The City Gallery of Bratislava
It is the second largest art-collecting institute in Bratislava. Its mission includes research and purchase of works of art from the past and the present, with a view to Bratislava's provenance. It collects works of professional artists, processes their documentation, preserves, restores and makes them accessible to the public in the form of permanent exhibitions and occasional displays.
The City Gallery of Bratislava is housed in the Mirbach Palace, but the public may view permanent exhibitions of fine art from the collections of this gallery also in two other buildings – in the Primate’s Palace and in the Palffy Palace.
The Mirbach Palace - a Jewel of Bratislava's Rococo Architecture
"The Mirbach Palace is mentioned in historical sources as the Wide Courtyard. In the second half of the 18th century, it was bought by a rich brewer Martin Spech. During 1768-1770 a young Bratislava builder and contractor Matej Hollrigl was entrusted with the construction of a luxurious manor house. Shortly after its completion, the palace was sold to count Imrich Csaky. The property consists of four-winged building surrounding a courtyard in the middle and a remarkable rococo decoration of the facade and interior," writes Bratislava Tourist Guide, published by VKU.
The palace is named after its last owner, count Emil Mirbach (until 1945), who bequeathed the palace to the city. In 1963 the palace was declared a cultural monument and after its renovation in 1975 became the seat of the City Gallery of Bratislava. At present, there are the permanent exposition of Central-European Baroque painting and sculpture and occasional exhibitions.
The Primate’s Palace - a Witness of History
The Primate’s Palace is one of the most valuable architectural monuments in Bratislava. Classicist palace was built in 1778 - 1781 on orders of the archbishop of Esztergom, cardinal Jozef Batthyany. The architect was Melchior Hefele. The most famous is the Hall of Mirrors in which the Bratislava Peace was signed in 1805 after the battle of Austerlitz (Slavkov), between Francis I and Napoleon. The most precious exhibit, exceeding by its uniqueness the framework of Slovakia, is a collection of six tapestries.
In the attic of the roof, there are allegorical statues by J. Kögler and F. Prokop as well as vases by J. A. Messerschmidt. In the top of tympanum, there is a coat of arms of Jozef Bathyany and a cardinal‘s hat weighing 150 kg. A mosaic by Ernest Zmetak is placed in the tympanum. Statuettes of angels in the facade are holding the letter I – Iusticia = justice and C – Clementia = graciousness – personal slogan of the cardinal. In the entrance hall of the palace on the right-hand side, there is a memorial tablet reminding of signing the Bratislava Peace in 1805. A fountain of St. George is in the courtyard and the entrance to the chapel of St. Ladislaus can be found in the corner of the courtyard. You may find the Hall of Mirrors on the first floor.
The palace is a seat of the mayor of the city at present.
Collections of the City Gallery of Bratislava are located in representative rooms with a unique collection of tapestries of the 17th century depicting tragic love of Hero to Leandros from an English royal weaving factory at Mortlake. There is also the permanent exhibition in the State rooms on the first floor (piano nobile) – the Picture Gallery that features over 60 works of art.
The Palffy Palace at Panska Ulica St.
There are two Palffy Palaces in Bratislava and that is a reason for many misunderstandings. How to get to the City Gallery of Bratislava? It is situated in the Palffy Palace at Panska Street.
The Palffy Palace was reconstructed and archaeologically surveyed in 1981 - 1987. The most significant finding consisted in cast moulds of the period of Celtic colonization, proving existence of a Celtic mint in the territory of the city. There is the permanent exposition of the Celtic ironwork and minting in the Palffy Palace.
Behind the facade in rigid classicist style there is a building of the 40ies of the 19th century, whose historic roots date from the 13th century. At that time, a Gothic palace with a tower and battlement occupied this site. In the first third of the 19th century, the manor house was under the ownership of the family of Hungarian primate Jan Palffy, who had it reconstructed. After its reconstruction, the palace was ceremoniously made accessible to Bratislava public.
The City Gallery of Bratislava utilizes the palace since 1988 for introducing its collections – Gothic Painting and Sculpture, 19th Central European Painting and Sculpture. The Passage by Slovak artist Matej Kren is also a part of the permanent exhibition.
The other palace in Bratislava with the same name is situated at Zamocka Street. It was named after Marshal Leopold Palffy and was built in about 1747.