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Prague exhibition presents Ferdinand II as Renaissance cavalier

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Prague, Nov 2 (CTK) – The personality of Ferdinand II, the Renaissance-era archduke from the Habsburg dynasty, is presented through his collection of art and curiosities at an exhibition in Prague’s Wallenstein Riding School as of Thursday, its curator Blanka Kubikova has told reporters.

Archduke Ferdinand, the son of Ferdinand I, the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia and Hungary, was the imperial governor of the Czech Lands in the mid-16th century.

He significantly influenced Prague Castle’s architecture, he designed and had built the well-known Hvezda (Star) summer house on Prague’s western outskirts, staged opulent festivities and tournaments, supported scholars and collected art.

As a result, the Ambras chateau near Innsbruck, where Ferdinand lived later until his death, is the oldest preserved museum in the world, Kubikova said.

This year, 470 years have elapsed since the arrival of Ferdinand II (1529-1595) in Bohemia as the dynasty’s representative, and 450 years since the start of his rule of Tirol.

The double anniversary motivated the organisers to stage the exhibition that was shown in Ambras before the Czech National Gallery (NG) brought it to Prague.

Ferdinand II of the Habsburg family left a significant legacy behind in the Czech Lands, though he was not a king of Bohemia, NG director Jiri Fajt said.

Up to now, Archduke Ferdinand has ranked among the less known figures of European history. With his hobbies, he inspired his nephew, later Emperor Rudolph II, under whom the Czech Lands became the centre of European politics and culture at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Ferdinand has left a number of rare documents behind that highlight his own work, hobbies and private life. As a result, the new exhibition is a unique testimony on a Renaissance gentleman’s life.

Ferdinand is known for his courage to resist the period conventions and conclude a morganatic marriage with Philippine Welser, a daughter of a burgeois family.

The exhibition, which runs through February 25, presents all the above aspects of his personality and also his collections of not only rare paintings, books and manuscripts, but also precious metals, stones, glass and natural items such as corals, shells and a rhino horn, and various apparatuses, torture devices and other curiosities.

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