Databáze uměleckých výstav v českých zemích 1820 – 1950

Antonín Slavíček and others (14th exhibition of SVU Mánes)

Date:26. November 1904 – 8. January 1905

Place: Prague, The Mánes Pavilion in the Kinský Garden

Organizer:Mánes Fine Arts Association


The 14th exhibition of the Mánes Fine Arts Association presented the work of the painter Antonín Slavíček along with four sculptors: Bohumil Kafka, Josef Mařatka, Stanislav Sucharda and Ladislav Šaloun. This list of names alone generated high expectations for the exhibition, as these were all well established artists. 

The show can be considered Slavíček’s first solo exhibition. Although his paintings were accompanied by works of other artists, 66 of 94 artworks at the exhibition were his. The press referred to this event as “the Slavíček show,” further underlining the painter’s prominence at the exhibition. Slavíček first presented his work at the Jubilee Exhibition in Prague in 1891 and since then he had been actively exhibiting – mainly within the Mánes Association, but also on other occasions.

The importance of this show is evident in comparison with other exhibitions at the time, whether Mánes members’ exhibitions or others. The press particularly appreciated the show’s focus on one main artistic personality. In contrast, reviewers criticized Mánes’s 12th spring exhibition and Krasoumná jednota’s 65th exhibition in Rudolfinum, both held that same year, for being overly extensive. This, according to the critics, tired the visitor without giving the artists enough space to display the full scope of their work. For instance, the sculptor Ladislav Šaloun received relatively unfavourable reviews for his works at Mánes’s 12th spring exhibition, but the Slavíček show presented his works in a different light. 

The installation was received positively. The Mánes pavilion in the Kinsky Garden, where the show took place, was turned into an intimate space [Jiřík 1905, p. 206] with dark walls featuring simple designs and – typical of Mánes’s exhibitions – fresh flowers. In line with Mánes' new exhibition practices, the paintings were hung in a single line, probably at the viewer's eye level, with a relatively large space between them. The sculptures were either in corners or in the middle of the room, so they could be viewed from all sides. Most of them stood freely on plinths, while some were placed in vitrines. The Mánes archive contains a record saying that Josef Mařatka requested his studies to be installed in a place where they could be seen from all sides, and that he also asked for four vitrines. This suggests that the artist co-created the installation, which is valuable information as we do not know who designed the overall exhibition layout. It is possible that the artists themselves played a larger role in this than has been known so far. 

The exhibition’s opening piece – Slavíček’s oil painting Autumn from 1903 – is considered his first independent artwork after completing his academic training with Julius Mařák [M. 1905, pp. 106–107]. Oil paintings, complemented by tempera paintings and pastels, formed the majority of the show. According to the catalogue, which likely traces the actual arrangement of the artworks at the exhibition, the paintings were not hung in chronological order. Rather, they were arranged in carefully selected groups based on Slavíček’s artistic evolution. The exhibition thus featured works from the three periods of Slavíček’s oeuvre between 1896 and 1904: “melancholy of the land, birch grove and autumn,” followed by “red roofs rejoicing in the sun,” and finally the period in which his works transitioned into a “more temperate, balanced and polyphonic harmony” [T. 1904–1905, pp. 223–224].

Slavíček’s melancholy landscapes created interesting juxtapositions with the sculptures, which served as the exhibition’s figural component. They were largely small studies, such as Mařatka’s figural compositions reflecting his training in August Rodin’s studio between 1901 and 1904 [Masaryková 1958, p. 24], and the diverse plaster, clay and bronze works by the other three sculptors. The most well-known of these works include Šaloun’s Rübezahl, whose stone version is now in the Smetana Gardens in Hořice, and Bohumil Kafka’s plaster study for Portrait of Dr. V. P. The reviewers emphasized that the sculptures were not mere accompaniments to Slavíček’s paintings, but high-quality artworks deserving of their own exhibition [R. O. 1904–1905, pp. 256–258].

The exhibition was relatively well attended. The archive contains records of school visits; for example, the Comenius Teachers’ Union wrote that they were planning a group visit of 20-30 people to the Slavíček show and was hoping that one of the organizers might help "reveal the full beauty of Slavíček's extraordinary art." In a second letter, they specifically asked if Slavíček himself would give them a guided tour. The Slovenian Engineers Association was also planning a group visit and another record mentions a school expedition of approximately 20 pupils.

The reviewers believed the exhibition was excellent in quality, even one of the most beautiful that the Mánes Association had organized to date [Mádl 1904, p. 13]. They also mention that very few of the Mánes exhibitions had enjoyed as much genuine popularity and was received with as much spontaneous admiration as the Slavíček show [R. O. 1904–1905 pp. 256–258]. The catalogue designed by Hugo Böttinger received similarly positive reviews. Critics particularly appreciated that rather than using dark reproductions of paintings, he made graphic prints of some of Slavíček’s works [R. O. 1904–1905 pp. 256–258].

This was a sales show, with Slavíček’s oil paintings being the most expensive works there: the painting In Kameničky, on sale for 5,000 CZK, was the costliest, followed by oil paintings Highland Motifs (1903, 3200 CZK) and Road (1903, 2000 CZK). The prices of Slavíček's works ranged from hundreds to thousands of crowns, and the sculptures from hundreds of crowns. In the end, five works were sold (No. 15 Morning, No. 37 Fog, No. 42 Kouty, No. 43 Clouds and No. 49 Kameničky Skizza). All these paintings were new, painted in 1904. Most of them were purchased by private collectors; for example, Jaroslav Goll bought Morning, while the painting Clouds was purchased by the Modern Gallery. 

Thanks to the Mánes Association archive we have information about who loaned the paintings for the exhibition. There are a few letters from private collectors agreeing to lend their Slavíček paintings to the show. Slavíček himself also provided some of the artworks, as did the exhibiting sculptors. For example, Ladislav Šaloun requested that the Association send someone with a stretcher to pick up sculptures for the exhibition at his studio. 

The Slavíček show was the second in 1904 to have focused on a single artist. At the beginning of the year, Mánes organized the exhibition of Joža Uprka, which was similarly well received. Slavíček's exhibition marked the beginning of his considerable popularity. It was followed by his posthumous exhibition in 1910. From then on, a Slavíček show was organized roughly every ten years, attesting to the artist’s significance in the history of Czech art. 

Karolína Lapešová

Works Cited

Jiřík 1905: František Xaver Jiřík, XIV. výstava „Mánesa“, Zvon: týdenník belletristický a literární V, 1905, no. 13, p. 206

M. 1905: M., Ant. Slavíček, Zlatá Praha XXII., 1905, no. 9, 16. 12., pp. 106–107

Masaryková 1958: Anna Masaryková, Josef Mařatka. Praha 1958

Mádl 1904: Karel Boromejský Mádl, Výstava A. Slavíčka, Národní listy XLIV, 1904, no. 342, 11. 12., p. 13

R. O. 1904–1905: R. O., XIV. výstava „Mánesa“, Přehled: týdenník věnovaný veřejným otázkám III, 1904–1905, no. 14, 31. 12., pp. 256–258

T. 1904–1905: T., XIV. výstava „Mánesova“, Naše doba: revue pro vědu, umění a život sociální XII, 1904–1905, pp. 220–225

Further Reading

Jan Marius Tomeš, Antonín Slavíček, Praha 1966, pp. 155–257
Roman Prahl, Antonín Slavíček 1870–1910, Praha 2004, pp. 17–137

Archival Sources

City of Prague Archives, Fonds Spolek výtvarných umělců Mánes, Výstavní činnost [Mánes Fine Arts Association, Exhibitions], A. Slavíček. St. Sucharda, Lad. Šaloun, B. Kafka, J. Mařatka (20. 11. 1904 – 8. 1. 1905), link at:

Exhibiting authors
Antonín Slavíček and others (14th exhibition of SVU Mánes)
Technique: paper, lithograph, 110 x 79 cm
Owner: oravian Gallery in Brno

„Manes“ XIV. exhibition


Publisher: Dr. Eduard Grégr a syn

Place and year of publication: Praha 1904


Reviews in the press
Jiřík František Xaver

František Xaver Jiřík, XIV. výstava „Mánesa“, Zvon: týdenník belletristický a literární V, 1905, no. 13, p. 206

Mádl Karel Boromejský

M. [Karel Boromejský Mádl], Ant. Slavíček, Zlatá Praha XXII, 1905, no. 9, 16. 12., pp. 106–107

Mádl Karel Boromejský

Karel Boromejský Mádl, Výstava A. Slavíčka, Národní listy XLIV, 1904, no. 342, 11. 12., p. 13


R. O., XIV. výstava „Mánesa“, Přehled: týdenník věnovaný veřejným otázkám III, 1904–1905, no. 14, 31. 12., pp. 256–258


T., XIV. Výstava „Mánesova“, Naše doba: revue pro vědu, umění a život sociální XII, 1904–1905, pp. 223–224

Views of the exhibition

14th exhibition of the Mánes Fine Arts Association 1904, view of the exhibition hall

front: Ladislav Šaloun, Decorative Statuette

in the corner: Ladislav Šaloun, Study

from the left: paintings by Antonín Slavíček, Cow in the Forest, To the Fields, Village.


Volné směry: měsíčník umělecký IX, 1905 no. 1, p. 63

14th exhibition of the Mánes Fine Arts Association 1904, view of the exhibition hall

front: Josef Mařatka, 4 studies

from the left: paintings by Antonín Slavíček, Small Village, At a Fish Pond, Evening, A June Day.


Volné směry: měsíčník umělecký IX, 1905 no. 1, p. 64

14th exhibition of the Mánes Fine Arts Association 1904, view of the exhibition hall

in the background Bohumil Kafka, Portrait of Dr. V. P.

from the left: paintings by Antonín Slavíček, Podraz, Hill, Popies, In Kameničky.


Volné směry: měsíčník umělecký IX, 1905 no. 1, p. 62

Brief notes about the exhibition

Anonymous author, rubric Výstavy, Národní listy XLV, 1905, no. 8, 8. 1., p. 3

Arne Novak, Výtvarné umění v Čechách v roce 1904, Nová česká revue: měsíčník pro sociální život, vědu a umění II, 1905, no. 3, p. 199

Anonymous author, Volné směry: měsíčník umělecký IX, 1905, no. 1, p. 37

Anonymous author, Zlatá Praha XXII, 1904–1905, no. 14, 20. 1., p. 168


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