The Altar Wings of Roudníky

Oltářní křídla z Roudník na výstavě Jan Hus 1415/2015

Two double-sided painted altar wings of an originally late Gothic retable made by an anonymous master probably in any craft room in Prague in the beginning of the last quarter of the 15th century presumable for the utraquist church of St. Wenzeslaus in Roudníky near Ústí nad Labem (North Bohemia). There were the altar wings secondary used as a part of a baroque altar piece, the panels were trimmed and spread with the layer of baroque marbling. Thanks to this fact they got over the re-catholisation period in the 17th and 18th century with its systematical disposal of the objects of visual arts, which represented the symbology of the Bohemian reformation.

The unique preserved iconographical concept of the retable illustrates the evolution and self-conception of the Czech Utraquist church: Master Jan Hus is assigned into the community of the christian protomartyrs, St. James the Greater, St. Sebastian and St. Lawrence, whose martyrdom is directly paralleled to the Hus’ burning. The attribute of the martyrdom of Jan Hus is his heretical cap and he self is depicted, within the frame of the peculiar Czech iconographical tradition at this time, as a beardless priest in the white alba. The panels were discovered in 1966, the new frame was added by the restoration of work. The last restoration proceeded in 2013/2014 by Naděžda Mašková and Miroslav Křížek, Praha.

Schematic description:

  • Wing 1 (left), side A (interior): Beheadiog of St. James the Greater, Burning of St. Lawrence
  • Wing 2 (right), side A: Martyrdom of St. Sebastian, Burning of Master Jan Hus
  • Wing 1, side B (exterior): St. James the Greater, St. Lawrence the Dean
  • Wing 2, side B: St. James the Minor, St. Stephen the Dean

Form of work:

tempera, bass-wood, gilding, each wing 179 cm x 82 cm with frame, 162 cm x 68 cm without frame

Husitské muzeum v Táboře / Hussite Museum in Tábor, subcollection of pictures and sculptures, inv. no. OP 4335 (panel 1) and OP 4336 (panel 2)

  • Altarpiece of Roudníky, before 1486, the left interior wing
  • Altarpiece of Roudníky, before 1486, the right interior wing
  • Altarpiece of Roudníky, before 1486, the left exterior wing
  • Altarpiece of Roudníky, before 1486, the right exterior wing