Page:The Bohemian Review, vol1, 1917.djvu/194

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

landscapes, Václav as a painter of historical scenes. Both impressed their individuality on the Academy. Václav was for a time director, after Waldherr, Bergler’s successor. Antonín was professor of landscape painting. The latter had a son, named Joseph, born May 12, 1820, whom fate selected for the founder of modern Bohemian painting.

Little Joseph grew up in an atmosphere of art. He saw father and uncle busy drawing, painting, engraving and lithographing: the talk at home turned on art, and friends who called at the Mánes home were all artists. As early as 1835 Joseph was enrolled in the Academy. His education was caried on in German, for at that time everything in Prague was German and in the homes of better class Czech conversation was an exception up to the year 1848. This fact alone proves what a gigantic work was done by the patriots who awakened the Czech nation to a new life. And yet the citizens of Prague were in a sense patriotic Bohemians, for all of them, Czechs and Germans, looked upon Bohemia as their fatherland and were proud of its noble history. Of course all work tending to strengthen the national consciousness had to be done under an innocent guise. Metternich’s absolutism suppressed with a heavy hand anything savoring of freedom. Upon Metternich’s fall in 1848 the new Bohemian patriotism tok Prague as if by storm, but at the same time the Germans ceased to look upon themselves as citizens of Bohemia and took up a hostile attitude toward everything Czech. But let us return for a moment to the thirties.

In 1837 occurred the first significant event in Mánes’ life. Countess Leopoldina Silva-Tarouca, daughter of Count František Šternberk, came to Prague to live with her son Bedřich. The young man inherited from his grandfather the love of art, was fond of drawing since his childhood and now in Prague he got for his drawing master the father of Mánes. The count was 21 years old. Joseph Mánes was 17, both possessed of a soft, sensitive temperament, and they became fast frieds for life. When Bedřich later became a priest in Moravia, the Moravian seat of the Silva-Tarouca family, the castle of Čechy, was Mánes’ haven of refuge. Count Bedřich Tarouca was an enthusiastic Bohemian patriot and soon made the young artist acquainted with the aims of the national movement. It was a strange whim of chance that a young nobleman should have shown the Prague student of art the road to his people.

Around the year 1844 the new life in Prague gave many signs of soon bursting into bloom. The youngest artistic generation, headed by Karel Svoboda, began to lay stress on nationality as well as art, and Mánes would surely have become one of the leading spirits of his school, if he had not gone to Munich after his father’s death. It is evident that the “patriots” hoped for much from Mánes, for we find in the “Česká Včela” (Bohemian Bee) a remark that “removal to Munich surely will not prevent Mánes from keeping up his relations with the younger artists and countrymen from we expect a new epoch in Bohemian art that was once so glorious.”

In Munich Manes’ genius matured. He came back strong, virile, selfconfident, all within the space of three years spent in the city on the Iser which at that time cultivated art feverishly under the passionate patronage of King Louis. In the Bavarian city, too, Mánes became a conscious Czech patriot; he insisted on writing his name with a dash over the second letter and in conversation always defended earnestly his Bohemian country. Ferd. J. Náprstek tells us that in a company of artists which he once attended in the city of Munich, the famous Schwanthaler speaking of Mánes said that Mánes always was fighting in defense of the Czechs by word and deed. Early in 1847 Mánes returned to Prague, and when on April 30, 1848, “Slovanská Lípa” (Slav Lindentree) came to be organized to be the center of the political and democratic regeneration in Bohemia, he became at once a member. It will be remembered that Palacký, Rieger, Erben and other great men sat on the executive committee. When in November, 1848, the Union of Decorative Artists of Bohemia was established, a society at first including in its membership Germans, but soon purely Czech and still in existence, Mánes was commissioned to carry out the first work undertaken by the society, namely the publication of portraits of the chief Bohemian statesmen. The leaders of the nation were at that time in Kroměříž in attendance upon the first Austrian parliament. Mánes came there in the first part of January to make the portraits of Dr. A. M. Pinkas. Dr. Ant. Strobach and Dr. F. L. Rieger. These three pencil drawings are the first fruits of Manes’ genius. The best