Art has been produced in the region that makes up the modern-day Czech Republic in Central Europe for thousands of years.
The so-called “Venus of Dolní Věstonice” is a pottery artwork of a nude female figure that has been dated to between 29,000 and 25,000 B.C. which is quite astonishing.
Celtic Art was replaced by the common art produced in Germany and Austria during the Middle Ages. Many Gothic artworks were produced in the Czech lands between the 13th and 16th centuries.
Prague became an art center when it was the capital of the Holy Roman Empire and International Gothic was popular here.
When the Thirty Years War came to a conclusion and the Czech lands became under the control of the Habsburg rulers, the Baroque style was introduced.
This is reflected in both artworks produced during the 17th and 18th centuries and the Baroque architecture that became the dominant style of buildings in Prague.
The 19th century was defined by the National Revival, followed by the important Art Nouveau style and Cubism.
If you want to admire some of the most notable artworks that artists in the Czech lands have produced, then the Czech National Gallery in Prague is a great place to start.
In this article, you’ll discover some of the most famous Czech artists in history.
1. Master Theodoric
Master Theodoric (1328-1380) was a Gothic artist who was the first Bohemian painter that can be linked to a specific artwork. He was active in Prague and is best known for his work as the court painter of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor (1316-1378).
He was one of the most famous representatives of the International Gothic style during a period when many Czech and foreign artists worked in Prague. His most famous works are panel portraits of both saints and important people which hang at the Chapel of the Holy Cross at Karlštejn Castle, not too far from Prague.
2. Petr Brandl
Petr Brandl (1668-1734) was the most famous Baroque artist in the Czech lands in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. His father was German and his mother was Czech and was raised bilingual during a period when people in the Kingdom of Bohemia spoke both the German and Czech languages.
The style of his Baroque paintings was typical of the time as he produced monumental works of art full of drama and motion. He also integrated chiaroscuro, the light and shadow effect that became popular because of the paintings of Caravaggio. The National Gallery in Prague houses many of his artworks.
3. Alphonse Mucha
Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939) is arguably the most famous Czech artist in history. The Art Nouveau artist produced some of the most recognizable artworks in the world which define the Art Nouveau movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
He was a painter, illustrator, and graphic artist who lived in Paris during this period in history. His posters of the French actress Sarah Bernhardt are world-famous. Later in his career, he produced an equally famous cycle of paintings titled “The Slav Epic” which depicts the history of Slavic people.
4. Josef Lada
Josef Lada (1887-1957) was a Czech painter and illustrator who also became a popular author. He was self-taught and devised a completely new style of highly influential illustrations which were published in magazines and newspapers.
His most famous work is the illustrations of a novel related to World War I titled “The Good Soldier Švejk.” His satirical illustrations also served as mockeries of Austria-Hungary officers which obviously make them very popular in his home country.
5. Max Švabinský
Max Švabinský (1873-1962) was another versatile Czech artist who produced paintings, illustrations, and drawings. He was also a professor of Graphic Arts at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. He was initially influenced by Realism, Art Nouveau, and Symbolist artists.
He became a professor at the Academy in Prague in 1910 which was also the year that he completed one of his most famous works, the murals of the Municipal House in Prague. Another notable project he completed was the new stained glass windows of the St. Vitus Cathedral, the most amazing Gothic cathedral in the city.
6. František Kupka
František Kupka (1871-1957) was one of the most important and influential Czech artists in the early 20th century. He was a pioneer of both Oprhism, a form of Cubist art, and abstract art. His later works are pure abstract compositions.
This is remarkable because Kupku first studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague and later moved to Paris. Here he studied at the Académie Julian and later at the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts. He developed his interest in modern art while working as an illustrator for magazines during his early years in Paris.
7. Bohumil Kubišta
Bohumil Kubišta (1884-1918) was another influential Czech artist who is considered to be one of the pioneers of modern art in Czechia. He initially studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague but moved to Florence, Italy in 1906.
He was highly influenced by an exhibition of Edvard Munch paintings in Prague in 1905 and co-founded an artistic group of Expressionist artists called “Osma” or “The Eight.” During the final years of his career, he was also influenced by Cubist artists. He passed away during the early phase of the global flu epidemic.
8. David Černý
David Černý (born in 1967) is a contemporary Czech sculptor who produced some of the most famous sculptures in Prague. It’s hard not to notice some of his works while walking around in the city because his sculptures are scattered all around the Czech capital.
His most famous work during the early phase of his career was a Soviet tank which he painted pink in 1991, shortly after the Fall of Communism. Some of his most notable works abroad are “METALmorphosis” in Charlotte, North Carlina, and the London Booster in front of the Czech House in London.