Max Švabinský (1873–1962)

The Paradise Idyll

Technique :oil on canvas


Signature:bottom left

Dimensions:55 x 72 cm


starting price:‍100000 EUR

achieved price:‍144000 EUR

85th Auction, Lot 197


The Paradise Idyll by Max Švabinský, one of the most important Czech artists of his time, is an example of the highest quality and in many respects is completely characteristic of the author’s interwar period of work, in which he harmoniously combined his figurative and landscape art education, gained at Prague’s Academy, with originality, talent, unique drive, techniques, and vitality of his own. In this artwork, he portrayed a dreamy archetypal scene of an ancient arrangement based on primordial innocence of the world and the consequential harmony of its individual elements: nature, lush plants, fearless wildlife, and man with no fig leaf yet.


Despite the likely inspiration from French Fauvism and the representatives of so-called naïve art, perceptible in the combination of colours and overall rendition of wider parts as well as details, we still have to appreciate Švabinský’s originality and persistence in expressing his desire for the tropics and his inner idea of a harmonious family life. This is reflected in most of his compositions of this kind, in that he imparted his own portrait features to the depicted characters – men, satyrs, and overall admirers of women and natural beauty. The theme is certainly not of solitary appearance in his work. On the contrary, it is an important and logical stage in the development of his subject matters, which originates from a set of prints, Paradise Sonata, depicting dreamy exotic paradises in their original pure form, and culminates in the famous large-format canvas Harvest (Žně), referring to the legacy of Baroque painting and Švabinský’s efforts to form an ideal model of Czech beauty following the ideological legacy of Josef Mánes.


This painting of undoubted gallery qualities was repeatedly presented at foreign and domestic exhibitions, as evidenced by the stamps on the reverse of the stretcher (Max Švabinský, Set of works, 69. Exhibition of the S.V.U Mánes, Municipal House, Prague, November – December, 1923, cat. no. 21; Max Švabinský, Collective Exhibition of Work, S.V.U Mánes, Prague, June – September 1932, cat. no. 58; Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, USA, 1926, no. 281; 17th International Art Exhibition, Venice, 1930, no. 163; according to the stamps on the reverse, it was also lent for group exhibitions in Paris and Ljubljana). It was also published in the literature (Jan Štenc: Umění II, 1929, p. 327; F. Žákavec: Max Švabinský II, Prague 1936, frontispiece; M. Švabinský, KV Herain: The Painter Max Švabinský, Twenty-Five Paintings with Notes on Time and Work, Prague, 1945, fig. no. 15; L. Páleníček: Enchanted Satyr, Prague 1972, Fig. 20). Assessed during consultations by prof. PhDr. R. Prahl, CSc., and PhDr. Š. Leubnerová. The expertise by PhDr. K. Srp is attached.