This extraordinary facade is the entrance to an art nouveau studio built between 1908 and 1911 by Ladislav Šaloun (1870-1946), the Czech sculptor whose main claim to fame is the memorial to Jan Hus in Prague’s Old Town Square.
The ‘Šalounova Vila’ is close to the home of the Čapek brothers, who were visitors here, along with other Czechs of international renown, such as the virtuoso violinist Jan Kubelík and his son the conductor Rafael Kubelík, the leading secessionist painter Alfons Mucha, and the operatic soprano Emmy Destinn. All played a significant part in the artistic flowering which took place in Prague in the early part of the 20th century.
Šaloun was deeply influenced by classical art. The building’s ornamentation includes stylized egg-and-dart motifs and ionic fluting on the facade, a parody of a Greek frieze, and the inscription ‘Thalassa! Thalassa!’ (‘The Sea! the Sea!’), the famous shout of joy uttered by Xenophon’s battle-weary ten thousand when, on their retreat from Persia, they finally glimpsed the shores of the Black Sea. To the left of the door is a gilded capital ‘Š’, the monogram of the sculptor.
The villa is now used as a teaching space for guest professors of the AVU (Academy of Fine Arts).