History of the Palace
The Colloredo-Mansfeld Palace is a remarkable historical monument altered in the Baroque style in the course of the 18th century. In the second half of the 18th century, the palace was bought by Jindřich Pavel Mansfeld, who had the originally Renaissance building – that had been erected in place of former Gothic and Romanesque houses – altered in the Baroque style by architect F.I. Du Prée.
The large hall in the back wing of the palace spanning two floors bears distinct traces of period Vienesse architecture. The sculptural decoration on the face of the building and a fountain with Neptune statue in the yard come from the same period and were probably made in the workshop of A. Braun. In the 19th century a neighbouring house was attached to the palace giving room for building a gate-way in the right side of the palace-front, which was altered in the Neo-Baroque style together with parts of the interior.
The use of the Colloredo-Mansfeld Palace was very diverse. In the night of 8th and 9th November 1620, the last meeting of the royal council of King Fridrich von Falz was held in the original Renaissance house before the King fled Prague after the Czech estates’ defeat in the Battle of White Mountain. The palace was also renowned for being the centre of Prague’s social life. A collection of paintings of the Colloredo-Mansfeld family was first opened up in 1808. The first exhibition of paintings organized by the Aesthetic Union was presented in the palace in 1840.
Aesthetic Union was founded in 1835 by the Society of Patriotic Friends of Fine Arts – the predecessor of the National Gallery. The Union organized annual fairs, coordinated activities on the fine arts market and organized annual spring salons. The salons were appreciated by artists, as it gave them an opportunity to win their recognition there. The exhibitions were first held in noble palaces, in 1840 in the Colloredo-Mansfeld Palace, from 1866 they were held in Žofín and from 1885 in Rudolfinum.
Until 1914, the palace was used as the estates’ fencing-room. A sad part of the palace’s history resulting in the gradual confiscation of the family’s property started soon after. First, the property was confiscated during the Nazi occupation of the country, and once again after the communist coup in 1948. Part of the palace was divided into apartments; in autumn 1953, the Archives of the Academy of Sciences were moved to the palace. After the political situation changed in the Czech Republic, the City of Prague rented the palace to Lyra Pragensis Endowment Fund, later renamed to Polyhymnia. The fund committed to renovate the palace within a decade. As this plan never materialized, the City of Prague terminated the contract and the palace was taken over by the City Gallery Prague in September 2010.