The OLDEST surviving relic of Beuron art

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A convent, the chapel of which has been hiding its interesting interior decoration for many years, was in operation for less than a century in Teplice.

Today, hardly anybody notices the buildings of the convent on the busy Alejní Street: it is overshadowed by the more majestic grammar school on the opposite side. Nevertheless, the convent – and, in particular, its chapel – merit attention. Due to the bombing of Prague at the end of the Second World War, the interior decor is the oldest fully preserved relic of what is known as Beuron art.

The convent of the Sisters of Mercy of St Charles Borromeo was built on a greenfield site, a little way behind the recently torn down town walls, in 1865. It served as a finishing school for girls from upper class families.

The Mother Superior had the chapel, which takes up one third of the building (so in terms of its size, it was more of a smallish church), properly painted more than 20 years later (the convent probably did not have money for painting before then). On the recommendation of people in Prague circles the Sisters hired Benedictine monks from Beuron who were temporarily residing at the Emmaus monastery in Prague at that time. The Beuron monks worked according to the rules of Peter Lenz, who was trying (as were many others) to create a new form of sacral art.  He was annoyed by all the melancholy Madonnas and chubby cherubs; he wanted to paint less sympathetically. His intentions did not take root much – Beuron paintings caused a public outrage in Prague and the movement virtually disappeared following the death of the founder generation in the 1930s. A large number of German, Italian and Czech monuments were destroyed during the war and the Communist era. This was also the case for the Monastery Na Slovanech in Prague which was largely burnt down during the bombing of Prague by the allies. And so, this Teplice chapel became the oldest fully surviving example of Beuron art in our country.  

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