Born in Slaný in what is now the Czech Republic, Hrabě moved to Moscow in the 1870s to take up work as an apprentice to the widow of a framer specialising in gilt frames. With time he came to own several factories and shops producing and selling office stationary and art materials, as well as a commercial art gallery in the vicinity of the Kremlin. It was this work as an art dealer which brought him into contact with leading Russian artists, many of whom, such as Vasily Polenov, Isaak Levitan and Dmitry Marten, he went on to represent.
For many years Hrabě held the position of chairman of the Czechoslovakian Association, representing the interests of the Czech population living in Russia. On 20 August 1914, he was part of a delegation who was received by Tsar Nicholas II. Then under Austro-Hungarian rule, the Czech diaspora wanted to fight alongside Russia in the First World War in exchange for help in gaining their independence. During the audience, the Tsar promised the Czechs assistance in the creation of their own national government, an agreement which consequently prevented Russia and Austria-Hungary reaching a separate peace deal during the war, but nevertheless laid the foundation for the creation of the Czechoslovakian state.
Following the October Revolution of 1917, Hrabě and his wife left Moscow for their hometown of Slaný, taking the majority of their collection with them. In 1920, many items of Russian art from their collection were exhibited at the Topičův Salon in Prague.
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