Plzeňské sympozia

Roman Prahl

Spectacle of destruction and the destruction of the spectacle. Emperor Maximian dreams of his victims

pp. 308–316 (Czech), Summary 315 (English), 316 (Deutsch)


This paper deals with the destruction of the large-format picture by Emanuel Krescenc Liška and its context at that time. The painter achieved success with the painting at the third international exhibition of art in Munich in 1888, and in December of that year he exhibited it in Prague. He also wished to send the picture to Vienna and Paris for the World Exhibition, but it was destroyed in Prague by a fire caused by a defect in the electric lighting. The argument links the virtual spectacle involving pictures showing the burning of Christians in ancient times with the actual destruction of works of art by fire, e.g. the fire at the National Theatre in Prague. This paper also deals with the question of the extent to which the destruction of the work affected the painter's career. His career is understood to be a specific case of 19th century artists' aspirations to create a ''masterwork'' and the frequent failure of such ambitions to achieve full public recognition.

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