Jaroslav Augusta — Feeding Horses

The small painting on paper depicts two men dressed in folk costumes (shepherds or farmers) at a horse water trough.

Inventory No.: O – 1022
Artist: Jaroslav Augusta
Title: Feeding Horses
Dating: 1909 – 1912
Technique: tempera
Material: paper
Dimensions: height 21,5cm; width 33cm
Signature: bottom right in brush JA

The small painting on paper depicts two men dressed in folk costumes (shepherds or farmers) at a horse water trough. One of them is leaning on a staff which can also be a folk musical instrument (a pipe, horn or a trembita). The other one, seemingly older, is leaning on a smaller staff (a pickaxe), smoking a pipe. There is a group of five brown horses standing behind them. The whole painting has a very idyllic tone to it. The portrayal can be characterised as an intellectual visualisation of the given time period. Artists had always wanted to perceive Slovakia as a picturesque, immaculate country where people live in harmony with nature. However, this mythical view of Slovakia had gotten stained with real-life poverty, insufficient education and health care. Augusta’s work had tried to explore and capture archetypal parts of Slovakia while focusing on social and ethnic matters of Slovak people.

Jaroslav Augusta ( September 4, 1878 Humpolec u Pelhřimova – February 28, 1970 Banská Štiavnica) moved to Slovakia as a child along with his parents and three other siblings in 1892. His father worked as a draper and believed their move to the Slovak part of the Hungarian Empire would bring them financial stability. The opposite was true. They settled in Rimavská Sobota and later in Tisovec. He studied in Czech environment at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague (prof. Pirner) and later in Munich (prof. Herterich, Marr) and at Anton Ažbe’s private school. Jaroslav Augusta’s family had cherished German culture. During his Prague studies, he was a part of the Detvan association. In summertime, he enjoyed painting around Detva, Očová, Slatina. He kept close to J. Uprka. Together with his brother Karol, E. Pacovský and L. Strimpl, they founded a painting colony in Detva (1901). Later, he also kept in touch with M. T. Mitrovský, T. Andraškovič and G. Mallý. Besides founding the Detva painting colony, he was also a co-founder of the Group of Hungarian-Slovak Painters  (1903) and the Važec painting colony (1911). His service and capture at the Russian front (1914-1918) made a profound influence on his life. After the war, he taught drawing in Banská Štiavnica. In 1920, together with P. J. Kern and I. Žabota, they founded the Association of Slovak Artists in Martin. His painting and drawing were also supplemented with his journalistic endeavours.

Ľudmila Kasaj Poláčková

October 2020

AUGUSTA, Jaroslav: Spomienky [Memories]. Bratislava: Vydavateľstvo Slovenského fondu výtvarných umení [Slovak Visual Arts Fund Publishing], 1962.