Gabriel Max, The Readers of Fliegende Blätter, 1885

GAVU – Opus magnum

30. 6.–25. 9. 2022

Curated by Roman Musil, Aleš Filip

The painter Gabriel Max (1840–1915) was born into a prominent Prague family of sculptors. He studied in Prague, Vienna, and Munich, where he settled permanently and achieved considerable success. In 1879, he became professor at the Munich Academy, and in 1900, he was promoted to nobility. In his youth, he gained fame for his evocative paintings of Christian female martyrs but soon expanded his subject register to include history, genre, and portrait painting. He specialized in the so-called monkey genre, which reflects his predilection for monkey breeding and his abiding interest in natural science. During his life he built up an extensive natural history collection, focused primarily on human origins and containing skeletal remains of primates and human ancestors.

Although he came from a German-speaking family, the Czech environment perceived him as “our illustrious compatriot”. Collections throughout the Czech lands still hold many of his works, but paintings of monkeys are rare. The current presentation of his newly discovered canvas from a private collection that falls precisely into the monkey and animalistic genre category is all the more valuable. The Readers of Fliegende Blätter ranks among his most bizarre works. It features four species: monkeys, elephants, a lion, and an ostrich. The movers of the action are monkeys – an orangutan and two chimpanzees. They present the elephant family and the resting lion with the humoristic magazine Fliegende Blätter, in which the elephants and the lion look at depictions of themselves. On the horizon of an open sandy plain bathed in the warm sun, another chimpanzee wearing an opera hat is speeding, mounted on a grand ostrich.

Gabriel Max, The Readers of Fliegende Blätter, 1885 -
 

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