Letter from Julius Zeyer to Zdenka Braunerová, 26 June 1896

Zdenka Braunerová, one of the first Czech modern women painters, passed through artistic generations as an ageless, sympathetic figure but also a distinctive artist in her own right. She openly voiced her views on both older and newer art, inspired young artists, and collaborated with many local and foreign figures, including Paul Claudel and Auguste Rodin. Her influence on many artists is evident from the numerous surviving letters in which writers, artists, and critics alike tell her of their plans, artistic experiences, and life's adventures, and emphasise her influence in transforming their worldview.

Vodňany, 26 June 1896.
At last, my dear friend, I get to the letters. It is unbelievable how the treacherous time flies. Time is indeed “as false as water”, rocking us like a wave, when suddenly, like today, that wave has carried us far from the shore we have come to know as “today” and “yesterday”.
Fanta was only here for 3 days, and we did not go anywhere. It was not an especially relaxing time. One day we walked up to “Lomec”, that bizarre little church in the woods, near my graveyard, remember? Just as we got there, a storm rolled in. We were trapped in that chapel for more than half an hour, alone, in the twilight, the wind and the trees roaring, lightning bolts flashing past the windows, the windows rattling and the rain swishing. It was beautiful and mystically enchanting. Then we walked in the rain (that had not stopped) to the graveyard, which was even more beautiful in the torrents of water falling continuously from the sky than it had been in the sun. We were entranced. –
After Fanta left, I set about tidying the flat, and I only feel done with it today, except for some details. I feel guilty for playing like that for so long instead of working, but I can’t live in disorder. – That Japanese tapestry has ruined my drawing room. It is too superb and dominates too much, even over things that surpass it in beauty. It is like a virtuoso who overshadows the other artists. – I am quite pleased with my painted cabinet from Friesland; it is a sweet little thing – so sweet I just want to kiss it. –
You have delighted me with your article in Rozhledy [Perspectives]; it is written with such vigour, and so much artistic feeling, and passion for a good cause, and so much wit. But – but – as for its effect on those adipose brains?!... Ayde mi! – We must not give up hope; and if talking is of no value, at least it will matter in the future that there had once been people who stood up against stupidity and barbarism, and the next generation will feel less uncomfortable about our dim-witted present day. – Our society! I can almost feel it touching me – I thought I saw the whole of it at once when we entered that horrible summer house in the Municipal Commons – “most horrible and strange”, I blurted out, if you remember. –
I hope you enjoy Walter Pater as thoroughly as I did. I will lend you his “Greek Studies” at some point – I am currently rereading it. –
You will find enclosed 15 florins to buy that wrought-iron cross at Rosenberg’s. See which one of the two you think is more beautiful – do you reckon it is beautiful enough for Chittussi? I would like something even better, possibly much more expensive, but if you think a cross will do, then get one of them. If only the whole gravestone could be designed the way I think it should be. But I hope this will work, and I will take your advice. –
I think about our walk together – that lovely garden, your beautiful apartment, and your pleasant company above all, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for those wonderful moments. –
Be well!
Yours, Ulian.
Have you heard from Mr. Mrštík?
I asked Mrs. Náprstková to let me keep the cross at her place for the time being. She is a kind soul and agreed to it immediately. –
Any news about Bílek?
I got an adorable letter in Czech from Sita.
Author: Zeyer, Julius
Title: Letter from Julius Zeyer to Zdenka Braunerová, 26 June 1896
Origin: Zdenka Braunerová collection
Licence: Free license
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