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Pen and Ink by Joseph Lada

artwork by Joseph Lada

Josef Lada (born 17 December 1887 in Hrusice – 14 December 1957 in Prague, buried at Olšany Cemetery) was a Czech painter and writer.

He is best known as the illustrator of Jaroslav Hašek‘s World War One novel The Good Soldier Švejk. He produced nearly 600 cartoons of the Švejk characters, depicting Austria-Hungary officers and civil servants as incompetent, abusive and often drunk. All the subsequent illustrations of Švejk followed Lada’s style.

Born in the small village of Hrusice in a cobbler’s family, he went to Prague at the age of 14 to become an apprentice binder. He loved to draw and paint. Entirely self-taught, he created his own style as a caricaturist for newspapers, and later as an illustrator. He wrote and illustrated the adventures of Mikeš, a little black cat who could talk.

Lada produced landscapes, created frescoes and designed costumes for plays and films. Over the years he created a series of paintings and drawings depicting traditional Czech occupations.


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