[Brno]: circa 1930. Limited Edition. Original woodcut print in black ink on translucent paper, affixed at top edge to cream-colored cardstock. Measures 24.5 cm x 26.5 cm (cardstock slightly larger). Item #50412
Signed, titled, and numbered (3/25) by the author on bottom edge. The image is a close-up of a black child in livery carrying a large glass on a salver. In the background, a small crowd, all facing away, is awash in the light of a chandelier.
Helena Bochorakova-Dittrichova (1894-1980) was the first female wordless novelist and the only woman to work in this medium during its heyday. She was born in the Moravian region of what is now the Czech Republic and spent most of her life in Brno, the Moravian capital. She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague and in 1923 received a government scholarship to study printmaking in Paris. Bochorakova-Dittrichova's unpublished wordless novel Malí ka Na Cestách [The Artist on Her Journey] recounts this period in her life. In Paris, she first encountered the wordless novels of Flemish artist Frans Masereel, the originator of the form, and was inspired to create her own. Over the course of her long career, Bochorakova-Dittrichova published several wordless novels, along with travelogues and historical works. She also worked as a printmaker and illustrator, and was highly regarded in her native land, though largely unknown elsewhere. This changed in 2014, when the National Museum of Women in the Arts held an exhibition of her work entitled "The First Woman Graphic Novelist: Helena Bochorakova-Dittrichova," and this important artist finally began to gain global recognition. Her work, however, is still not widely available.