Czech-born artist dies in UK

A prominent Czech-born artist has died in Britain. The sculptor Frantisek Belsky died on Wednesday in Oxfordshire of prostate cancer. Libor Kubik has the details.

The Czech-born sculptor Frantisek Belsky, who died at the age of 79, had spent most of his life in England. He was better known as Franta Belsky -- and he created sculptures of four generations of the British royal family.

Buckingham Palace said on Thursday that the Queen, whose bronze bust, sculpted by Franta Belsky in 1981, graces the National Portrait Library in London, was greatly saddened by the demise of the prominent artist.

The first member of the Royal family to sit for Franta Belsky almost 40 years ago was the Queen Mother. He is also the author of the London monument of the Queen's cousin, Lord Mountbatten, who was assassinated by the IRA 20 years ago.

Belsky also sculpted the bust of Sir Winston Churchill outside the British Embassy in Prague, and the memorial to Czech and Slovak RAF pilots killed in the Battle of Britain and during World War Two.

A former artillery man, Franta Belsky is also the author of the Cholmondeley Park Military Monument in Cheshire, where Czech and Slovak soldiers formed combat units after escaping from Nazi-occupied France to Britain.

In London, Franta Belsky studied sculpture at the Central School of Arts and Crafts and the Royal College of Art. He was president of the British Association of Portrait Sculptors. His successor, Anthony Stones, described Belsky as one of the most important sculptors in Britain's post-war history.

Last year, he was awarded President Havel's Silver Memorial Medal.

Author: Libor Kubík
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