Julie Šamberková as Messalina

Václav Brožík

Václav Brožík - Julie Šamberková as Messalina
Before leaving for Paris Brožík painted a semi-theatrical, semi-historical portrait of Julie Šamberková (1847-1892) as Messalina in Adolf Wilbrandt’s play Aria and Messalina, which strikes us with its magnificent composition and colours. The play had its Czech premiere in 1876 at the Estates Theatre (in Emanuel Bozděch’s translation) and the actress played Messalina Valeria, third wife of the Roman emperor Claudius, who was famous for her depravity and amorous escapades. When in her husband’s absence from Rome, she wed a young senator, Claudius had her beheaded. Shortly before Brožík painted this portrait, Hans Makart in Vienna did the same for the famous actress Charlotte Wolter in the same role. Just as Makart, Brožík too wanted to pay tribute to an actress, who was also a friend. In the magazine Světozor of 1888 we read: „In the early days of his brilliant career Václav Brožík had the friendly support of this actress and to express his gratitude he painted her in the costume of Messalina.“ After Julie Švamberková, the role of Messalina was played by the Czech actress Marie Pospíšilová, who was painted in this role by the German painter Wilhelm Beckmann - the picture was exhibited in 1890 at the Lehmann Salon in Prague.
date:
measurements: height 244 cm
width 164 cm
material: canvas
technique: oil
inscription:
inventory number: O 4677
gallery collection: Collection of 19th Century Art and Classical Modernism