Václav Brožík (1851–1901)

Polyxena of Lobkowicz Hiding the Emperor's Emissaries, V. Slavata and J. Martinic, after the Second Defenestration in 1618

Technique :oil on canvas


Signature:lower right

Dimensions:87 × 146 cm


starting price:‍48000 EUR

achieved price:‍120000 EUR

88th Auction, lot 167


Despite the heavy workload and, above all, health problems during the last decade of Brožík’s very prolific life, he was able to execute large multi-figure compositions of a historical genre in addition to a number of portraits of important personalities. This is demonstrated not only by the presented work, but also by a concurrent order for another large-scale painting from Emperor Franz Joseph I himself for the 50th anniversary of his reign.

In terms of subject-matter, the presented canvas can be considered a sequel to the artist’s monumental painting Defenestration from the turn of 1889 and 1890. Comparing these two compositions, this one is not such a drama of action, but one can vividly imagine what troubled events must have happened prior to the depicted scene. In 1618, two of the Emperor’s royal governors, Vilém Slavata and Jaroslav of Martinice, were thrown from the windows of Prague Castle by Protestant nobles as a reaction to political tension between Catholics and Protestants. They survived the fall and took refuge from the mob in the Lobkowicz Palace beneath the castle, protected by Polyxena of Lobkowicz, who refused to hand them over to the rebels. This exact moment is captured in the painting whilst the wounded governors in the back room await their fate with a tremble. The whole scene is based on Slavata’s written Memoirs and aims to be as historically faithful as possible.  Compared to the memoirs, however, it is depicted more dramatically, but it does not deny the artist’s perfect knowledge of period articles of daily use and portraits of specific historical figures in the crowd. His demanding and careful creative process, which always led to a larger painting with a historical subject-matter, is also perceptible here. In addition to studies of individuals, variants of this scene are known; a slightly smaller one can be found in the collections of the Gallery of Fine Arts in Ostrava (inv. No. O 1165). In comparison with this variant, in the presented work the artist more significantly developed the interior, adding a window, carpet, and paintings, and at the same time refined the characters and gestures of the individual figures. The painting is presented in an elegant framing and in a state before restoration. Assessed during consultations by Mgr. M. Dospěl, Ph.D., and prof. R. Prahl, CSc. The expertise by PhDr. Š. Leubnerová is attached.