Filozofická Fakulta
Ústav pro klasickou arecheologii
Ústav pro klasickou arecheologii

Jindřich Čadík

Professor Jindřich Čadík

(13.3.1891 – 1.1.1979 in Pilsen, Czech Republic)

Professor Jindřich Čadík – not only an excellent art historian, the successful director of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Pilsen, organizer of frequent exhibitions by local and international paniters and sculptors – but first and foremost, a classical archaeologist of European standing.

Habilitated in 1928, two years later he was named extraordinary professor and in 1932 he succeeded Hynek Vysoký as the director of the university Insitute of Classical Archaeology which he continued to lead uninterrupted except for a single wartime pause until the early 1950s. Among his synthetic works, apart from his monography of Czech glyptic J. Drahoňovský, a number of catalogues for the Pilsen collections stand out (On Ancient Glass, 1924; On South Russian Jewelery in Antiquity, 1926; Introduction to the History of Greek Vases, 1928); all three works were innovative in their day and age. In many ways he was a pioneer of novel ideas in this period; however, publication in Czech, then common, limited the amount of international recognition Čadík rightly deserved. The same may be said of his dissertation, titled “On the Magical Power of the Severed Head” (1923), in which the author collected sources from several scientific disciplines and was able to combine them into a book that inspires even today. Čadík’s chapter in the 1st Volume of the Melantrich History of Mankind titled “Greek Art” is a masterwork of synthesis by the matured author, and there is no synthetetic treatise so poignant and rich in ideas in all of Czech literature.

His professional work was first interrupted in 1944. Since the beginning of the war, Prof. Čadík led a resistance group in West Bohemia with connections to London that had managed to operate longer than most other such groups. After he was betrayed to the Gestapo, J. Čadík was sentenced to death, a sentence which he managed to miraculously escape due to the fact that the prosecutor who was meant to sign his verdict was killed in the bombing of Dresden. After the events in Dresden, other prosecutors no longer wanted to sign such verdicts at that stage in the war, and the Americans found him still alive in his death cell. 

Prof. Čadík found himself in prison for the second time in 1950. He was tricked into delivering some papers to the French ambassador, his personal friend, which were supposed to save someone. Although he suspected a trap, and hesitated, he nevertheless delivered the message in order to fulfil his responsibility in possibly helping someone. He was arrested and tried in court. Prof. Čadík himself said of the matter: the Gestapo, they were almost nice folks – they hadn’t even executed me yet, and had already started paying my wife a widow’s pension, but the communists didn’t even wait for my verdict and already threw my wife and daughter out from our home and fired them from work. The appointed public defender demanded the death penalty for high treason. Čadík refused counsel, defended himself, and managed to have his sentence lowered to the second most severe – 20 years. He was in prison for ten, but he continued to live in Pilsen as an outcast. He was not allowed to pubish or work, especially not in his museum, for which he had done so much – a university was completely out of the question. Only in the mid-1960s did his situation begin to improve. In 1966, he published a charming book of memoirs on Czech artists, Painting Knife and the Palette of Laughs, and a year later, the very appealing Memoirs of Škorpil: Chronicles of a family which begat directors of great museums – in Varna, in Kerch, in Pilsen and in Prague (Military History Museum). Unfortunately, insider biographies of Brožík and Mucha had to remain in manuscript form. In 1971, he was still able to publish the text for the exhibition catalogue Antique Glass (in Czech and English) under his own name, and speak publicly in the National Museum, but two years later, his name could not even appear on invites, and Čadík could at the very most serve as a last-minute and ‘illicit’ replacement. His strength was also waning: illnesses acquired in his prison years became exacerbated in later years.

Jindřích Čadík was a brilliant speaker who always spoke from memory, not excluding citations and references. Large attendant crowds at his lectures – especially in the first post-war years – were essentially due to his strength of personality which which he could imbue even fringe topics with great importance. His students and those who met him later recall his pure charater, bravery and kind-heartedness with which he would help wherever needed. He corrected the mistakes of his pupils with graciousness and ease, as only he could, and until his final years his presence continued to be a light wherever he appeared. In his last two years, he no longer left his home and his strength waned, but even then Prof. Čadík continued to radiate warmth and affectionate wisdom.

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