Collecting Central Europe  
  The History of Collecting of Central and Eastern Europe  

The National Museum Archives, Castle Photo Archives, neg. 4213


Programme 2024

25 June

lecture by Markéta Ježková, Researcher at the Department of Early Modern Art, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague

lecture of 40 minutes followed by q & a

Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and the Prague Castle Art Collection 1920-1952

From the period after an independent Czechoslovakia was established up to 1952, a collection of art was purchased for Prague Castle, which is still housed in its original location. More than 500 paintings were purchased from the so-called Masaryk National Fund, collected for the 70th and 80th birthdays of the first Czechoslovak president, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. The funds raised were to be used by the President for social and cultural projects for which there was no support from other resources.
The collection was part of the state representation, but above all it was intended to represent the presidency. From the beginning it was, therefore, based on the taste and requirements of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, which he tried to put into practice as part of his political endeavours. Due to the respect for his person, these ideas were largely followed and developed further under his successor Edvard Beneš.
Markéta Ježková studied French, Aesthetics and Art History. In 2019, she joined the Institute of Art History at the Czech Academy of Sciences, as a post-doc researcher, focusing on art collecting in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, particularly in the circles associated with Rudolf II's court, and the digital humanities. In 2018, she collaborated on the comprehensive catalogue and first exhibition of Masaryk's collection.

28 October


25 November


16 December


Programme 2025

25 January

Oskar J. Rojewski, Assistant Professor of Art History at the Institute of Art Studies, University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland

lecture of 40 minutes followed by discussion

The History of the Courtier Painter of Queen Isabella of Castile and the
Habsburg Dynasty:  Michel Sittow’s Activities

Michel Sittow (ca. 1469-1525), a painter originally from Reval (present-day Tallinn, Estonia), trained in his craft in Bruges, possibly in the workshop of Hans Memling. Sittow emerged as a significant innovator in Early Modern painting, mainly in portraiture. This presentation focuses on the studies on Michel Sittow and on the significance of the written records about his life. It launches a new hypothesis on the works he executed during his stay in Castile and his service to the Habsburg dynasty.
Despite the sources related to his biography, few specific works are directly attributed to Sittow. This painter is renowned for his extensive travels and residencies at various European courts, including those of Isabella of Castile, Philip the Fair, Margaret of Austria, Christian II of Denmark, and Charles V. His itinerant life highlights the exchange of ideas and patronage among the European elite in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. An itinerant artist and economic migrant, Sittow was esteemed as a painter already during his lifetime. Notably, he is one of the few artists referenced in records from the Castilian court and in the inventories of Margaret of Austria's art collection in Mechelen from 1516 to 1523/4. These inventories have been instrumental in identifying Sittow's works, such as the Assumption of the Virgin from the Polyptych of Isabella the Catholic (National Gallery of Art in Washington) and other lost pieces.

Oskar J. Rojewski is an Assistant Professor of Art History at the Institute of Art Studies, University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland. He holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Valencia and the University Jaume I in Spain. His research focuses on the migration of Flemish artists to the Mediterranean world in the fifteenth century and on court culture, with a particular emphasis on the role and position of court artists. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Instituto Moll. Centro de Investigación de Pintura Flamenca in Madrid, a member of several research groups, and has completed postdoctoral work at the University of Copenhagen in the Centre for Privacy Studies and at the University Rey Juan Carlos in the research team CINTER.