About Project / Physical model

Antonín Langweil and the History of the Model

Basic information

1. Origin, studies
Antonín Langweil (born on 13th June 1791) was the son of a brewer at the Schwarzenberg brewery in Postoloprty. He spent his youth in Český Krumlov where he studied at a school for Schwarzenberg clerks and then he started work as a clerk here in the town hall.(more…)

2. The first lithographer in Bohemia
In 1819 Antonín Langweil left his job as a clerk and set up the first lithography workshop in Bohemia. (more…)

3. Library assistant
Antonín Langweil was not successful in business. He closed his lithography workshop and obtained a position as a library assistant in the university library in the Klementinum. (more…)

4. The start of work on the model
The display of a model of Paris in Prague in 1826 provided Antonín Langweil with the impulse to begin work on a model of Prague. (more...)

5. Exhibiting the model
During the eleven years of work on the model Antonín Langweil exhibited it five times to the public in unfinished form. (more…)

6. Seeking a sponsor
Having a family with five children and the low salary of a library assistant forced Antonín Langweil to look for a sponsor or other ways of making money. (more…)

7. Painter of miniature portraits
In the first half of the 19th century the fashion for miniature portraits swept through bourgeois society. Antonín Langweil also earned extra money through commissions of this kind. (more…)

8. Illness and the end of Langweil’s life
Protracted illness and a life of poverty prevented Antonín Langweil from completing his life’s work, his model of Prague. He died on 11th June 1837. (more…)

9. The purchase of the model by the monarch
Following her husband’s death, in 1840 Langweil’s widow offered the model to Emperor Ferdinand I to buy. He accepted her request. (more…)

10. The model in the National Museum
The Emperor donated the model to the National Museum where it was exhibited only occasionally in the 19th century. It was not until 1905 that it became part of the Lapidarium exhibition at Prague Exhibition Grounds (Výstaviště). (more…)

11. Restoration of the model
In 1954 the City of Prague Museum took possession of the Langweil model and thorough restoration work was carried out on it. (more…)

12. The model in the City of Prague Museum
The newly restored Langweil model was lent in 1969 to the Madurodam Museum in the Netherlands for the Golden Prague exhibition. (more…)

II. Changes in the City
An overall view of the Langweil model of Prague shows us a picture of the city that is well-known to everybody. (more...)

III. Interesting Facts about the Langweil Model
The Langweil model was not created in order to document Prague’s appearance at a particular moment but was intended as an original work of art - a three-dimensional picture of the city or a relief veduta. (more...)

Detailed information

1. Origin, studies


Karel Postl, Český Krumlov in the 1st quarter of the 19th century,
lithograph, National Gallery Graphic Collection

Antonín Langweil was born on 13th June 1791 as the ninth child in the family of a brewer at the Schwarzenberg brewery in Postoloprty. His father died in the same year and the family moved to another Schwarzenberg estate, to Český Krumlov to relatives of his mother. Antonín Langweil spent his childhood and youth in this town of exceptional urbanistic and architectural qualities. Here, after studying at grammar school in České Budějovice, he graduated from a specialist business school for the talented sons of Schwarzenberg employees (1809-1812) and then in 1814 he started work as a clerk in the local town hall. In 1815 he was married in Český Krumlov.

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2. The first lithographer in Bohemia


New Year card from the Grössl gubernial committee,
made by the Langweil lithography workshop.
Prague National Museum

Business card of the “chartered lithographer
Antonín Langweil”. Lithography from his own workshop.
Gallery Graphic Collection

In 1818 the artistically talented Antonín Langweil went on a study trip for several months to Vienna where he enrolled to study at the Academy of Creative Arts and where he learnt the new graphic technique of stone printing or lithography. Langweil’s enthusiasm for lithography inspired him to take it up professionally. But because of censorship controls he was not allowed to set up a lithography workshop in Český Krumlov by the local authorities, so he left his job as a clerk and moved to Prague with his family. In the middle of 1819 at house number 933 on the Old Town Square he set up the first lithography workshop in Bohemia.
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3. Library assistant


The handwriting test that Langweil had to take in the competition
to become an assistant at the university library.

The Klementinum in Langweil’s  model.
The place where Langweil worked and
lived and where his model was created.

Antonín Langweil was not successful in business. He closed his lithography workshop and in 1820-1822 he worked as a lithographer for the Prague printer J. F. Schönfeld. In 1822 he obtained a position as a library assistant in the university library in the Klementinum which came with a staff flat and he remained faithful to this profession until the end of his life.
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4. The start of work on the model


A self-portrait of Antonín Langweil
as the creator of the model in 1830.
South Bohemia Museum, České Budějovice.


In March 1826 a certain M. Symphorien Caron from France displayed his relief of Paris in Prague’s Platýz gallery. A visit to this exhibition provided Antonín Langweil with the immediate impulse to begin work on a model of Prague. After unsuccessful attempts at lithography Langweil had finally found a creative field for himself where he could make use not only of his talent for drawing but his technical skills and his exceptional personal characteristics such as his single-mindedness, perseverance and patience.
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5. Exhibiting the model


An illustration of Langweil’s model when it was put on display
at the industrial exhibition at Prague Castle in 1833

During the eleven years of work on the model Antonín Langweil exhibited it five times to the public in unfinished form. In 1833 Langweil was even invited to exhibit the model at an industrial exhibition held at Prague Castle to mark the monarch’s visit to Prague. After the exhibition ended Langweil plucked up the courage to write a letter to Franz I asking for financial support in order to complete work on the model but the request was turned down.
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6. Seeking a sponsor


Model Clam-Gallasova paláce v Husově ulici na
Starém Městě z roku 1827. Státní zámek Frýdlant.

Having a family with five children and the low salary of a library assistant forced Antonín Langweil to look for a sponsor or other ways of making money. He made small models of buildings, mainly the homes of nobles, on order for their owners. Three of these models have been preserved in a good state but there is also proof that other models existed. However their whereabouts is now unknown or they have been destroyed.


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7. Painter of miniature portraits


Lady and Gentleman, 1833. Reproduction,
the owner of the original is unknown

Self-portrait of Antonín Langweil, 1835.
Prague National Museum

In the first half of the 19th century the fashion for miniature portraits swept through bourgeois society. Antonín Langweil also earned extra money through commissions of this kind. His portraits are considered to be ordinary made-to-order work with a varying quality often bordering on the naïve. Probably his best miniature portrait is his self-portrait dating from 1835.
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8. Illness and the end of Langweil’s life


Partially drawn casings of housings in the area
around Strahov monastery which Antonín Langweil
did not have time to complete.



Antonín Langweil’s health suffered from the beginning of 1837. In April of that year he asked the president of the Czech gubernia, Count Karel Chotek, to call for his model to be placed in the Patriotic (now the National) Museum. But at the time the museum was not interested in the model and thoughtlessly refused it. When Antonín Langweil died on 11th June 1837 he left behind a wife, five daughters and nine crates containing the model in the Klementinum’s attic.
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9. The purchase of the model by the monarch


The manuscript of the request made by Langweil’s
widow with a recommendation signed by Count Chotek
in the right-hand column and approval of the purchase
signed by Ferdinand V in the left-hand column.

Nine crates containing the model were received in
person on behalf of the museum by Václav Hanka.

Following her husband’s death, in 1840 Langweil’s widow offered the model to Emperor Ferdinand I to buy. This time the offer was successful. The Emperor bought the model for a symbolic price and generously donated it to the Patriotic (now the National) Museum. It was received there in nine crates by the then librarian Václav Hanka.
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10. The model in the National Museum


Langweil’s model at the exhibition in 1891

Langweil’s model was exhibited only occasionally in the 19th century. In 1891 it was one of the exhibits in the Provincial Jubilee Exhibition. To mark this occasion it underwent costly repairs and was provided with a commercial podium and railings. From 1905 the model was part of the permanent exhibition in the National Museum’s Lapidarium.
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11. Restoration of the model


An extract from the Boudas’
restoration report

Jana and Jiří Bouda restoring part
of the model in their studio

In 1954 the City of Prague Museum took possession of the Langweil model. In 1961 while it was provisionally installed access was provided to it. Restoration work was carried out on it continuously in the years 1963 - 1969 by the artists Jana and Jiří Bouda. The restorers had to display the same level of skill and a similar amount of patience in their work as the creator of the model himself.
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12. The model in the City of Prague Museum


The newly restored model in a Czech
Press Agency photograph from 1970

The Langweil model of Prague in its
oldest display cabinet in 1970
The newly restored Langweil model was lent in 1969 to the Madurodam Museum in the Netherlands for the Golden Prague exhibition. In 1970 the model was put on permanent display in the museum in its own specially built glass case. In 1999 the original glass case was replaced with a new dustproof display case which also provides the model with its own protective microclimate. This display case was repaired at the beginning of 2007 and newly designed lighting for the model was also put in place.
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II. Changes in the City

An overall view of the Langweil model of Prague shows us a picture of the city that is well-known to everybody. But even though, thanks to its unique appearance, we would not confuse the Prague panorama with any other town in the world, a walk through the streets of Prague in Langweil’s time would in many places be a walk through a foreign town.
Why this is the case is eloquently shown in the statistics characterising the transformation that Prague has undergone since Langweil’s time:

The Old Town and Josefov

The Lesser Quarter and Hradčany

The Old Town and Josefov

In 1837 there were 969 buildings in the Old Town with house numbers, of which up until the present day
- 570 buildings have been demolished (450 of them up until 1918 and half of them because of the Urban Renewal Act)
- 80 buildings have been radically rebuilt

In 1837 there were 278 buildings in Josefov with house numbers, all of which have been demolished with the exception of six of the nine synagogues and the Town Hall.

The Lesser Quarter and Hradčany

In 1837 there were 522 buildings in the Lesser Quarter with house numbers, of which up until the present day
- 105 buildings have been demolished
- 60 buildings have been radically rebuilt

In 1837 there were 187 buildings in Hradčany with house numbers, of which up until the present day
- 7 buildings have been demolished
- 5 buildings have been radically rebuilt
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III. Interesting Facts about the Langweil Model

The Langweil model was not created in order to document Prague’s appearance at a particular moment but was intended as an original work of art - a three-dimensional picture of the city or a relief veduta. The realistic depiction of many details with which the town marks time and the lives of its inhabitants are also in keeping with this. The facades of buildings do not only show structural and decorative details, such as house signs, frescoes and sundials, but also all sorts of features caught in that moment, such as flaking walls, broken windows and climbing plants. In various courtyards and secluded spots we find stores of barrels, a scene from a pig-slaughter or a ladder leaning against a wall. There are no people in the model except for two soldiers standing on guard, as if their unchanging position is part of the street’s appearance.
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