About Czech Artists.

T.F. Šimon ,
An outstanding Czech Artist-Painter
and Graphic Illustrator.
Written by Jozef Zdenek Svoboda
Íllustrated Poland' #14 (1930).


 Today I would like to discuss the creativity of the great Czech painter Prof. T.F.Ŝimon. Ŝimon’s art mostly involves ‘colourful’ work in which he and the artists 'the Stretti brothers' have first place in Czechoslovakia today.


In the middel of this photo: Richard Lauda, T.F. Šimon and Max. Svabinsky (to the right). Three students from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague.

 Born in 1877, Ŝimon studied at the Prague Academy under Prof. Pirner, together with such unforgettable fellow-students as the painter of Czech village scenes Richard Lauda, who died in 1929, K. Myslbek and Jiranek among others. It was the time of ‘plein-airism’ otherwise known as Impressionism. These young students at the onset of spring went out to colour-filled nature and, if fortunate enough on their vacations, travelled abroad to look for the art forms of those new modern times. Young Ŝimon then visited south Europe, which was only the beginnings of his later more extensive journeys abroad that grew to longer artistic ‘grand tours’ not only in the rest of Europe but even overseas in the East.

Jan Honsa, T.F. Šimon and Richard Lauda.


 His friend Lauda had become a well-known painter of South Czech villages, for he adored in his art not only native locations but also the family life of village people in all its variety. On the other hand, Ŝimon chose to become an artist showing a special understanding and love of foreign countries, their habits and people. He likes the world of the city at every time of the day, its streets and their life. He is interested by the banks of the Seine in Paris with its street-booksellers in the light of spring sunshine, the movement on the Boulevard St.Denis, the same as life in the port of New York that is another ‘movement’ to that of Paris ‘Crêmerie à deux sous’, or the old buildings of a snow-covered Amsterdam. The pictures of Ŝimon creates a masterful ‘air’ of a fairytale with its own falling snow.


 At last year’s exhibition ‘Hollar’ (well-earned because shows the hard-working association of Czech graphic artists in Prague, where Simon is now chairman), we saw all Simon’s works from the East. They were mostly in the style of dry point needle that conjure up in front of spectators’ eyes a series of interesting and so far unknown scenes of Japan, Ceylon, and India. Everything is created in a very artistic manner, exhibiting the refinement of the ‘author’ regarding his choice of themes.


    From 1903 Simon lived in Paris for ten years, visiting all the picturesque and historical corners of France and neighbouring countries. His works were a huge success at Parisian exhibitions, becoming a member of the Society of Colour Engravers and also the Society of French Painters [and] Engravers. Some of these works were bought by foreign museums such as the Musée du Luxembourg and the Kensington Museum [later renamed the Victoria and Albert Museum, trans.] After ten years abroad Simon came back to his native country where he was detained due to the world war.


    There are a lot of his works that show Prague, from nearly all the cycle entitled ‘Hradczyn/ Hradcany’ through those showing the Charles Bridge, the theater ‘Narodni Divadlo’ to the Old Town. All  these rites and explorations show a great love of the city of Prague, which will always give to painters, writers and poets a countless amount of motifs for their artistry. ‘Zlata Praha’ shows that Simon, every time after returning from abroad, was delighted in the loveliness of the different seasons of the year. For this reason, his series of vivid works clearly shows an extraordinary choice of colours and half-shades that were created by first-class technique.


    Simon is generally thought of as one of the best experts of graphic technique. He published two textbooks, Podręcznik artysty grafika (Manual of Graphic Arts, Prague 1921) and Drzeworyt (Woodcuts, Prague 1927) with Jan Stenc, the renowned Prague publisher of works on graphic art.  Both of these books are written on the basis of a huge knowledge of their subject and contain a lot of reproductions from earliest to the most recent times.


    In the introduction to the first book he wrote that there are usually two kinds of graphics, in one of which the work usually shows a lack of something, what should ensue with the best will of the artist but falls down regarding the average graphic-craftsman.   

Marta Mazur / Brian R. Banks (author of the book:
Muse and Messiah: The Life, Imagination and Legacy of Bruno Schulz)  
November (2009)/ May 2010). 


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