Czech Work of Art – real masterpieces

October 29th, 2014 is glad to inform that Czech Post is to release a special stamp dedicated to its art. This particular item is dedicated to works of Jakub Schikaneer – a great Czech artist. The issue is to be released on the 5th of November.

Jakub Schikaneder was born in Prague on 27 February 1855 and died on 15 November 1924, in Prague as well. He grew up in an artistic environment, where his aunt, cousin and older brother Charles worked as actors and singers. Success and fame, however, often alternated with decline and poverty. Here we find the beginnings of a strong social ethos, which appears in Schikaneder's paintings. After graduating from the Prague Academy, he traveled around Europe, which greatly influenced his future work.

He received important recognition both at home and in the world in 1882 with his painting "Přísaha Lollardů" (The Lollards' Oath) with dimensions of 250 x 400 cm. Even the leading art critic Miroslav Tyrš described the painting as an extraordinary work of art and its sale abroad brought a substantial financial reward.

From the 1890s, his paintings are full of social comprehension, which can be seen, for example, in the paintings "Dozvuky zimy" (Aftermath of Winter), "Plečka" (The Weeder), and "Výměnkářka" (The Retired Peasant Woman), and results in his final masterpiece "Vražda v domě" (A Murder in the House).

In 1885 Schikaneder was appointed as an assistant to František Ženišek at the School of Applied Arts in Prague, and later led a special school for painting flowers. After Ženíšek left the Prague Academy in 1896, he took over the studio of decorative painting. The position of professor allowed him to take several study trips in Europe in the 1890s. He repeatedly visited Paris, but he also went as far as Sicily. In 1895, together with Josef Thomayer, he toured England and Scotland. He also worked on the decoration of the interiors of the expositions of the College of Applied Arts at the World Exhibitions in Paris in 1900 and four years later in St. Louis.

At the end of the first decade of the 20th century, Schikaneder withdrew from public life, lived in seclusion and did not exhibit his paintings in public any more. He nevertheless continued teaching at the School of Decorative Arts, even during World War I.