Jubilees of Josef Lada - artist, storyteller, author of illustrations for "Schweik" are celebrated in Prague

In the famous Prague Dancing House there is an exhibition of works by Josef Lada, - the Czechs celebrate the 130th anniversary of the birth and the 60th anniversary of the death of the national pet. The largest exhibition in the last 10 years has collected more than 400 works from collections of eight museums, galleries and private collections. The exposition presents Josef Lada in all his artistic roles - as an artist, writer, illustrator, cartoonist and set designer.The exhibition is called "Sevens of Joseph Lada": the artist was born in 1887, and left him three days before his 70th anniversary, in 1957.Christmas TreeJosef Lada1955The White Soldier Schweik and the cat Mikesh are the most famous painted heroes of Joseph Lada, but you can see not only them at the exhibition. For example, in his works the artist often turned to the Christmas theme. The plots of the works are well known: the wonderful news of the birth of the Savior - Jesus, the worship of the Infant, the arrival of the Three Kings ... And on the eve of the much-loved children Mikulas (Nikolai) comes with his retinue - the Angel and the devil. In the book of good and bad deeds, which is always with him, he gives obedient children gifts - candy, nuts, fruit, and harmful - coal and potatoes, they are in a big bag of features, threateningly shaking an iron chain and scaring naughty kids. Angel stands up for the kids.Christ was bornJosef Lada1948Animals at Christ's MangerJosef Lada1931He was bornYozef Lada1926Three KingsJosef Lada1955Saint Mikulas, angel and devilJozef Lada1940Saint Mikulas, the angel and the devilJosef Lada1948Josef Lada often depicted an ancient village of the XIII century near Prague, where the artist was born on December 17, 1887. Josef was the fourth, youngest child in the family of a shoemaker. Fun always reigned at home: his father was a famous prankster of the whole neighborhood, he was invited to all the weddings, and his mother was a narrator of wonderful tales. Yosef later said that "he lived for 15 happiest years in Grušice, where he grazed geese and goats, built dams on streams, caught crayfish and tore at someone else’s pears." Children's memories will later present many ideas for his paintings and literary works. From childhood, the boy dreamed of becoming an artist, and he was not stopped by the trauma he received at the age of two: due to an accident, Joseph went blind in one eye.SnegYozef Lada1942, 38 × 60 cmWinter in GrusiceJosef Lada1952Photos of the exhibition. Source: in winterYozef Lada1955

The first teacher of drawing Lada became the parish priest and passionate amateur painter Josef Ruzicka. Josef studied in Prague for a master in the production of theatrical scenery, then in the bookbinding workshop, drawing courses followed, and finally, the School of Industrial Art. However, he did not graduate from it, the academic system was not to the student’s liking. However, the absence of classical education did not prevent Joseph Lade from becoming not only a favorite artist in his native Czech Republic, but also a world celebrity.
Joseph Lada. Photo: Gallery "Dancing House"

On a quiet evening at the statue of St.Josef Lada1944

Joseph Lada stayed in Prague, continued self-education, worked as an illustrator and cartoonist in magazines. His satirical drawings became more and more popular among readers. Their main theme was the order and bureaucracy of the Habsburg monarchy, as well as the daily life of citizens.
Joseph Lada "Spanking", 1911. Photo source:
Gallery "Dancing House"

A fight in a tavern by Josef Lada1943PabJosef Lada1933In 1911, Joseph Lada published his first book for children, My Alphabet. This alphabet will be accompanied by many generations of Czech first-graders. In the 1920s-1930s, Josef Lada already became a famous artist. He presented his works at the Exhibition of Decorative Art in Paris, published the first volume of the book “A Lada's Funny Textbook”, in 1926 organized the first solo exhibition in Prague. Orders went one after another. Since then, he no longer knew the need - a constant companion in his younger years.EasterJosef Lada1938A series of illustrations to the novel about the brave soldier Schweik occupies a special place in the work of Lada. With his author, the future classic of Czech literature, Jaroslav Hasek, Lada became friends in 1907. Together they worked in the magazine "Nettle", and in 1913-1915 they lived together in the bachelor apartment of Lada in Prague.Joseph Lada. Illustration to the novel “The Adventures of the Good Soldier Schweik” Many researchers of the work agree that the appearance of Schweik is a man-made monument of the Lada to the author of the brave soldier Schweik. This assumption coincides with the memories of Joseph Lada of his friend:
“I met Jaroslav Hasek in 1907. This acquaintance gave me great joy. But I didn’t like the appearance of Hasek, honestly. I imagined the author, who was already well-known for his feuilletons, quite differently: it seemed to me that he should be older, that his face was more expressive than it actually was. In vain I looked for the usual features of a satirist: instead of a predatory nose, thin lips, a malicious look, I saw a round, half-childish face. Hasek was more like a son from a good family who doesn’t like too much to puzzle over various problems. The bezborodaya, ingenuous physiognomy, sincere eyes — everything looked more like a simple-minded first grader, and not a brilliant satirist. But as soon as Hasek spoke, the impression immediately changed. And soon I was convinced that he was on his mind. "

In 1921, Hasek asked a friend to draw a cover for his book The Adventures of the Good Soldier Schweik. As a result, Josef Lada created more than 500 illustrations. Interesting fact: Hasek never saw Schweik as we know him. The first one, invented and drawn in 1922, Schweik looked like a slim, provincial simpleton, and the ever-smiling, plump man with a round head and bulging ears appeared after Hasek’s death in 1924. This image became canonical, it is familiar to millions of readers.

Joseph Lada. Illustrations to J. Hasek's novel “The Adventures of the Good Soldier Švejk” Lada was also a famous storyteller, his works are unusual, naughty: “Fun is half the health, says an old Czech proverb, and we should be guided by it,” he said. Joseph Lada became one of the founders of the so-called modern Czech fairy tale. He wrote “Naughty Tales” - a collection of fairy tales resembling classic fairy tales, but in which everything happens “the opposite”. Thus, the princesses themselves have to save the ungodly youngsters to wherever they are and give balls to find their betrothed from the shoemaker left in a hurry; the king runs to Gonza, who lies on the stove, begs him to marry the princess and take over half the kingdom; and instead of the seven dwarfs, the princess falls to seven thieves, whom she begins to reeducate.Children's books of Lada caused such interest among young readers that they came to him in crowds and told about their impressions, and even gave advice - to draw a fox more red, or they asked to save the sheep waiting for the wolf with a knife, and then the obedient artist cleaned the wolf . Lada believed that the child more sensitively perceives injustice, offense and expects a happy ending of the story. Therefore, the artist always listened to the children, for him the advice of the children was more important than the opinions of adults. He knew a lot about the children's world of fiction and fantasy.Joseph Lada. Illustration for the fairy tale “The Cat Mikesh” The most famous literary works of Lada are the fairy tales “The Cat Mikesh” and “The Tale of the Sly Fox Girl”, which were translated into Russian, Serbian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean. Many of his works, such as “Kot Mikesh”, “The Fox”, “Naughty Tales”, later appeared on television screens in the form of animated films.
Now in Grušice there is a museum of the artist. There you can see an old friend of the cat Mikesh and a piglet Pashik, who learned to speak and kept a diet all his life to avoid the “sausage” finale.Joseph Lada. The cover of the book “On the Sly Lime of the Fox” by Joseph Lada died on December 14, 1957, three days before his 70th anniversary. Farewell to the artist took place in the Prague House of Artists. One of his friends wrote: “Why these sorrowful condolences? I am sure that Lada was called to the sky to draw a real Nativity scene there ... ”.ChristmasJosef Lada1938The exhibition of the Sevens of Joseph Lada in the Gallery “Dancing House” in Prague is open until April 1, 2018.Arthiv: read us in the Telegram and see on Instagram
Title illustration: Joseph Lada "Winter", 1948