Joža Uprka

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Joža Uprka (before 1920)

Joža Uprka (26 October 1861, Kněždub - 12 January 1940, Hroznová Lhota) was a Czech painter and graphic artist, whose work combines elements of Romanticism and Art Nouveau to document the folklife of Southern Moravia.


He was born to a peasant family. His father was an amateur painter, which inspired Joža and his brother, František (1868-1929), to pursue careers in art.[1] After completing his primary education, he enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts, Prague, where he studied with František Čermák (1822-1884). After Čermák's death, he transferred to the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich, where he was one of the founders of a Czech student organization called "Škréta" (after Karel Škréta), a group that included Alfons Mucha, Antonín Slavíček, Pavel Socháň [cs] and Luděk Marold.[2]


In 1888, he returned home and began painting scenes from peasant life. From 1892 to 1893, he was able to study in Paris, thanks to a scholarship and, in 1894, with Mucha's assistance, gave a showing at the Salon. His first major exhibition in Prague came in 1897.[1]

He was married in 1899 and, shortly after, bought a small house in Hroznová Lhota, which he used as a studio. In 1904, it was transformed into a two-story villa, inspired by folk architecture, with a design by Dušan Jurkovič.[2] It soon became a popular meeting place for many notable Czech artists, writers and composers. The following year, however, his wife's mental condition, which was always poor, took a turn for the worse and it was necessary to place her in the mental hospital at Kroměříž. She stayed there until her death in 1959.[2]

After this time, he largely turned away from painting to do etchings. From 1922 to 1937, he lived in a castle in Ilava and maintained a studio in the Slovakian countryside, where he went for inspiration. In 1928, he visited Dubrovnik, where he observed the local customs. His folk paintings received a major showing in Uherské Hradiště at the "Výstava Slovácka 1937". He died of kidney failure three years later, and was returned to his place of birth for burial.[2]

In 2011, a school in Hroznová Lhota was named after him.

Selected paintings[edit]


  1. ^ a b Brief biography @ the Hroznová Lhota website.
  2. ^ a b c d Joža Uprka: svébytný umělec nebo folklorista? (an original artist and folklorist?) Lidovky (Lidové noviny), [1]

Further reading[edit]

  • Štěpán Jež and Jakub Obrovský, Joža Uprka : k pátému výročí umělcovy smrti (On the fifth anniversary of his death), Sfinx, 1945
  • Jaroslav Kačer, Joža Uprka : výběr z malířského díla (Selection of paintings), exhibition catalog, Moravian Gallery in Brno, 1983
  • Petra Karpíšková, Příběh moderního tvůrce. Joža Uprka (1861-1940) (Story of a modern creator), Thesis, University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice, 2007 Online
  • František Šantavý and Jaroslav Pelikán, Joža Uprka : Grafické dílo z let 1899–1937 (graphic works), Hodonín, 1981
  • Joža Uprka: 1861-1940 : Evropan slováckého venkova (Rural Slovakia), National Gallery, Prague, 2011 ISBN 978-80-7035-482-7

External links[edit]