Garden Statuary – Braun

According to archaeological and documentary evidence, during the Baroque period of the development of the formal gardens (1710 to 1733) at Valeč,  we know that the gardens were adorned with a large amount of statuary.  A considerable portion of this statuary was likely created in terracotta, since archaeological investigation has revealed a large amount of broken terracotta shards in the garden soils.

Although little of the original statuary remains, at least some of the most important pieces, created by Matthias (Matyáš) Bernard Braun (1684-1738) are still intact.  Braun’s originals, carved in sandstone, are stored offsite, however the copies that stand on in front of the west entrance to the palace still evoke the mastery of this leading Bohemian sculptor of the period.

Braun’s most famous collection are the collection of the “Virtues and Vices” created at the site of Kuks Spa (1692-1696) and Hospital (1707-1722) in Choustníkovo Hradiště.  The collection was commissioned by Frantisek Antonin Spork (1662-1738), a leading patron of the arts.

As was common in the period, the sculptures produced by Braun at Valeč (and/or his studio), are of Roman and Greek mythological and Christian themes. Browse the photos below, or watch a video gallery of a selection of the statues.

Heracles (Hercules) in his characteristic Nemean lion’s skin.

David of the old testament battle between David and Goliath.

Probably the most important pieces of statuary remaining from the garden, are the three outsized fishformerly located at the head of the cascade.  They originally formed the spouts for the water flowing down the impressive approximately 25 meter high (75 foot) cascade that is one of the most important features of the garden.  It is the largest cascade in the Czech Republic, and rivals the height of many in Italy.

The Baroque fish photographed at the head of the cascade in 1963, and again under protective cover in 2014.