John C. Vondrous Biography

John C. Vondrous




Born in Czechoslovakia in 1884, painter and printmaker Jan “John” C. Vondrous was born into a family of tailors. Hoping for a more prosperous future, they immigrated to the United States when Vondrous was nine. From 1889 to 1904 he studied etching at the National Academy of Design in New York, followed by studies at the painting studio of George Willoughby Maynard and the engraving school of James David Smillie.

Upon graduation he relocated to Provincetown, as many of his peers had done, and continued to paint while supporting himself through commercial work. His first commissioned etchings, published during the First World War, were for the New York Times and the New York Herald, creating architectural etchings of New York City and the surrounding area. In 1910 he traveled abroad, visiting his birthplace of Prague and then Venice and Belgium. He returned to the U.S. with the onset of World War I, where he continued to recieve commissions and was able to set up a studio on Long Island.

After the war, Vondrous found that he was no longer interested in American subject matter, and he once again traveled to Europe. Throughout the 1920s, he sent works to his friend, collector and dealer Henry J. John, who successfully marketed Vondrous' European works to American collectors through exhibitions in New York, Boston, Miluakee, Chicago, and San Francisco. Vondrous was also exhibiting in Europe, with paintings and etchings of the urban landscapes of major European cities, particularly Bruges and Venice.

By 1926 Jan Vondrous had settled permanently in his native homeland of Czechoslovakia. During his remaining years, he continued to etch and paint the people and architecture of his beloved city until his death in 1970.

Vondrous was a member of the Chicago Society of Etchers, the Print Makers' Society of California, and the Hollar Society of Prague. He received many awards for printmaking including, 1st place Baldwin Prize National Academy of Design, New York, 1901; 1st Hallgarten Prize for composition, 1903; Bronze Award for Etching, Panama - Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, 1915; Honorable Mention of Helen Foster Barnett Prize, 3rd Annual Exhibition of the Brooklyn Society of Etchers, 1918; Logan Prize, Chicago Society of Etchers, 1917, 1918, 1919; Honors at the Sesqui–Centennial International Exposition, Philadelphia, 1926. A major retrospective of his works was held by the Hollar Association of Czech Graphic Artists in 1948.

Examples of Vondrous' etchings are in the following museum collections: Art Institute of Chicago, Congressional Library (Washington, DC), The Modern Gallery of Prague (Prague), ​New York Public Library, Kupferstich Kabinett (Berlin), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum (London), British Museum (London).