Lot 24
  • 24

František Foltýn

120,000 - 180,000 GBP
337,250 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Franti�ek Folt�n
  • Portrait of Dostoyevsky (DOSTOJEVSKIJ)
  • signed and dated FOLTYN  M22 lower right
  • oil on canvas
  • 124 by 110cm., 48¾ by 43¼in.
  • 124 x 110 cm


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


Gothenburg, Passau, Salzburg & Graz, Tschechischer Kubismus, 1991, p. 191, illustrated
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, p. 28, another version of the subject illustrated
Jiří Hlušička, The Hascoe Collection of Czech Modern Art, Prague, 2004, p. 28, mentioned; p. 190, no. P27, catalogued; p. 102, pl. 86, illustrated
The Moravian Gallery ed., František Foltýn, Brno, 2007, p. 27, another version of the subject illustrated

Catalogue Note

Painted in Mukacevo in 1922, this powerful, brooding portrait depicts one of the greatest icons of Russian literature. Feodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881), noted for his profound understanding of human psychology and as an early exponent of existentialist writing, is here surrounded by motifs emblematic of Mother Russia: onion domes and country church spires loom in the background, while a kaleidoscope of villages, pathways, woods and smoking chimneystacks swirls around him. The ray-like motif above Dostoyevsky's head, gives him an almost saintly aura, while at the same time suggesting the lightning-bolt of creative inspiration.

The multi-planar construction that Foltýn employs in Portrait of Dostoyevsky is typical of the artist's work from the 1920s. It has as its source the various progressions of Cubism, and its exploration of the relationship between an object and the space that it inhabits. Here, Foltýn's use of the Cubist idiom is, whilst angular, gentle in its bucolic lyricism, rather than hard-edged and urban. It recalls the painting of the Blaue Reiter group of Expressionists in Germany, particularly August Macke and Heinrich Campendonk and, relevant to the subject, bears similarities with the early work of Chagall (fig. 1).  

Fig. 2. Marc Chagall, Over Vitebsk, 1915-20, Museum of Modern Art, New York Chagall ® / © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2011