Portrait of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk
Oil on canvas
Width 13 ½” x Height 19 ¼”. (33.02 cm x 48.26 cm)
Bill and Effie Rosene
Czech Center Museum 4920 San Jacinto St. Houston, TX 77004 President’s Hall
The piece was originally in the Czech Republic, acquired by Bill, and Effie Rosene, during their visit to the Czech Republic.
Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk
Tomáš G. Masaryk was the founder of Czechoslovakia and its first president. He was born on March 7,1850 and became a philosopher and a politician. The way in which Tomáš G. Masaryk is depicted in the painting reflects his status as a powerful leader who liberated and modernized Czechoslovakia in 1918. Though Masaryk was already an older gentleman by the time he was president of Czechoslovakia, the painting indicates his progressive mind-set through his modern clothing including the suit and tie he is wearing. The suit and tie represent his alignment with western fashion (Western Europe and the United States), philosophy,and ideas. Some of his progressive ideas center on the transition from a monarchical state to a democracy in 1918 by advocating for western philosophies. His posture and clothing also represent a modern style by deviating from traditional Czech and Eastern European clothes. Interestingly, another element of progressive ideas that is included in the artwork is represented through the title of the painting: Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, which includes his wife’s name. Taking on his wife’s name as a middle name was considered revolutionary for the time.
His importance comes from his role during WWI. During the war, Masaryk worked tirelessly for allied support in the creation of an independent Czech state. He negotiated with leaders in the UK and in the United States and upon the disintegration of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, he became the first president of Czechoslovakia. As president he defended the rights of minorities in Czechoslovakia and served four terms until his resignation in 1935 and died in 1937.