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Zdeněk Burian

photo: Zdeněk Burian (wikipedia.org, autor Michal Maňas)

Zdeněk Burian was a Czech painter and illustrator of adventure books. He gained international recognition for his reconstructions of extinct animals and plants, on which he collaborated with prominent palaeontologists and anthropologists of the time.

Zdeněk Burian was born on 11 February 1905 in Kopřivnice (Map) and died on 1 July 1981 in Prague (Map). A very talented artist, he was accepted directly to the second year at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague after a recommendation from the great Max Švabinský himself. However, he only stayed there for two years and left before completing his studies. He started to earn his living as an illustrator at the age of fifteen and held onto the profession until the end of his life.

The first book illustrated by Zdeněk Burian called Dobrodružství Davida Balfoura (Adventures of David Balfour) was published in 1921. He significantly popularised palaeontology not only in our country but also abroad. His pictures of dinosaurs, mammoths and people are renowned. From 1935, he collaborated with Professor Josef Augusta on the reconstruction of prehistoric animals and primeval life. Today Zdeněk Burian is considered one of the greatest illustrators of the primeval era in the world.

The total number of works that he created during his artistic career ranges at around 13,500 pieces of art, but due to a great number of unorganised works and sketches, the final sum can hardly be established. He illustrated about 500 books and about the same number of short stories. He also illustrated about 600 book covers including books by Jaroslav Foglar, Rudyard Kipling, Jack London, Karl May, Eduard Štorch and Jules Verne.

You can walk along a street bearing the name of Zdeněk Burian in his native Kopřivnice. The planetoid designated 7867 discovered in 1984 was also named after this artist.

Author: Petra Hubálková
Added: 06.01.2013

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