Mikoláš Aleš

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Mikoláš Aleš

Mikoláš Aleš (born November 18, 1852 in Mirotice , † July 10, 1913 in Prague ) was a Bohemian painter and illustrator . He was one of the most important artists of the Prague National Theater generation and of the 19th century.


Aleš was the son of a town clerk and town councilor. Due to financial problems, the family had to move frequently, first to Písek , Prague in 1856 and then back to Mirotice in 1859. Aleš started painting at the age of four. In 1862 he first attended elementary school, in 1865 he switched to high school, which he had to leave because of disputes with a professor. He began an apprenticeship as a painter and attended secondary school from 1867. After the exam in 1869, he went to Prague and began studying at the Prague Art Academy with Professors Josef Mathias Trenkwald and Jan Swerts . During his studies he made his living by painting small pictures and illustrations. In 1876 he took part in the demonstration against Professor Alfred Woltmann , was imprisoned and expelled from the academy.

Aleš's grave in the Vyšehrad cemetery in Prague

Between 1865 and 1874 his brothers, mother and finally father died. In 1879, he and František Ženíšek won the tender to decorate the National Theater . On April 29, 1879, he married his childhood sweetheart, moved to the Lesser Town in Prague and went on a study trip to Italy . After his return he worked on fourteen lunettes for the National Theater in 1880/81 as well as illustrations for Jakub Arbes ' magazine Šotek. In 1889 he illustrated a cycle of national songs and painted watercolors; his last cycle dates from 1913.

In 1895 his works were exhibited in Prague; a year later, the Mánes Association published the first publication on his work. On his sixtieth birthday he was made an honorary citizen by the city of Prague. At the same time he received the title of Inspector of Drawing at the Middle Schools and Consultant in Fine Arts .


Fresco on the Rott House in Prague, by M. Aleš

In his earlier works he tended to romanticism based on Josef Mánes , later Art Nouveau was his style. The focus has always been on the love for the Bohemian people and their history. Mikoláš Aleš was a recognized draftsman and decorator during his lifetime, and his oil paintings only became famous after his death. Many of his frescoes and graphics can also be found on houses in Prague, Pilsen and other Bohemian cities. Aleš also illustrated books of fairy tales, collections of folk songs and historical literary works.

Picture cycles

  • Senses (Smysly), 1876
  • Heimat (Vlast), 1877 for the National Theater (joint work with František Ženíšek)
  • Elements (Živly), 1881
  • Prague (Praha), 1882
  • The life of the ancient Slavs (Život starých Slovanů), 1891

Oil paintings


Book illustrations

Illustrations for magazines

  • Květy
  • Světozor
  • Zlatá Praha
  • Šotek


  • Sixty puppet designs for the Prague Marionette Theater
  • Construction of the Maměnka and Libušín mountain huts in Pustevny


Web links

Commons : Mikoláš Aleš  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files