Born on the19th of August in 1873 in Simmering, a district of Vienna, Ludvík Vacátko was an Austrian-Hungarian painter, sculptor and professor of drawing who later relocated to the Czech Republic. As a painter, his work contained genre landscape scenes, figurative works and battle scenes. Horses, however, their anatomy and role in human life and history became the central theme of Vacátko’s life and work. Although the role of the horse began to slowly and inevitably disappear in people’s lives, Vacátko still rode a horse around the city.
After graduating from Prague’s military school, Ludvík Vacátko taught drawing classes to its cadets. He continued his art studies at Munich’s Academy of Fine Arts and later at Prague’s Academy of Fine Arts under Professor Nejedli. After fulfilling his military service, Vacátko devoted himself to his career as an artist and became an expert in the depiction of animal anatomy. His artistic influences came from the works of painters George Židlického and Franz Liebl.
In early 1898, Vacátko was asked by Czech painter Luděk Marold to collaborate on a gigantic panorama of the Battle of Lipany for an upcoming exhibition in Prague. Three other artists also worked on the battle scene: painter Karel Raška, landscape painter Václav Jansa, and colorist Theodor Hilšer. The panorama measured eleven meters high by ninety-five meters long.The stress of completing this huge work on schedule had a fatal effect on Marold’s already fragile health; he died shortly after it went on display in 1898.
At the turn of century, Ludvík Vacátko founded a private painting and drawing school in Prague, among his students was the painter Jindřich Prucha who studied under Vacátko in the years 1907 and 1908. Mobilized at the start of World War I, Prucha was later killed at the Galician front in September of 1914 at the age of twenty-seven.
In 1928, Vacátko published the book “Painting Animals”. He participated in the art competitions at the 1932 Summer Olympics which were held in Los Angeles, California. With the assistance of his friend Auguste Rodin, he became a member of Paris’s Union des Beauz Arts et Lettres. In 1943, Vacátko relocated to the city of Kunvald in the Czech Republic where he lived until his death on the 26th of November in 1956. His body is buried in the city of Pardubice.
Note: An extensive collection of Ludvík Vacátko’s paintings and sculptures can be found in Petr Kmošek Kona’s 2018 “V ZiVotě a Obrazech Malíře Ludvík Vacátko” which is located at: https://www.nzm.cz/file/b7f5584224aff8bf79b9a0b701cddfc6/15707/kone.pdf
Top Insert Photo: Photographer Unknown, “Ludvík Vacátko”, Ralph Schlüter Archives
Middle Insert Image: Ludvík Vacátko, “Tillage”, Date Unknown, Oil on Canvas, 56 x 79 cm, Private Collection
Bottom Insert Image: Ludvík Vacátko, “Self Portrait”, Date Unknown, Oil on Cardboard, 64 x 50 cm, Private Collection