„Italský žánr“ Leopolda Pollaka a jeho pražské přijetí
LEOPOLD POLLAK’S “ITALIAN GENRE PAINTINGS” AND ITS RECEPTION IN PRAGUE
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This article refers about painter Leopold Pollak (1806–1880), a native of Bohemia and Roman resident, and it primarily focuses on Pollak’s most significant work — the “Italian Genre Paintings.“ At the time, Italian Genre Paintings was a rather popular form of art across Europe, and Pollak would introduce this style to the people of Prague at annual expositions organized by the local art society Krasoumná jednota pro Čechy. The article uses information now available — still largely scattered in various sources — pertaining to Pollak’s work. Therefore, this text looks to information about Pollak’s art in private collections and galleries, but it also makes use of contemporary publications that covered the public’s reaction to Pollak’s paintings. To best analyze the reception of Pollak’s art in Prague, this article first touches on the following two issues: the specifics and concise history of Italian Genre Paintings in the mid-nineteenth century with an emphasis on the cultural environment in France; and the reception of painted italics and the Italian Genre Paintings at annual art exhibitions in Prague during Pollak’s time. The text then discusses the career of Leopold Pollak, him being the only true Italian genre specialist among painters hailing from Bohemia. The contemporary publications covering the public’s reaction to the paintings Pollak would send to Prague from Italy between 1835 and 1856 (or rather 1869) are also examined. The reception in Prague was at its warmest in the late 1830s and in the 1840s, but cooled down in the mid-nineteenth century. The contemporary publications are compared with Pollak’s works known from public collections and art auctions. The article concludes that Pollak’s oeuvre was at its best during the peak of the Italian Genre Paintings across Europe. Pollak, a pioneer of the genre in Prague, enriched the painting style by adding a new dimension with the local Prague audience in mind.
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