Helen Zelezny-Scholz

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Helene Zelezny-Scholz
Born Helena Scholzová
(1882-08-16)16 August 1882
Chropyně, Moravia - now - Czech Republic
Died 18 February 1974(1974-02-18) (aged 91)
Rome, Italy
Nationality Czech
Education Vienna, Dresden, Berlin, Brussels and Florence
Known for Sculpture, Drawing, Ceramics
Notable work see below

Helen Zelezny, also known in Europe as Helene Zelezny-Scholz, Helen Scholz or Helene Scholzová-Železná (16 August 1882 – 18 February 1974), was a Czech born sculptor and architectural sculptor. She is widely considered one of the most influential figures in the sculpture of north Moravia and Silesia, besides Josef Obeth, at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. Her sculptures largely featured sculpted portraits, including members of the Habsburg family, Count Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf, Lady Sybil Grahamová,"Il Duce" Benito Mussolini, and 1st President of Czechoslovakia Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk (1932) with whom she gained a close relationship.

She is also known as an Italian sculptor as she lived and created for a number of years in Rome, where she was critically acclaimed. Her mother was the well-known writer and poet Maria Stona and her grand father was the industrial manager and entrepreneur de:Alois Scholz.


Zelezny was born in Chropyně, in the Czech Republic, and raised in the village of Třebovice, now part of the city of Ostrava, Austrian Silesia. Helena Železná-Scholzová grew up at the family château owned by her mother, the German writer Countess Maria Stona, who frequently received intellectual and creative personalities from all over Europe. She studied drawing in Vienna and Dresden, and sculpture in Berlin under Fritz Heinemann, as well as for four years in Brussels under Charles van der Stappen. Van der Stappen was a portrait and decorative sculptor, as Zelezny was. In 1912, in Ostrava, she organized an exhibition of his works.

After one year of study in Paris, she settled down in Florence, Italy. From 1909 to 1913 she learned a lot from Augusto Giacometti with whom she traveled to his native home in Switzerland. She was also in regular contact with artists Hans Kestranek de:Hans Kestranek, Edward Gordon Craig and Julius Rolshoven. In 1913 she stayed for a long time in Tunis. While there she visited the Musselmen harems and become acquainted with their inmates and customs, which she portrayed in her sculptural work.

Scholz in 1913

At the outbreak of World War I in 1914, she moved to Vienna, where she took a position resembling that of a court sculptor, sculpting portraits of members of the Habsburg Imperial family, including Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma. Returning in 1919 to Italy, having in the interval married Colonel Zelezny, she worked at first in Florence, then later in Rome. There, she also taught sculpture to children. She had her studio at Via Margutta No. 54 from 1922 until her death in 1974, usually spending the summer months in her native country. After the Second World War, she wanted to donate the family château in Třebovice to the Czechoslovak government in order to create a centre for young artists. But postwar fate had other plans for the château, and by the end of the 1950s the building was in utter ruins.

In 1934, Helena Železná-Scholzová thrilled the Parisian public with an exhibition at Jean Charpentier’s prestigious gallery. The sculptural group “Work Days and Holidays” received the greatest attention.

She also lived in the United States for a short time, from 1946 to 1949, where she taught mixed media at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Swarthmore College, among other institutions in and around Philadelphia. From 1949 until her death she had regular classes in her old studio in Rome. Here she taught at her own sculpting school, attended by students from the world over. She was considered a teacher who could awaken artistic talent in almost anyone. To the end of her life she abounded with enviable energy, and had no problem speaking with her students in English, Italian, French, and German. Just a few days before her death in Rome she had a lesson in modeling.

Her works include more than 300 portraits in marble, bronze and terracotta (busts, reliefs and statuettes). Several of these sculptures were destroyed during the Second World War, among these being the great central altar representing the life of Hedwig of Silesia in the Church dedicated to that saint in Opava in the historical capital of Czech Silesia. In 1973 she wrote a book title My dear Pupils, which showcases the work of some of her students. She was commissioned at one point to sculpt a monument to those who died in the First World War. Her work has been exhibited in international exhibitions in Berlin and Vienna (1907), in Rome in the Doria Pamphilj Gallery (1932), and in Paris.

Helene Scholz-Zelezny died in Rome 1974 and is buried at the Protestant Cemetery.[1]


Slovak Family, bronze, 1933
  • The Thoughtful, bronze, 1906, the castle Raduň [1]
  • The Melancholia, 1906, bronze, 1906, the castle Raduň [2]
  • Allegory of the Drama and Music, 1907, town theatre in Moravská Ostrava (smashed);
  • Alois Scholzes tomb with the Allegory of the Sorrow, 1908-9, Gratz;
  • Small statuette Charles van der Stappen 1909 (Her teacher for 4 years)
  • 2 Small statuettes and a bust Georg Brandes 1913. They travelled together to Tunis where the statuettes and bust were made during their fortnight stay there.
  • Allegory justice, 1914, judicial building, Fryštát;
  • tomb sculpture on the grave dr. Ostrčil, 1924, Praha-Olšany;
  • cenotaph, 1930, Těšín (smash);
  • The Common and Feast Days, bronze, 1933, gallery in Ostrava
  • Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk (1850–1937), bronze, 1933, Museum Silesie in Opava
  • The Slovak Family, bronze, 1933, the castle Raduň
  • cycle of 10 reliefs of the life the saintliness, 1936, church St. Hedvika, Opava;
  • Pope Paul VI, 1967

Zelezny has work maintained in the permanent collection of the castle Hradec nad Moravicí, several pieces in the Museum Silesie [3] in Opava, some works in Gallery of the Fine Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts [4] in Ostrava, and in the National Gallery in Prague in addition to private collections.

Her reliefs hang in the Church of St. Hedwig [5] in Opava


  • Jessen, J.: Deutsche Bildhauerinnen. In: Der Bazar (Berlin) 20. 1. 1908;
  • Deutsche Heimat (Sudetendeutsche Monatshefte) 4, 1928, 16, 43 a 48;
  • Freedom 1930
  • Plechaty 1933
  • Das Bild (Karlsruhe) 12, 1942, 124, 131-136, 141
  • Valik In 1945, p. 34
  • Bullfinch 1950, p. 60
  • Vollmer 1952-1962, d. 4, p. 214
  • Jùza 1977, p. ?
  • Picked 1978
  • Picked 1982, p. 157, 160
  • Schenková 1987, p. 60
  • Gebauer - Sramek 1990, p. 188
  • Toman 1993, d. 2, p. 746
  • Jùza V. 1996, p. 8, 35
  • Cream 1996, p. 142-143, 179-181, 184, 230-232
  • Horakova - Gašpariková 1997, p. 104
  • Šopák 1998b, Šopák 1998d, p. 2, Šopák 1999b, Šopák 2000d


  • Hélène Zelezny-Scholz;Remigio Strinati: Scanno, Tunisi, Slovacchia. Roma 1932
  • Remigio Strinati:Helene Zelezny-Scholz: Scultrice. Roma 1957
  • Tomáš Špidlík.: Sculptured Prayer. Roma 1968
  • Anthony Mann: Zelezny – Portrait Sculpture 1917–1970. Roma 1970
  • Helene Zelezny-Scholz: Aus der Jugend einer Bildhauerin Tagenbuchblätter aus den Jahren 1908–1917. Roma 1972.
  • Helene Zelezny-Scholz: My dear Pupils. Roma 1973
  • Helene Zelezny-Scholz: Nachlese. Roma 1974;

The books are available Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze [6]

  • The diary of Georg Brandes
  • Biografický slovník Slezska a severní Moravy. Sešit 11. Ostrava, Ostravská univerzita, 1998, s. 123-124.
  • 1 of 10 reliefs of the life the saintess in church St. Hedvika, Opava 1936, photo J. Novák.
  • Gebauer, Josef. Chrám sv. Hedviky v Opavě.
  • Vlastivědné listy, 1994, Vol. 20, Nr. 1, p. 21-23.
  • Helene Scholz-Zelezny. SMETANOVÁ, J. TGM. Praha : Primus, 1996, p. 191.
  • Jůza, Jiří.: Helena Železná-Scholzová, zapomenutá sochařka 1. poloviny 20. století. In: Ostrava. Vol. 19. Šenov : Tilia, 1999, p. 147-175.

Thesis (in Czech): Jůza, Jiří.: H. Z.-Sch., zapomenutá sochařka 1. poloviny 20. století. Diplomová prá¬ce FF UP Olomouc. Olomouc 1996.


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