The National Gallery in Prague is a state-owned art gallery in Prague, which manages the largest collection of art in the Czech Republic. The collections of the gallery are not housed in a single building, but are presented in a number of historic structures within the city of Prague, as well as other places. The largest of the gallery sites is the Veletržní Palác, which houses the National Gallery’s collection of modern art. It is one of the largest museums in Central Europe.
The history of the National Gallery dates back to the end of the 18th century (namely February 5, 1796), when a group of prominent representatives of Bohemia patriotic aristocracy (Kolowrat, Sternberg, Nostitz) and middle-class intellectuals decided to elevate what they called the “debased artistic taste” of the local population. The institution, which received the title Society of Patriotic Friends of the Arts, established the Academy of Fine Arts and the Picture Gallery. In 1918 the Picture Gallery became the central collection of newly formed Czechoslovakia.
In 1995 a new gallery dedicated to modern art opened in the refurbished Veletržní Palác (Trade-fair Palace). It is one of the first and largest functionalism building in Prague, built in 1925-1928.
St. George’s Convent (Hradčany) was formerly used to display Art of the Middle Ages in Bohemia and Central Europe, Baroque art, and 19th-century art of Bohemia.
The international collection includes numerous works by artists such as Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh, Rodin, Gauguin, Cézanne, Renoir, Schiele, Munch, Miró and Klimt; many of these are donations from the collection of art historian Vincenc Kramář.
Picasso, who has a spacious room to himself in the gallery, has two self-portraits there, and two of his nudes in addition to more abstract work. Works by Rodin, whose exhibition in Prague in the early 20th century had a profound impact on Czech sculpture for many years afterwards, include a series of busts and full-sized figures on a variety of subjects in the gallery.
The vast collection contains a large number of Czech and Slovak paintings and sculptures, including works by Alfons Mucha, Otto Gutfreund, František Kupka, T. F. Simon, Tavik Frantisek Simon (1877-1942), Rudolf Fila, Vincenc Beneš and Bohumil Kubišta. Along with the Black Madonna House and the Kampa Museum, the Trade fair palace collection is one of the most notable collections of Czech Cubism in Prague. Notable works include Don Quixote by Gutfreund, Military Funeral by Beneš, an array of paintings by Kupka, covering almost all of the styles with which I have experimented and the Slav Epic, a cycle of 20 large canvases by Mucha.