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THE COTTAGE OF MAX ŠVABINSKÝ

The Cottage of Max Švabinský (house no. 50) lies on the edge of the village of Kozlov below the crest of the Kozlov Hill.

Its first documented resident was the national revivalist, philosopher, and revolutionary František Emanuel Welz (1816-1890). This remarkable thinker was born in nearby Litomyšl, where he graduated from a grammar school and the institute of philosophy. He later continued his studies of philosophy and law in Vienna, earning some extra money as a tutor in noble families. In 1848, he took part in the revolutionary events in Prague. When the revolution was suppressed, he went into seclusion in Česká Třebová, where he lived with the Rybička family. In 1883, he went to Kozlov, where he found his last refuge in his self-contained accommodation at the Pecháček farm. Welz spent the last years of his life writing his memoirs and reading books that he had delivered to him as the only luxury of his modest life. When he died in 1890, he left behind quite an extensive library in the cottage. He bequeathed a part of it to the municipality of Kozlov, and the other part to the municipality of Litomyšl. The cottage in Kozlov was deserted, but not for long.

The Vejrych Family, Švabinský, and Kozlov

In the spring of 1891, the family of Rudolf Vejrych, Sr., a railway officer from Prague, were looking for a suitable summer home. Because the carriage and wagon examiner Vejrych knew the beauties of the countryside in the Česká Třebová region, they searched in just this area. The mother Josefa and her son Karel were said to have made enquires at the railway station in Česká Třebová, and there they met someone who advised them to look into the recently vacated cottage in Kozlov. The Vejrychs were enthusiastic about the place and decided to rent the building. Thus beginning in 1891, the Kozlov cottage had regular visitors: the couple Rudolf and Josefa Vejrych and their children Karel, Rudolf, and Ela, and their grandmother Josefa. In 1895, they were joined by one more visitor: Maxmilián Švabinský (1873-1962). He was Ela’s suitor, an ambitious young student at the Academy of Painting in Prague. The young people had met that year in Prague during the Slavonic Ethnographic Exhibition and Max accepted the invitation of the Vejrych family to spend several free days with them in Kozlov as soon as after Christmas 1895. The Kozlov landscape, its peculiar inhabitants, and the cottage itself so enchanted the young artist that this time is now referred to as Švabinský’s ‘Kozlov period’.

The list of works belonging to this stage of the painter’s work would be quite long, and the techniques he used are varied. The individual and group portraits and landscape scenes in particular originating directly in Kozlov or thematically inspired by it were created by Max Švabinský as oil paintings, drawings, or combined techniques or graphics.

The most beautiful and most famous works include Round Portrait (1897); Pink Portrait (1898); Poor Land (1900), By a Weaving Loom (1901), Two Mothers (1903); Grandmother in a Scarf (1903); Large Family Portrait (1905), Small Family Portrait (1912), Summer Day (1906), White Camellia (1911), and Summer Night (1911). In 1910, he also created a sgraffito titled The Harvester on the new front facade of the former Pecháček farm.

The link between Max Švabinský and Kozlov got even stronger when he married Ela Vejrychová in 1900. The wedding ceremony took place in the Dean Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in Litomyšl, the wedding reception in Hurt’s pub near the Pecháček farm in Kozlov. The Kozlov cottage also underwent major changes in the same year as it was getting too crowded for the growing family. Karel Vejrych added a new, more spacious building onto the old one, with a large kitchen and an ample bright room, with furniture designed by Rudolf Vejrych. A small room was constructed in the attic which served as Švabinský’s study, called the Suitcase due to its shape. Švabinský, Rudolf Vejrych, and Otakar Vaňáč decorated the gable of the new cottage with a scene titled Saint Wenceslas Is Accepting Donations.

But relations between Ela and Max got complicated in about 1915. The couple eventually separated and so Švabinský stopped visiting Kozlov. The last time he went there was in 1919, to attend the funeral of Ela’s father Rudolf Vejrych. The ‘Kozlov period’ was over after twenty-four years. In 1930, the couple was divorced and Švabinský married his former sister-in-law, Anna, the first wife of Rudolf Vejrych, Jr. She was another great inspiration for him. In 1945, he adopted her daughter Zuzana from her first marriage.

Besides such a distinctive artistic personality as Max Švabinský, there was another painter in the Vejrych family, Ela’s brother Rudolf (1882-1939). A graduate of the School of Applied Arts and Academy in Prague, he was the art director of the Topičův sborník magazine. Later he opened a private painting school in Vinohrady. He devoted many of his works to Kozlov, such as the Field Road above Dolík (1924); Dolík in Kozlov (about 1924); Kozlov Road (about 1928), and Laundrywomen (about 1926).

The other Vejrych brother, Karel (1873-1930), showed musical talent from a young age. He graduated from the Conservatory and studied in Weimar, Frankfurt, and Paris. He later accepted the position of Professor of Piano in Chisinau. His family lived at the Pecháček farm in Kozlov in the meantime. In 1911, Karel Vejrych left his professorship, settled in Kozlov, and started earning his living by farming. His work here was beneficial for the community because this worldly man promoted the construction of the road between Česká Třebová and Kozlov, the road which now bears the name of Max Švabinský. Later, Karel and his wife moved to Prague. He is buried in Kozlov.

After the death of Rudolf Vejrych, Sr. and the departure of Max Švabinský, the old Kozlov cottage was occupied by Josefa Vejrychová and Ela lived in the new addition. At the end of her life, Josefa Vejrychová summarized her memories in her books, Kozlov in the Old Days (1924) and From the Old Days (1931). Both pieces of work were accompanied by Švabinský’s illustrations.

Ela Švabinská continued to live a rich social life in Kozlov, receiving numerous visitors. Among her guests were the composer Bohuslav Martinů, the first violinist of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Stanislav Novák, French pianist Blanche Selva, and Ela’s friend Marie Majerová. The professor Zdeněk Nejedlý and his disciple Mirko Novák and many others also used to visit her.

During World War II, Ela collaborated with the Communists. She was arrested by the Gestapo in 1943 and imprisoned in a concentration camp at Ravensbrück until the end of the war. After the war she devoted herself to writing her memoirs, which were published in 1960 under the title The Memories of Youth. She died in 1967 and is buried, along with other family members, in a small cemetery in Kozlov.

After the death of Ela Švabinská, the Kozlov cottage became the property of the daughter of Rudolph and Anna Vejrych, Zuzana Švabinská-Vejrychová (1912-2004), the adopted daughter of Max Švabinský, who took care of the cottage for many years, attending it almost until his death. She also captured her memories of the Vejrychs, Max Švabinský, and Kozlov in the pages of a book, entitled Memory Lights (2002). Shortly before the death of Zuzana Švabinská-Vejrychová, the cottage and its existing furnishings was sold to the municipality of Česká Třebová. Soon afterward, extensive renovation of the entire building began with the intent of creating an exhibition to commemorate the life stories of the Vejrychs and Max Švabinský. The ceremonial opening of the Cottage of Max Švabinský was held in September 2006.

Monuments open to the public

TOUR OF THE COTTAGE OF MAX ŠVABINSKÝ

Visitors to the cottage are informed about the history of the building and the remarkable destinies of its inhabitants, the Vejrych family and Max Švabinský. The tour starts in the oldest part of ‘Welz’s little room’. The revivalist, philosopher, and former revolutionary F. E. Welz spent the last years of his life here. The white room was added onto the house by Karel Vejrych. First, his family lived there, and later it served Mr. and Mrs. Švabinský. It is still equipped with the original furniture that was designed specifically for this space by another family member, the painter Rudolf Vejrych. The attic room, called the ‘Suitcase’, is tiny but remarkable. It served as a study for Max Švabinský; the works of a number of famous artists were created there. The visitors’ attention is also drawn to the interesting exterior of the cottage, especially the gable decorated with scenes of St Wencelas receiving gifts (work by Švabinský, R. Vejrych, and O. Vaňáč), as well as the gable of the neighbouring Pecháček farm with the sgraffito by Švabinský titled ‘The Harvester’. The tour of the cottage takes about 40 minutes

Opening hours:
June, July, August, daily except Mondays: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.,
September and October, Saturdays and Sundays, 12:00 noon - 4:00 p.m.

At other times upon request at telephone no.: +420 465 534 516
(Municipal Museum of Česká Třebová)

Admission fees:
Adults CZK 30
Reduced CZK 20
Family CZK 50

map

PUBLICATIONS FOR SALE

Manoušková, Z.
Rudolf Vejrych 1882 - 1939 výstava kreseb a maleb /Rudolf Vejrych 1882 - 1939 Exhibition of Drawings and Paintings/. Kroměříž 2007. CZK 6

Marešová Kesselgruberová, L. - Voleská, J.
Chaloupka Maxe Švabinského v Kozlově /Max Švabinský’s Cottage in Kozlov/, Česká Třebová 2007 11 pp., CZK 20

Michalski, M. - Skalický, J. - Švabinská, Z.
Kozlov Maxe Švabinského /The Kozlov of Max Švabinský/, Česká Třebová 1993. non-paginated. CZK 24,-

Šebela, J.
Kozlovský kopec a Kozlov /The Kozlov Hill and Kozlov/, Česká Třebová 2000. 12 pp, CZK 20

Ševčík, V. (ed.)
Švabinský, Vejrychovi a Kozlov /Švabinský, the Vejrych Family, and Kozlov/, Praha 2007. 111 pp, CZK 110

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