The Stamp Gallery of Czech and Slovak Graphic Art


born on November 18, 1852 in Mirotice
died on July 10, 1913 in Prague


Stamp issue of Czechoslovakia
date of issue: November 18, 1983
graphic arrangement: Jan Solpera
engraved by Josef Herčík

Indian ink drawing, Tempera on paper 143 x 280 cm
from the year 1881
Západočeská galerie (West Bohemian Gallery) Plzeň
The execution of the picture decorates the entrance hall of the Czech National Theatre at Prague

The final part of his cycle of pictures "Vlast" (Home), on which Morana, the god of death, shows the hero the way to the cemetery. The town Žalov is near Suchdol and has its name from an old funeral place in Levý Hradec from the age of the Premyslides.

The Czech painter Mikoláš Aleš was a master of indian ink drawing. He surely is the most popular artist of his country. In his pictures you find the life and the spirit of old Bohemia from the 19th century. His childhood, the family and the surrounding of the rural life in his native town in Bohemia have been the starting point and the roots of his work. Also the hussit tradition with his simplicity, modesty and concentration on the bible formed his character.

He was born on November 18, 1852 in Mirotice near Písek. There, he attended the elementary and secondary school until his mother's death in 1869. Then he moved to Prague where he started a study at the Academy of Fine Arts. In the conservative system of this academy he din't find any understanding for his artistic ideas. More than from his teachers at school, he learned from another great Czech artist - Josef Mánes. Aleš belongs to the so-called "first generation of the National Theatre". In taking part of a contest for the decoration of the new built Czech National Theatre at Prague, he created a cycle of pictures entitled "Vlast" (Home) which still today decorates the theatre. "Vlast" was the first highlight of his artistic career. He acquired great attentance and acknowledgement for this work in the public opinion, but also great bitterness because of the manifold intervention to the execution of the work by the jury of the contest which always mistrusted and admonished him.

Every year during the summer time, he returned to his native town and catched there the feeling of the rural life in pictures. In 1879 he travelled through Italy. After returning, he worked in seclusion in his small apartement at Prague, because he hadn't any own studio. From 1877 on, he belonged to the group of artists called "Umělecká beseda" and became honorary member since 1896. In 1887, he was co-founder of "SVU Mánes", the association of the fine art artists in Bohemia, and also its first chairman.

In Prague, Plzeň and other towns and cities of Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia he decorated houses by stucco pictures. At the end of his life, someone could count more than 5000 published pictures in magazines and books, on target butts, diploma documents, calendars, invitation-cards, playing-cards, birthday-cards and regular postal cards.

Mikoláš Aleš died on July 10, 1913 in Prague-Vinohrady and is buried on the Vyšehrad cemetery.