Ludmila Šechtlová, Model for a Photographer and a Sculptor

My language is English, so I initially had some confusion about the Czech names. The model’s legal first name is Ludmila, but in the titles for the photographs she is called Lída, Lidy, Liduška, and Lidušky. These photo titles are from the Šechtl & Voseček Museum site, operated by the Šechtl family, so I have no doubt that they are correct. Lída is a diminutive nickname for Ludmila. Ludmila’s grandfather originally spelled the family surname as “Schächtl”, the German form of the name. Later he began using the Czech spelling “Šechtl”. The feminine of Šechtl is Šechtlová. J.V. Dušek is the most common form of the name of the sculptor for whom she modeled, but in three of the photo titles Lída is identified as the model of J.V. Duška. Dušek and Duška are different forms of the same name.

Josef Jindřich Šechtl – Rodinné, Liduška (1915)

Lída also modeled for her father, the renowned photographer Josef Jindřich Šechtl. Josef Jindřich’s father, Ignác Schächtl, opened his photography studio in 1876 in the town of Tábor, now in the Czech Republic. Schächtl Studio became Schächtl & Voseček when Jan Voseček became a partner, and later it became Šechtl & Voseček Studio. Josef Jindřich Šechtl operated the studio after the death of his father in 1911. Photos from the Šechtl & Voseček Studio of another model, Eva Záhořová, were featured on Pigtails here.

Josef Jindřich Šechtl – Lída Šechtlová (1919)

Josef Jindřich was one of the outstanding photographers of his time. He was known for his use of light and shadow in his photographic art. Photographs of women and children, and photos documenting the history of Tábor were his specialties. (The historical photos would later get his son sent to prison.) Josef Jindřich married Anna Stocká in 1911 and their daughter, Ludmila Šechtlová was born in 1912. Anna, like Josef, was artistically inclined. The two were friends with other artists, including the sculptor Jan Vítězslav Dušek, who was also a resident of Tábor.

Josef Jindřich Šechtl – Liduška (1919)

Many childhood photographs of Ludmila may be found on the Šechtl & Voseček Museum site. A few are included in this post. The first photo is of Ludmila at age two or three. The new clothing, willow branches, rabbit figurine and artificial egg indicate that this was an Easter portrait of Ludmila. Rodinné means “family”, and Liduška could either be her nickname or a Czech word for a human. Ludmila was six or seven when the next two photographs were taken.

Josef Jindřich Šechtl – Lída Šechtlová, model pro J.V.Duška (1921) (1)

The last five photographs of Ludmila in this article, all nudes, were taken in 1921, when Ludmila was eight or nine. In three of these five photos, she is proudly named as the model for J.V. Duška. She was also the daughter of the photographer, but perhaps it was more prestigious to say that she was the model for a famous sculptor. In the first of these Ludmila is posed between two stands; her pigtails are supported by one stand and her hands by the other. I get the idea, but I am not sure of this, that the stands would allow her to hold a pose for a longer time when modeling for a sculptor. She appears to me to be a bit like the girl on the banner illustration for Pigtails in Paint. The other four nude photos show her posing without any props. Several other photographs like these, with only minor variations to her pose, are in the Šechtl & Voseček Museum.

Josef Jindřich Šechtl – Lída Šechtlová model pro J.V.Duška (1921) (2)

Josef Jindřich Šechtl – Lída Šechtlová,model pro J.V.Duška (1921) (3)

The last illustration in this article is a photograph of a statue modeled by Ludmila Šechtlová, sculpted by Jan Vítězslav Dušek, and photographed by David Peltán. The statue of a girl holding a beehive is titled Spořivost, which means thrift. Dušek created this statue for the Tábor Savings Bank. Dušek was one of the most prominent Czech sculptors. He is famous for his monuments, portraits, and for his competition as an artist in the 1924 and 1936 Olympic Games.

Josef Jindřich Šechtl – Akt Lidušky (1921)

Spořivost portrays Ludmila as slightly older than she appears in the photographs in which she is identified as “model pro J.V.Duška”. There may be another statue of Ludmila by Dušek, made when Ludmila was younger, but in searching for Dušek’s works on the internet, I could not find it.

Josef Jindřich Šechtl – Akt Lidy Šechtlové (1921)

Josef Jindřich Šechtl died in 1954, and Ludmila’s brother Josef Šechtl inherited the family business. In 1957 the Communist government of Czechoslovakia put Josef Šechtl in prison for a year and confiscated his belongings. The excuse was that he photographed a wedding without obtaining the correct government permit, but the probable real reason was that some people in the Communist Party in 1957 had been supporters of the National Socialist Workers (Nazi) Party during World War II. They believed that the historical photographs documenting Tábor during the war could be embarrassing if the photos gave evidence that they were Nazis, and therefore wanted to confiscate and destroy them. Josef Šechtl’s wife, Marie Šechtlová, was able to save some of the most important negatives, but the majority were lost. It is sad to contemplate what may have been in the art that was destroyed.

Jan Vítězslav Dušek – Spořivost (c1925)