The visual arts have played a unique role in the history of Czechs and their capital, serving not only as a means to express aesthetic tastes and values, but over the years to express political aspirations as well. The earliest forms of painting and sculpture, on display at St Agnes’ Convent, date from the 13th and 14th centuries and were strongly influenced by religious themes. Later on, Renaissance and baroque styles imported from Italy and Austria were highly influential. By the 19th century, local artists turned to landscape and historical allegory to sculpt their own Czech national narrative. The country’s independence in 1918 and the emergence of new art forms like photography unleashed an explosion of avant-garde creativity. These days, art continues its agit-prop role in the hands of artists like David Černý, whose ironic works poke and provoke as they reveal hard truths that underlie modern life.