Lot 94
Karel Vítězslav Mašek (1865 - 1927) RADOGOST THE GOD

Oil on canvas
160 x 100 cm (h x w)
Lower left "K. Mašek 1913"

Starting price
1 200 000 CZK
   |   48 980 €

The works of Karel Vítězslav Mašek with the theme of ancient Czech history are interwoven with allegories and reflections of the beauty of old stories. Both heroes of famous names and often priests of pagan cults perform on them, who make divinations from symbols and smoke of herbs and protect the now destroyed temples. In Radegast, we are invited by the author to an impressive and mysterious ritual space outside of space and time, which is dominated by the idol of the god Radegast with glowing eyes. The generously chosen format and virtuoso work with light and shadows further accentuate the impression of an exceptional moment in the life of a pilgrim who first stands on sacred ground and sees the Slavic god Radegast. In the 11th century, Adam of Bremen described the Church of Radegast as follows: "A large temple is built here for the demons of which Radegast is prince. Its idol is of gold, a bed lined with purple. This village has nine gates and is surrounded by a deep lake. Only those who offer sacrificial offerings or ask for an answer may pass." Karel Vítězslav Mašek undoubtedly sought a credible appearance of the destroyed church in the descriptions of historians and preserved buildings. The striking resemblance of the depicted temple to the wooden column churches from the 12th century demonstrates its great sense of theme and thorough preparation before applying the first brushstrokes to the canvas. The texts of ancient prayers, hidden in rune-like script, are guarded by armed warriors who symbolically delimit the space, and almost inconspicuously, the high priest of the sanctuary comes to the center of the scene, leaning on the altar to hear the newcomer. At the foot of the altar is the skull of Bishop John, who was killed by the Lusatian-Serbian Slavs, beheaded and sacrificed to the god Radegast - the god of hospitality. The appearance of his depiction of the skull is strikingly reminiscent of St. Vojtěch, who also disregarded the warning, had the sacred oak groves felled and subsequently died at the hands of strongly believing pagans. Karel Vítězslav Mašek was the first Czech artist whose work fell into the international context of symbolism. His large-format painting Libuše received attention in the world, and already in the early 1970s his name began to appear at foreign exhibitions, his works were reproduced in catalogs. He studied at the Julian Academy in Paris, where he went with Alfons Mucha.

Published by: Faberová, K .: Karel Vítězslav Mašek. Eminent, 2002.