Lot 71
Karel Vítězslav Mašek (1865 - 1927) PLAY OF SUN STREAKS

oil on canvas
230 x 158 cm (h x w)
signed and dated verso: K. Mašek / 1910

Starting price
3 500 000 CZK
   |   152 174 €
Price realized
6 100 000 CZK
   |   265 217 €
price without premium

The play of sunspots belongs to Mašek's publicly hidden work after the 1897 exhibition, when he became the target of criticism from young modernists and withdrew into seclusion. He continued to create public commissions, but also devoted himself to non-public free creation. Mašek himself apparently valued the painting, as it occupied a prominent place in his studio opposite the staircase. The picture is very different from Maška's public contracts, which are noticeably more conservative. Girls dancing in colorful geysers of illuminated veils are a manifestation of a light beam in motion. A shimmering glow penetrates the crowns of the trees, reflects off the undulating surfaces, and refracts the light to build swirling volumes and gradations of color. Here, Mašek understood the optics of colors in detail - in black he allows the colors to be completely absorbed, on the contrary, no white light is completely white, but ripples in color depending on how it is reflected from the flying veils. It shows the sunbeam in its basal characteristic as the building block of the perceived world, of all shapes, colors and life. Rainbow flashes are fleeting reflections of light in raindrops, butterfly wing scales, seashells and gems. Dancing and carefree fairies in hastily tied skirts seem to have seized a brief opportune moment to perform a concert of light among the blooming oleanders. The depicted girls have one peculiarity - they are variants of portraits of Mašek's teenage daughter Zdenka. Until the publication of Karolina Fabelová's monograph in 2002, Karel Vítězslav Mašek belonged to the "forgotten" artists. At the same time, he quickly became a personality among young Czech painters who headed to Munich in the 1880s, dissatisfied with the level of teaching at the Prague Academy. In 1887, he continued to Paris with his friend Alfons Mucha. Although he only stayed there for one year, after his return to Prague he surprised the audience with his paintings, in which critics of the time equally appreciated the modern work with light. The work includes expert opinion by PhDr. Petr Wittlich, CSc.


Český svět, 1927. Volume XXIII, issue 45.

Fabelová, K.: Karel Vítězslav Mašek, 2002. Eminent, pp. 107, 111.