While walking through Prague, you may find the serene and somewhat intimidating cloaked sculpture sitting in front of the Estates Theatre, or Stavovské divadlo.

Named “Cloak of Conscience,” this sculpture was created by Anna Chromý. The most famous version of the “Cloak of Conscience” is carved out of a single block of marble, excavated from the same quarry as Michelangelo’s “David.” It is the largest sculpture ever created from a single marble block, initially weighing a massive 250 tons before carving. Versions of it have been installed in locations such as Qufu and Salzburg, along with Prague.

Born in Cesky Krumlov, Anna Chromý became famous for her sculptures. However, her relationship with art began much earlier than her most recognized creations. The artistic architecture in the Czech Republic had a profound effect on Chromý. It was her first introduction to the historical influences that would be found in her later work. After World War II, her family had been forced to Austria, where she resided in both Salzburg and Vienna. Similarly to her time in Czech, Austria left her with a deeper appreciation for the arts. She cites her time in Austria as teaching her about Classical music, a theme found in her later work.

Famous works of Anna Chromý

Despite being a modern-day artist, Chromý is known for the variety of ancient themes in her work. Classical myths and philosophies from Greece and Rome are combined with her childhood experiences. Through this, Chromý creates art that is both a contemporary and personal take on ancient ideas.

As an adult, Chromý traveled to Paris, where she became more entrenched in art history. She concluded that her future was in art, and enrolled in l’Académie de la Grande Chaumière.

Surprisingly, her first passion was painting. Through her studies, she met Salvador Dalí, and the more modern art style of Surrealism began to shape her work. Along with inspiration from Dalí, Chromý cites artists such as Max Ernst and René Magritte for the development of her early style. Chromý continued painting for many years and received countless accolades throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

Tragic incident

‘Ball in Venice’, 1979 by Anna Chromy

Later in her successful career, Chromý was in a tragic accident that kept her from being able to paint. At this point, she began sculpting, which her mentors had encouraged her to attempt years earlier. Her home in the Côte d’Azur and time in Italy invigorated many of the ideals present in her art today. From then on, her success has only grown, with achievements such as being the first woman artist to receive the annual award for sculpture, the Premio Michelangelo.

Through her art and career, Anna Chromý has shared many incredible ideas with the world, one of which is, “We are all interdependent on each other, and nobody, not even the richest and most powerful, can make it for an infinite period alone”. Her work and words continue to inspire many people today and will for years to come.

Featured image is The Cloak of Conscience by Anna Chromý

Michaela Dehning
Czech-American art history major at Arizona State University who lives in Prague. Passions include history, art, and culture.
Michaela Dehning
Michaela Dehning

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