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Antonín Slavíček

Bethlehem in Hlinsko

oil on wood panel
1903–1904
signed
26 x 35 cm
Estimate: 3,000,000 CZK - 4,000,000 CZK
Starting price: 2,000,000 CZK
Hammer price:
2,100,000 CZK
This painting of a village depicted in a distinctive style, rendered mostly in brown shades lit up by the radiant surfaces of white facades, is an excellent representative of Slavíček’s work. He repeatedly used this subject-matter, which belongs among his set of works from 1902–1904, whilst he was staying in the Hostišov village and also visited the Kameničky village for the first time. Bethlehem is a unique quarter of log cottages in the town of Hlinsko and the first houses that were built in the second half of the 18th century were home to potters and their workshops. For Slavíček, this place was an opportunity to use his spontaneous brushwork, incredibly capturing the diversity of plasters, surfaces, materials, and various other details. Several of his paintings come from this now listed protected area, demonstrating the high level of sophistication of his painting mastery. At this point, his style was already turning away from its Impressionist foundation and gaining earthiness; truthfulness and simplicity are achieved in this painting using much simpler and fully authentic vehicles of expression pointing to Slavíček’s dynamic artistic development.
The value of the painting is confirmed by its exhibition history: Jubilee exhibition of Antonín Slavíček, Mánes, Prague, February – March, 1932, cat. No. 62; XLIII exhibition of the Poš Gallery, Antonín Slavíček, Paintings of Smaller Formats, 16 May 1946 – 15 June 1946, cat. No. 41; Antonín Slavíček – Josef Mařatka, Exhibition of Minor Works, SVU Mánes, Prague, 1955, No. 65; Prague Castle Riding School, September – November 1961, No. 93, reproduced; Antonín Slavíček, Life Work, Slovak National Gallery, 1962, cat. No. 44; The House of Art in Ostrava, June – July 1962, cat. No; 40, Moravian Gallery in Brno, Brno House of Arts Brno, Brno, 1962, cat. No. 45; Retrospective Exhibition of Antonín Slavíček in the Municipal Library in Prague, 17 March – 5 September 2004; Antonín Slavíček – Kameničky, East Bohemian Gallery in Pardubice, Chateau, 7 May – 31 August 2014; Art Gallery Karlovy Vary, 11 September – 9 November 2014. It has been published in literature multiple times: V. Nezval: Antonín Slavíček, Prague 1952, repro VI; Vítězslav Nezval, Antonín Slavíček, Prague 1955, repro VII; J. Kotalík ed.: Antonín Slavíček 1970–1910, Inventory, Prague 1965, fig. 103, p. 91; J. Tomeš: Antonín Slavíček, Prague 1966, cat. No. 157, repro; R. Prahl, et al.: Antonín Slavíček 1870–1910, Prague, 2004, colour repro p. 104.
Also interesting to note is its provenance – one of the previous owners was Vítězslav Nezval, after whose death the painting became the property of Františka Nezvalová. Based on the aforementioned contexts and facts, this painting is considered a unique opportunity for collectors to acquire Slavíček’s work of exceptional value. Assessed during consultations by prof. R. Prahl, CSc., and prof. J. Zemina. The expertise by PhDr. K. Srp is attached.