Attributed to Aegidius Sadeler II

1570 - 1629

The Vladislav Hall at the Castle of Prague


Oil on Panel




39(h) x 84(w) cms


Aegidius Sadeler was born in Flemish city Antwerp into one of the most renowned families of engravers in Northern Europe during the Renaissance and Mannerist period. At least ten Sadelers worked as engravers in cities around the Spanish Netherlands, Germany, Italy, and Austria. The family specialised in high quality reproductions of paintings by contemporary artists and Aegidius in particular appears to have known dozens of the most eminent artists of the day. Aegidius appears to have been one of the few members of the family to have also painted in oils.

Generally considered to have been the greatest of the Sadeler dynasty, Aegidius trained in Antwerp but moved frequently, working in Cologne, Munich, Rome, Verona, and Venice. In this last city he is known to have engraved the works of Barocci, Titian and Tintoretto, a mark of his skill and the high regard in which he was held by the local artistic community. After a trip to Naples he moved to Prague in 1597 where he is known to have lived for some time in the house of Bartholomeus Spranger, engraving his works, as well as those of Roelant Savery. He spent the rest of his life in the city occupying a fruitful position in the employ of Emperor Rudolf II (1552 – 1612). Sadeler’s role in the spread of artistic ideas across Europe had a marked effect on Western art history, as did his most eminent pupil, the engraver Wenceslaus Hollar.

This interior scene shows Vladislav Hall in Hradcany Castle, Prague, as it was in 1607. Sadeler made a print of this scene (engraved over two plates) which includes the hall’s vaulted Gothic ceiling from which the present picture, as well as several other painted versions, appears to derive. The hall is filled with merchants and traders who bow, jostle, and haggle with one another. In the left foreground appears to be an art dealer’s stall, and it is tempting to think that the man offering a painting to a client might be Sadeler himself. Other stalls sell silver, objet d’art, vases, and hunting equipment.

While the scene has often been described as an ‘annual fair’, the Latin inscription on the print makes it clear that at this point in time the hall was in use as a regular market place where you could find ‘… all types of booths or if you prefer shops, and permanently placed above are wooden structures which form a surround, the capacious space is extensive, suitable for both leisure and business.’

Sadeler dedicated the print to his patron Christoph Popel von Lobkowitz (1549 - 1609). Lobkowitz was a member of an ancient Bohemian noble house and was a powerful politician and diplomat in the court of Prague. As Chief Steward of Bohemia one of his duties was to welcome visiting dignitaries to the court which might explain the delegation of Turks clustered together in the centre of the hall.