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St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church

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1892. 167 Newton Ave.

In 1884, the first Mass in Pisek was offered by Father F. X. Sulak, a Jesuit missionary born in Bohemia. St. John Nepomucene was chosen in 1887 as the church’s patron, and in 1892 this church was erected. The exterior of this Czech Catholic Church is relatively plain with a tall square tower in the center of the facade. In 1916 the interior of the church was clad with pressed tin and painted, and colored-glass windows and new Stations of the Cross were installed.

The interior holds an altarpiece locally attributed to Czech artist Alfons (Alphonse) Mucha, depicting Sts. Cyril and Methodius. Mucha, who visited the United States seven times between 1904 and 1921, exhibited his paintings in New York City and Chicago, and promoted art education in schools. The painting in this church departs from Mucha’s Art Nouveau motifs and instead is a work of National Romantic classicism, apparently based on a study sketch Mucha gave to his father. Pisek resident Frank Rumreich claimed to have commissioned the work from Mucha, at the artist’s studio in Munich. In the late 1940s, the provenance of the painting was forgotten and it was moved to the choir loft. During a visit to the church in the early 1950s, Father Peter Lekavy claimed he could identify Mucha’s signature on the painting, obscured behind the frame, and associated the painting with Mucha’s hand. Faith C. Knutson (Painting by Alfons Mucha Graces Pisek, North Dakota, Church, 1979) has attributed the painting to Mucha based on correspondence between two members of the Pisek community and Mucha’s daughter, Jaroslava Tersova-Muchova. Whether the painting’s connection with Mucha is myth or fact, the painting has been restored and given a place of prominence.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Steve C. Martens and Ronald H. L. M. Ramsay
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Citation

Steve C. Martens and Ronald H. L. M. Ramsay, "St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church", [Pisek, North Dakota], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/ND-01-WA8.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of North Dakota

Buildings of North Dakota, Steve C. Martens and Ronald H. L. M. Ramsay. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2015, 93-93.

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