Exhibitions (11.3.2008-24.8.2008)

Portae Vitae of Josef Hlávka (1831-1908) - the life of the maecenas

exhibition in Lobkovicz Palace by the Prague Castle


Who was Josef Hlávka? The architect, builder, businessmen, Christian, maecenas, founder of many foundations, saver, millionar, initiator, farmer, inspector for civil engeneering, politician, MP of Provincial and Imperial Congress, MP of House of Lords, President of Czech Academy, President of Národohospodářský ústav, honorary Doctor of Faculty of Philosophy, honorary Doctor of ČVUT, honorary Prague citizen, holder of Velkokříž, the Order of František Josef I., holder of many awards and functions. Josef Hlávka was born on 15th February as the second son of governor Antonín Hlávka and his wife Anna in Přeštice near Plzeň. After studiing at grammar school in Klatovy and Kolín he continued at realschule and after he had graduated, he studied at Polytechnical school. He studied building construction because architecture hadn´t been taught yet. Since 1851 he went on in his studies at Academy of Art in Vienna, he had been studiing architecture and he got his first award here in 1854. When studiing in Vienna, he worked as a bricklayer during his holidays, then as a site manager and finally he worked as a director of master builder František Šebek office. Here he recieved the certificate of apprenticeship and in 1860 he got the report of mastership. After 1855 Hlávka´s constructing career started. He cooperated with Heinrich Ferstel. Hlávka managed the construction of his Vienna projects, stock market and Votive Cathedral. In 1855 Hlávka recieved travelling grand, so called Rome Prize. From 1856 to 1858 he visited Italy, Sicilly, Greece, France, England, Belgium and Germany. After his return, he was exempted the national service, the master builder Šebek handed him his firm, Hlávka asked for concession, which was given to him under the name Josef Hlávka, Architect – City Master Builder at Vienna. Soon after he was asked by Ministry of Cult and Education to prepare the project of the residence of Greek Orthodox bishop in Černovice at Bukovina (Ukraine today). In this year father of Hlávka died in Humpolec. In 1861 Josef Hlávka won tender for the construction of Vienna Opera, according the plans of architects Eduard van der Null and August von Siccardsburg. Finally in 1862 Hlávka married with his long old love and relative Marie Čermáková who he loved very much. In those times he was entrusted by Provincial Committee to project the building of provincial maternity home. So they spent their honeymoon at Prague where Hlávka examined the site. Josef Hlávka coincidentally worked out the project of the Greek Orthodox Bishop´s residence in Černovice at Bukovina which consequently was built by his Vienna firm. He had been building Dvorní Opera, during the opening ceremony the Emperor devoted him the gold key and tools which was used for knocking at the foundation stone. At the same time he woked out Zemská maternity home at Prague in Albertov. He went on building of Virgin Mary Church at Convent of lazarists and St. Othomar Church according architect Friendrich Schmidt´s project, he had a lot of other activities, he built blocks of flats, department stores, palaces, churches, mostly according his own projects, 142 constructions all together. Thanks to his business activities in Vienna, he became very rich. Exept the others, in 1867 he recieved the prize and the medal at World Great Exhibition at Paris for his project at Černovice and in 1868 he recieved The Order of František Josef I,in 1870 he recieved the Gold medal for art and science. After finishing Dvorní opera at Vienna he was awarded by the title státní rada. In 1866 Hlávka bought for his mother Lužany Castle from Baron Ringhoffer. Totally exhausted of his activities and travelling his legs became paralysed and so in 1869 he cancelled his Vienna firm. Then some problems with sight appeared, he retired staying at Nizze, Karlovy Vary and Lužany. Till the end of his life he had never completely recovered, digestive problems and bad joint rheumatism added. In 1882, when Hlávka started to recover, his wife Marie Hlávková – Čermáková died from tuberculosis. During 1886 – 1887 Hlávka totally rebuilt Lužany Castle, together with the park and he built family vault in Přeštice. In 1886 Hlávka married again with Zdeňka Havelková, excellent pianist and singer, the daughter of Havelka knight. The couple lived at Prague where Hlávka started to build the blocks of flats in Vodičkova street. Since 70s, Hlávka was involved in reconstruction and construction of architectonic jewels in Czech, he supervised the final stage of St.Vitus Cathedral construction, he was the member of jury for construction of National Museum, he was involved in creating its interiors, he supervised restoring work at Vlašský dvůr at Kutná hora and St. Barbora, as the art advisor influented the reconstruction of Karlštějn and he took part in rebuilding of Charles Bridge after flooding in 1891. Since 80s Hlávka developed his Maecenas activities, he founded a lot of various foundations. Among his most important tasks were: Foundation and enforcing of Czech Academy of František Josef I. for science, literature and art in 1891, foundation of the Student´s College in 1904 which was, in future, connected with many famous students, e.g. Muc. Jan Opletal killed by Nazis in 1939, foundation Of Národohospodářský ústav in 1906, establishing of Foundation of Josef, Marie and Zdeňka Hlávka´s which became the heir of their property, enabled running of institutions and support of tallented students. Although a lot of attemps to cancel it was done from 1939 to 1989, it has been running till today as the only Austria–Hungarian foundation. By his financial deposits in big projects, Hlávka encouraged the others, as provincial committee, Prague´s municipality and the state, he was involved in forming the rules of these individual institutions, he supervised their running and he atracted other supporters. In 1883 Hlávka was elected into imperial council, one year later into Zemský sněm and in 1885 he was entitled by the Order of Iron Crown of 3rd class, in 1890 he recieved Komtur Cross of Emperor František Josef I, in 1891 he was called to become the member of house of Lords, in 1900 he was named honorary Doctor of philosophy at Jagellon University in Krakow, one year later he became honorary Doctor at ČVUT, in 1907 he recieved Velkokříž of František Josef I. Josef Hlávka died on 11th March 1908 in Prague and after the funeral ceremony in Panteon of Museum of Czech Kingdom, he was buried in his family vault in Přeštice. We owe Josef Hlávka still a lot. One of the reasons for this fact is that Josef Hlávka was inconvenient for every historical period. The firs republic had a problem with facing out with Hlávka´s loyality to Austria-Hungary. During the nazis occupation was Hlávka cursed for his pure patriotism and during the communist dictature hated for his own „nationalization“ of his holding for the benifit of science, foundations, art and the students. And so until today we could evaluate Hlávka´s extraordinary importance for Czech science, art and culture; realise that Hlávka were always doing on the basis of moral principle which was implicited by his Christianity. Our exhibition should help to this knowledge.


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