Portrait of Leopold Křikava

Karel Purkyně

Karel Purkyně - Portrait of Leopold Křikava
Ema Křikavová (born 1834), born Szalatnayová, was the daughter of a Protestant pastor from Wroclaw (Breslau) and sister of Alžběta Szalatnayová, who married the Prague blacksmith Jech. Her husband Leopold Křikava (born 1830) was an accountant in Prague. Purkyně painted their portraits soon after his return from Paris: the influence of Courbet and a new pronounced feeling for colour and plasticity is unmistakable in these paintings that mark the beginning of Purkyně’s best period. In this portrait the calm, austere figure stands out against a dark background and with its monumental realism seems „to be cast all in one piece“. The chief contrast, and not only of colours, is between the face plastically modelled with pastose colours and the brilliantly, yet only lightly painted dress, similarly as the abstract background, only in thin paints. Both portraits have, in the manner of old masters (let us only mention Goya’s Don Miguel de Lardizábal from the collections of the National Gallery in Prague), contours in black combined with vermilion. Thanks to this seeming rawness Purkyně’s figures strike us as very much alive and real.
measurements: height 110,5 cm
width 73,5 cm
material: canvas
technique: oil
inventory number: O 5194
gallery collection: Collection of 19th Century Art and Classical Modernism