Databáze uměleckých výstav v českých zemích 1820 – 1950

Our Resistance

Date:28. October 1919 – 15. January 1920

Place: Prague, Prague (Municipal House)

Exhibition design:Čeněk Vořech

Conception:exhibition committee


In October 1919, the Municipal House in Prague hosted a military-themed exhibition entitled Our Resistance. Organized by the newly-established Museum of Resistance, it focused on written, photographic and artistic documents about the Czechoslovak legions, showcasing Masaryk's letters, photographs from soldiers’ lives on the battlefield and beyond, posters, charts, maps, flyers, magazines, books, paintings and prints. The material came from the legions in Russia, France, Italy, Serbia and compatriot organizations in the USA and Canada. The exhibition showed the chronology of events, describing the life in the military, political events in various countries and, importantly, the soldiers' return to their home country. The profit from the show went to fallen legionnaires' orphans and the organizers also planned to purchase artworks from legionnaire artists. The press promoted the exhibition even two months before the opening [Anonymous author 1919a].

The prominent figures present at the opening included T. G. Masaryk, government officials, National Assembly chairman, general inspector, General Maurice Pellé, representatives of Entente Powers and members of the Southern Slavic Military Mission. Václav Špála, the exhibition committee chairman held the opening address [Anonymous author 1919a]. Čeněk Vořech was entrusted with designing the exhibition architecture. The largest area in the exhibition, the entire left wing of the Municipal House, was dedicated to the Russian section, prepared by Vincent Charvát, Bohumil Přikryl, František Polák and František Richter. The art section was concentrated in the eighth hall and featured paintings with topics described as Captivity, In the Military, and Russian Life. There are no details in the catalogue, so we do not know how many paintings or by which painters were found in this section (as with the other sections as well). The rest of the legions – French, Italian and Serbian – were each presented in one hall of the right wing. The French section was the least extensive, prepared by Bohuslav Harna, Václav Špála and Jan Pašek. The fragmentary information in the catalogue suggests that the art component's themes were Promotion and On the Frontline. In contrast, the Italian section, prepared by Břetislav Bartoš, František Čejka, František Duchač-Vyskočil and Josef Jura, contained a wealth of material depicting the themes In Captivity, In the Army and Italian Life. Bartoš exhibited his painting For Freedom, which originally adorned the hospital barracks in the war camp near Naples. The press called the painting “the Italian legion's combat palladium,” a fitting name given the painting's history [Klička 2014, pp. 4–5]. Bartoš originally painted it to help recruit new members for the Czechoslovak volunteer units. Based on Rudolf Novák’s memories, the painting was so persuasive that it helped increase the units by 750 new members. The last larger section, prepared by Karel Hofman, presented the lesser-known legion in Serbia. According to the catalogue, it had no art component, similar to the parts of the exhibition dedicated to Czechoslovaks settled in the USA and Canada who, beginning in May 1917, went to France to take part in the military operations.

The catalogue did not list the artifacts on display, but the relatively numerous reports and articles in the press can give us an idea about them. Based on the reviews, we may assume that the exhibits included both objects of cultural-historical importance and artworks, which were not supposed to dominate the show – rather, they were meant to illustrate the resistance along with other documents. Yet, the art component (photographs, drawings, paintings) appears to have prevailed, judging from the commentaries in the press. The magazine Nová doba praised Kupka and his caricature and oil paintings, sketches by Heřman Němeček and Kamil Cipra, Bartoš's painting Serbia 1915–16, and recruitment posters by Jaroslav Malý. Volné směry emphasized “the excellent watercolours, skilfully executed in robust, rich colours” by Jindřich Vlček (Baikal Mountains around Berezovka, Yekaterinburg Train Station, Embroidering Girl, Siberian Motifs, Old Yekaterinburg, Plowmen), “purely pictorial and spontaneous watercolours” by Otto Matoušek (City of Belgorad, Dugouts, Borispol), works by Jan Pašek (A Desperate Rest) and “exceptionally high-quality posters” by Vojtěch Preissig [L. Š. 1919]. Josef Richard Marek, too, devoted a detailed review to all of the aforementioned artists, noting the strong impression that the show made on the viewers, but also acknowledging that these kinds of works were difficult to evaluate [Klička 2015, p. 82, note 292].

Archival documents show that the exhibition was originally planned to encompass more artworks, including images from expeditions to international battlefields. This is evident from the letter the Museum of Resistance sent to President Masaryk in August 1919 [Klička 2015, p. 76, note 264]. It remains unclear why these paintings did not appear at the exhibition. The artistic observations of legionnaire artists were then presented at separate exhibitions at the Belvedere in 1920 (cf. the text about the exhibition Images of Battlefields) and Municipal House/Clementinum in the spring 1921 (cf. the text about exhibition Russian Legionnaire Artists). We may assume that because of the speedy preparation of Our Resistance, there was not enough time to organize their presentation.

The exhibition was a success. In association with Masaryk's second visit on December 19, newspapers informed the public that Our Resistance had welcomed 30,000 visitors over the course of almost two months when it was open [Anonym 1919b; Anonym 1919c]. Because of its great popularity, the organizers decided to extend it until mid-January 1920. In the first half of March 1920, the exhibition was repeated, probably in a smaller scope, in the city of Moravská Ostrava and again, the profit went to orphans [Klička 2015, p. 83].

According to the organizers' statement, the exhibition aimed to “pay tribute to foreign liberation activi-ties” [Masaryk – Vořech 1919, p. 5]. Its main goal was to introduce the broader public to the conditions in which the Czechoslovak legions lived during the war, the everyday life of soldiers at the base, negotiations with authorities, the journey back home and, above all, the promotion of the Czechoslovak state idea abroad, an activity that played an important role in the founding of the new republic. The catalogue was written in a strongly ideological tone. The exhibition architecture, too, was undoubtedly designed to evoke an emotional response in the viewer by, for example, including a room where the public could pay homage to the memory of the fallen soldiers. Národní listy wrote that “...the exhibition makes a beautiful impression because of its thoughtful, solemn design and valuable content...” [Anonymous author 1919a]. Čeněk Vořech, the exhibition designer, referred to the exhibition as a sanctuary of sorts [Masaryk – Vořech 1919, p. 5]. The show featured both artistic and non-artistic artifacts. Because it was reviewed by Vladislav Vančura and Volné směry, its importance appears to have been primarily cultural-historical. Yet the material exhibited was also valuable from an artistic point of view, although closer study is difficult due to the catalogue’s fragmentary language and the reviewers’ brief reports.

Works cited

Anonymous author 1919a: Anonymous author, Slavnostní otevření výstavy „Náš odboj“, Národní listy LIX, 1919, no. 255, 30. 10., p. 3

Anonymous author 1919b: Anonymous author, Náš odboj, Venkov XIV, 1919, no. 255, 30. 10., p. 7

Anonymous author 1919c: Anonymous author, Pan prezident Masaryk …, Národní politika XXXVII, 1919, no. 349, 21. 12., p. 4   

E. V. 1919: E. V., Náš odboj, Nová doba XXV, 1919, no. 300, 31. 10., p. 6   

Klička 2014: Tomáš Klička, Pozdrav z fronty, Art and Antiques, 2014, no. 7+8, pp. 4–5

Klička 2015: Tomáš Klička, Výstavní prezentace legionářského umění v období první republiky (thesis), Vysoká škola uměleckoprůmyslová, Praha 2015, pp. 76–83

L. Š. 1919: L. Š., Náš odboj, Volné směry XX, 1919, no. 1, p. 76

Masaryk – Vořech 1919: Tomáš Garrique Masaryk – Čenek Vořech, Náš odboj (exhib. cat.), Praha 1919

Further reading

Zdeněk Hrabák – Břetislav Bartoš, Malíř hlubokého člověčenství – nesystematický komentář k no-vému přírůstku do sbírky plakátů Severočeského muzea v Liberci, in: Sborník severočeského muzea Historia XIII, Liberec 2013, pp. 53–54

Anonymous author, Příručka československého legionáře, no. 1, Praha 1921, p. 358

Archival sources

Central Military Archives, fonds Památník oboje, file 1, inv. no. 41

Central Military Archives, fonds Památník osvobození, file 1, inv. no. 48 and 113, file 2, inv. no. 153

Exhibiting authors
Our Resistance
Technique: paper, multi-colour lithograph, 85 x 140 cm
Owner: North Bohemian Museum Liberec

Náš odboj


Publisher: Grafia

Place and year of publication: Praha 1919

Author/s of the introduction:Garrigue Masaryk Tomáš
Reviews in the press

anonymous author, Náš odboj, Venkov XIV, 1919, no. 255, 30. 10., p. 7


anonymous author, Slavnostní otevření výstavy „Náš odboj“, Národní listy LIX, 1919, no. 255, 30. 10., p. 3


E. V., Náš odboj, Nová doba XXV, 1919, no. 300, 31. 10., p. 6


L. Š., Náš odboj, Volné směry XX, 1919, no. 1, p. 76


Vladislav Vančura, Náš Odboj, in: Milan Blahynka – Štěpán Vlašín, Řád nové tvorby. Vladislav Vančura, Prague 1972, pp. 218–219

Views of the exhibition

From the exhibition Our Reistance in Prague's Municipal House

Entrance to the exhibition in Prague's Municipal House


Český Svět XVI, 1919, no. 11, 21. 11., p. 186

From the exhibition Our Reistance in Prague's Municipal House

Entrance to the hall devoted to the memory of the fallen soldiers


Český Svět XVI, 1919, no. 11, 21. 11., p. 186

From the exhibition Our Reistance in Prague's Municipal House

Central hall featuring the legionnaires' flags and the paining For Freedom by Břetislav Bartoš


Český Svět XVI, 1919, no. 11, 21. 11., p. 186

From the exhibition Our Reistance in Prague's Municipal House

From the Italian section of the exhibition “Our Resistance”: Puppet theatre from the Italian front and a Czech Nativity scene, carved and painted by Czech legionnaires in Italy


Český Svět XVI, 1919, no. 11, 21. 11., p. 187

From the exhibition Our Reistance in Prague's Municipal House

From the Russian section of the exhibition “Our Resistance”: An Orthodox altar of the Old Troopers


Český Svět XVI, 1919, no. 11, 21. 11., p. 187

Brief notes about the exhibition

Josef Richard Marek, Památka na válku, Venkov XV, 1920, no. 174, 25. 7., p. 3

Anonymous author, Pan prezident Masaryk …, Národní politika XXXVII, 1919, no. 349, 21. 12., p. 4

Anonymous author, Pan president T. G. Masaryk …, Venkov XIV, 1919, no. 298, 21. 12., p. 6

Anonymous author, Sdružení agrárních akademiků…, Venkov XIV, 1919, no. 288, 10. 12., p. 12

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