February 2024 – Miniature sheet for the Smetana anniversary


In February 2024, I am presenting a Czech Post miniature sheet on the theme of “Works by Bedřich Smetana”. The three stamps with face values represented by the letters “A” (standard domestic letter), “E” (standard mailing to other European countries) and “Z” (standard mailing to non-European countries) depict landscape motifs from the compositions in the “My Fatherland” cycle: “Vyšehrad Castle”, “From the Bohemian Meadows and Forests” and “The Vltava River”. The artistic design of the miniature sheet was created by Renáta Fučíková, and the engraving of the first day covers was done by Václav Fajt.


Bedřich Smetana was born 200 years ago on March 2, 1824 in Litomyšl and died on May 12, 1884 in Prague. From an early age, he devoted himself to music, in particular playing the piano and composing. He came from a wealthy German-speaking family and strove to create a unique Czech musical style with his work. Even during his lifetime, he became a leading representative of Czech music and culture. His most important works include the comic opera “The Bartered Bride” based on a libretto by Karel Sabina, the cycle of six symphonic poems “My Fatherland” and the romantic string quartet in E minor “From My Life”, which he composed after losing his hearing.
smetanaAll three stamps combine the motif of music and at the same time the motif of Czech folk art. On each stamp, a landscape is thematically assigned to one of the pieces in the “My Fatherland” cycle. The landscapes are designed using the watercolor technique, while the superimposed folk motifs are captured using surface design. The motifs are embroideries from men’s costumes from the area around Litomyšl, Smetana’s birthplace: a man’s vest made of white linen with blue embroidery of stylized tulips, roses and daisies. This “embroidery” above the stamps merges seamlessly into the border of the sheet at the edge of the sheet.
smetanaThe offer is complemented by three first day covers. On the first cover, Smetana respectfully greets a flock of doves, symbolizing joy and old Bohemian tranquillity; on the second cover, the composer walks through a Bohemian grove in a historical top hat; and on the third cover, the famous composer listens to the sound of water with his hand to his ear, symbolizing his deafness.
The entire issue was printed by Hradištko, s.r.o., with the miniature sheet printed in offset in an edition of 22,000 and the first day covers printed in steel from a flat plate in an edition of 2,300 each. The motif of the first day cancel shows a motif of the Litomyšl embroidery and the text “Litomyšl, 14. 2. 2024”.