For the last few weeks, Prague Astronomical clock appeared to be at the center of everyone’s attention. It has been revealed that the restorer Stanislav Jirčík, who created the latest copy of the famous artwork in 2018, has made his own input into the famous artwork.
The city administration has decided to restore the original look of the calendar. In order to do that all known restorers of Mánes’ works are called out.
For four years the changes made to the bottom part of the calendar have remained unnoticed. The details cannot be clearly observed from the distance but Milan Patka, an Orloj expert and a member of the Old Prague Club, has managed to reveal them.
According to his findings, a number of characters were modified and got some new traits in this new copy of the artwork of Josef Mánes (1820-1871). The restorer changed the faces, hairstyles, hair colour, skin colour and even the gender of some characters depicted!
According to Deputy Mayor Adam Scheinherr (Praha Sobě), Prague will have the botched work redone. “Both technical and artistic analysis of the current calendar and preparation of a commission for a new version are currently underway. For the new version we are counting on reputable restorers of Josef Mánes’ work being approached,” he told Blesk, adding that some copies of Mánes’ art will be exhibited.
“We have also agreed with the Prague City Museum that the current version of the art and Čílo’s copy from 1946 will be exhibited together with Josef Mánes’ original so that every visitor of the museum can see the individual differences,” he added.
According to an earlier statement made by the Prague City Hall, Jirčík’s restoration work was carried out under the supervision of conservation officers.
“The works were carried out according to the project documentation and in accordance with the binding opinions of the National Heritage Institute and the Department of Heritage Care of the Prague City Hall. Everything was agreed with experts,” said Vít Hofman, spokesperson for the town hall.
However, the National Heritage Institute stated that the relevant experts from the National Heritage Institute were not informed about the restoration work when it was in progress. “
They were not able to follow the restoration process in any way, they were only shown the final result of the work,” said Klára Veberová, spokesperson for the National Institute of Natural History. But why didn’t the conservationists demand the failed copy be redone after completion? “The main goal of monument conservation is the preservation of the original Mánes plaque, which is stored in the Museum of the City of Prague. For this reason, the National Heritage Institute did not require Jiřčík’s copy to be redesigned, as it is not connected to the original artwork preservation,” says Ms. Veberová.
According to the Culture Ministry, all parties involved in this case were at fault. “The final version of the third copy of the Mánes calendar was the result of insufficiently coordinated actions of all parties involved, the owner of the cultural monument, the selected restorer, the authority in charge and expert organization of the state monument care, which should never reoccur in the future, and this is very important,” Petra Hrušová of the press department of the Ministry of Culture told iDnes.cz.
The Calendar Plaque
The calendar was created by Josef Mánes for the then restored Old Town Clock in 1866. He wanted it to show typical activities of the medieval countryside. Around the perimeter of the calendar’s plate is a narrow intercircle with 365 rays, described by calendar data in the cut-out for each month.
On the inside, there are the numbers of the days of the month and the so-called Sunday number. The month book contains medallions with different scenes characterizing the 12 months as well as depictions of the zodiac. The discussed above copy of the calendar is the second one made after Mánes’ original.