History of the Sub-Collection
The first drawings and paintings have appeared in the collections of the Czechoslovak Agricultural Museum, Institute for the Study and Improvement of Countryside, already in the interwar era. Not surprisingly, given the focus of the museum, most of these works of art depicted agricultural motifs. In late 1930s, the museum had acquired a unique collection of 157 paintings, whose previous owner was Vavro Šrobár, an important politician of the interwar era. Currently, the so-called Šrobár Collection consists of 153 works of art by Realist European painters of the sixteenth to nineteenth century. A rather erratic development of the paintings sub-collection, which was in part due to the fact that until 2006 the museum did not employ any art historians, continued also after 1945. Most important acquisitions of the post-war era include large groups of drawings, aquarelles, and pen-and-ink drawings with ethnographic motifs by three artists: Václav Šebele, Josef Grus, and Jaroslav Spirhanzl Duriš. In 1945–1989, the museum had acquired numerous works of art as donations from various state institutions, mainly the Ministry of Agriculture. The artistic value of these ‘gifts’ is rather uneven. Paintings of considerable quality include 17 pictures by Josef Lada, originally intended for the Slavic Agricultural Exhibition that took place in Prague in 1948. On the opposite side of the spectrum, we find some works by painters of Socialist Realism, such as Alena Čermáková’s monumental canvas ‘Comrade Rajtora Talks About His Visit to the Soviet Union’ from 1951. The Kačina Chateau served as a dumping ground for ‘useless works of art’ even after 1989.
Important Items Belonging to the Sub-Collection
The most valuable part of this sub-collection is the so-called Šrobár Collection. This unique collection of paintings currently consists of 153 works of art by Realist painters who represent important artistic movements, periods, and schools connected with the history of European painting during a long period spanning from the sixteenth until the end of the nineteenth century. A smaller part of this collection includes high-quality copies of paintings by Baroque masters such as Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, Jacob Jordaens, or Rembrandt van Rijn.