Databáze uměleckých výstav v českých zemích 1820 – 1950

56th Annual Exhibition of Krasoumná jednota

Date:14 April 1895 – second mid-June 1895

Place: Prague, Rudolfinum

Organizer:Fine Arts Association in Bohemia

Conception:Evaluation Committee


The 1895 exhibition of Krasoumná jednota in the Rudolfinum broke records: the number of exhibited works of art exceeded a thousand for the first time - according to the catalogue, 1,016 works of art were presented, including 650 oil paintings, 258 drawings, 50 prints, and 58 sculptures. To accommodate them, the organizers temporarily vacated three halls of the Picture Gallery of the Society of Patriotic Friends of Fine Arts (SVPU) and a part of the library of the Museum of Decorative Arts. This was also the second exhibition to have an illustrated catalogue, this time with 48 collotype reproductions of paintings, and the first to present a significant collection of graphic art (previously, prints had mostly served as reproductions). Symbolically, the exhibition was the first public appearance of Emil Orlik, a Prague-born printmaker and painter who was soon to achieve European renown. 

In their review of the exhibition, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and his wife Charlotte wrote: “We have never had such a rich and interesting exhibition in Prague yet – may at least some of these paintings be sold so that foreign artists will be happy to send us their works in the future." [Lorenzo 1895, p. 722] A relatively high number of artworks did sell from the exhibition: excluding those that Krasoumná jednota purchased for its raffle, 104 works sold for 25,167.50 guldens. Based on the records in Krasoumná jednota’s archive, the most expensive paintings included Marina by Beneš Knüpfer (purchased by Josef Stupecký for 650 guldens and Love in the Roman Campagna by Gustave Simoni (purchased by Count Franz Thun for 800 guldens). Another painting by the same author, Carpet Market in Tlemcen in Algeria, was bought for 700 guldens by Josef Scherzer from Vienna.  Josef Sobotka bought the Motif from Eppan in South Tyrol by the Viennese painter Robert Russ for 900 guldens; Countess Wilhemina Schwarzenberg acquired Josef Brožík canvas Council for 1,100 guldens; and Luisa Vondráčková from Moravian Ostrava bought Geese in the Pasture by Adolf Lins from Düsseldorf. The SVPU purchased four paintings for its Picture Gallery from public funds: On the Road by the London-based painter Leslie Thomson for 303.24 guldens, In the Fields by Julien Dupré in Paris for 575 guldens, Telegram byLuisa Max-Ehrler for 900 guldens, and the painting Summertime by H. W. B. Davis from Glaslyn, Wales, for a record-breaking 2,428.40 guldens. In addition, the SVPU bought the sculpture Neapolitan by Achille d'Orsi from Naples for 400 guldens. Two oil paintings were purchased for the Gallery of Living Artists: Orlik's Autumn Song for 209.99 guldens and Autumn Birches by William Padgett from London for 242.59 guldens. 

The total number of exhibiting artists reached 510 (see Appendix). The largest number of artists who sent their work to the exhibition – 108 in total – came from Munich (including the nearby villages of Gern, Hohenschäftlarn, and Nymphenburg), accounting for 21,18%. Germany was the best represented, with 208 participating artists (over 40%); 34 of them came from Berlin (including Wilmersdorf and Charlottenburg), 27 from Düsseldorf, 10 from Dresden, 9 from Karlsruhe, 6 from Stuttgart (including Cannstadt), 3 from Hamburg, 2 from Wrocław and Weimar, and 1 from seven other places (Augsburg, Baden-Baden, Dachau, Nuremberg, etc.). 154 artists came from Austria-Hungary, with only one from Hungary (Budapest), and 72 artists stated their place of residence as Prague or nearby Zbraslav. Ten artists came from other places in Bohemia (e.g. Cheb, Chýnov, Plzeň), and ten others from Moravia (Kroměříž). Vienna (including Schwechat) was represented by 60 artists, Trieste by 6, and Ljubljana, Pula, Krakow, Salzburg, and Klausen in South Tyrol by 1 each. The increasing popularity of Italian or Italy-based artists is evidenced by the number of these artists in the exhibition – 51 (10%); in addition to Rome (21) and Naples (5), artists came from the north of Italy – Milan (11), Venice (8) and Turin (1). On the other hand, there were fewer Belgian artists than in the previous years: of 23 artists, 11 came from Brussels and 10 from Antwerp. There was also a decrease in the representation of Poland: in addition to Krakow (mentioned above), 2 artists came from Warsaw. 24 artists sent their works from Paris and two others from elsewhere in France; 11 participating artists were from the Netherlands, 3 from Spain, 2 from Norway, and 1 from Switzerland. Typical of Central European salons in the 1890s, the selection included many British artists, mostly landscape painters. Of the 29 Brits in the exhibition, 17 were from England (16 from London and nearby Dyreham), 11 from Scotland (a selection from The Glasgow Boys circle was presented in a separate smaller room), and 1 from Wales.

In his review, Karel Matěj Čapek welcomed the French as the most esteemed guests, although “the front-runners of last year’s show at the Rudolfinum did not show up. But the Parisians Dupré, Saintpierre, Nozal, Moreau de Tours, Dagnaux, Aublet, Saïn, Mengin and the Belgians Courtens and Charpentier are by no means second-rate names” [Čapek 1895, p. 275]. Today, these artists are largely forgotten; only a small selection of exhibiting artists would attract the attention of contemporary viewers: the Rome-based Polish painter Henryk Siemiradzki, the English artist William Stott of Oldham, the Scottish landscape painter Robert Macaulay Stevenson and the Italian sculptor Medardo Rosso. Modern German art was represented by the paintings of Albert Keller, Max Liebermann, Walter Leistikow, and Ludwig von Hofmann, and the etchings of Max Klinger. Hofmann, in particular, met with disapproval because his paintings were perceived as “coarse.”


Czech art was scattered in multiple rooms. According to reviewers, the highlights of the exhibition included the Portrait of a Man (Josef Hlávka) by Vojtěch Hynais; four cabinet-sized historical works and another portrait of Hlávka by Václav Brožík; paintings Ctirad and Šárka and Angel of Peace by František Doubek; Music by Josef Douba; Night and Autumnby Josef Schusser; Spring by K. V. Mašek, Marina and Wrestling Tritons by Beneš Knüpfer; the portrait of Emperor Franz Joseph I, painted from life by František Ženíšek; Jaroslav Špillar’s genre from the Chodsko region entitled Poor Country;Jakub Schikaneder’s Christian Martyr; Theodor Hilšer’s giant canvas Sardanapalus; Gabriel Max’s Syrinx; Luisa Max-Ehrler’s Telegram; and Kateřina Kubínová’s Symphony in Yellow. Among the landscape painters, Václav Jansa, Karel Liebscher, Václav Radimský, Zdenka Braunerová, Ludvík Csordák, and Ferdinand Engelmüller received the most praise [see Čapek 1895; Tyršová 1895; Weitenweber 1895]. The two reliefs and a drawing by the young František Bílek were difficult for the critics to understand, but even Tyršová, a conservative critic, recognized the modernity of their deep “spiritual foundation,” which “has been lacking in our art until now” [Tyršová 1895, p. 549], although she had reservations about what she saw as a violation of the laws of sculptural art [ibid., p. 672].

Aleš Filip

Works Cited

Čapek 1895: Karel Matěj Čapek[-Chod], 56. výroční výstava umělecká v Rudolfině, Světozor [XXIX], 1894–1895, p.275, 286, 298–299, 310–311, 333–334, 346, 359–360, 371, 383–384

Lorenzo 1895: Lorenzo (Tomáš Garigue Masaryk – Charlotta Garrigue Masaryková), 56. Výroční výstava Krasoumné jednoty, Naše doba [II], 1894–1895, pp. 722–724

Tyršová 1895: Renáta Tyršová, Výroční umělecká výstava v Rudolfině, Osvěta [XXV], 1895, pp. 546–552, 663–673

Weitenweber 1895: V. W. (Vilém Weitenweber), Výroční výstava Krasoumné jednoty v pražském Rudolfinu, Zlatá Praha[XII], 1894–1895, p.275, 283, 298, 310–311, 355, 372, 395, 418–419

Further Reading

 Jakub Bachtík – Lukáš Duchek – Jakub Jareš (edd.), Chrám umění: Rudolfinum, Praha 2020

Aleš Filip – Roman Musil (edd.), Epocha salonů. České salonní umění a mezinárodní výtvarná scéna 1870–1914, Brno – Plzeň 2021

Anna Masaryková, Cizí umělci na výstavách Krasoumné jednoty v Praze, in: Jaroslav Pešina (ed.), Sborník k sedmdesátinám Jana Květa (Acta Universitatis Carolinae. Philosophica et historica), Praha 1965, pp. 199–205

Vladimír Novotný, Sto let Krasoumné jednoty, Praha 1935

Vít Vlnas (ed.), Obrazárna v Čechách 1796–1918. Katalog výstavy uspořádané Národní galerií v Praze u příležitosti dvoustého výročí založení Obrazárny Společnosti vlasteneckých přátel umění, Praha: Národní galerie v Praze 1996

Archival Sources

Archive of the National Gallery in Prague, fonds SVPU, sign. AA 1014, Seznamy soukromých nákupů na výstavách Krasoumné jednoty [Lists of private purchases from the exhibitions of Krasoumná jednota]

Exhibiting authors

Illustrovaný seznam 56. výroční výstavy Krasoumné jednoty pro Čechy v Praze 1895

Illustrierter Katalog des 56. Jahres-Ausstellung des Kunstvereins für Böhmen in Prag 1895


Vydavatel: Karel Bellmann

Místo a rok vydání: Praha 1895

Brief notes about the exhibition

Anonymous author, Výroční výstava v Rudolfině, Národní listy XXXV, 1895, no. 96, 7. 4., p.3

Anonymous author, Výroční výstava v domě umělců, Národní listy XXXV, 1895, no. 149, 31. 5., p.2

Anonymous author, Výroční výstava v Rudolfinu, Národní politika XIII, 1895, no. 108, 20. 4., p.2

Anonymous author, Kunstverein für Böhmen in Prag, Prager Tagblatt XIX, 1895, no. 150, 1. 6., p.5

Anonymous author [Vilém Weitenweber], Výroční výstava v pražském Rudolfině, Světozor XXIX, 1894–1895, p.348

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