Jan Václav Mrkvička, Lazarky, 1902

GAVU – Opus magnum

11. 4.–23. 6. 2024

Curator Julie Jančárková

Czech painter Jan Václav Mrkvička (1856-1938) — whose first name became Ivan in Bulgaria — is regarded as one of the founders of modern Bulgarian art. He studied at the Prague Academy from 1873 to 1876, and then completed a stay at the Munich Academy. That period marked the beginning of the phenomenon of the Czech intelligentsia migrating to Bulgaria. And in 1882, Mrkvička went to teach drawing at the grammar school in Plovdiv. There he began to devote himself to genre painting and themes from folklore and the Bulgarian countryside. Later he moved to Sofia, where in 1896 the State Drawing School was opened, which he ran until 1909. In 1921, when the school was converted into an academy, he retired and returned to his homeland. For almost 40 years, his works contributed to the formation of the Bulgarian national identity after the end of Ottoman rule. This is evidenced by this painting, depicting female dancers — part of the folk customs on so-called Lazarus Saturday. This ancient Christian holiday was celebrated the day before Palm Sunday. The ceremonies also contained elements of the old Slavic fertility and prosperity cults. The Lazarus dance formed part of the female initiation rites representing the transition of a girl into an adult woman.

Jan Václav Mrkvička, Lazarky, 1902 -


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