Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Czech Republic 2016
The Tradition of Czech Stamp Production - Karel Svolinsky

COUNTRY: Czech Republic
ISSUE DATE: 20 January 2016
STAMP SIZE: 40 x 23 mm
 STAMP DESIGN: Zdeněk Netopil

Portrait of Karel Svolinský based on a photograph (made by Tomáš Vosolsobě about 1977) provided by the Postal Museum. The stamp also includes a collage of fragments from book illustrations (Czech Year, Plants, about 1948) and a postage stamp (Moravia - Těšínsko Region, 1947).

Karel Svolinský (14 January 1896, Svatý Kopeček u Olomouce – 16 September 1986, Prague) was a leading Czech painter, graphic artist, illustrator, typographer and letter designer, stage designer, and university teacher.

From 1910-1916, he trained as a carver in Prague. From 1919, he continued his studies at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. He studied painting and graphic design with Štěpán Zálešák (1919-1921) and sculpting with Bohumil Kafka (1921). After suffering an injury, he focused mainly on graphic design and murals, which he studied with František Kysela from 1922-1927. From 1945, he worked as the head of the Special Department of Applied Graphic Art at the Academy.

The focus of his work was on drawing inspired by folk traditions, costumes, and nature. Other areas of his work included graphic art and design (book plates, posters, banknotes, stamps) using experimental graphic techniques. Due to his training as a carver, his typical graphic techniques were wood engraving and wood carving. He was also an outstanding book designer and illustrator. He designed tapestries and was a successful stage designer. He is best known as the designer of several monumental works: the stained-glass window of the Schwarzenberg chapel in St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague (1930-1931), and a new design of the Astronomical Clock in Olomouc in the style of socialist realism (sculptor Olbram Zoubek contributed to the creation of the figures in collaboration with Svolinský’s wife Marie).

Svolinský worked as a stage designer from 1940 when he was invited by conductor Václav Talich to create the set for Dvořák’s opera The Jacobin in the National Theatre. He was invited as a guest stage designer mainly for Czech opera sets in Prague, the State Theatre in Brno, Olomouc, Plzeň and other cities. He was also invited to design the set for Janáček’s Jenůfa in the Vienna State Opera in 1968.

Svolinský illustrated many books, such as Karel Plicka and Frantisek Volf’s Czech Year published in four volumes in 1944-1960, and covers for musical scores by e.g. Bedřich Smetana, Leoš Janáček, Zdeněk Fibich. His commemorative edition of Mácha’s romantic poem Máj, with Svolinský’s original lettering and many illustrations, was displayed at the International Decorative Art Exhibition in Paris, 1925. After its success, he published his font Wenceslas with the English company Monotype in 1933. He also designed posters, postage stamps, book plates, banknotes and created numerous stained-glass windows, mosaics and glass paintings. From 1935, Svolinský was a member of the association of artists “Mánes” and an honorary member of the association of Czech graphic artists “Hollar”. He carried on the legacy of the tradition of Mánes and Aleš in Czech visual arts.

Stamp image and description thanks to Česká pošta