All Content © 2012 Antonin Sterba

Antonin Sterba is best known for his luminous portraits. Recognized as one of Chicago’s finest artists, he was also accomplished as a landscape and still life painter, and a printmaker.

Born in Hermance, Czechoslovakia in 1875, Antonin Sterba came to this country at the age of five. He studied under J. Francis Smith at the Art Academy of Chicago where he received the Gold Medal of Honor in 1899.  His two years of study at the Julian Academy in Paris were under the French masters, Jean Paul Laureans and Benjamin Constant.  Upon Sterba’s return to America, he joined the faculty of the Art Institute of Chicago and later was a faculty member of Chicago’s American Academy of Art.

Antonin Sterba




Between 1903 and 1938, Sterba’s paintings were featured in thirty exhibits in the Art Institute of Chicago.  He also exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia.

In addition, Sterba exhibited in the Annual Exhibition of the Association of Chicago Painters and Sculptors and the 50th Anniversary Exhibition of the Palette and Chisel Academy of Art.  His work was honored with the Bohemian Art Club Medal (1921), the Municipal Art League Prize (1938) and the gold medal of the Association of Chicago Painters and Sculptors (1943).

At the Chicago Galleries, Sterba often exhibited with Albin Polasek, Pauline Palmer, Adam Emory Albright, J. Jeffrey Gerant, and Rudolph Ingerle.  Among his outstanding students were Ivan Albright, James Ingwersen, and Emil Armin.

Following his one-man exhibition at the Union League Club of Chicago in 1994, his work received further recognition with an extensive one-man exhibit of oil paintings, prints, and drawings at the Miller Art Center in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin in 1996.

Chris Marie (Girl with the Golden Shawl), 1928, considered one of Sterba’s masterpieces, is in the permanent collection of the Union League Club of Chicago.  His paintings are included in the collections of the Chicago History Museum, Northwestern University, DePauw University and the National Portrait Gallery in the Smithsonian Institution as well as many other public and private collections.

The Chicago Cultural Center exhibit, 1999, Capturing Sunlight, The Art of Tree Studios, included Sterba’s  Self  Portrait, the Municipal Art League Prize (1938), and the portrait The Girl with the Blue Vase, c. 1930.

Click to see an article featuring Antonin Sterba in the 1948 Chicago Sunday Tribune.


This collection of Antonin Sterba’s work has thrived through the love and dedication of Jodie Sterba (Josephine Stanton Sterba), wife of Antonin’s son, Tony Sterba. Since Antonin’s death in 1963, she has tirelessly persevered as historian and curator. Without her efforts, much of Antonin’s legacy would have been lost. Her family is forever grateful to her for keeping his heritage alive.