The Collerodo-Mansfeld family can trace their roots back a thousand years to Italy (on the Collerodo side). They were elevated to noble rank in 1588 and the two families came together through marriage, inheritance and royal decree in 1789. They owned extensive estates in Austria and Czechoslovakia, much of which was lost in the 20th century under the land reforms of the new Czech Republic, confiscation by the Germans and then by the communists. Some have since been returned to the family; the historic Collorodo-Mansfeld Palace with its fine baroque interiors is now under the care of the Prague City Gallery, the most impressive room being the Ballroom whose exuberant decoration was completed around 1736 with a ceiling fresco by the artists Pietro Scotti and Giovanni Battista Zeist.
Located on one of the busiest and most historic streets in Prague, leading to the Charles Bridge, many visitors to Prague pass by without exploring the Palace, the entrance to which is not obvious, though the courtyard appears to be popular with street entertainers which drew in a crowd in front of Neptune’s Fountain. The Palace itself has a much longer history than the current building, which was rebuilt in the 18th century. While the interiors of the Palace await conservation, the City Gallery organises contemporary art exhibitions and provides guided tours, feedback from which will inform the future of the complex, recent exhibitions being varied and different, acting as a foil to the different spaces in which they are located, in particular the state rooms: ‘Entomos’ showing the work of two young sculptors from Czechoslovakia and Hungary, Anna Hulacova and Zsofia Keresztes, textile installations by fashion designer Mia Jadrna blending into a multi-media installation in the Ballroom by local artist Roman Stetina, and an installation in an entirely separate space by the young Latvian crochet-artist Marie Tuckova whose creation ‘Bunny’ lives in a world of fear of being kidnapped. Her crochet construction springing from a pair of hands is both anonymous and all-enclosing.
A fascinating blend of contemporary art in historic interiors awaiting their future restoration.