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Jan Zrzavý (1890–1977)

Red Sky in Le Fret

mixed media (tempera, pencil) on cardboard
signed lower right
21 × 40 cm
Estimate: 3,000,000 CZK - 5,000,000 CZK
Starting price:
2,500,000 CZK

Brittany was a long-term, almost lifelong source of inspiration for Jan Zrzavý, to which he kept returning in his memories and even in his later works of the 1950s and early 1960s when he took on a new lease of life. The presented dream-like marine depicts the place Zrzavý described as “the discovery of his life” or the Promised Land. However, he created it already back in Bohemia, at the time when he was experiencing his greatest artistic achievements. At the same time, we can understand this artwork as the artist’s farewell to the landscape that meant so much to him. Zrzavý always managed to approach the topic in a completely new way regarding the technique of painting, the colour concept, and the play of outlines and shadows. As the presented work also indicates, he achieved a much more comprehensive expression in capturing the magical atmosphere of the place than in his works of previous years. He chose the calm scenery of a harbour with a stone pier, which allowed him to create a harmonious composition with a spatial perspective. In this simplified scene, he focused on the moment of low tide, in which the ships are almost on the shore, and their sides are not washed by the salty waters of the Atlantic, as in many of his other works. The granite houses rising from the edge of the picture create a mysterious mood full of ancient secrets and the ever-present Celtic history of this iconic place that is sought after by tourists today. 

The tempera painting was preceded by a simple drawing, which was reproduced under the title Camaret (10 × 15 cm, pencil on paper) in the exhibition catalogue of Gallery in Havlíčkův Brod in 1967 (Jan Zrzavý, Paintings and Drawings from 1962–1966, fig. 9). Assessed during consultations by PhDr. R. Michalová, Ph.D., and prof. J. Zemina. The expertise of PhDr. K. Srp is attached.