Jindřich Čadík

Professor Jindřich Čadík

(13.3.1891 – 1.1.1979 Pilsen)

Professor Jindřich Čadík was a great art historian, for a long time a successful director of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Pilsen (now part of the Museum of Western Bohemia), exhibitions organizer of local and foreign painters and sculptors, but above all he was a classical archaeologist of an European stature.

He was conferred habilitation in 1928, two years afterwards he was appointed an extraordinary professor and in 1932 he took over the Institute of Classical Archaeology after Hynek Vysoký, where he remained with a war intermezzo until the beginning of the 1950s. Among his synthetical works few which are distuinguished: monograph about Czech gem engraver J. Drahoňovský and a number of catalogues of the Pilsen collections (The Ancient Glass, 1924; The Jewellery of the Southern Russia in Antiquity, 1926; Introduction to the history of the Greek vase painting, 1928). All three works were pioneering at their time. He was ahead of his time in his conclusions, but unfortunately the then common publication in Czech prevented him to receive world attention, which was due. The same can be said also about his dissertation, published in 1923 as “On the magical power of the dead head” (“O čarovné moci mrtvé hlavy”), where the author remarkably combined sources of different scientific disciplines and managed to create a book that inspires readers until now. A master piece of a full-fledged scholar is Čadík’s synthetic chapter on the Greek Art in the first volume of the Human History (published in Melantrich), until now there is no such a mature and succint synthesis in the Czech literature.

His career was for the first time interrupted in 1944. Since the beginning of the war Čadík headed a resistance group communicating with London, that successfuly operated longer than most others. After their cover was blown he was imprisoned by Gestapo and sentenced to death and it was only by miracle that he escaped this fate since the procurator who was about to sign his death sentence died during the Allied bombardment of Dresden. At the end of the war, the remaining procurators were hesitant to sign such sentences and Americans found him in the death cell still alive.

Čadík was imprisoned for the second time in 1950. He was a victim of a trap – he was asked to hand some documents, that could save somebody to a French ambassador, who was his personal friend. Although he suspected it might be a trap, and after some hesitation, he did not forgo his duty to help others. He was arrested and put on trial. He himself reminiscented about it: “Gestapo – they were decent people in the end – they had not executed me yet and they already started to pay my wife a widow’s pension. But communists did not even waited for a verdict and fired my wife and daughter from job and evicted them from the appartment.” Ex-offo advocate asked for a death sentence for a treason for his client. Čadík refused ex-offo advocate and defended himself at the court solliciting the second highest sentence – 20 years. He served 10 and remained in Pilsen as an outcast, without possibility to publish or work, especially in his museum for which he did so much – not to say anything about the University. Only in the mid-1960s the situation started to turn better. In 1966 he published a lovely book of memories of Czech artists “Špachtle a paleta úsměvná”, year after that a charming memories of Škorpil family, memories of a family that produced directors of large museums in Varna, Kerch, Pilsen and Prague. Books about Brožík and Mucha unfortunately remained only in manuscripts. In 1971 he was able to publish under his name a catalogue of the exhibition on Ancient glass and also to held public lectures in the National Museum. However, two years later his name could not appear on the invitations and Čadík could only “substitute.” Also, his health started to deteriorate and maladies acquired in prisons troubled him greatly in his last years.

Jindřich Čadík was a great orator, always speaking by heart including quatations and references. The huge audiences his lectures attracted – especially in the first years after the war – was first of all caused by the power of his personality, as he was able to turn even most obscure topics into something interesting. His students and those who met him later likewise remember his pure character, bravery and kindness, that made him to help everywhere where it was needed. He corrected mistakes of his students with tact and kindness, like nobody else, and until his last days he was bringing light to everywhere where he went. His health rapidly deteriorated over the last two years of his life and he barely left his appartment, but even at that time a warmth was shining from his heart with a kind wisdom.

By Prof. Jan Bouzek

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