenberg, to make his residence conform more closely to the fashionable art style which he was familiar with. This was as a result of his journeys to Austria, Poland, the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, and especially from his residence in Italy between the years 1551 and 1552.

Detail of mural on III. courtyard of Český Krumlov Castle

Several Italian artists consequently took part in decorating the Rosenberg residence. The Ruler was restricted by the old castle and his financial situation, so instead of asking an architect, he asked a painter to create the ideal residence for him. All the paintings at the courtyard date from after the year 1577, when the portal of the new carriage-way was broken through, thus disturbing the painting of the courtyard walls (Renaissance Remodelling of Český Krumlov Castle).

Detail of mural on III. courtyard of Český Krumlov Castle

On all these walls there are graffiti in four different coloured stones - grey, ochre, brownish-red, and black. The delineated painting with figural and ornamental motifs scratched into wet plaster called graffiti was an art form in the Renaissance period. All the walls are covered by simulated ashlar masonry called "bossage". Under the windows there is a wide strip with stone panels with a relief of trophies, alternating with oval fields with figural motifs, probably from Roman history. The spaces between the windows of the first floor are broken by pairs of pillars with niches inbetween, and statues of the seven planets painted in them. In the border between the first and second floors are painted imitations of stone panels with reliefs of half-sitting and half-laying figures, which today are not very distinct. They could have been Gods, the five Senses, or the four Elements. In the niches inbetween the windows on the North and South sides of the courtyard are painted busts of renowned and respected people. On the East and West sides there are decorative vases. The façade is finished off by a strip of Doric frieze where the paintings of stone panels alternate the vertical incisions called "Triglyphs" and "Metopes" (square boards with reliefs) with the motif of "Maskarons" (a plastic motif of stylised human heads), animal heads and pieces of armour.

The paintings on the walls have deep symbolic meanings, most of which still remain hidden for us. The whole vast composition of the paintings on the IIIrd courtyard of the Castle was one way of expressing the complexity of the world. The painter, probably according to his master\'s wish or his own plan, wanted to express the relationship between Man/Microcosm, represented by the Senses and the Elements, and the Universe/Macrocosm, represented by the Planets, which, according to Renaissance philosophy, influenced people\'s lives, characters and behaviour, and protected their homes. In the 16th century, subjects from Roman history were very popular in Bohemia. The Humanists thought them as pictures of virtue, like busts of important people, and mostly were famous Greeks, Romans, and Italians.

Detail mural on III. courtyard of Český Krumlov Castle, battle scene

The painter tried to freshen the bare walls of the courtyard with at least some painted architectural features. To achieve symmetry, in some places he painted round-paned windows. The few birds sitting on the painted ledges are proof of an endeavour to create a perfect illusion of a stone façade. The artist wished to reach some semblance of plasticity and contrast, using paintings, bulging pillars and niches containing round statues.

It is believed that the court painter Gabriel de Blonde was responsible for all the paintings in the courtyard, but this cannot be proven by any archival source, neither can they be compared to any authentic work of his. It is most likely that several artists participated in painting the courtyard, one of whom made the plans.

Detail mural on III. courtyard of Český Krumlov Castle, antique warrior

It could indeed have been Gabriel de Blonde. himself. The dressing of the courtyard looks like a coordinated effort, where the details are the result of a desire to create an imaginary enclosed place incorporating the richest and most practical form.

In 1997 the wall paintings of the IIIrd courtyard of the castle were restored. (Restoration of Wall Paintings in the IIIrd Courtyard of Český Krumlov Castle).

(mh)