GEORG JILOVSKY (1884 – 1958)
Prague painter and graphic artist
Jilovsky was born on 15 March 1884 in the Vinohrady district of Prague. His parents, Josef Jilovsky (1852–1921) and Julie, née Heller (1863–1939), came from small villages in Central Bohemia and moved to Prague shortly before he was born. Although Jilovsky’s family had intended him to pursue a career in business, he went against his father’s will – like many of his contemporaries – and, in 1900, enrolled at Prague’s School of Decorative Arts. He was taught there by E. K. Liška, J. Schikaneder, J. Preisler and F. Jenewein. In 1904 he moved to the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, where he studied with Fr. Thiele until 1907. After a brief study trip to Munich, he returned to Prague in 1908 and established a loft studio in a newly built house at Haštalská Street 6, which he used until the end of the 1930s. In 1904-1909, 1912 and 1914, he went on study trips to Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France. He became a member of the Society of German Fine Artists in Bohemia, Hagenbund and the Association of German Writers and Artists CONCORDIA. In 1915 he took part in the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, in 1917 he held his first one-man show at the Rubešův Salon in Prague and, in 1927, at Prague Rudolfinum exhibition hall.
While at the School of Decorative Arts, Jilovsky began to design invitations to balls, dance programmes, wedding announcements, postcards, caricatures, exhibitions posters, books, industrial advertisements and, in particular, ex libris, which he made about 120 using various graphic techniques. The exhibited poster design for a dance party from 1908 represents his early work, influenced by Art Nouveau style. He established a reputation as a fine graphic artist with a series of effective graphic sheets, which contain atmospheric motifs of old Prague. Jilovsky was also a capable painter of portraits and landscapes. From 1928 Jilovsky worked as a set designer for Prague’s New German Theatre. One of his most successful set designs was for a production of Weinberger’s opera Schwanda der Dudelsackpfeifer (1929). In 1931 Jilovsky received a State award for the set designs he created for the New German Theatre.
During 1942 Jilovsky’s siblings and their families were deported to the Terezín ghetto, as was his eldest son Hanuš. In September 1943, Jilovsky and his wife were arrested for illicit correspondence with their son and deported to the Gestapo prison in the Small Fortress of Terezín. Later Jilovsky was deported to Auschwitz, Sachsenhausen, Mauthausen and the Ebensee Concentration Camp, which was liberated by the US army on 6 May 1945. His sons Hanuš and Arnošt had perished in the Auschwitz, as had most of his relatives. His wife Marie returned from Ravensbrück with tuberculosis of the lungs, from which she died in 1948. Jilovsky tried to return to his work. From 1949 he was a member of The Society of Collectors and Friends of Ex-libris in Prague and The Association of Czechoslovak Artists. He died after a brief illness on 16 February 1958 at the age of 74 at his home in Prague.
The exhibitions of Jilovsky’s graphic work and paintings you can visit at the Robert Guttmann Gallery in U Staré školy street 3, until 6 November