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Lot #87 

Josef Lada (1887–1957)

Saint George and the Dragon

gouache on cardboard
signed lower right
58 × 41 cm
Estimate: 2,000,000 CZK - 4,000,000 CZK
Starting price: 1,800,000 CZK
Hammer price:
1,800,000 CZK

This work of exceptional subject matter dates from 1939, when Lada retired from public life; the desire to present his work to the public left him, and he even illustrated only four books. He bore the German occupation very hard and sought solace in free artwork, newly enriched with a peculiar atmosphere and elements that had not appeared in his work before. He looked for subject matters in Slavic legends as well as fairy tales. The composition of this unusually dynamic gouache is based on masterful strong outlines, a reduced, eye-pleasing colour range, and rich decorative details. The scene, set in an inhospitable rocky landscape, presents Saint George sitting on a white horse bravely defeating a raging dragon, whilst in the background, the princess he is about to save prays to the heavens. After snatching her from the jaws of death, the king offered him a monetary reward, which the brave and modest soldier left to the poor. Subsequently, the king promised that if George rid them of the dragon forever, he would be baptised along with his subjects. Saint George thus became a symbol of the true Christian faith and a patron not only of knightly orders. There is a parallel to this work of an identical format depicting St. Martin, which Lada also executed in 1939. Assessed during consultations by prof. J. Zemina and PhDr. R. Michalová, Ph.D. The expertise of PhDr. P. Pečinková, CSc., is attached.