Himalayan Art Resources

Collection of the National Gallery in Prague (Best of Collection)

Best of Collection (Prague) | National Gallery in Prague Main Page

The National Gallery in Prague is known for having a modest collection of Himalayan art. Much of the collection is from Mongolia, some from China and again a handful of objects from Tibet and Tibetan regions. The selection of paintings below not only represent some of the finer pieces from the Prague collection but more importantly they represent a great wealth of art shared among museums, private collections, and monastic institutions around the world.

The Mahasiddha set is only three paintings from a much larger set of 29 compositions in total. At this time there are seven known incomplete sets of paintings in this artistic style.

The Shakyamuni Buddha Life Story painting set has only two examples in the Prague collection but other compositions from the set are known in museum and private collections around the world. Although the artist is currently unidentified, his work is very distinctive and can be followed in other painting sets such as the well known Milarepa Life Story paintings.

The two paintings with repeated background figures are good examples of the composition type. Both paintings depict Amitayus Buddha. The central figure of the first painting is surrounded by 1000 smaller images of Amitayus and behind that are clear divisions of upper and lower space with blue sky above and two green coloured mountains below.

The second painting depicts a large central figure of Amitayus surrounded by groupings of smaller figures against a background of red vermilion decorated with rocky landscape, streams, flowers, leaves and swirling clouds.

The painting of the unidentified Gelug Teacher is a masterwork of Tibetan drawing rivaling other great artists such as Khyentse Chenmo and Choying Gyatso. Compare this painting with other very good examples of Tibetan drawing: Shakyamuni Buddha and the Svarodaya Magical/Astrological Chart.

Jeff Watt 5-2012