Portrait of Milan Rastislav Štefánik


Shown here is a portrait of the young Milan Rastislav Štefánik (1880–1919), a Slovak politician, astronomer, and general of the French army. Together with the Czech political leaders Tomáš G. Masaryk (1850−1937) and Eduard Beneš (1884−1948), Štefánik founded, in Paris in 1916, the Czechoslovak National Council, the supreme authority of the Czechoslovakian exiles during the World War I. The present-day Czech Republic and the Republic of Slovakia were at that time part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and many exiles sought to advance the cause of an independent Czechoslovakia after the war by supporting the Allied Powers (Britain, France, and Russia) against Austria-Hungary and its ally Germany. Štefánik organized Czechoslovak legions in Serbia, Italy, Romania, and Russia to fight on the side of the Allies, and he became the first Czechoslovak minister of war. He died in a plane crash while returning to Slovakia shortly after the end of the war. The identity of the photographer is unknown, but the process used is a ferrotype (also called tintype), which involved taking a positive image on a thin iron or tin plate.

Last updated: January 16, 2015