Figures on a Stage, circa 1950

SKU: 529
Gouache, watercolour and collage, 12 x 13 in. (30.5 x 33 cm.)

Height – 30.5cm x Width – 33cm


the artist’s estate

Provenance: the artist’s estate

collage combines many threads of Littna’s richly coloured life: his
interest in theatre and music (having studied at the music academy in
Prague), his training at Goldsmiths College, London, under Graham
Sutherland, and his appreciation of Continental art of the period –
post-war Littna divided his time equally between London and Paris,
where he was acquainted with Georges Braque and Georges Rouault, and
friends with Jacques Villon and Oscar Kokoschka.

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Francis Littna
1903 - 1973

Francis Littna was born in Prague in 1903 and was educated at the University of Prague. His studies included law, economics, painting and music. He graduated in both Czech and German language. In 1921-23 he studied at the music academy in Prague, but changing direction again, he qualified as a Doctor of Law in 1928, which profession he practised in Prague until 1939.

Just before the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1939, Littna escaped to England via Sweden. His knowledge and experience of law was utilized by the Czech government in exile, located in London for the war’s duration.

Littna became a British subject after the war and embarked on further formal art training. He attended courses at Camberwell School of Art and subsequently enrolled at Goldsmiths College where his teachers included Graham Sutherland.

Littna had a career in teaching art that ran parallel to his career as an artist. He taught painting and art history at Morley College, University of London, from 1948-1953. Later he held teaching posts in France and the USA.

During the late 1950s and early 60s Littna divided his time between London and Paris. He studied in Paris under Leopold Survage, Francis Desnoyer and others, and knew Braque and Rouault. Jacques Villon and Oscar Kokoschka in particular became friends of his. In 1959 he had a major one-man exhibition at the Galerie Paul Cezanne, Paris. Other Paris exhibitions followed at the Galerie de l’Art Moderne (1961) and the Galerie Jacques Casanova (1965). He also exhibited widely elsewhere in France, as well as in Germany, Austria and New York.

Littna’s London exhibitions were also significant. He showed with the Artists’ International Association and participated in a major exhibition at the Kaplan Gallery in Duke Street, St James in 1960 (an `International Choice’ group show that also included Van Gogh, Toulouse Lautrec, Epstein, Sickert, Moore and Nicholson.) He held a one-man exhibition at the Biggins Gallery, Old Bond Street in 1961.

In 1965 Littna and his wife Victoria Littna, (also an artist) moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan where he became an associate professor of art at Western Michigan University, teaching art history and philosophy in the Honors College. In 1967 he held a one-man exhibition at the Four Winds Gallery, Kalamazoo.

Littna is represented in a number of public collections in England and France including City Museum, Northampton; Victoria & Albert (Documentation); Musee Darney, Vosges; Musee d’Angouleme, Charente; and Musee La Rochelle. His work is in private collections in England, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Holland, Austria, U.S.A., Brazil and Australia.