Prague to Restore Astronomical Clock Calendar Plate, Preserving Heritage

Prague has confirmed its decision to commission restorers to create a new replica of the calendar plate for the Old Town Astronomical Clock, painted by artist Josef Mánes. This plate will replace the one created by restorer Stanislav Jirčík in 2018, which sparked controversy last year. The city aims to address the concerns raised by the previous plate.

The Prague council approved an agreement with Subterra on Monday, responsible for the reconstruction project in collaboration with Avers. As per the agreement, Subterra will cover the costs of dismantling the existing calendar and installing the new replica, including producing a new copper base plate. The artistic decoration of the new plate will be undertaken by the Academy of Fine Arts, with Prague assuming the associated costs.

The Studio for Restoration of Fine Art Paintings and Polychrome Sculptures at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague will be responsible for creating the new painting. The studio’s involvement ensures the high quality and faithful execution of the artwork. The agreed-upon document states that the project’s preliminary cost, excluding VAT, is estimated to be around one million Czech korunas. Subterra is expected to incur similar expenses for the production and installation of the plate.

The calendar, initially crafted by Josef Mánes in 1866 for the Old Town Astronomical Clock, has been a significant part of Prague’s heritage. Due to damage sustained during the 1945 battle for the Old Town Hall, the original plate was moved to a museum for preservation, and a copy created by restorer Bohumil Číla adorned the clock until 2017. However, controversy arose when Stanislav Jirčík introduced a “technological copy” that deviated from the original artwork, altering the depiction of figures and incorporating contemporary elements.

The dispute over the previous calendar plate gained international attention, with foreign media covering the story. Prague’s decision to commission a new replica aims to address the concerns raised by critics and restore the clock’s historical integrity. The city plans to have the calendar repainted, ensuring a faithful representation of Josef Mánes’ original work and preserving the cultural significance of the Astronomical Clock for future generations.