Databáze uměleckých výstav v českých zemích 1820 – 1950

Anniversary Exhibitions of Josef Mánes


The Josef Mánes Anniversary Exhibitions, a set of three shows dedicated to various aspects of Mánes’s oeuvre, were held to celebrate the centenary of the artist’s birth. The organizers aimed to gather as many of Mánes' works as possible from both institutional and private collections and to present Mánes as a distinctive and original figure in the history of Czech modern art: not only as a painter and draughtsman, but also as a designer of decorative objects and applied art. The whole project built on the previous Mánes retrospectives (1880 in the Lehmann Gallery and 1903 in the Mánes pavilion in the Kinsky Garden), while reflecting the latest research into the artist’s oeuvre. Because the 1903 retrospective was sparsely attended, the organizers placed great emphasis on promoting the show and Mánes himself to the public. The exhibitions were planned to coincide with the Sokol gymnastic festival, the participants of which were expected to also visit the shows. Two different posters were distributed widely and there were daily cinema advertisements with 13 Prague cinemas showing slides of Mánes’s artworks.

The exhibition of Mánes’s oils, watercolours and drawings in the Municipal House was the most ambitious part of the entire show. It was divided into five halls with sections devoted to Mánes’s life, his early oeuvre from historical paintings to genre paintings and landscapes, works created during his mature period and his sojourns in Čechy pod Kosířem, works stemming from his interest in folk culture culminating in his paintings for the Old Town astronomical clock, and preparatory drawings of landscapes and natural phenomena. The exhibition featured over 300 artworks installed on walls, with smaller works, letters and photographs placed in showcases. There were representative paintings along with portraits and landscapes, decorative works and drawings, so the various themes of Mánes’s oeuvre came into close and unexpected proximity, especially at the beginning of the exhibition: historical subject matters were juxtaposed with illustrations, figural drawings and detailed studies of natural objects. Reviewers praised the progressive installation where finished works intermingled with studies and sketches. Unlike the established gallery method of exhibiting only finished oil paintings, the emphasis here was on the creative process and the artist’s search for the final art form. According to K. B. Mádl, the chairman of the exhibition committee, this gave the works an extraordinary intimacy, making the exhibition in the Municipal House a “festive hall” of Mánes’s art [Mádl 1920, n.p.]. In terms of concept, the show was considered the Mánes Association’s most successful exhibition to date.

Mánes’s prints were exhibited in the Topič Salon, again with an emphasis on connecting preparatory drawings, sketches or even printing plates with the resulting prints made either by Mánes himself, under his supervision, or based on his design. Illustrations to the Manuscript of Dvůr Králové opened the collection (131 catalogue numbers, including plates); in addition, there were illustration prints and works created for diverse purposes (lithographs, copper engravings, woodcuts and woodcut designs), commissioned by book publishers, periodicals and various civic organizations.

Rudolfinum housed a convolute of Mánes’s drawings from the collection of the Society of Patriotic Friends of Fine Arts. Themes contained in this convolute appeared all throughout Mánes’s oeuvre and the show sparked debates regarding the need for a new permanent exhibition. Rudolfinum, however, had recently become the seat of the parliament, leaving no space for such an exhibition.

The reviewers and commentators made sure to properly characterize Mánes’s work and underline its importance. Most of the texts focused on the Czech nature of Mánes’s work and his role as the forefather of Czech art, which was not surprising for the period when the young Czechoslovak republic was being built. Mánes was celebrated for his ability to capture the character of the landscape and its people and distill out of them the typical expression of the Czech soul. This concept was based on the earlier perception of Mánes formulated by Miroslav Tyrš in the period of his first exhibition in 1880 – the need to find national character in art was still present during the First Republic. The reviewers also included Mánes in the broader stream of European modern art and compared him with international artists. In addition to the names discussed in the seminal 1904 article by Max Dvořák, one of the international (German) reviewers praised Mánes as an unknown genius whose relationship to village folk culture paralleled Paul Gauguin’s primitivism and interest in the beginnings of humankind [Hofmann 1920]. On the other hand, one of the reviewers wrote that although Mánes cannot be denied a place among prominent European artists of his time, he was closing a certain period, rather than forging a new path for contemporary art [Teige 1920]. While interpreting these general features of Mánes’s art, the reviewers also commented on the lighter and more subtle aspects of his work, such as humour, irony, sensuality and the personal content in many of his works.

The exhibitions were the culmination of the Mánes Anniversary Week, during which periodicals published a great number of texts on the artist. These exhibitions received strong political support, as having a “national artist” and a typical Czech art was crucial for the cultural institutions of the newly-formed modern state. There were even debates about “Máneseum,” a museum that would bring together works by Josef Mánes, the rest of the Mánes family and other Czech artists. Experts lamented the fact that Mánes’s works were scattered throughout institutions and numerous private collections, making it largely impossible to see them other than at exhibitions. The 1920 shows presented an important step in the evaluation of and subsequent research into Mánes’s oeuvre. Jan Štenc played an important role in this as publisher and organizer. In 1920, he published Ročenka Štencova grafického kabinetu (The Štenc Graphic Cabinet Yearbook) dedicated to Mánes and prepared for publication a number of studies on Mánes by prominent scholars in his journal Umění (Art). Following the exhibition, Štenc’s publishing house established a series called Dílo Josefa Mánesa (The Oeuvre of Josef Mánes) consisting of monographs dedicated to the individual themes and genres in Mánes’s oeuvre. Štenc’s plans also included a catalogue raissoné of Mánes’s works, authored by Rudolf Kuchynka, but it was never completed.

In addition to its efforts to revisit Mánes’s legacy and his importance for Czech art in the context of modern cultural politics, the exhibition also captured a number of features characterizing Mánes’s work and personality from a purely artistic perspective: the innovative installation juxtaposed drawings and studies with the final oil paintings, allowing the viewers to witness the creative process. It also offered a commentary on the tension between the detailed character of Mánes’s penetrating observations (whether natural or ethnographic) and his ability to generalize, typify and outline characteristic features. The Municipal House show underlined the newly discovered relationship between Mánes’s purely artistic work and his original designs for mass-produced objects and decorative works, made with an acute sense for the material quality of things. But the shows also presented him as a painter of dreams, endowed with inner imagination, thus reconciling his unflattering perception among the public as a mad artist with the image of a sensitive individual for whom art was an intimate personal act. These aspects of Mánes’s artistic personality were also appreciated in the later scholarship.

Pavla Machalíková

Works Cited

Hofmann 1920: Camill Hoffmann, Josef Manes, Der Kunstwanderer II, 1920, pp. 474–475

Mádl 1920: Karel Boromejský Mádl, úvodní text, in: Jubilejní výstavy Josefa Mánesa (exh. cat. SVU Mánes), Praha 1920

Teige 1920: Tge. [Karel Teige], Jubilejní výstavy Jop.Mánesa. III. Výstava v Domě Umělců, Čas XXX, 1920, no. 9, 23. 6., p. 4

Further Reading

Jiří Kotalík, Josef Mánes 1820–1871 (exh. cat.), Národní galerie v Praze, 1972, pp. 7–9

František Žákavec, Mánesův rok, Umění I, 1918–1921, no. 4, December 1921, pp. 406–419

Tereza Johanidesová, Štencovo umění: časopis ve službách domácí výtvarné kultury (1918–1947), Umění/Art (forthcoming)

Petr Wittlich, Tvůrčí osobnost Josefa Mánesa a 20. století, Umění XLIV, 1996, no. 6, pp. 549–554

Exhibiting authors
Anniversary Exhibitions of Josef Mánes
Technique: litograph
Owner: National Gallery in Prague
Anniversary Exhibitions of Josef Mánes
Technique: litografie, papír
Owner: Národní galerie v Praze

Jubilejní výstavy Josefa Mánesa 1820–1920, SVU Mánes v Praze, 1920 [Anniversary Exhibitions of Josefa Mánesa 1820–1920, Mánes Association in Prague, 1920]


Place and year of publication: Prague 1920

Author/s of the introduction:Mádl Karel Boromejský
Reviews in the press

Anonymous author, Das Gesamtwerk Josef Manes‘, Prager Tagblatt XLV, 1920, no. 121, 23. 5., p. 7


Anonymous author, Jubilejní výstavy Jop.Manesa, Čas XXX, 1920, no. 1, 13. 6., p. 5


Anonymous author, Mánesova výstava v Domě umělců v Praze, Československá republika CCXLI, 1920, no. 165, 17. 6., p. 7

Emil Edgar

Emil Edgar, Jubilejní výstava Josefa Manesa (Obecní dům), Zvon XX, 1920, no. 41, p. 576

Edgar Emil

Emil Edgar, Jubilejní výstavy Josefa Manesa (v Domě umělců a Topičově saloně), Zvon XX, 1920, no. 43, pp. 602–603

Hoffmann Camill

Camill Hoffmann, Josef Manes, Der Kunstwanderer II, 1920, pp. 474–475


Jiskrová, Jubilejní výstava Mánesova v Praze. Zahájena za účasti presidentovy, Lidové noviny XXVIII, 1920, no. 257, morning, 23. 5., p. 9

Marek Josef Richard

Josef Richard Marek, Výstavy díla Josefa Mánesa (III. kapitola jubilejní), Venkov XV, 1920, no. 132, 6. 6., p. 4

Marek Josef Richard

Josef Richard Marek, Výstavy díla Josefa Mánesa (IV. kapitola jubilejní), Venkov XV, 1920, no. 139, 15. 6., p. 2

Skácelík František

F. Skácelík, Dojmy z výstavy děl Josefa Mánesa, Lidové noviny XXVIII, 1920, morning, no. 289, 13. 6., p. 7

Teige Karel

Tge. [Karel Teige], Jubilejní výstavy Josefa Manesa. Výstava v Obecním domě, Čas XXX, 1920, no. 3, 16. 6., p. 4

Teige Karel

Tge. [Karel Teige], Jubilejní výstavy Jop.Mánesa. Výstava v Topičově saloně (Grafika), Čas XXX, 1920, no. 5, 18. 6., p. 5

Teige Karel

Tge. [Karel Teige], Jubilejní výstavy Jop.Mánesa. III. Výstava v Domě Umělců, Čas XXX, 1920, no. 9, 23. 6., p. 4

Volavka Vojtěch

V. V., K Manesovým výstavám, České slovo XII, 1920, no. 155, 6. 7., pp. 2–3

Views of the exhibition

Pohled do instalace výstavy Josefa Mánesa v Uměleckoprůmyslovém museu v Praze

vlevo obraz Setkání Petrarky s Laurou v Avignonu roku 1327, uprostřed Lyrická poezie


Reprodukce: Volné směry 1920

Pohled do výstavy Josefa Mánesa v Obecním domě

vlevo prapory spolku Hlahol a Jednoty Říp, vpravo kalendářní deska pražského orloje


Reprodukce: Volné směry 1920

Brief notes about the exhibition

Anonymous author, Jubilejní výstavy Josefa Mánesa, Tribuna II, 1920, no. 119, 20. 5., p.4; no. 128, 2. 6., p. 5

František Žákavec, Mánesovy jubilejní oslavy v roce 1920, Naše doba. Revue pro vědu, umění a život sociální XXVII, 1920, book 7, April, pp. 556–557

L. Mattuš, Zachraňme dědictví Manesovo, Národní politika XXXVIII, 1920, no. 260, afternoon, 20. 9., p. 2

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