JOŽA UPRKA (CZECH, 1861-1940)
Moravské ženy při sklizni cukrové řepy (Moravian Women Harvesting Sugar Beets)
signed 'Jž Uprka' (lower left)
watercolor on paper
1714 x 2514 in. (43.8 x 64.1 cm.)
Ingrid Maria and Georges Pamm, Geneva.
By descent to the present owner, 2016.
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Lot Essay

Born in Kněždub in modern day Czechia, Joža Uprka began his artistic education at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague under the tutelage of František Cermák. Upon the death of his teacher, he transferred to the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich, where he was one of the founders of a student organization called Skréta that included Alphonse Mucha. He spent from 1892 to 1893 studying in Paris on a scholarship and in 1894, with Mucha’s assistance, he had his first entry to the Salon. His first major exhibition in Prague was in 1897.
Uprka’s works often portray the folk life of Southern Moravians during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During a time of industrialization in his native land, the artist sought to depict the simple pleasures of peasant life in his homeland. His figures, in their traditional folk dress, are often depicted throughout the artist’s œuvre attending festivals or religious pilgrimages or going about the activities of day-to-day life. In the present watercolor, three women in distinctively bright-colored headscarves are hard at work harvesting sugar beets in a field. Sugar beets were among the most important agricultural products of Southern Moravia in the 19th century, and each woman illustrates an important stage of the harvest -- pulling up the beets, cleaning them, and then carrying them from the fields.

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