Thursday, December 20, 2012

Czech Christmas Artist Josef Lada


Hi Everyone,
Christmas is almost here, and Czech women (and at least one American wife married to a Czech!) are  busily cooking and baking in preparation for Christmas Day. I’ve baked several batches of cookies and have other holiday chores to do, but today, I would like to introduce you to a wonderful Czech artist, Josef Lada.

Background

Josef Lada was born in 1887 in a village near Prague called Hrusice. Lada was the fourth child of a shoemaker. As a baby he lost one of his eyes when he fell out of a cradle and landed onto a knife of his father’s. The loss of his eye didn’t slow Lada down one bit. Though his family was poor, he had very happy memories of Christmas after he grew up. He would later uses these memories to create wonderful Christmas paintings.


 In 1901, at the age of 17, Lada was sent to Prague to become an apprentice to a painting decorator and scenery painter. It was at this time that his first pictures were published in a magazine called Maj. In 1906, Lada attended the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague. He studied there for one year. During his studies he was introduced to a movement of anarchists and proletarians who were dissatisfied with the rule of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. During this time Lada became associated with politics and satirical caricatures.




Naïve Art
In the early 20th century, Lada developed a distinctive form of drawing that would be classified as Naïve Art. He focused on the village and country life from his earliest childhood memories. He had a happy childhood. His drawings are filled with the visages of village life, along with that of country people working on their fields. Lada also depicted many Czech holiday traditions in his paintings, such as the Easter pomlázka and Christmas carp being sold in the square.  

Lada’s works are simple, yet have bold lines with the use of primary colors. His works give you a warm, cozy feeling. You can’t help but smile when looking at his paintings.


While he was known for his political caricatures and satirical art, Lada is also fondly remembered for his children’s book illustrations, along with the children’s books he authored. In addition, Lada is known for his illustrations in The Good Soldier Švjek, by Jaroslav Hašek.

Svjek


Christmas Paintings

Czechs, including my husband, associate Christmas with Lada’s paintings, many of which have appeared on Christmas cards in this country for many, many years. His paintings even survived the Communist years, though at times Christian imagery was censored by the regime. 


All through this post you can see a few of Lada’s art works. Don’t they make you think of Christmas from a child’s eyes? And yet, if you take in all the imagery, you can see a depth of information in each picture. You can see the joy of children playing in the snow or looking with wonder at a Christmas tree through a window. There’s a father carrying home his family’s Christmas tree—you can feel the frost and cold he is experiencing. Then you can feel the coziness of a family’s Christmas celebration. Just tell me you can’t feel the warmth of that room, smell the Christmas feast and feel the joy! There’s even a picture of a carp being sold in the village square. It reminds me of Christmas here, in Prague, with the tubs of Christmas carp in the cold outside grocery stores and in markets around the city.


I wanted to share a few of Josef Lada’s Christmas paintings with you as we get ready for celebrating Christmas next week. I hope these paintings will give you as much joy and holiday spirit as they’ve given me.


I’d also like to wish you and yours a very wonderful Merry Christmas, and all the best in the coming New Year!

Before I go, here's a video showing some of Lada's paintings through the seasons.



Have a blessed Christmas,
Sher :0) 

2 comments:

Wanted Adventure said...

Love this post! Grew up in America in a Czech family, and these pictures brought me RIGHT back to my childhood :) I was the second generation born in America, and the first to leave it and move to Prague haha so my family's roots didn't remain in America for long!!

Wanted Adventure said...

Love this post! Grew up in America in a Czech family, and these pictures brought me RIGHT back to my childhood :) I was the second generation born in America, and the first to leave it and move to Prague haha so my family's roots didn't remain in America for long!!

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