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Josef Matěj Navrátil / Mountain Landscape near Vyšší Brod

(around 1830)

The painting Mountain Landscape near Vyšší Brod is a work from the period of the artist’s greatest achieve- ments. It was executed in the spirit of the prevailing Romantic trend. The subject matter is a typically fanciful mountain landscape dominated by a shack above a waterfall. The tall mountains surrounding the shack and the waterful are partly veiled in mist. The scene is augmented by figures that are dwarfed by the monumental peaks. The painting is a splendid synthesis of Romanticism and the Rococo Revival. The deliberate distancing of the figures emphasises the dominance, size and power of the fanciful mountain scenery. The mist and the powerful foaming waterfull recall the elemental nature of the high mountains. By this approach Navrátil confirmed the attitude to the question of the ideal landscape and how to render it adopted by central-European artists of the first half of the 19th  century.

NAVRÁTIL JOSEF MATĚJ

Navrátil studied under Josef Bergler at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague during the years 1819–1823. He subsequently undertook a number of study trips abroad, particularly to Switzerland, which became his favourite destination because of its astounding mountain scenery. In the course of his career Navrátil acquired a reputation as a mural painter, decorating walls at the Prague Castle as well as stately homes in Zákupy, Liběchov and Jirny. He also engaged in landscape painting, introducing elements of realism into romantically conceived works. In some cases his treatment of colour dominated the actual subject matter. Still lifes and figural subjects formed another area of his activity. He gradually became a respected artists who would influence many painters of the the second half of the 19th century. In 1850 he was elected chairman of the Artists’ Association Jednota výtvarných umělců.
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