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Lot #92  –  91st Auction Day by KODL Gallery  (5/26/2024)

Václav Špála


oil on canvas
24. 5. 1938
signed lower right
88 × 65 cm
Estimate: 2,000,000 CZK - 3,000,000 CZK
Starting price: 1,600,000 CZK
Hammer price:
1,700,000 CZKEUR

Exceptional in its diversity and rendering, this bouquet is a great example of Špála’s artistic mastery, which he achieved in landscape paintings as well as in still lifes, especially floral ones, which became his permanent interest and subject matter. Although he rarely deviated from the basic layout of these paintings, i.e. placing flowers in a jug in the centre on a Carpathian blanket complemented by the landscape in the background, he always managed to approach these compositions in a completely new way. In addition, fresh flowers became a way for him to experience the sheer joy of painting, and he captured their natural beauty with immense sensitivity and a strongly developed sense of colour. As history moved towards the Second World War, this motive grew stronger in him as a synonym of inclination towards life.

The presented painting has a representative character due to its size. It draws the beholder’s attention to itself, lets it pass from one flower to another, and subtly combines the realism of flowers with a modernist background. Špála escalated the fresh May atmosphere to the highest possible level. He sensitively captured the fragile flowers of tulips and daffodils, which attract a large part of the attention with their bright yellow colour, even though they are at the edge of the beholder’s field of vision. The centre of the painting is filled with white elderberry, thanks to which the canvas achieved an unprecedented luminosity, supplemented by tender flowers of blossoming lilacs. The expressive background in Špála’s characteristic blue colour refers to his favourite river, Otava. The blue folk decor on the jug is new and had not yet appeared in his work.

The painting is listed in the inventory of Špála’s work (E. Burget / R. Musil: Václav Špála, Inventory (1885–1946), Prague 2002, p. 105, inv. No. 1118). On the stretcher is the artist’s mark: (((35. A)))). The triple brackets was the highest possible rating he gave to his works, and he noted down to it: “A large bouquet, elderberry white and violet, tulips, yellow and 3 pink, in the background Otava and a piece of cloud, sprigs of hawthorn, new jug, on a Carp. blanket book, from Kampa.” Provenance from the property of dr. Karel Houba, editor-in-chief of the Melantrich publishing house until 1989. Assessed during consultations by prof. J. Zemina and PhDr. R. Michalová, Ph.D. The expertise of PhDr. K. Srp is attached.

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