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Gloria in Excelsis Deo. A Peaceful Christmas with Civic Forum

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Czech Republic (designed and printed)

  • Date:

    1989 (designed and printed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Cihlár, Michal (designer)
    Civic Forum (issued by)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Four colour offset lithograph printed on paper. Reproduction of a linocut.

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Zdenek Kavan

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case 3G, shelf DRAWER 32

One of the most beautiful and the most popular posters of the ‘Velvet Revolution’ was created between the 7th and 12th of December 1989 by the graphic designer and artist Michal Cihlár. The poster supports the Civic Forum movement which led opposition to communist rule in Czechoslovakia. Cihlár created the image using the ‘reduction’ linocut technique – slowly cutting away each section that will print a different colour from a single piece of linoleum “When the design was finished, there was almost no linoleum at all” he said. His linocut titled, ‘Betlem’ was originally hand-printed in an edition of three at Michal Cihlar’s home studio in Buštehrad. The artist still owns two of the prints, but the third was lost in the Prague - Karlín printing office and has never been found.

The motif and the title for ‘Betlem’ were proposed to Cihlár by the sociologist Bohuslav Blažek. The original title, ‘Merry Christmas With the Civic Forum’, had to be changed for political reasons to ‘A Peaceful Christmas with the Civic Forum’. In the book titled ‘Plakáty sametové revoluce’ (Posters of the Velvet Revolution, Prague 2009) by graphic designer Filip Blažek, Michal Cihlár recalls “I saw my poster hanging all over Prague and I mainly remember that it was pasted everywhere on the way to Prague Castle, when the crowds went there to celebrate the election of Václav Havel as President”. At that time, hand-making revolutionary posters, jangling keys and distributing leaflets were all part of the same euphoric activity. Time was not separated into work and revolution”.

The design was mass printed by lithography in two sizes. This is an example of the larger A1 size. The smaller version measured 32 by 43 cm.

In the middle of the snow-covered landscape, full of colourful Christmas bustle, we can see the holy family (the Virgin Mary, the Christ Child in the crib and St. Joseph). They are surrounded by people enjoying jolly activities: carrying Christmas carps and pines, playing music, hurrying to give Christmas presents or offerings apples. However, among them, there are also Czechoslovak citizens carrying national flags, a young boy with hand written democracy banner and people wearing badges with the Civic Forum ‘OF’ logo inside a heart shape – a symbol of Václav Havel’s presidential slogan ‘Truth and Love Must Win Over the Lies and Hate!’

Designed, printed and published in former Czechoslovakia

Physical description


Place of Origin

Czech Republic (designed and printed)


1989 (designed and printed)


Cihlár, Michal (designer)
Civic Forum (issued by)

Materials and Techniques

Four colour offset lithograph printed on paper. Reproduction of a linocut.

Marks and inscriptions

Cut by M. Cihlár 1989 TZ 55
Signed and dated in the linocut. TZ 55 is the print workshop.


Height: 57.2 cm maximum, Width: 78.1 cm maximum

Descriptive line

Christmas poster promoting Civic Forum, reproducing a linocut by M. Cihlár; designed, printed and published in former Czechoslovakia, 1989.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Catholic Herald, 25 December 1992, p.8(illus)

Production Note

Designed, printed and published in former Czechoslovakia


Paper; Printing inks; Printing ink


Colour offset lithograph; Printing

Subjects depicted

Worship; Freedom


Christmas; Religion; Folk Art; Politics; Propaganda; Posters


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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