Light Pictures from Far-Off Lands. The Photographic Estate of Archibald Václav Novák

Pages 81–106
Keywords Archibald Václav Novák (1895–1979), Czech traveller and writer, United States, Tahiti, South Asia, South-East Asia, China, Japan, Korea, travelling, history of photography, hand-coloured glass slides, travel lectures
Type of Article Peer-reviewed
Citation ŠEJBL, Jan. Light Pictures from Far-Off Lands. The Photographic Estate of Archibald Václav Novák. Annals of the Náprstek Museum. Prague: National Museum, 2014, 35(1), 81–106. ISSN 0231-844X (print), 2533-5685 (online). Also available from:
Annals of the Náprstek Museum | 2014/35/1

Traveller and writer Archibald Václav Novák engaged in a wealth of lecturing and literary activity in Czechoslovakia in the 1920s and 1930s, with a focus on non- European countries. He drew on his own experiences from his time in the US and Tahiti in 1919–1921 and from his travels around south and south-eastern Asia, China and Japan in 1926–1927. Novák accompanied his lectures in a way that was common at the time – by projecting hand-coloured glass slides. In 2011 868 of them entered the collection of the National Museum as a gift, together with 520 negatives that were used to make them and 12 original negatives from his travels. The existence of source negatives means that in the case of a number of slides it is possible to tell whether and from where they were taken. Using information from Novák‘s work and from other sources, we can then reconstruct the collections that were used for various lectures and establish how complete they are.

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