The founder of the family collecting tradition, Mr. Jan Kodl was born into the family of an oakum-maker and rope trader on 25 April 1855 in Breznice. He studied at a secondary school in Pribram and Pisek, where he showed great talents for mathematics and descriptive geometry. In 1873 after passing leaving exams he continued at a technical university in Prague, and a year late he was granted a fellowship for his excellent academic achievements by a prestigious university in Vienna. Here, at the emperor’s court he meets his future wife – then girlish Helena von Rudkowsky. They settle in Pisek in 1885 and with a financial loan from her father he buys the entire heritage of Gamisch family jointly with his partners, Barth and Bloch. Apart from brickworks and land in Prague’s suburb also a complete picture gallery of Gamisch passed to Kodl. This was the very moment giving rise to the future family collecting tradition effecting lives of next generations. Together with his noble and art-loving wife he became not only a collector but also a patron of art. He was supporting financially a painter family of Quast in Pisek and had sgraffito decoration made by Mikolas Ales on his newly built pseudo-Ranaissance house in 1892. For this very occasion, Ales proposes allegories illustrating major crafts of the Pisek region. Kodl complements and expands the collection mainly by classic landscape paintings of Haushofer school and impressive paintings by Marak´s disciples.
Founder of family collection tradition Jan Kodl (1855-1903) and his wife Helena von Rudkowsky (1865-1913). Portrait miniature paintings on china made by a family friend, Jan Zacharias Quast (1814-1891) in late eighties of the nineteenth century. They are exhibited at a permanent exposition in the Prachen museum in Pisek.
Jan Kodl became famous not only as a builder, collector and a patron, but also as a politician. He advocated the non-compromising Young Czech Party, he contributed to victory of the party in municipal elections and electing of his friend, T.G. Masaryk as a deputy in the Imperial Council in Vienna.
„.. he started building activities in Pisek, which the people of Pisek had never dreamed of. Not to compete with the local buildes he did not build on contracts, but on his own land. He brought in preference for nice facades, practical partitioning of ground plans, novelties in civil engineering (concrete and plaster ceilings, plaster, cork and mesh partitions etc.) in Pisek. He provided his workers with land for building on loan, bricks.., so many of the house owners think back of him with gratitude.“
Pisek region 51, 1928
„As every year, also this year large number of structures has been erected in our town. First of all the general public concentrates on the construction of Mr. Kodl in Prague’s suburb, he has built one-storey house at the place of former “National Alehouse”, on which rich façade decoration is in progress. The entire forefront will be decorated with sgraffiti, between windows allegories painted on a panel by the renowned Czech painter, Mikolas Ales will be placed. The complex will give a harmonic impression and will become a new pride of the town“.
Otava 19, volume 14, 6. 5. 1892
„Fishery“„Art of Building“„Brick-making“„Gardening“
Originals of Ales´s allegories are deposited in the Prachen museum in Pisek; the sgraffiti have been renovated recently, as well as the entire façade having suffered damage during the floods in 2002.
He was a keen collector, painter-aquarellist and a member of Manes. He acquired the works of art from his peers with who he regularly met not only in the premises of the Manes society, but often in private. Of his best friends from among the artists we may mention first of all Jan Bauch, Vincenc Benes, Oldrich Blazicek, Josef Capek, Emil Filla, Otto Gutfreund, Miloslav Holy, Frantisek Janousek, Alfred Justitz, Georg Kars, Rudolf Kremlicka, Ludvík Kuba, Otakar Kubin, Jan Lauda, Kamil Lhotak, Otakar Marvanek, Frantisek Muzika, Vitezslav Nezval, Josef Sudek, Josef Sima, Vaclav Spala, Max Svabinsky, Frantisek Tichy, Jan Trampota, Jiri Trnka, Jan Zrzavy and others. He organises regular quests for art to autumnal Parisian salons, from which he brings some acquisitions from time to time. He acquires many paintings by exchange or purchase from other collectors. He regularly meets architects J. Gocar, K. Honzik, O. Novotny a A. Zivny. He maintains friendship with factory-owners and simultaneously great collectors J. Waldes, R. Morawetz, O. Feder and F. Ringhoffer, his respectable tennis rival. Among his other collectors-friends also belong V. Kramar, banker J. Preiss, factory-owner Baruch, from whom he bought a part of the famous collection of Jan Preisler, J. Jindra, Fr. Cerovsky, antiquarian A. Necas, theoretician Fr. Dvorak, V.V. Stech, A. Matejicek, actor and excellent tennis player Vlasta Burian, bookseller R. Rysavy, publisher Storch-Marien, Brno collectors Bloudek, Fr. Venera and O. Brazda, publisher V. Petr and lawyers Kozeluh, J. Nebesar and a number of others.
Reunion in Nejedly´s studio, the twenties
(from the left: painters Otakar Nejedly, Bedřich Piskac and architect Jiri Kodl)
Jiri Kodl was not only famous as a renowned collector, avantgarde architect and well-known painter-aquarellist. He also achieved a number of great results in his two favourite sports - golf and tennis. As he often used to say, he took the moment, when he, as a tennis representative at Olympic Games in Stockholm in 1912, carried the Czech flag jointly with Jan Masaryk, for one of the most intense experiences in his life.
In the totalitarian regime, his son Pavel Kodl (1934-1994), and upholder of family collecting tradition and a renowned expert in Czech art of painting, a the third from the generation, played an important role in preservation and expansion of the family collection; until his death he was an expert adviser in our gallery.