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Lot #57 
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Otakar Lebeda

Path along the Forest

oil on cardboard
1897
signed
51 x 68 cm
Estimate: 1,500,000 CZK - 2,000,000 CZK
Starting price: 1,000,000 CZK
Hammer price:
1,600,000 CZK
Lebeda’s composition with a simple but impressive subject-matter of a path winding along the forest edge presents a unique opportunity to widen our knowledge about this artist, who despite his young age has already fully developed artistically. In this refined painting on the very edge of realism and impressionism, we can see a remarkable example of the work of one of perhaps the most talented students of Mařák Landscape School at the Prague Academy, where he studied for six years under the influence of Julius Mařák, František Kaván, Antonín Slavíček, and others up until 1897, when he painted the Path along the Forest. At that time, Lebeda was already recognised as an independent painter, which, among other things, led Professor Mařák to send him to gain experience abroad. In the same year, he also went for a trip with his school studio to the regions of Okoř and Zákolany, and to South Bohemia, from where he perhaps drew inspiration for the presented work. This painting is an excellent example of the development of his brushwork and brightening up of the colour range. It is also significant evidence of the fact that the year 1897 marked a turning point in Lebeda’s work, when he graduated from the Academy with excellent results and managed to transform the mastery acquired there into a perfect ability to capture a faithful rendering of the landscape. At just the age of twenty, a mature artist with the potential to become a leading figure in modern Czech landscape painting is presented here. The value of this work is also confirmed by its publication in the artist’s last monograph (V. Hulíková: Otakar Lebeda, 1877–1901, National Gallery in Prague, Prague 2009, cat. no. 107). Assessed during consultations by prof. J. Zemina and Mgr. M. Dospěl, Ph.D.