Lot 20
  • 20

František Foltýn

120,000 - 180,000 GBP
433,250 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Franti�ek Folt�n
  • Imperialism (IMPERIALISMUS)
  • signed and dated  FOLTÝN  K.P. 25 lower right
  • oil on canvas
  • 115 by 84cm., 45¼ by 33in.
  • 115 x 84 cm


Estate of Milan Heidenreich, Gothenburg
Purchased from the above on 2 May 1998


Passau, Graz, Gothenburg: Czech Cubism, Emil Filla and his Contemporaries, 1991, p. 195, illustrated in the catalogue
Greenwich, Connecticut, Bruce Museum, The Pleasures of Collecting: Part II, Modern and Contemporary Art,  2003
Birmingham, Alabama, Birmingham Museum of Art, Pražské noci / Prague Nights: Czech Modern Art from the Hascoe Collection, 2007


Jiří Hlušička, František Foltýn, Prague, 1982, pp. 64-65, nos. 42 and 43, illustrated
Jiří Hlušička, The Hascoe Collection of Czech Modern Art, Prague, 2004, p. 28, mentioned; pp. 190-191, no. P27, catalogued; pp. 104-105, pls. 88 and 89, illustrated
Brno, The Moravian Gallery, František Foltýn, 2007, pp. 50, 54 & 55, illustrated

Catalogue Note

Foltýn was an important member of the Czech avant-garde. After having studied fine art in Prague, he undertook further study at the Académie Julian and La Grande Chaumière in Paris. He was a member of various artistic groups, including the SVU Manés in Brno and Cercle et Carré and Abstraction-Création in Paris, where he lived from 1924 to 1934. One of the key influences on his earlier work was the painting of Paul Cézanne: his oeuvre immediately after the First World War, while living in eastern Slovakia and in the Ukraine, consisted of landscapes and still-lives very much in a Cézannesque style.

The present work was completed during Foltýn's long sojourn in Paris and shows the artist having moved beyond Cézanne's influence. It depicts a tin man, holding a red scythe in his hands, with partial words or phrases ('STAT', 'EDIKTATUR') superimposed upon him and the semi-abstract background that suggests State control or oppression, while the numbers '14' and '18'  echo the span of the First World War. Foltýn's tin woodman recalls a number of popular culture motifs current at the time, such as the figure in L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900 with illustrations by William Wallace Denslow, with its heartless Tin Woodman that has often been read to have political meaning and has its source deep in European folk art.

The metallic, cylindrical forms of the tin man in the present work establish a strong visual link between Foltýn and Fernand Léger, whose paintings in the mid- to late 1910s had been populated by such metallic forms (fig. 1). The steel ship, steam billowing from its funnel, in the left foreground, the steel span of the bridge behind it and the pale volumes of the building-like structure at the feet of Foltýn's tin man all suggest a creeping dehumanisation of the world: the imperialism of metal and machine over man and nature. The gold disc of the moon above the tin man's left shoulder heralds either a new dawn or the dusk of civilisation.

Fig. 1, Fernand Léger, Composition, 1920, Private Collection © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2011