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  The Stamp Gallery of Czech and Slovak Graphic Art


1928: Czechoslovakia is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its existence. Karl Seizinger's contribution to this anniversary is a series of 10 stamps which also the depicted Masaryk portrait is part of.

TomᚠGarrigue Masaryk

(First president of Czechoslovakia)

first portrait stamp by Karl Seizinger
for Czechoslovakia

engraved on basis of a photograph
with help of Max Švabinskı
Oktober 22, 1928, MiNr. 275

When Seizinger started to work at the Prague National Bank, he found a scene for stamp and banknote engraving which was only developing. And it was inevitable that in his beginnings he had to meet the influential Max Švabinskı. This man had put a fundament for high level banknote graphics with support of the great Austrian engraver Ferdinand Schirnböck and one of the responsible person at the Austrian National Bank Johann Aufreiter. With his first attempts on stamps Švabinskı together with Eduard Karel had to gather bad experiences. This was probably the reason why he personally involved himself into stamp creating later and always looked for cooperation with highly skilled engravers, e.g. Karl Wolf and Jaroslav Goldschmied, in order to develop stamp engraving on steel plates to a perfect level.

However, Karl Seizinger seems to have disappointed the great master first. Švabinskı's reported statements about Seizinger are mostly critical or even negative. Certainly, he recognized Seizinger's above-average abilities in sketching, however he also immediately noticed that Seizinger had a preference and talent in engraving landscapes, while he had evidently great problems with portraits. And because Švabinskı himself was an excellent portrait artist (see his many portraits on Czechoslovak stamps), of course he wasn't content with this situation and he tried to change it. One statement by Švabinskı about Seizinger from this time (translated from Czech): "The National bank occupied Mr. Seizinger as its engraver, who also was my pupil at the Academy for some time. He had not any ability to construct a head, and so I personally worked with him, mostly on sunday morning, when we prepared the line drawing of a portrait of Dr. Rašina for the engraving of a banknote which wasn't issued later." As it looks, Švabinskı himself evidently gave personally "private lessons" or supervised himself Seizinger when he had to engrave portraits. And also Seizinger's three-year study at Švabinskı's special graphic school from 1924 on was probably arranged by the great master himself.

Anyhow, the attending of this school at the Lucerna passage in the center of Prague was quite unusual. Seizinger was noticeable there already because of his age - he was more than 10 years older than the rest of the students. Moreover, everyone knew, that he studied with a special approval by Švabinskı. And finally the special treatment of Seizinger was obvious and also, that he was the only German at this school. Although Seizinger's work often didn't correspond to the high claim of his teacher, he nevertheless was treated quite more indulgently than the other students. Apparently Švabinskı looked for someone like Seizinger, who was ready and able to transfer his ideas to engravings in an optimal manner - a craft which he himself wasn't able to. "You know, Seizinger, if I could engrave into steel ...", he often should have said (later he found this ideal partner in Jindra Schmidt). Nevertheless, more rather critical statements by Švabinskı resp. by his assistent Rambousek are known from this time (translated from Czech): "It was obvious that he had a talent for drawing, but his drawings seemed to me quite similar to craft, certainly it was rather specific, but it lacked - like Švabinskı expressed it - 'artistic'". This all only could mean that Švabinskı evidently trained Seizinger in order to make him to successor of his previous partners like Eduard Karel (stamps) or Ferdinand Schirnböck (banknotes) - both already in high age.

Sometime, however, Švabinskı must have recognized that he was probably not able to make Seizinger a perfect engraver of banknotes in his intention, or he took the opportunity to use Seizinger according to his abilities, when in 1926 it was possible to employ Seizinger with engraving landscape stamps. Maybe also Seizinger himself saw his chance to escape the dominant influence of Švabinskı. He quits his contract with the National Bank and engraved as a freelancer only stamps for the graphic institute Unie in the next years. But his weakness in engraving portraits remained. And so Seizinger engraved his very first portrait on stamp - the above depicted Masaryk portrait - with Švabinskı's support.

Altogether there are only 5 portraits among Seizinger's 60 Czechoslovak stamp motifs: two Masaryk, two Tyrš and one Smetana portrait - and it is said that he engraved the last two portraits according to patterns from his great rival Bohumil Heinz (more to this rivalry on one of the following pages). However, in the course of his professional life he obviously gathered more experience on this field, because among his 10 Croatian motifs nevertheless tehere are the half portraits. But altogether portrait engravings play only an extremely subordinated role in Seizinger's life's work.

Title Page * Introduction * Biography * Personality * Hildburghausen * Helsingfors *
Praha I * Praha II * Praha III * Praha IV * Praha V * Praha VI *
Belgrade * Zagreb * to be continued