Children of Antonín Šimon and Anna Tavik:
Maria Šimon (*10-05-1863-† 1941?).
Anna Kateřina Šimon (*03-02-1865-† 1908?); She lived in Bosnia and was
married to a farmer.
Antonín František Šimon (*01-01-1867-† 1928?); immigrated to Detroit
Julie Antonie Šimon (*11-04-1869-† 10-05-1869).
Rozena Šimon (*12-03-1872-† 28-04-1872).
Robert Antonín Šimon (*01-06-1875-† 11-04-1943); Czech photographer and
František Jan Šimon (*13-05-1877-†
Antonín Šimon moved with his family from
November 1, 1883 and lived eventually in Mšeno in Karlova Ulice 138.
Mšeno is an ancient town located east of Kokořín, a region of forests
and enchanting rock formations. T.F. Šimon spent a good deal of his
childhood and adolescent life in Mšeno. In 1898 his mother Anna Tavik
died. His father remarried Rozalie (*1843). They lived together from
1899 on Velké Námĕstí 279, since 1910 called Riegrova Námĕstí.
T.F. Šimon held a speech at the opening of the Šimon exhibition in Mšeno
in 1940: “Mšeno brings to my mind an abundance of the best moments in my
whole live – youth in its wake, with dreams, desires and ideals which
would sprout nowhere better than in the country meant for the sensitive
soul of an artist. I feel a deep and legitimate attachment to your town,
as its former dweller.... who will never forget this place, with its
picturesque landscape and the many good friends I had here and where I
spent my joyful youth.”
At the elementary school František accompanied in the final
years his teacher with drawings on the blackboard. The teacher advised
Šimon’s parents to send their talented son František to Prague for an
art education. After finishing the civic high school in Duba in the
region Kokořínsko north of Mšeno he was admitted in 1894 to the Academy
of Fine Arts in Prague after passing the entrance examination. He
entered the class of Maximilián Pirner (1854-1924) in the year 1895 and
later at the Academy befriended Hugo Boettinger (1880-1934), Richard
Lauda (1873-1929), Jan Honsa (1876-1937) and Ferdinand Michl
(1877-1951). He travelled in 1897/1898 for health reasons to his sister
Anna Katerina (1865-1908?) in Bosnia because of the better climate. She
was married to a farmer and lived permanently in Bosnia. In 1899 he
travelled in Bosnia, Dalmatia and Montenegro. Then in 1900, after
completing his art studies, he travelled for four months in Croatia (including
Dubrovnik), Bosnia and Italy. The painting “Reminiscence of Dalmatia”
from 1900 shows that he was a full-fledged artist.
He was in Military service for about a year until October 1901. In 1905
he completed his military service for another period of four months in
Przemyśl, then in Austrian Galicia, now Poland. During these four months,
he visited Krakow. He was saddened by the poverty he saw and the
coarseness of his fellow soldiers. Two subsequent calls for military
service, he ignored for the latter reason. A sketchbook with small
sketches of the old Jewish cemetery in Przemyśl witnesses his stay.
T.F. Šimon was awarded twice for the Hlávka scholarship (called after
Josef Hlávka, 1831-1908), in 1902 and 1903 (source: exhibition catalogue
Chrudim 1903). It enabled him to travel. In 1902 he travelled to Italy
for a period of four months and in 1903 to France, where he stayed in
Paris and Ault-Onival. In the same year he travelled to London, Belgium
and the Netherlands.
Moving to Paris 1904
In the first place T.F. Šimon considered himself as a painter.
His first paintings testify of mastery, for example, the painting
“Symphony” of 1900, a highlight of the collection of the National
Gallery in Prague (Veletržní Palác). Already before 1900 he experimented
in Prague on techniques of graphic art. There was no advanced education
in techniques of graphic art in Prague. Impressed by the metropolis
Paris, the opportunities for the artist to develop himself and obtain
more knowledge in the field of making graphics let him decide to settle
in Paris. With his friend Ferdinand Michl he travelled by train to
Paris, where they arrived on February 22, 1904.
”Together they set up a modest studio (“atelier”). With limited
financial means their beginnings were quite hard and Michl eventually
gave up and left. Šimon gradually acquired the necessities for his
efforts in graphic arts, some tools at flea markets, zinc plates at
hardware stores and somehow- nobody seems to know how he learned all the
crafts of etching, in particular that of aquatint (invented in France in
the 18th century by J.B. Leprince). Aquatint appeared essential to Šimon
the painter as it permitted the rendering of half-tones and colours. He
also mastered the technique of soft-ground (vernis-mou) which produced
the effect of pencil drawing and skilfully combined this with the
aquatint. In order to obtain exactly the desired effect he preferred to
do his own printing and for this purpose purchased a second hand press.”
Source: Exhibition catalogue National Gallery - Eva
Bužgová, 1994. English translation by Ivan Šimon (1914-2009).
He lived in Rue Daguerre 19 and since his marriage with Vilma Kracík,
February 17, 1906 at the Boulevard Montparnasse 83. Autumn 1908 they
moved to Rue Humboldt, to a rental house with a huge studio. Other
Czechs who had preceded him to Paris included Josef Kratina (1872-1950),
Alfons Mucha (1860-1939), Luděk Marold (1865-1898) and Josef Mařatka
“My favourite Paris quarter had always been the Latin Quarters.
Following me, Czech fellow artists and friends moved to this quarter one
after another. It was my friend the painter F. Michl, the sculptors
Španiel and Kafka, later the painter Strimpl and the illustrator Placek.
Štefánik had called us once for a fun a ‘bunch of fumblers’. The oldest
Paris residents were of course: Kupka living in Montmartre, A. Wiesner
in Neuilly, J. Dědina and K. Špillar in Montrouge but we met them
occasionally or by chance. We were youthful, had the same interest and
modern thinking, always overflowing with merriment, and although our
work was different, the relation with them was amicable and somehow
amusing. We did not have much money but we had strong appetite for life,
especially for the Parisian life, and the sense of humour and merriment
was never missing. We were happy in a Bohemian way. We used to go for
lunch to some restaurant at noon and instead of dinner, we rather went
to some café-house where we could sit, with a glass of café or another
drink, relaxing, talking and sketching till or even over midnight.”
Source: Arnošt Bareš; Štefánikuv Memoriál, Praha 1929,
T.F. Šimon - From the life of Milan Štefánik in Paris, p. 79-80.
Whistler in London
T.F. Šimon visited with his friends Hugo Boettinger and Bohumil
Kafka the James Mc. Neil Whistler (1834-1903) exhibition in London,
organized by the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and
Engravers at Regent Street.
First solo exhibition in Prague.
From December 1905 until January 1906 a Šimon exhibition was held in
Prague, organized by The Mánes Association of Fine Artists (SVU Mánes).
The exhibition was appreciated, although the important critic F.X. Šalda
saw too much “Whistler” in Šimon’s art. He painted in an original way
the Paris life, whereby he increased his fame, the French called his
scenes “Paysage de Paris”.
Acceptation by the Paris Salons.
‘Salon’ stands for an art exhibition of paintings and sculptures, held
once a year. The first Salon in Paris had in 1648 exhibiting works of
art from students of the École des Beaux Arts. In order to gain
prominence, it was necessary to take part in the exhibition. For two
centuries it was the most important exhibition for fine artists in
France. After the revolution of 1848 the policy was smoother and fewer
artists were denied; the elitist principles had been watered down. I
In the 19th century the Salon was of great importance and attended by
all sections of the population. It was mostly work of established
artists from the Art Academy that was shown. There gradually came
rebellion within the art world against the still elitist official Salon.
Between 1862 and 1865 including the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts,
chaired by the critic Gautier, independent salons were set up with their
own organized exhibitions.
The French artist Jacques Villon, graphic artist and illustrator
(1875-1963), was one of the organizers of the first exhibition of the
Salon d’Automne in 1903. Villon was befriended by František Kupka, they
were neighbours from 1901 in Montmartre and later in Puteaux as well.
Kupka was married to Eugénie Straub and moved to Puteaux starting 1906.
T.F. Šimon and František Kupka were acquaintances from Prague. In the
summer of 1904 they were both in Ault-Onival. Šimon wrote on a postcard
to Hugo Boettinger: “Kupka arrived here the day before yesterday and he
will stay probably for 14 days. Everything can be discussed with him
very nicely.” Kupka exhibited at Salon d’Automne for the first time in
1906. With the establishment of the Salon d’Automne artists like Matisse,
Gauguin, Picasso and August Rodin exhibited.
T.F. Šimon was accepted as a member by Salon d’Automne in 1905. His
first exhibited graphic works were PORTRAIT OF OTAKAR ŠPANIEL (N 27) and
OXFORD CIRCUS (N 35). In a letter to Edmund Sagot of April 23, 1906 he
wrote: “I am a Czech painter and graphic artist and member of Society
Mánes in Prague. I live now for two years in Paris and have acclimatized
well. Last year in 1905, there was an exhibition in Prague organized by
Mánes Society showing my ‘tableaux et eau-forts’. Included were 80
oil-paintings and 40 ‘eau-forts’ + monotypes. Also I exhibited in Vienna,
Berlin, München and London.”
Šimon invited Sagot for a visit to his studio. The dealer Sagot accepted
his work in commission. One of the first graphic works in commission was
THE SHADOWS OF PARIS (N 24). For an artist it was necessary to exhibit
to get attention from art dealers, who were a growing link between
artists and buyers of art. In 1904 the artist met the important
publisher and art dealer George Petit. MARCHÉ AUX LÉGUMES (N 13, 1904)
and LES BOUQUINISTES (N 43, 1905), both published by Petit, were
exhibited in 1906 at Salon de Societé de la Gravure originale en
Couleurs. Leading figure of this Salon was Raffaëlli, who Šimon already
had met in 1903.
T.F. Šimon was accepted by La Société de la Gravure en Noir, La Société
des Peintres-Graveurs Français, Royal Society of Painters, Etchers and
Engravers (London) and in 1910 as a member of ‘Union Internationale des
Beaux-Arts et des Lettres’, founded in Paris by Paul Adam, August Rodin
and Vincent d’Indy.
Marriage František and Vilma (Vilemina)
|František and Vilma were married on
February 17, 1906 in St. Nicholas Church in Prague.
In 1906 their
first child Kamil was born, followed by Eva (1908-1997),
Ivan (1914-2009) and Pavel (1920-1958). Kamil died young on
September 5, 1912.
Ruzena Kracík, daughter of Václav Kracík and Eleonora
Soumarová from Hradec Králové, sister of Vilma Kracík, was
married to the Czech sculptor Josef Kratina. They lived already
in Paris before Šimon settled there in 1904. In 1907 Josef and
Ruzena immigrated to New York. Their daughter Lydia, born in New
York (1907-2010), was a student (1930-1933) of her
František in Prague and married the Slovak artist Koloman Sokol
(1902-2003), also a student of Šimon (1925-1932)The couple
lived since 1948 in America; they both died in Tucson, Arizona.
(see also Kolomon
Original record of Marriage:
Prague: February 17th, 1906
Moving to Rue Humboldt 25
In the autumn of 1908 the artist moved with his family to the
villa with a spacious studio in Rue Humboldt (now Rue Jean Dolent).
The villa is located behind a row of houses with studios built
specifically for artists in front of the high-walled prison La Santé.
Through a small alley at the back of the small houses which nowadays is
called Allée Verhaeren (Paris 14th district), you reach the white villa
where the artist lived and worked.
Rue Humboldt 25 (14th district of Paris). From ca.1926 on
this street was called Rue Jean Dolent. In the thirties the small part
of Rue Jean Dolent, in where this house is located, got the name Rue
Verhaeren. This is the present name for the small alley in where the
house is located. The family moved to this house circa starting 1908.
Simon's studio was on the second floor of the house
(photo: ca. 1910).
The upper floor is broken off totally in 2015, and will be built
T. F. Šimon: "Vilma reading a Book", oil
Fame across borders
The first exhibition in America was at Albert
Roullier Art Galleries in Chicago in 1910 and a second in 1911.
The Public Library in New York organized an exhibition with
works by the artist in 1911 and Gallery Frederick Keppel & Co in
New York in late 1914 to early 1915. The Musée du Luxembourg in
Paris bought the painting ‘Snow in Bruges’ in 1911. In a
laudatory article in an American newspaper around 1920 is
< The studio in Prague of T. François Šimon reveals the
development of an artist of international repute from a
colourist and impressionist to a decorative painter within
twenty years. One of the best known pictures “Bruges in Snow”
hangs in the Luxembourg, in Paris. To the average man in the
street who pauses to consider art, Šimon is known to him as an
etcher. In the smaller circle of artists and art-critics, Šimon
is painter first and etcher second. And it is as painter Šimon
would prefer history should record on him. He is today one of
the leading Czech painters and is probably, without exaggeration,
the master of the decorative school in his country.>
In Zagreb, like Prague a part of The Habsburg Empire, 100 works
of art by T.F. Šimon were exhibited in 1910 in the Ulrich Salon.
The Croatian art historian Žarka Vujić noted in her book “Ulrich
Salon notes on Continental (2011)”:
< The exhibition season started in 1910 with an international
monograph exhibition of the Czech printmaker František Tavik
Šimon, who showed his attractive etchings of scenes on the first
floor of the city’s main street. More than a third of the prints
are bought by the owner of the Salon and one early self-portrait.
Today, it is kept with another 40 works in the collection of the
museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb. >
T.F. Šimon stayed in 1903 for the first time in the
Netherlands. A later visit dates back to August 1909. He travelled by
train from Berlin to Amsterdam, arriving in Amsterdam 8:38 pm. On August
26 he was in Zaandam, known for the many windmills and August 30 he sent
a postcard from the Kurhaus in Scheveningen to his friend Hugo
Boettinger: “It is a beautiful country, just made for painters.”
He was 3 to 4 days in Amsterdam and visited from the capital in one day
Haarlem with his Frans Hals Museum and the seaside town Zandvoort.
He noted in his sketchbook: < Zaandam,
Hoorn, Marken. Hotel Krasnapolsky, Sikshaus = Sixhuis (portrait of
Rembrandt), Haag (Mesdag, Mauve, Delacroix, Courbet, Corot), Hotel
On a Sunday the artist stayed in Scheveningen / The Hague and travelled
on Monday from The Hague to Paris. This trip inspired him to create OLD
HARBOUR OF AMSTERDAM (N104), CANAL IN AMSTERDAM (N 116) and OLD HOUSES
IN AMSTERDAM (N 117) from 1909.
A drawing from 1909 shows the Damrak in Amsterdam seen from the Victoria
Hotel, where the artist stayed in room 21.
T.F. Šimon stayed as far as we know from May 15-24, 1912 in The
Netherlands; this resulted in two graphics in colour in the same year:
THE OLD CANAL (Oudezijds Achterburgwal), AMSTERDAM (N 212) and HARBOUR
OF DORDRECHT, HOLLAND (N 183) and two graphics in black and white AN
AMSTERDAM RAGMAN (N 182) and FIRE IN AMSTERDAM (N 239). Amsterdam
inspired him to create a variety of oil paintings.
The artist was in the Netherlands at the time his father died in his
hometown Mšeno in Bohemia. He would not have been in time to attend the
funeral. His wife and children were at that time in Paris. He wrote the
following two letters from the Victoria Hotel to Vilma.
Translation (Czech-English) by Ivan Šimon (1914-2009).
Amsterdam. May 15, 1912. “At best I would have arrived May 11, at
which time my father would have been dead. It is an unfortunate set of
circumstances that I am here while I would preferred to have seen my
father still alive and hear his last words. - I was suffering in
consideration of what should I do and decided to not going to the
funeral mainly for practical reasons, such a loss of time and cost of
travel. - "I will stay here still longer (perhaps 14 days) and give my
best efforts to my work, which will be my only consolation. These days a
representative of the Dorens (a very pleasant man) took me around
Amsterdam – through sections I never dreamed of – some sort of ghetto-
from which I expect to gain some inspiration - Write me soon about all of
you, in particular the children. I feel so lonesome in a strange
Amsterdam. May 22, 1912. “I wrote in my previous letter (May 15)
that I will probably return to Paris by the end of this week, but I am
sorry to say that I must stay longer, at least through Saturday and then
I want to go to Utrecht (perhaps overnight) so that - at best - I should
start going home Sunday (even though I dislike travelling on Sundays -
everywhere crowds of people).”
These days I was showing to Dorens (Dutch publisher of prints) and his
representative my work, drawings, oil-sketches, and colour drawings and
we agreed on the selection of subjects. Now it remains to produce the
designs for the copper plates. I have already one almost finished and I
want to produce at least one more, so that I would not need to come back
here from Paris. As I wrote you; they (the Dorens) are quite good people,
businessmen of course, but of quite different kind, say the Petits or
other French businessmen. Surprisingly, they are understanding, they
give me complete freedom in the choice of my subjects and the way of
rendering it and they do not ask for (as I expected it) some well known
views of Amsterdam, rather then letting me to do some intimate, unusual
subjects. I worked a lot these days and I will have a lot of material
for both the colour as well as the black etchings. For the black ones, I
was most impressed by the Jewish quarter, the people as well the
character of the little streets. If we stay in Paris this summer I hope
to finish some of these etchings in addition to the colour ones which
On May 23, he wrote from Amsterdam to his friend Boettinger that
he will go to Utrecht. ”Dear Hugo, my brother Robert wrote to me that
you came to the grave of my old father, which shows your true kindness
of friendship. Thank you my friend for your condolence. I will stay in
Amsterdam only a few days. I will travel further to Utrecht. I am
restless and it is lonely here.”
On May 24, he decides to go home and sends a telegram from
Amsterdam to his wife in Paris.”I arrive tomorrow at 5:40 - Gard Nord =
September 5, 1912. Son Kamil died by meningitis while on holiday
in Moravia. Vilma became depressive. In the early spring of 1913 the
decided it would be good for the family to travel. Toledo, Ronda,
Cordoba and Seville were visited in Spain. The artist wrote in one of
his letters on April 18, 1913 to Hugo Boettinger that he went with his
family on a trip to Morocco. “Hugo, we went to Tangier after all and we
don’t regret it since it is a marvellous, truly biblical world of Arabs
and Muslims of Africa here. These are the most spectacular impressions
during our trip - whole Spain is nothing and “swindle” beside this. One
feels completely out of Europe and like in the days of Christ here. I
think that India cannot give more. Sincere regards from us all. Tangier
18/IV, 1913 The Šimons.” Several etchings, drawings and paintings
testify to the inspiration that Šimon picked up during the trip.
Return to Prague
On June 5, 1914 son Ivan Šimon was born. On June 28 Archduke, Crown
Prince of Austria, Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie Chatek were
assassinated in Sarajevo. There is a growing danger of war in Europe.
František and Vilma decided to travel to Prague with the children. On
July 28 Austria attacks Serbia, August 1 attack of Germany on Luxemburg,
and August 4 on Belgium. France and Great Britain try to defend Belgium.
A crucial period in the life of Šimon; he cannot return to Paris and
finally settled permanent in Prague.
Foundation Hollar Association
T.F. Šimon was with Max Švabinský the initiator of the establishment of
the Hollar Association in 1917, named after the famous Bohemian
graphical artist Wencelaus (Václav) Hollar (1606-1677). Hollar
Association has contributed to the development of the Czech culture. The
intention was to help artists who had financial difficulties. Workshops
were made available. Exhibitions were held, also abroad and in Magazine
‘Hollar’ articles on art were published.
After the war, Šimon returned for a few weeks to his home in Paris. The
rent was not paid during the years of absence, a huge financial setback.
A dusty but intact studio he found. He restored as soon as possible
contact with the publishers and art dealers in Paris. In two letters to
Sagot he writes self-consciously:
Paris. May 14, 1919
“Monsieur, after years of long and terrible War I have returned to
Paris. I am here for a few weeks to arrange my business. Please let me
know if you have sold some of my prints you still have in commission”
Prague. July 15, 1920
“On this occasion I mention you that I have doubled the selling prices
of my prints that I have informed to all print dealers in Paris".
The Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Czechoslovakia has asked him
and other artists to record the ravages of war at locations where Czech
and Slovak battalions fought. Šimon chose France and travelled to Reims
that was severely affected by the war. Šimon made sketches at locations
and a series of prints were issued. Šimon received for his effort an
honourable French award: the Legion of Honour, “Ordre National de la
A good friend of Šimon was the Slovak Milan Štefánik. He was an art
collector, astronomer, general, politician and diplomat. He travelled to
Tahiti in 1910 and went there at the insistence of T.F. Šimon looking
for traces of Paul Gauguin, who died in 1903. He found several
woodblocks cut by Gauguin and brought them to Paris. Attempts to sell
the woodblocks failed. Šimon restored the blocks and printed them on
sheets. Nowadays they are cherished as a precious treasure of the
National Gallery of Prague.
On May 4, 1919 Štefáník was killed by the crash of his plane under
suspicious circumstances that never has been elucidated. For Šimon this
was a great shock. In the Czechoslovak government were already heavy
political conflicts about the status of Slovakia in a country dominated
by Czechs. The dispute between the Slovak Štefánik on one side and Beneš
and Masaryk on the other side often ran high up. Masaryk wrote after the
crash ”With Štefánik is all over and out”.
In a contribution to Hollar 1937 Šimon wrote:
“At our many meetings in the cafés and studios, where Štefánik came with
pleasure, we discussed the contemporary exhibitions and art in general.
I remember that Štefánik sometimes went with us to contemporary
exhibitions, organized by the best Parisian businessmen like Durand Ruel,
Vollard, Bernheim, Druet etc. At a meeting in café Viennois on the Grand
Boulevard, that we often visited, I had suggested to visit an excellent
exposition of Asian Art, mainly Chinese and Japanese that was organized
in the passages of the art-auction house Hotel Drouet. After this visit
we went along the Grand Boulevard to the Madeleine, to visit gallery
Bernheim that just had opened an exhibition with paintings by Gauguin.
There were about 30 paintings exhibited by this famous artist. The
impression of these paintings, most of them from Oceania, was fabulous.
He created harmonious stylistic paintings of tropical landscapes. Also
Štefánik was affected by these artworks and considered to make a journey
overseas, he dreamt about the exotic and primitive beauty of the Island
Publication of the Graphic Artists Handbook
In 1921 the artist stayed for the first time in a spa in Teplice because of problems with his respiratory tract. Of the towns and
natural surroundings, he made a number of etchings. In the same year was
published his book ‘Graphic Artists Handbook" (Příručka umělce-grafika).
Šimon donated the book to the Victoria & Albert Museum in South
Kensington. Martin Hardie, the curator of museum of the department of
graphical artworks and drawings writes in a letter to Šimon: “The book
is charmingly produced, does great credit to publishers - printers, as
you. I wonder whether you could not profitably have an English edition
printed chez vous. I am sure the book could have a good sale.”
Son Pavel and the villa in
Pavel Šimon was born on June 16, 1920. He was a talented artist. His
first wife Věra Kaplanová, born in 1920, was an artist and pupil of
Cyril Bouda who was married to Pavel’s sister Eva Šimon. They had a
daughter Alena. After the divorce Pavel married Milá. Pavel died before
the birth of his son. The widow remarried the dissident Václav Ottl. The
family emigrated to Zürich in Switzerland, where Ottl became a teacher.
In the early twenties the Šimons built a house in Bubeneč Na Zatorce
483 (later called V Tišine 10, a district in Prague). The architect of
the house was František Kavalír. Artists like Mucha, Boettinger and
Švabinský lived and worked in this district too. Šimon painted on the
house three beautiful murals which are still to be seen. The ground
floor has been converted into office space. On the outside on the north
side you see the windows of the former large studio of the artist.
Vilma died on January 4, 1959. The house was expropriated by communist
law. The family got the house back from the state after 1990. It was
sold to Algeria to become an embassy.
“THE BOHEMIAN MASTER - T.F. Simon, painter, etcher
and perhaps the most famous of all artists of Bohemia is in New York.
Already Mr. Simon is at work, making nocturne, twilight and daytime
sketches of New York’s skyscraper buildings, its busy thoroughfares,
suspension bridges, docks and harbour craft. Tiny little sketches they
are, on uniform rectangular sheets, perhaps six inches wide, or high,
black ones being used for the nocturnes.” A
commentary in the renowned American art magazine “The Art Digest”.
It proves that Šimon’s fame across the Czech border has made great
It was a cherished wish of T.F. Šimon to make a trip to Japan. After a
long period of preparation he went. In his diary we read about the route
of his voyage around the world. On Monday August 30th, 1926 his voyage
started in Prague, his wife Vilma and their children Eva, Ivan and Pavel
wished him a good journey and waved him off. Šimon first travelled to
Paris; on September 4 he took the boat from Cherbourg and arrived after
6 ˝ days in New York. He visited then Cleveland, Buffalo and Detroit
where he stayed two days with his brother Antonín. He went to Chicago,
Pittsburgh and New York. He left New York on October 28 and reached San
Francisco via Havana and the Panama Canal on November 19. From here he
travelled with the ship Tanjo Maru across the Pacific that took him to
Honolulu, Yokohama, Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Penang,
Ceylon and Aden. The ship sailed through the Suez Canal, along Greece
and the trip ended in the port of Marseille on February 27, 1927, after
a journey of almost half a year.
The artist had in his luggage art supplies, sketchbooks and small sized
canvases. The trip was a great success and led to many drawings, prints
and paintings. Facts about his trip were also given to the homeland via
the radio, in those days very special. Encouraged by friends and
colleagues in Prague, he wrote the book “Listy z cesty kolem světa”,
edited by Jan Otto, Prague 1928. It is a compilation of notes and
letters to family and friends and is illustrated with reproductions of
sketches he made during the trip. It was recently published in an
English translation with the title “Letters from a Voyage around the
World” published by David Pearson from Melbourne.
Since 1918 T.F. Šimon was a member of the Kuratorium of the Moderni
Galerie (predecessor of the National Gallery in Prague).
1924/ Stay in Italy.
1926 1927 – Publication of Handbook for Woodengravers (Dřevoryt, druhá
příručka pro umĕlce grafika).
1928 – Appointed Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts of Prague, to
lead the Department of Graphic Arts as successor of Max Švabinský.
1933 – Stay with his sons Ivan and Pavel in Italy and in 1936 on the
Island Rab, in Dubrovnik and Cavtat.
1937 – Publication of the Chronicle (Kronika grafického díla T.F. Šimona)
and the Catalogue Raisonné (Seznam Grafických prací T.F. Šimona) by
Arthur Novák. The catalogue raisonné (626 titles) was realised in
collaboration with the artist.
1938 – On the occasion of his 60th birthday a special exhibition is held
at Pavilon Myslbek in 1938. At the same time was published a monograph
on T. F. Šimon, written by the art historian Antonín Matějček.
The Academy of Fine Arts was closed in 1939 by the German
occupiers. T.F. Šimon continued to teach his students in a private
studio. In 1940 he stayed for a time in the spa town Poděbrady.
In June 1942 T.F. Šimon (65) visited his place of birth Železnice together with his son Pavel. The local newspaper wrote: < T. F. Šimon,
the academic painter and graphic artist of World-class, stayed since
yesterday with his son Pavel, also a talented artist, in their town of
origin. They enjoyed their stay here and left satisfied with their rich
artistic harvest (production paintings) and refreshed for a new work.
They promised to come back as soon as they can to Železnice .>
In the same year the artist has set up a foundation for talented
children from Železnice to provide financial support for art education.
During the communist regime this foundation was nullified.
On December 17, 1942 František Šimon died of a stroke. He was cremated
at the Strašnice cemetery in Prague (There is a monument on the Cemetry
of Bubenec). His son Pavel stayed with his mother Vilma in the house in Bubeneč.
The modern art movements demanded all the attention and the communists
avoided the “worldly gentleman-artist” T.F. Šimon and moreover: there is
no art ‘market’ possible in a communist system. Since the 90’s there has
been a revaluation for the artist. The number of admirers of his art is
constantly growing. And so is the supply of and the demand for his works
After 1989 auction houses were established in the Czech Republic.
Regularly paintings, drawings and etchings by Šimon are in auction in
the Czech Republic and abroad. An exhibition devoted to Šimon was
organized by the National Gallery (Eva Bužgová) at Kinský Palace in
In autumn 2002 the Czech Centre on Madison Avenue in New York organized
an exhibition with works of art from the former collection of William
Ganson Rose. Rose met Šimon in 1923 in Paris and built up an important
graphic art collection of Šimons. He published an English version of
“T.F. Šimon - Painter Etcher”, originally written by the Czech Arthur
Novak. In 1926 they met again in USA during Šimon’s world trip. At the
end of 2002 Gallery Fredrick Baker in Chicago organized a sale
exhibition and published an illustrated catalogue with 288 prints.
On March 25, 1948 Vilma Šimon wrote a letter to William
Ganson Rose in America: “---I thank you very much for your kind letter
and recollection to my dead husband. It is already 5 years since he left
us: he died of apoplexy; his weak and sick heart could not stand the
continuous excitement of the last years. He remembered to his last days
the nice journey in 1926 and his kind friends he met on the World trip.
On Cleveland and on you Mr. Rose, he had the nicest recollections and
spoke often with his family about you. --- Up to now we are quite well,
our house, pictures, and collections of my husband are yet in our
property. Of course our life changed considerably and we have enough
anxieties how it will go on--- “
During the communist regime in the 50s was unveiled a memorial by
his wife Vilma in honour of the artist at the cemetery in Bubeneč;. It is
designed by the sculptor Josef Šejnost and has a prominent place in the
cemetery. Vilma died at her home in Prague on January 4, 1959, one day
after her 77th birthday.
It was not all rosy in her life. She was born in 1883 into a bourgeois
family under the Austrian regime whose secret service spied and
oppressed the Czech population everywhere, a reason why she moved with
her husband to the much more liberal Paris, spent the years of the Great
War in Prague, celebrated 20 years of her life in free Czechoslovakia,
but had to accept the brutal occupation by Germany from 1939-1945 and
died in 1959 in a confederation of Czechs and Slovaks dominated by the
Communist Party, a country in practice totally controlled by the Soviet
Union led by Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev.
After the death of the artist T.F. Šimon his wife Vilma and their son
Pavel have catalogued the art collection that was happily not
confiscated by the communists. Pavel died shortly before the birth of
his son in 1958.
After years of oblivion the artist Tavik František Šimon is nowadays
added again to the list of renowned Czech artists with an international
Text: Catharine Bentinck, 2015.
First son Kamil born: Paris, november 25
1906. In the act of birth named: Camille. Parents were
named on the act of birth: François Simon and Guillaumette (=Vilma)
Kracikova. Witness: Louis (=Ludvik) Strimpl and Ferdinand Michl.
Daughter Eva Šimonova born: Paris,
july 18 1908. In the act of birth named:
Eve Marie Anne. Her parents were noted as François Simon
and Vilemina Kracikova. Witness: Otokar Spaniel and Louis (=Ludvik)
Strimpl. Paris, Arrondissement 14.