Lillian Gish – Study by Emil Orlik, 1924 (Pictorial)

Lillian Gish – Study by Emil Orlik, 1924 (Pictorial)

Emil Orlik (21 July 1870 – 28 September 1932) was a painter, etcher and lithographer. He was born in Prague, which was at that time part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and lived and worked in Prague, Austria and Germany.

Lillian Gish by Emil Orlik study 1924 a
Lillian Gish by Emil Orlik study 1924 a
Lillian Gish by Emil Orlik study 1924 a1
Lillian Gish by Emil Orlik study 1924 a1 detail
Lillian Gish by Emil Orlik study 1924 d
Lillian Gish by Emil Orlik study 1924 d
Lillian Gish by Emil Orlik study 1924 d1
Lillian Gish by Emil Orlik study 1924 d1 detail
Lillian Gish by Emil Orlik study 1924 c
Lillian Gish by Emil Orlik study 1924 c
Lillian Gish by Emil Orlik study 1924 c1
Lillian Gish by Emil Orlik study 1924 c1 detail
Lillian Gish by Emil Orlik study 1924 b1
Lillian Gish by Emil Orlik study 1924 b1 detail

Emil Orlik was the son of a tailor. He first studied art at the private art school of Heinrich Knirr, where one of his fellow pupils was Paul Klee. From 1891, he studied at the Munich Academy under Wilhelm Lindenschmit. Later he learned engraving from Johann Leonhard Raab and proceeded to experiment with various printmaking processes.

After performing his military service in Prague, he returned to Munich, where he worked for the magazine Jugend. He spent most of 1898, travelling through Europe, visiting the Netherlands, Great Britain, Belgium, and Paris. During this time he became aware of Japanese art, and the impact it was having in Europe, and decided to visit Japan to learn woodcut techniques. He left for Asia in March 1900, stopping off in Hong Kong, before reaching Japan, where he stayed until February 1901.

In 1905 Emil Orlik moved to Berlin and took a post at the “School for Graphic and Book Art” of the Museum of Decorative Arts (Kunstgewerbemuseum), now part of the Berlin State Museums. He taught at the Berlin College of Arts and Crafts, where one of his students was George Grosz.

From 1891, he studied at the Munich Academy under Wilhelm Lindenschmit. Later he learned engraving from Johann Leonhard Raab and proceeded to experiment with various printmaking processes. After performing his military service in Prague, he returned to Munich, where he worked for the magazine Jugend. He spent most of 1898, travelling through Europe, visiting the Netherlands, Great Britain, Belgium, and Paris. During this time he became aware of Japanese art, and the impact it was having in Europe, and decided to visit Japan to learn woodcut techniques. He left for Asia in March 1900, stopping off in Hong Kong, before reaching Japan, where he stayed until February 1901.

Emil Orlik’s work

Emil Orlik was born Prague on 21-07-1870. At that time Prague was the capital of a province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and thus he was an Austrian citizen, not Czechoslovakian as is frequently stated. His family, being Jewish, lived near the Prague ghetto. His father was a master tailor as was his brother Hugo. There was a large German speaking community in Prague (called Bohemian Germans) including an artistic circle which included friends of Orlik’s such as Franz Kafka, Franz Werfel (1890-1945), Max Brod and Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926).

Throughout his school years Orlik had been passionate about drawing and on leaving school in 1889 he was allowed by his father to go to Germany, hoping to be enrolled at the Academy of Fine Art there. He was not accepted however, so he enrolled at the private art school of Heinrich Knirr in Munich, where a fellow pupil was Paul Klee. Orlik’s target remained the Munich Academy and he gained a place in 1891 under Professor von Lindenschmit who soon recognised his talents and allocated him a small studio. Orlik worked hard, copying old masters at the Munich Pinakothek, constantly improving his techniques. In 1893 he won the silver medal for two of his pastel drawings which were shown at the academy’s annual exhibition, with the honour of hanging near works by Adolph von Menzel, one of the most prominent artists in Germany. The Academy had a department led by Professor Raab teaching copper engraving. Orlik enrolled for these classes but was at loggerheads with the professor for branching away from the curriculum, experimenting with all aspects of etching and lithography. He was soon doing work beyond Raab’s understanding.

In 1893 Orlik impetuously left the academy as he felt constrained by conservative academic training. He wanted to start working in more modern styles and was drawn to the Munich Naturalistic movement and the circle around Wilhelm Leibl. After a year of military training he returned to Prague in 1894 and painted and made prints of his friends and surroundings there.

In 1896 Orlik returned to Munich to work with his fellow pupil and life-long friend Bernhard Pankok on their first essays in the making of colour woodcut prints. They had seen examples of Japanese woodcut prints and were fascinated by them. He began contributing illustrations to the journal Jugend. By 1897 Orlik was such an accomplished print-maker that four of his small etchings were chosen for publication in the prestigious art magazine PAN. Also illustrated in PAN was a reproduction of his first poster ‘Die Weber’, designed for the play of the same name produced by Gerhart Hauptmann (1868-1946).

Lillian Gish – Study by Emil Orlik, 1924 (Pictorial)

Emil Orlik

  • Profession: Painter, graphic. Secession (member).
  • Residences: Prague, Vienna, Berlin.
  • Relation to Mahler: See Paintings, drawings and silhouettes.
  • Correspondence with Mahler:
  • Born: 21-07-1870 Prague, Czech Republic.
  • Died: 28-09-1932 Berlin, Germany.

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