Luděk Marold

9 2001 Dějiny English
obálka čísla

    People born in the sign of Leo are characterized by self-confidence, generosity and pride. They are large-spirited and open. Their negative features are a quick temper and vanity.
    In this sign, also known as fiery, a boy was born on August 7, 1865 in the Královske Vinohrady district of Prague. He was given the name Luděk and took the surname Marold after his mother. His father was a lieutenant colonel of the Austrian army, Croatian Antonín Kwelkowits. Historical events cruelly influenced the destiny of the young boy and his mother. War broke out with Prussia and before Luděk's young father had legalized the relation with Luděk's mother, he fell in one of the bloodiest battles near Hradec Králové. The fate of a child born out of wedlock in the 19th century was not an easy one, but the mother's family loved the boy and originally wanted him to also become an officer. However, the frail, beautiful child with dark eyes and curly hair soon showed greater interest in painting.
    When his mother also died, his aunt Josefa Maroldová took over care of the orphan. Later, out of gratitude for her care the young nephew painted two gorgeous hanging insignia for the walls of her small tobacconist's shop. Evidently under the influence of the events in his family, the young man grew up into an unconventional character. At sixteen, he was accepted to the preparatory course for the Prague Academy of Painting. He remained there less than a year. His impulsive, tempestuous character led to his expulsion for "...lack of diligence and insulting behaviour towards the class teacher...". A new political, social, and artistic mix was brewing up during the 1880s, and Luděk, like many other young people, left for Munich. To pay for his studies he earned by illustrating for magazines in Munich, but also contributed to the Prague publications "Golden Prague" and "Světozor". Despite his youth, he soon became the leader of a group of young Czech artists in Munich. His diligence was outstanding, thus refuting the reasons for his expulsion from the Prague academy. After his return to Prague in 1887, he continued his studies under M. Pirner at the School of Applied Arts. His first large canvas called "At the Egg Market" was a great success. Critics were amazed at the maturity of the 23-year-old artist. The painting bore all his trademarks -- a wavering, refulgent ambience, perfectly depicted figures, and it excellently captured the atmosphere of a live market. The Ministry of Education bought the painting and donated it to the Federation of the Friends of Art.
    The success helped Luděk obtain a grant to study in Paris. However, he soon gave up his study grant and immersed himself in the atmosphere of the French capital. He admired the elegant women and the Bohemian lifestyle of Montmartre. He captured the wealth and diversity of the European metropolis with his pencil and pen, and his witty and keenly perceptive illustrations were printed by a number of fashionable magazines. He illustrated the novels of French authors, including Daudet, and the translation of Goethe's "Young Werther". His posters adorned the street corners of Paris. Although constantly surrounded by women, he fell in love with the young Czech Zdeňka Makovská, who he married on March 7, 1891 in Paris. In spite of his success abroad, he never lost touch with his native land, living alternately in both Paris and Prague. He illustrated K. J. Erben's ballad "The Water Sprite" and I. Herrman's "Prague Characters". In 1897, he returned to Prague permanently and started work on his greatest work -- the painting "Battle at Lipany". He aimed to create a panoramic picture of this tragic historic event that ended the Hussite movement. Is the motif of the battle a reminiscence on the fate of the father he never knew and who fell on that hot July day? Or is it a warning against disunity and squabbling, or a premonition of his own destiny? Marold painted a blue horizon evoking the hot July day of the distant 15th century. He highlighted the chalice -- the symbol of beautiful ideas, of a faith in justice and truth humbled in the dust of that fratricidal battle. Long before the revolutions of the modern era, the battle at the small village of Lipany confirmed that the "revolution eats its own children". On his masterwork, L. Marold worked with V. Jansa, K. Raška, K. Štopfer, T. Hilšer, and L. Vacátko. His historical advisor was V. Toman.
    He worked feverishly on other works featuring the landscape around the confluence of the Vltava and the Elbe near Mělník, as though he guessed that he did not have long to live. On December 1, 1898, aged only 33, he died suddenly at his house in Prague. As a young child, I enjoyed leafing through the old calendars at my grandparents, and I loved Marold's pictures illustrating them. It was only later that I was able to get to know the corners of old Prague that Marold captured with his supreme perception and his feeling for the fleetingness of the moment. When, as a fresh History graduate, I started to teach at a school in Vinohrady, a small, dark-eyed boy with wavy, dark hair captured my attention at first glance. When I asked the class to introduce themselves, the boy gave his name as Luděk Marold. He turned out to be the grandson of the painter and was his splitting image. I am glad that after the years of totalitarianism, when Czech 19th century painters were mostly dismissed as "bourgeois artists", they have begun to receive some recognition and Marold's work has recently been included in several major exhibitions.

PhDr. Jana Volfová

Vydavatelem Českého dialogu je Mezinárodní český klub

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