Jan Kupecky

03-04-2002

Today's personality in Czechs in History is Jan Kupecky, an outstanding Czech painter from the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries, often called the Master of Baroque portrait here in the Czech Republic. Kupecky influenced several subsequent generations of Czech painters, and like Jan Hollar, he was also quite famous beyond the borders of the Czech kingdom.

Today's personality in Czechs in History is Jan Kupecky, an outstanding Czech painter from the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries, often called the Master of Baroque portrait here in the Czech Republic. Kupecky influenced several subsequent generations of Czech painters, and like Jan Hollar, he was also quite famous beyond the borders of the Czech kingdom. I spoke with the director of the department of old art at the National Gallery in Prague, associate professor Vit Vlnas:

Kupecky's father was a weaver, and he expected his son to take over his business, but when young Jan was only fifteen, he decided - against his father's will - to leave home, and became a Swiss painter's apprentice at a nobleman's chateau:

In Italy, Kupecky got acquainted with the Italian painting school, represented by Francesco Trevisani. But he was also influenced by German and Dutch painters, disciples of Rembrandt. After some 20 years in Italy he decided to move back:

But even Vienna was not Kupecky's last stop. Because of the rivalry among the Viennese painters and the constant fear of religious persecution - the Austrian empire, of which the Czech Lands were part of back then, was a strongly Catholic country - he decided to move with his wife and children to Germany:

In the last years of his life, he suffered greatly from gout, which often made him unable to paint. Kupecky died in Nuremburg in July 1740, and was buried at the Church of St. John in the same cemetery where the great German painter Albrecht Durer had been buried more than two centuries before him.

In the Baroque period the art of portraiture reached an apex - it was very fashionable to have your portrait done and that was especially true of the rich. Kupecky was in great demand, and as we hear from Dr. Vit Vlnas, he painted the most outstanding figures of his time:

This naturally raises interest in Kupecky's private life, as his beautiful wife Susanna is said to have been unfaithful to him quite frequently:

03-04-2002