Jan Zrzavý (1890 Okrouhlice – 1977 Prague)
A fan depicting a landscape with palm trees
Oil painting on birch veneer
The motif of a landscape with palm trees and soaring mountain peaks, which first appeared in the artist’s picture entitled The Valley of Sorrow in 1907, and the romantic moonlight reflected on the water’s surface, are typical features of Jan Zrzavý’s formative period, just as is his expressive brushwork. The artist’s pen-and-ink inscription: “Buddha: Birth is the beginning of suffering.” bears relation to his interest in Oriental and spiritual themes, which he drew from reading and studying Eastern religions, philosophies and theosophies and which were associated with his strong emotional feeling for the romanticism of the poet Julius Zeyer. The quotation on the reverse side of the fan: “Oh love, love, you bond the earth with the sky. In your pure, untarnished primal meaning!” is indicative of Zeyer’s influence on Zrzavý’s work.
The fan’s origin is linked to Čáslav, where Jan Zrzavý lived from 1907 to 1911, when he definitively moved to Prague. He painted the fan in 1909 for his favourite partner in the dance course he attended in Čáslav, Marie Čálková (whose later married name was Vohnická).
The fan was purchased with ISO funds (Integrated System for the Protection of Movable Heritage) provided by the Czech Ministry of Culture in 2008.