Painter and engraver Max Švabinský born 150 years ago

Max Švabinský - Selfportrait

Valuable paintings, stained glass windows in Prague’s St. Vitus Cathedral, the first official portrait of President T. G. Masaryk and a series of postage stamps – these are just some of the works by Max Švabinský, one of the most important Czech painters of the last century.

Švabinský was born in September 1873 in Kroměříž. After graduating from high school in 1891, he was admitted to the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. His exceptional talent was already evident back then.

Max Švabinský: T. G. Masaryk,  1919 | Photo: Masaryk-Museum in Hodonín/e-Sbírky,  National Museum in Prague

His portraits, which captured many important personalities of his time, such as Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, Jan Neruda, Josef Mánes and Antonín Dvořák, became an essential part of his later work.

In addition to his paintings and prints, Švabinský became famous for three stained glass windows in St. Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle. He participated in the decoration of the Municipal House in Prague and designed some Czechoslovak banknotes and postage stamps.

Švabinský also devoted himself to teaching. In 1910 he was appointed professor at the Prague Academy of Fine Arts. He was also one of the founders of the Mánes Society of Artists and an important representative of the Hollar Association of Czech Graphic Artists.

Banknotes designed by Max Švabinský | Photo: Štěpánka Budková,  Radio Prague International

In 1945 he was named a national artist and also a Knight of the French Legion of Honour. He died in 1962 at the age of 89 and is buried at the Vyšehrad cemetery.

Author: Ruth Fraňková