Jiřina Kaplická

Born Florová (March 30, 1901, Náchod – November 2, 1984, Prague)

From 1919 to 1925, she studied at the School of Applied Arts under professors V. H. Brunner and F. Kyselý. She obtained a teaching qualification at the Czech Technical University and taught drawing in secondary schools until 1939. During the war, she mainly devoted herself, together with her husband, sculptor and professor Josef Kaplický, to their son Jan and the quiet painting of flowers. She was inspired by the botanical drawings of A. J. Cordy, Josef Mánes, and Karel Svolinský, but preferred brush techniques.

In 1945, she became a member of the art department of Umělecká beseda and began to participate in national exhibitions of applied artists with the Bilance group. In 1962, she had a solo exhibition at the SČVU gallery, where her friend from her studies, Adriena Šimotová, gave the laudatio. Jiřina competed in the field of applied arts, designing meticulous book bindings, logos, and ex-librises, decorations for porcelain, and patterns for home fabrics. In the shadow of her more famous husband, she continuously collaborated on the designs of monumental paintings, windows, and mosaics. With tireless diligence, she created hundreds of watercolors of flowers and ornamental trees, leaves of trees with fruits or mushrooms, cacti, and alpines, which began to be published as botanical annotated books from 1965. Posthumously, in 1986, the Central Bohemian Gallery in Prague organized a larger exhibition for her at the Small Castle in Průhonice, in whose gardens she painted plants directly en plein air.

Jiřina Kaplická discovered with love and patience, characteristic of her, beneath the surface of flower tissues, the flesh of shrubs, and the toughness of bark, the shapes, colors, and scents that complete the meaning and purpose of each plant. She collected her models in garden beds or in forests and meadows, where she traveled herself. She chose watercolor, which pictorially differentiated the clear and transparent color values of individual flower tones, the sparkling freshness of moist petals, or the saturation of green on leaves, stems, or trunks. She masterfully controlled her brushwork, only exceptionally used drawings, and simple coloring was foreign to her. It seems that each plant had an individual face, and Kaplická transposed her own thoughts, feelings, and moods into them, thus creating still lifes of poetic images.

Artia publishing house published 17 titles in Czech with illustrations of roses, followed by a series of editions with cacti, orchids, shrubs, alpines, ornamental trees, indoor and balcony flowers, domestic trees, mountain plants, and spices. In 1986, Albatros published Kytice Kytky Kytičky, poems by J. Vodňanský, M. Lukešová, and other authors are poetically complemented by bunches of meadow flowers. Before publication, there was the European Dictionary of Plants with a scientific concept of images. About 20 foreign language titles and lexicons were published from 1970 until 2000 by international publishing houses.