The Stamp Gallery of Czech and Slovak Graphic Art


© Gerhard Batz, 1998-2001

Very few collectors of postage stamps would know that already 25 years before the founding of an independent Czechoslovak state the work of a Czech artist was depicted on an US stamp from 1893 - the painting "Columbus soliciting aid of Isabella" by the well-known Czech painter Václav Brožík. More about this historical stamp issue can be read in an extensive article by me on another internet site in German, English and Czech.

The postage authorities of Czechoslovakia and the modern Czech Republic and Slovakia, too, have always dealt with depicting fine art on stamps. This is shown by a great number of series with works of art.

The best known of these rows with art stamps is an annual series which is called "umění" (art) at the end of every stamp year in November. Many stamps shown on the pages of this website are from this series.

Art on stamps in Czechoslovakia, Czech Republic and Slovakia doesn't mean a photographically exact reduction of the work of art on the smaller format of a stamp, but a completely autonomous transformation by the engraver with a particular character and interpretation of the work. Therefore, it is by all means necessary to mention the name of the engraver concerned. It is also high interesting to compare the engraver's transposition onto a stamp to the original work of the artist. Because I wasn't allowed to show originals of the picture for purposes of comparing, I can only recommend you to try to make a comparison if you see the picture in a museum or in other places, e.g. in books or as copies. The "umění" series has been heavily formed by members of the HOLLAR association of the Czech print artists and started in 1966 with the picture "Jaro" (spring) by the great Bohemian engraver Václav Hollar whose name the association has chosen for itself.

The Czech Republic and Slovakia are continuing with this tradition. While in the former Czechoslovakia usually five works of art were issued, the successor states issue two or three works every year. As a rule, Czech and Slovak artists are honored by a stamp, but often also international ones like Picasso, Rubens or El Greco or some from the German language countries like Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach or modern painters like Max Ernst. Because of the common cultural tradition of Germans and Czechs in the Bohemian lands, it is hard to draw an exact separation line between Czech and German artists. You will find a complete list (only in German language) of the more than 100 works of art which have been issued on stamps within the "umění" series until today by clicking on the link.

Besides the "umění" series, there were and there are further rows with art stamps which should be mentioned here. A list with all stamps of these rows can also be reached by clicking on the link above. First of all, the series which were annually issued and existed over a longer period should be mentioned: the series "Pražský Hrad" (The Prague Castle) - every year from 1965 until 1990, two stamps with motifs and works of art from the Prague Castle (hradčany) and the Slovak eqivalent "Bratislavské historické motivy" (Historical Motifs from Bratislava) - from 1977-1992. Preceeding these two rows, the series "Česká a slovenská grafika" (Czech and Slovak Graphic) has been issued from 1971-1974 and "Bratislavské gobeliny" (Wall Carpets from Bratislava) from 1974-1976.

It would take too much time if someone would try to present all art stamps and series of the Czechoslovak/ Czech/ Slovak post offices on this website, because there are still quite more than the ones which are mentioned above; for example rows with ships, horses, circus themes or hunt scenes on stamps. Moreover, many single art stamps or mini sheets showing paintings, graphics etc. have been issued in these countries. The many examples on the following pages have been selected according to my personal preferences, but they give a rather representative overview of the Czech/Slovak art stamps, because you will find examples from most of the series.

Regarding the introduced artists, above all, particularly those artists are shown on the following pages who had a great influence on the development of the Czech/Slovak fine art, especially the graphic art, and in this way - directly or indirectly - also a great influence on the special way of stamp creating and producing in Czechoslovakia. Artists belonging to this group should be mentioned here: Hollar, Mánes, Aleš, Lada, Preissig and others. A second group of artists are such painters, graphic artists etc., who, as renowned artists of the country, occasionally designed stamps for the post office. To this group, of course, Alfons Mucha belongs, but also artists like Tichý, Alexy, Lhoták, Hoffmeister, Gross or Hudeček. In any case, the introduced artist was honored by a stamp, either by issuing one of his works of art on a stamp or by issuing a commemorative stamp with the artist's portrait. I tried to illustrate these pages exclusively with such stamps and not by other pictures.

Now follow the grey arrows to make a tour through the English part of this gallery. After finishing this tour you will come back to this site. Then you should go to the German starting page of the "Artists" section by clicking on the "Artists" button below, where you will have access to another 17 pages with Czech and Slovak artists (in German). You also should visit the introduction pages of the other departments in this gallery by clicking on one of the buttons at the top of this page. These introduction pages are bi-lingual (German and English) and lead to many stamp and biography pages which are in German language.

Václav Hollar
Mikoláš Aleš
Alfons Mucha
Josef Lada
Vojtěch Preissig
František Kupka
František Bílek
Koloman Sokol
Josef Liesler
(born 1912)
Max Švabinský
T. F. Šimon

Besides these outstanding Czechoslovak artists, I also have translated a part from the engravers section of this Gallery. So if you are interested to learn more about the turbulent life of one of the greatest engravers, who engraved Czechoslovak stamps, let me invite you to visit the section about the German born engraver

Karl Friedrich Wilhelm ("Karel") Seizinger


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