08 October 2021
1848 Revolutions: the Czech perspective
‘With the sudden onset of the 2011 “Arab Spring” in the Middle East and North Africa, the phenomenon of revolution has new life in the social sciences’. This opening sentence of the article ‘The Structure of Comparison in the Study of Revolution’ by Colin J.Beck (Sociological Theory, 2018. Volume: 36 issue: 2, page(s): 134-161) indicates a growing interest in the phenomenon of revolution in social sciences. The author conceptualizes ‘comparison as a network of cases, suited for the tools of social network analysis’, as ‘in comparative studies, cases do not just exist as independent units—rather, they lie in interdependent webs of comparison’.
Such an approach might work very well in relation to sources that researchers are studying. The primary focus for information professionals is to help researchers in creating webs and networks of sources. Having checked recently the British Library Flickr account, I noticed a significant number of illustrations from the same book - Na úsvitě nové doby. Dějiny roku 1848. v zemích českých (‘At the dawn of a new age. History of 1848 in the Czech lands’) by Josef Jakub Toužimský and was surprised how well it fits with other parts of our collections.
Cover of Josef Jakub Toužimský, Na úsvitě nové doby. Dějiny roku 1848. v zemích českých (Prague, 1898) 09315.ee.17
One of our online collections guides – 1848 Revolutions – provides an overview of the British Library highlights. Toužimský’s book, with its 101 illustrations and 272 facsimiles of documents and other contemporary materials gives the Czech perspective on the events of 1848.
Chapter 5: The Fall of Metternich. Caricature of March 1848: Metternich’s March panic
Josef Toužimský was born in the year of the revolution, and published his book by its 50th anniversary. He was one of the leading Czech journalists of his time, who was interested in and focused on national liberation movements, especially in the Balkans. In 1875-76, during the Serbo-Turkish War, he worked as a correspondent for the newspaper Národní listy. After the war, he continued to work in this newspaper together with another famous Czech journalist and writer Josef Holeček.
Toužimský’s book on the Revolution of 1848 combines the author’s historic research with a unique collection of illustrations that, apart from portraits of historical figures and politicians traditional for historical books, include reproductions of caricatures from the Czech press and artistic representations of the scenes.
Medical doctor Fischhof [Adolf Fischhof, a Hungarian-Austrian writer and politician], a fighter for the rights of the peoples of Austria, contemporary portrait [by Jan Vilímek]
Metternich, a great state bloodsucker; caricature of 1848
The last job. Administrator (locking the door): So – it’s just the right time for me to disappear too; caricature of 1848.
‘Slovanka’, a female leader on the barricades during the bloody days of the 1848 Pentecost.
Franciscan Fathers on the barricades.
Symbolic drawings play a decorative function and open every chapter. The drawings most likely were created by Jan Vilímek (1860-1938), who is known as a painter of many portraits of famous Bohemians and other Slavs and a prolific illustrator for popular magazines, such as Humoristické Listy, Zlatá Praha and Světozor.
Drawing from Na úsvitě nové doby
Drawing from Na úsvitě nové doby
I hope that highlighting this book might contribute to creating wider networks of sources for researchers in history, social sciences, history of art and other subjects.
Katya Rogatchevskaia, Lead Curator East European Collections