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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Henry Fuseli


The Nightmare
1781
oil on canvas
101.6 × 127 cm
Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan, USA

Henry Fuseli (1741-1825), original name Johann Heinrich Fussli, was a Swiss painter, draughtsman and writer on art who spent much of his life in Britain. His paintings are among the most dramatic, original, and sensual works of his time. Many of his works deal with supernatural subject-matter. Always drawn to literary and theatrical subjects, he developed a special interest in illustrating Shakespeare. He had a noticeable influence on the style of his younger contemporary, William Blake.

He was born in Zurich, Switzerland, the second of 18 children. His father was a painter of portraits and landscapes. He intended his son Henry for the church, and sent him to the Caroline college of Zurich, where he received an excellent classical education. Obliged to flee Zurich because of political entanglements, he went first to Berlin, and then settled in London in 1764. Encouraged to become a painter, he left England in 1770 to study in Italy, where he stayed until 1778. During his stay in Rome he studied the works of Michelangelo and classical art, which became his major stylistic influences. He painted more than 200 pictures, but he exhibited only a small number of them. His sketches or designs numbered about 800; they have admirable qualities of invention and design, and are frequently superior to his paintings.

In 1788 he started to write essays and reviews for the Analytical Review. He was a thorough master of French, Italian, English and German, and could write in all these languages with equal facility and vigour, although he preferred German as the vehicle of his thoughts. His principal work was his series of twelve lectures delivered to the Royal Academy, begun in 1801. His pupils included John Constable, Benjamin Haydon, William Etty, and Edwin Landseer. William Blake, who was 16 years his junior, recognized a debt to him, and for a time many English artists copied his mannerisms.

In 1788 he was elected an associate of the Royal Academy, becoming a full academician two years later. He was professor of painting at the Royal Academy. He was appointed keeper of the Academy in 1804.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Arthur Elsley


The Day's Catch
1902
oil on canvas
82 x 102 cm
Private collection

Arthur John Elsley (1860-1952) was one of the most popular English artists who depicted scenes of children with their pets in playful settings in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods. A large number of his paintings were inspired by sketches made on frequent cycling trips around the countryside. His works were so popular during his lifetime that much of his art was reproduced as prints and posters, and was often used in calendars, advertisements, books and magazines.

He was born in London, one of six children of a coachman and amateur artist. Around the age of 14, he contracted measles, which caused permanent damage to his eyesight. In 1876 he became a student at the Royal Academy School and submitted his first exhibit to the Academy in 1878. He then began to earn his living from art, prints and posters of children, horses, and dogs.

During the period of the First World War, he worked part-time at a munitions factory, and he only painted four works from 1915 to 1917. His eyesight continued to fail, and by 1931 it became so poor that he confined his activities to woodwork, metalwork and gardening.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

William Blake


The Lovers' Whirlwind, Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta
between 1824 and 1827
Pen and ink and watercolour
37.4 x 53.0 cm    
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, England

William Blake (1757-1827) was an English painter, poet and printmaker. He was born at 28 Broad Street in Soho, London. He was the third of seven children, two of whom died in infancy. His father was a hosier. He attended school only long enough to learn reading and writing, leaving at the age of ten, and was otherwise educated at home by his mother. Even though the Blakes were English Dissenters, he was baptised at St James's Church, Piccadilly, London. The Bible was an early and profound influence on him, and remained a source of inspiration throughout his life. He started engraving copies of drawings of Greek antiquities purchased for him by his father, a practice that was preferred to actual drawing. Within these drawings he found his first exposure to classical forms through the work of Raphael, Michelangelo, Maarten van Heemskerck and Albrecht Durer.

Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, his verse and artwork became part of the wider movement of Romanticism in late Eighteenth and early Nineteenth century European Culture. His writing combines a variety of styles. He is at once an artist, a lyric poet, a mystic and a visionary, and his work has fascinated, intrigued and sometimes bewildered readers ever since. His prophetic poetry has been said to form "what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language". His visual artistry led one contemporary art critic to proclaim him "far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced".

For the nineteenth century reader Blake's work posed a single question: was he sane or mad? The poet Wordsworth, for example, commented that there "is no doubt that this poor man was mad, but there is something in his madness which interests me more than the sanity of Lord Byron and Walter Scott" and John Ruskin similarly felt that Blake's work was "diseased and wild", even if his mind was "great and wise". In the Twentieth century, however, following W.B. Yeats's three volume edition of his works, Blake has been recognised as a highly original and important poet, artist and writer, and as a member of an enduring tradition of visionary artists and philosophers, an individualist, a libertarian, and an uncompromising critic of orthodoxy and authoritarianism.

His work can be difficult at times, mainly because the reader is offered Blake's visions in Blake's own terms. He draws on a highly powerful, but essentially personal, mythological system of his own devising, but one that also draws on a variety of mythological, poetic and philosophical sources.
On this, Blake himself remarked that he had to "create a System, or be enslav'd by another Man's." In part also, what he seeks to express can only be presented in terms of vague abstractions and allusions, with a cosmic perspective on issues of faith, religion, philosophy and belief, and this must also mean that the reader has to work hard. Yet the effort is worth it. He is a revolutionary and visionary artist and poet, and his work represented a decisively new direction in the course of English Poetry and the Visual Arts.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Frederic Leighton


Idyll
c.1880
oil on canvas
104 x 212 cm
private collection

Frederic Leighton (1830-1896) was an English painter and sculptor. He was a  sophisticated, cosmopolitan, classical painter producing highly finished pictures, and was also an excellent portraitist. Throughout his life he was energetic, and hardworking, and his inability to take life more easily when in his sixties accelerated his death. His works depicted historical, biblical, and classical subject matter.

He was born in Scarborough to a family in the import and export business. He was educated at University College School, London. He then received his artistic training on the European continent. When he was 24 he was in Florence and studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti. From 1855 to 1859 he lived in Paris, where he met Ingres, Delacroix, Corot and Millet. In 1860, he moved to London, where he associated with the Pre-Raphaelites. In 1864 he became an associate of the Royal Academy and in 1878 he became its President.  His paintings represented Britain at the great 1900 Paris Exhibition.

He was the first painter to be given a peerage and was bearer of the shortest-lived peerage in history; after only one day his hereditary peerage ended with his death. His funeral was at St. Paul's Cathedral. Leighton's magnificent home Leighton House, is now a museum. He remained a bachelor and rumours of his having an illegitimate child with one of his models in addition to the supposition that he may have been homosexual continue to be debated today. In later life his favorite model was Ada Alice Pullen, known as Dorothy Dene. George Bernard Shaw knew them both, and it is likely that they were the models for Professor Higgins and Eliza Doolitlle in Pygmalion.

He was an enthusiastic volunteer soldier, enrolling with the first group to join the 38th Middlesex (Artists) Rifle volunteers in 1860. His qualities of leadership were immediately identified and he was promoted to command A Company within a few months. In 1869 Captain Leighton was elected to command The Artists Rifles. In the same year he was promoted to Major and in 1875 to Lieutenant Colonel.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Frank Dicksee


Startled
1892
oil on canvas
97.8 x 67.3 cm
Royal Academy of Arts Burlington House, London, United Kingdom

Francis Bernard Dicksee (1853-1928) was an English Victorian painter and illustrator, best known for his pictures of dramatic literary, historical, and legendary scenes. He specialized in romantic historical scenes, often from his own imagination rather than based on a particular event or literary source. He also was a noted painter of portraits of fashionable women, which helped to bring him success in his own time.

He was a member of a noted artistic family, his father, brother, and sister were all well-known painters, and the family lived in the Bloomsbury area of London. His father taught him from a young age. He enrolled in the Royal Academy in 1870 and achieved early success. He was at the height of his esteem at the turn of the century. By the end of his career, however, he was regarded as distinctly old-fashioned, and when he was elected president of the Royal Academy in 1924, this was seen as a concession to his seniority rather than as an indication of his standing in the art world. He was strongly opposed to modernism in art and his speeches as president fit the stereotype of the old attacking the new.  He was knighted in 1925, and named to the Royal Victorian Order by King George V in 1927.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Evelyn De Morgan


The Sea Maidens
oil on canvas
circa 1885-1886
125 x 64 cm
De Morgan Centre, London, United Kingdom

On the morning of her seventeenth birthday, Evelyn recorded in her diary, "Art is eternal, but life is short..." "I will make up for it now, I have not a moment to lose." She went on to persuade her parents to let her go to art school. At first they discouraged it, but in 1873 she was enrolled at the Slade School of Art.

Evelyn De Morgan (1855-1919), born Evelyn Pickering, was an English Pre-Raphaelite painter. She specialized in literary subjects, done in a style owing much to the Pre-Raphaelites. The Boer War and the outbreak of the First World War led to work with an anti-war sentiment. At the end of her career she painted several allegories relating to the First World War, exhibiting them to raise money for the Red Cross.

She was born in London. Her parents were of upper middle class. She was homeschooled and started drawing lessons when she was 15. She often visited her uncle, a painter, living in a villa in Florence. Her uncle, giving a great influence to her works, suggested her the arts to study in Rome, Perugia, Assisi and Florence. This enabled her to study the great artists of the Renaissance. Eventually this influenced her to move away from the classical subjects favoured by the London Slade school and to make her own style. She was particularly fond of the works of Botticelli.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Edward Burne-Jones


The Star of Bethlehem
1890
watercolor and gouache
101.125 × 152 cm
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, United Kingdom

"I mean by a picture a beautiful romantic dream of something that never was, never will be - in a light better than any light that ever shone - in a land no one can define or remember, only desire - and the forms divinely beautiful." (Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones)

Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833-1898) produced a vast amount of work throughout his career. He achieved great success in his day and was influential on a number of movements such as the French Symbolists. He was an idealist, he was in pursuit of perfection and this quest led him to the days of knights and maidens. There is a sensuous beauty in his finest works, and it is this which ensures his work continues to be popular. In addition to painting and stained glass, he worked in a variety of crafts; including designing ceramic tiles, jewellery, tapestries, mosaics and book illustration.

He was born in Birmingham; his mother died only a few days later. Through his father, a frame-maker, and other relatives, he was able to develop his natural gift for drawing, although he had little or no formal tuition before leaving King Edward VI School, Birmingham, to enter Exeter College, Oxford, in 1853. He was originally destined for the Church and with that intention he went to Oxford University.

It was here at Oxford University that he discovered the Aesthetic Movement. He was inspired by Pre-Raphaelite painters such as John Everett Millais and Holman Hunt, and by 1855 on a tour of North France with William Morris, he decided to become a painter. A year later he left Oxford without a degree and moved to London where he studied under Dante Gabriel Rossetti who was to be the prime influence over his career.

Working in a style inspired by the Pre-Raphaelites, his paintings depicted medieval and mythical subjects. Ethereally beautiful women and knights in shining armour often featured in his work alongside many Renaissance features. His classical style, however, was seen as outmoded by the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. The Victorian values represented in his paintings were seen as sentimental and the heroines with their submissive postures were seen as lacking the toughness of the modern emancipated woman.

Although elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1885, he resigned in 1893; other honours included the Legion d’Honneur and the award of a baronetcy in 1894. He died of heart failure and his ashes rest at the church in Rottingdean, Sussex, where he kept a holiday home.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

John Dickson Batten


The Garden of Adonis (Amoretta and Time)
1887
oil on canvas
104.1 x 127 cm
location unknown

John Dickson Batten (1860-1932), born in Plymouth, Devon, was a British painter of figures in oils, tempera and fresco and a book illustrator and print maker. He went to Trinity College, Cambridge, and entered the Inner Temple in 1884. However, he soon abandoned law for art, studying at the Slade School of Art and exhibiting at the Royal Academy and with the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, etc. He was a founder-member of the Society of Painters in Tempera (1901), its Secretary for twenty years.

He is chiefly remembered for his illustrations to the books of fairy tales edited by Joseph Jacobs and published by David Nutt in the 1890s; for his colour-woodcuts in the Japanese style; and as one of the leading exponents of the tempera and fresco revival.
He also illustrated English versions of Tales from the Arabian Nights and Dante's Inferno.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Gudmundur Petursson Thorsteinsson


Seventh Day in Paradise
1920
collage
National Gallery of Iceland
other detail unknown

Gudmundur Petursson Thorsteinsson, better known as Muggur (1891-1924) was an Icelandic artist and film actor. He made alot of his works with oil, coloured pencils, coal and clip-arts. Among his best-known works are the collage Seventh Day in Paradise and the children's book Dimmalimm.

He studied at the Royal Painting Academy in Copenhagen. He worked with watercolours, oil, charcoal and collages. His works are characterized by a dreamlike and playful quality. The influence of impressionism - such artists as Toulouse-Lautrec and, later, Picasso - can be seen in his work. He also put his art on icelandic cards which was really popular by the people. He got one of the main-roles in the movie "Story of the Borgar-family" which was produced in 1919 in Iceland. He was young when he died of tuberculosis, cancer.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Torarinn Torlaksson


Tingvellir (a place in southwestern Iceland, near the Reykjanes peninsula and the Hengill volcanic area)
1900
other detail unknown

Torarinn Benedikt Torlaksson (1867-1924) was one of Iceland's first contemporary painters, the first Icelander to exhibit paintings in Iceland, and recipient of the first public grant that country made to a painter.

He was the 13th of 14 children of a clergyman father, who died when he was just five years old. Originally trained and working as a bookbinder, he studied painting. In 1900 he was awarded a grant by the Icelandic Parliament to study art in Denmark, and he trained there from 1895 to 1899. Returning to Iceland, he held an exhibition of his works at a place in Reykjavik, in the summer of 1900, the first exhibition of Icelandic painting in Iceland.

His principal interest was landscape painting, and perhaps fittingly a dominant subject in this first exhibition of works was Tingvellir, a site of enormous historical significance to Icelanders as the site of their parliaments (which dated back to 930 AD). He continued to paint, holding regular exhibitions until 1911.

In 1913, he was appointed by Prime Minister as one of the five people on the committee that designed the Flag of Iceland. He taught drawing at the Technical College and other institutions in Reykjavik, and was principal of that college from 1916 to 1922. He also ran a shop selling art materials, journals and books until his death. Throughout his life he continued to paint, particularly in the countryside during the summers. He portrayed the landscape of their country on its terms and through Icelandic eyes.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Konstantinos Volanakis


Collecting the Nets (Fishermen at sea)
1871
oil on canvas
69 × 135 cm
National Gallery of Greece

Konstantinos Volanakis (1837-1907) was a Greek painter, considered one of the best of the 19th century. He was known as the 'bard of the Greek sea'. He was a keen and affectionate observer of nature, whose knowledge of the sea encouraged the fullest expression of his talents.

Born to a wealthy family in Crete, he moved with his family at an early age to the island of Syros where he established himself in the bustling port of the island. There he finished his preliminary studies and in 1856 he moved to Trieste on the coast of Italy where he worked as an accountant at a sugar firm and began painting. He first became interested in marine subjects and his sketches of the harbour and small ships on the sugar firm's ledgers drew the enthusiastic attention of his employer. As a result of that, he was sent, with the financial backing of his family, to the Academy of Arts in Munich.

After his studies he worked in Munich and traveled to Venice and Trieste, cities whose picturesque port and harbour-oriented topography would prove inspirational. It was during his stay in Vienna that he had the opportunity to travel throughout the Mediterranean in the Austrian navy's training ship, which would prove the inspiration for his coastal and full ocean scenes, and the characters that populate his beloved marine panoramas.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Domenikos Theotokopoulos


The Opening of the Fifth Seal
1608-1614
oil on canvas
224.8 × 199.4 cm
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY, USA

The Opening of the Fifth Seal (or The Fifth Seal of the Apocalypse or The Vision of Saint John) was painted in the last years of the artist's life for a side-altar of the church of Saint John the Baptist outside the walls of Toledo. Before 1908 this painting was referred to as Profane Love. A prominent El Greco scholar had doubts about the title and suggested the Opening of the Fifth Seal. The Metropolitan Museum, where the painting is kept, comments: "the picture is unfinished and much damaged and abraded."

Domenikos Theotokopoulos (1541-1614) is one of the few old master painters who enjoys widespread popularity. "El Greco" (which means "The Greek") was a nickname, a reference to his national Greek origin. Like Vermeer, Piero della Francesca, and Botticelli, he was rescued from obscurity by an avid group of nineteenth-century collectors, critics, and artists and became one of the select members of the modern pantheon of great painters. For Picasso, as for so many later admirers, El Greco was both the quintessential Spaniard and a proto-modern, a painter of the spirit.

Born Domenikos Theotokopoulos (El Greco) was a Greek artist whose painting and sculpture helped define the Spanish Renaissance and influence various movements to come. He is the most unusual painter in 16th-century Europe. He combined the strict Byzantine style of his homeland, Greece, with influences received during his studies in Venice and the medieval tradition of the country where he worked, Spain.

He was born around 1541 in Crete, which was then part of the Republic of Venice, the center of Post-Byzantine art. In his mid-twenties, somewhere between 1560 and 1565, he traveled to Venice and studied under Titian, who was the most renowned painter of his day. Under Titian, he began mastering the fundamental aspects of Renaissance painting - e.g., perspective, constructing figures, and staging detailed narrative scenes. Then he moved to Rome from Venice, remaining from 1570 to 1576, staying initially in the palace of one of the most influential and wealthy individuals in Rome. In 1572, he joined the painters’ academy and established a studio, but he criticized Michelangelo’s artistic abilities, which likely led to him being ostracized by the Roman art establishments, and he left Rome to Madrid, at age 35.

In Madrid, he tried to secure royal patronage from King Philip II, but to no avail, so he moved on to Toledo, where he lived and worked for the rest of his life, producing his best-known paintings. His works from this period are seen as precursors of both Expressionism and Cubism. He is remembered chiefly for his elongated, tortured figures, often religious in nature, the style of which baffled his contemporaries but helped establish his reputation in the years to come. His later works are marked by exaggerated, and often distorted, figures, stretching beyond the realities of the human body. He did not have followers. He died on April 7, 1614, unappreciated in his time and his art was forgotten for 250 years.

The re-discovery of his painting was a sensation. El Greco’s effect on Picasso’s evolution is just one thread of his influence. The twisting figures and brash, unreal colors that form the very foundation of his art influenced scores of artists, from the cubists following Picasso to the German expressionists to the abstract impressionists after them. His work also inspired those outside the realm of painting, such as writers Rainer Maria Rilke and Nikos Kazantzakis.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Nikiphoros Lytras


Carols
1872
oil on canvas
90 × 59 cm
private collection

Nikiphoros Lytras (1832-1904) was a nineteenth-century Greek painter. He was one of the most famous painters in Athens. Also as he was the official portraitist in Athens and he painted many high class members of his times. He remained faithful to the precepts and principles of the academaism of Munich, while paying greatest attention both to ethnographic themes and portraiture.

He was born in Pyrgos on the Greek island of Tinos, the son of a popular marble sculptor. At the age of 18, he went to Athens to train at the School of Arts. With his graduation in 1856 he started teaching there the course of elementary writing. In 1856 with a Greek government’s scholarship he went to Munich to study in the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. In 1862 after King Otto was exiled the scholarship was no longer available to him.

With his return in Athens he became professor in the Athens School of Fine Arts in the department of Painting and he taught there for 38 years. In Greece he started to paint portraits and every day life scenes. His paintings about every day life correspond in the ideology of the ruling class of the times. His trips in Minor Asia and Egypt enriched his paintings with dark skinned children and other elements of Anatolia. The last period of his life, he painted many scenes about aging, loneliness and the fear of death.

His son Nicolaos Lytras followed in his footsteps by also studying at the Munich academy of Fine Arts and also heading the Athens School of Art. He died at the age of 72 in 1904, after a short illness that is believed to have been caused by colours’ chemicals substances. After his death Georgios Jakobides took his place in Athens School of Fine Arts.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Polychronis Lembesis


Child with rabbits
1879
oil on canvas
103 × 130 cm
National Gallery of Greece

Polychronis Lembesis (1848-1913) was a Greek painter, a member of the Munich School of Greek artists. His work is characterized by a particular skill in achieving perfect chromatic tones and a clarity of design. He admired Murillo, and often used in his works a similar contradiction of vivid light and dark colours to emphasize chromatically the scenes that he painted. He was also known as a painter of religious scenes, to which he devoted himself after 1883. He is considered the most romantic of all the romantic painters of the Munich School.

He was the son of a shepherd from the island of Salamis. He spent his childhood in Salamina, memories of which influenced his artistic work all his life. He studied painting initially at the Athens School of Fine Arts, in 1875 continuing his studies at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Munich, with the financial backing of a politician. In 1880, he returned to Athens and opened his atelier. Although he was a master in Landscape painting he became known more for his skills in portraiture. He began painting portraits of aristocrats and politicians of his age. He also taught painting to the children of many of his rich clients such as Stephanos Dragoumis, who later became prime minister of Greece. The Dragoumis family supported him for most of his life.

He died very poor and largely unknown as an artist, perhaps due to a shift in Athenian artistic taste from the Munich School to more modern artistic movements inspired from Paris. Some decades after his death his work has been reevaluated, and today he is considered one of the most important representatives of the Munich School art movement.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Georgios Jakobides


Mother and Child
oil on canvas
28 x 22cm
other detail unknown

Georgios Jakobides (1853-1932) was a Greek painter and one of the main representatives of the Greek artistic movement of the Munich School. His work is influenced by German academic Realism, his most famous paintings were of children. He opposed all new artistic tendencies, including Impressionism and Expressionism, but supported younger artists to follow their own individual artistic tendencies. He founded and was the first curator of the National Gallery of Greece in Athens.

His first education was in Smyrna, Ottoman Empire. From 1870 to 1876 he studied sculpture and painting at the Athens School of Fine Arts, and in 1877 he went to the Akademie in Munich on a scholarship to continue his painting studies. In Munich he lived for 17 years where he worked in his studio, painting mythological scenes, genre pictures, and portraits. In the capital of Bavaria he was regarded as a successful German artist selling many of his works at high prices.

The Greek government invited him in 1900 to return to Athens to organize the National Gallery of Athens, and in 1904 he was appointed Director of the Athens School of Fine Arts where he taught for 25 years. At this time, additional to his themes he produced formal portraits of eminent Greeks, e.g.Queen Sophia. He was given awards at five international exhibhits: among those in Berlin 1891 and in Paris 1900.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Nikolaos Gyzis


The orphans
1871
oil on canvas
90 × 66 cm
Private collection

"I cannot paint Greece as beautifully as I feel it" (Gyzis)

Nikolaos Gyzis (1842-1901) was one of Greece's most important 19th century painters and the major representative of the so-called 'Munich School', the major 19th century Greek art movement. He is one of the greatest painters ever to come out of Greece. Born in the village of Sklavohori on the island of Tinos, which has a long artistic history, he was considered a realist in his folk themes, an idealist in his allegorical themes and a symbolist in his religious themes.

He was one of six children of a carpenter. Very early in life he showed an interest in painting. In 1850 his family settled in Athens, where he studied at the Athens School of Arts. There, he was admitted at the age of 8 (four years earlier than the admission age of 12) and developed his natural skill in painting, following the curriculum as an observer for the first four years and as a student after that until 1864.

In 1865 he spread his wings for Munich. He won a scholarship to continue his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, where he settled for the rest of his life, until his death in 1901. It was there that he approached great masters and came to know great artists. At the beginning of the 1870s returned to Greece for a period of several years, after which he produced a sequence paintings with more avowedly Greek themes. In the decade 1875-1885, his paintings in Munich were nostalgically reminiscent of scenes of everyday life in Greece, but his dream of returning to Greece one day never happened. In 1880, he was made an honorary member of the Academy of Fine Arts of Munich. In 1882, he received a diploma of recognition and a medal from King George I of Greece. He was very soon incorporated into the German pictorial climate, becoming one of the most characteristic representatives of the Greek artistic movement of the 'Munich School'. From 1886 onward he was a professor at the Academy of Munich and gradually turned from the detailed realistic depictions towards compositions of a singularly impressionistic character.

Towards the end of his life, in the 1890s, he took a turn toward more religious themes. In autumn of 1899, he didn't feel well and returned to Greece believing that he would regain his health. He died of leukemia in 1901, in Munich.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Franciszek Smuglewicz


Scythian ambassadors to Darius
c.1785
oil on canvas
147 x 184 cm
Lithuanian Art Museum, Vilnius, Lithuania

Franciszek Smuglewicz (1745-1807) was a Polish-Lithuanian draughtsman and painter. He was born in Warsaw into a Polish-Lithuanian family. His father, also a painter, moved to Warsaw from the Lithuanian province of Samogitia.

In 1763 he journeyed to Rome, and began the study of fine arts. He stayed in Rome for 21 years, where he embraced the Neo-Classical style. In 1765 he received a royal scholarship from the King of Poland and the Grand Duke of Lithuania, and was admitted into the Saint Lucas Academy. In 1784 he returned to Warsaw, where he founded his own school of fine arts, one of the predecessors of the modern Academy of Fine Arts. A classicist, but under strong influence of the Polish baroque, he became a notable representative of historical paintings, a genre that dominated the fine arts of Poland throughout the 19th century.

In 1797 he moved to Vilnius, Lithuania, where he became the founder and the first deacon of the Institute of Sketch and Painting at the Academy of Vilnius. A tutor of generations of Polish-Lithuanian painters, he devoted himself to historical paintings in the latter years of his life. He brought to Lithuania classical ideas and views of enlightened classicism. He painted everyday life, and the architecture of Vilnius in a realistic manner. He is considered a progenitor of Lithuanian art in the modern era.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Witold Wojtkiewicz


A procession of children (Children surprised the storm)
1905
oil on canvas
92 x 50 cm
National Museum, Warsaw, Poland

Witold Wojtkiewicz (1879-1909) was a Polish neoromantic painter, draughtsman and illustrator, exceptional artist of the "Young Poland" movement, representative of early Expressionism and Symbolism, active in Warsaw and Krakow. Within the Young Poland movement, he was  distinguishable for the originality of his oeuvre. Many also view him as a precursor of the various trends that appeared in Polish art of the 20th century - from grotesque art colored by irony through Expressionism that penetrated the human soul and Surrealism that examined the subconscious using a refined aestheticism.

The early Expressionistic tendencies visible in his drawings were also shaped by his fascination for the art of Francisco Goya. Gradually his works evolved towards a poetic that was both lyrical and grotesque, one unique in Poland and having no equivalent in world art. Another realm that he continued to explore in his art with increasing depth was the world of children. He intensified the fictional dimension of these fairy-tale scenes by inserting out of the ordinary objects into their rural settings.

He started his education at the Warsaw School of Drawing in 1898 and continued at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. He was suffering from a serious heart condition at birth in 1879. He grew up in a large family where his father was a bank employee. He died of a heart attack at the age of thirty. He was located at the crossroads of symbolism and expressionism. He also worked as an illustrator and postcard designer.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Wladyslaw Podkowinski


Frenzy of Exultations (Ecstasy)
1894
oil on canvas
310 x 275 cm
National Museum, Krakow, Poland

Wladyslaw Podkowinski (1866-1895), born in Warsaw, was a master painter and illustrator who was one of the first Impressionists and Symbolists in Polish art at the turn of the 19th century. He was associated with the Young Poland movement during Partitions. He began his artistic education in 1882 as a student of the Warsaw drawing school. He continued his artistic training at the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg in 1885-1886. He perfected his skills as a painter in Paris, where he lived in 1889.

He abandoned the conventions of realistic painting in favour of impressionist techniques that enabled him to capture fleeting visual impressions on canvas. After his return to Poland in 1890, he settled down in Warsaw. He consistently developed his Impressionist technique of painting, there. By applying tiny brushstrokes and founding the composition of the painting on the contrast between warm and cold tones, he managed to bring out glimmering patches of light and shade laying on leaves, flowers, and grass.

In 1891 he painted a Portrait of Wincentyna Karska which is considered to be the first portrait in the history of Polish art created in outdoors. In his landscapes from 1894 he applied spontaneous impasto technique and intensified the colours, as well as started to randomly place the main themes of the painting within its frame. In 1892 he introduced themes to his paintings that were typical of European Symbolism. They referred to literature and focused on the motifs of love and death. From then, his artistic interests developed two ways - the bright and luminous landscapes served as a counterpoint to murky, dense and expressive paintings that anticipated the emergence of early Expressionism.

His best known painting, Frenzy of Exultations, first exhibited in 1894, with its daring depiction of the well known iconographic motif of a naked woman on a horse, was surrounded by an atmosphere of scandal and public outcry, which escalated further after his attempt to destroy his own canvas.  However, in some circles of critics and artists the painting has been considered as a manifesto of new art and a sign of rebellion challenging established aesthetical canons. Driven by instinctive erotic forces, the woman on a demonic steed embodied destructive power.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Wladyslaw Slewinski


Woman Brushing her Hair
1897
oil on canvas
64 × 91 cm
National Museum, Krakow, Poland

Wladyslaw Slewinski (1854-1918) was a Polish painter. He was one of Gauguin's students and a leading artist of the Young Poland movement. He studied at the Academie Colarossi where he met Gauguin. He submitted to Gauguin's artistic and personal influence, spending time with him in Paris and, from 1889, in Pont-Aven and Le Pouldu in Brittany. Gauguin's encouragement prompted him to dedicate himself to art. His philosophy of art seems to stem from an excerpted statement of his about Gauguin: "He is so much an artist that he has to be wholly accepted or else rejected. I can feel him and accept him totally, for he suits my ideas of art and beauty".

Beginning with his early works, he simplified forms and painted in flat areas. He encircled areas with contours, though he sometimes blended color into color. Perhaps more important for him than the selective application of synthetism was his search for simplicity and sincerity in places untouched by modern civilization as well as in objects of daily use. In his art, he concentrated on the object, infusing its materiality with the reflective sensitivity. He used mainly earth colors, sometimes enlivened with stronger accents. He employed a repertoire of forms with curving contours, and painted without a drawn sketch, as was characteristic of the epoch.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Jan Matejko


Introduction of Christianity to Poland
1889
oil on wood
79 × 120 cm
National Museum, Warsaw, Poland

Jan Alojzy Matejko (1838-1893) was a Polish painter known for paintings of notable historical Polish political and military events. His works include large oil on canvas paintings, numerous portraits, a gallery of Polish kings, and murals in St. Mary's Basilica, Krakow. He focused on major themes in Polish history, using historical sources to paint events in minute historical detail. He is counted among the most famous Polish painters.

He was born in the Free City of Krakow, part of the Polish territory annexed by Austria during the Partitions of Poland. His father, a tutor and music teacher, was a Czech who married a half-German, half-Polish woman from a family of a well to do saddler. He was the 9th child from11 that his parents had. His mother died in 1846 when he was 8. He and his siblings were taken care of by his aunt.

From earliest days he showed exceptional artistic talent that let him advance from grade to grade as he had great difficulties with other subjects. He never mastered a foreign language and did not do well even with his native Polish language (he had Czech accent). As a result, the public appearances he was obliged to make all his life must have been difficult for him. He attended a high school which he dropped out of in 1851 because of poor results. Despite that and because of his exceptional talent he studied at the School of Fine Arts in Krakow from 1852 to 1858. During this time, he begun exhibiting historical paintings. After studying under a historical painter and then briefly and less successfully in Vienna, he returned to Krakow, where he lived for the rest of his life and where, beginning in 1873, he was for many years the principal of the Academy of Fine Arts. In 1864 he became a member of Scientific Society in Krakow.

At that time he started to gain international recognition. In 1865, his painting, Skarga's Sermon, won the gold medal at the annual Paris salon. In 1867, the painting, Rejtan, won the gold medal at the World Exhibition in Paris. French critics included Matejko among the most outstanding representatives of historical painting in Europe. Through his painting, he succeeded in reminding Europe that partitioned Poland still existed despite political realities.

Altogether he authored 320 oil paintings and several thousands drawings and watercolors. His most important paintings were hidden during WWI. After 1945 majority of his works was found and subject to restoration. He was buried in the middle of the Alley of the Meritorious at Cracow's Rakowicki Cemetery.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Tadeusz Makowski


Winter (Zima)
c.1918
oil on canvas
80 x 100 cm
National Museum, Warsaw, Poland

Tadeusz Makowski (1882-1932) was a prominent Polish painter, illustrator and graphic artist. He was active in France for most of his life. He started off as a landscape painter but then shifted towards Post-Impressionism and Cubism. However, he is arguably most famous for his rural landscape paintings. He met Pablo Picasso,who was his good friend. He was also an author of texts on art theory.

He was born in a town in the Lesser Poland province of southern Poland. He studied philology in the Philosophy Department of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow from 1902 to 1906. Simultaneously, from 1903, he attended classes at the city's Academy of Fine Arts. At the turn of 1908-09, he travelled through Munich to Paris where he would live for the rest of his life. He became a member of the circle surrounding artist Henry Le Fauconnier, meeting, among others, Fernand Leger, Alexander Archipenko, Piet Mondrian, and Guillaume Apollinaire. He was a member of the Association of Polish Artists in Paris.

Around 1911, he shifted to a compact manner of constructing his paintings and began treating forms geometrically, using light and shadow to create shapes that he then outlined with clear contours. Between 1913 and 1915, he began to find inspiration in the work of the French realists, Camille Corot and Gustave Courbet. Around 1915, he abandoned Cubist formulas in favour of bright, Impressionist-derived landscapes. In 1918, he introduced a motif that would be central to his work thereafter - the figure of a child. He began creating lyrical, naive images of children in refined, pastel hues. The expansive landscapes that he produced in turn around 1920 were inspired by the art of the elder Pieter Bruegel. Throughout the 1920s he showed his work with that of Expressionist-inclined painters. By 1928, a year that was a milestone in his career, he arrived at a highly individual style of rendering his subjects, one unique within the context of European art. In 1930, his paintings became more Expressionist. He used radically simplified shapes - restricting himself to triangles, cylinders, and cones - and made his lines clearer and weightier. He narrowed his range of colours to earth tones, primarily browns tinged with red and gray, and used thicker layers of paint.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Jozef Marian Chelmonski


Indian Summer
1875
oil on canvas
119.7 x 156.5 cm
National Museum, Warsaw, Poland

Jozef Marian Chelmonski (1849-1914) was a Polish painter and illustrator of the realist school with roots in the historical and social context of the late Romantic period in the partitioned Poland. He represented the trend in art called Polish Patriotic Painting.

He was born in the Boczki village near Lowicz in central Poland. His first teacher of drawing was his father, a small leaseholder and administrator of Boczki village. After finishing high school in warsaw, he studied in warsaw Drawing Class. From 1871 to 1874 he lived in Munich. In Munich, he produced his first successful mature works, remarkable for its strong sense of atmosphere. In 1872 and 1874 he visited partitioned Poland, Podolia and Ukraine. On returning to Warsaw in 1875 he found no recognition there. The idealized picture of peasant life in Indian Summer in 1875, shown at the Warsaw Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts, was violently attacked by the conservative critics for being too realistic. Other paintings sent for exhibition were likewise severely criticized.

In 1875, he came to Paris, where he had many important exhibitions. Thanks to them, he gained publicity and became famous. From 1878 to 1887 he visited Poland, Vienna and Venice. In 1887 he returned to Poland and in 1889 settled in village Kuklowka near Minsk Mazowiecki. From that time are the most beautiful of his paintings. Contact with homeland and nature revealed quality of his artworks. He became a leading representative of realism.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Stanislaw Wyspianski


Motherhood
1905
pastel
58.8 × 91 cm
National Museum, Krakow, Poland

Stanislaw Wyspianski (1869-1907) was a Polish painter, pastellist, playwright, poet, theatre director and architect. He was one of the most outstanding and multifaceted artist of his time in Europe. He successfully joined trends of modernism with themes of Polish folk tradition and Romantic history. In a series of stained-glass windows in Franciscan church in Krakow he expressed an enormous dose of his religious devotion. His trademark Modernist style became nearly flamboyant there. He wrote a number of plays covering critical moments of Polish history. He is considered to be the founder of the Polish modern drama; his plays, often allegorical, circle around historical events and the contemporary life of Poland. His dominant concern was the renewal of Polish independence as well as individual freedoms.

He was the son of a sculptor and studied at the Krakow School of Fine Arts. In 1887 he enrolled in the Philosophy Department at the Jagiellonian University and the School of Fine Arts in Krakow. While studying at the University, he attended lectures in art, history and literature. The years 1890-1895 were devoted to traveling. He visited Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Prague and France. His stay in France is regarded to have been a major point in his artistic life. During his stay in France he got acquainted with Paul Gauguin. Together they visited art museums. He also attended theatre performances based on Shakespeare's and classical era plays.

In 1906 he became professor of the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, he was also a member of the City Council. In his last years the condition of his health deteriorated. He died of syphilis which was incurable at the time. His funeral took place in Krakow and became a national day of mourning.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Henryk Siemiradzki


Dance amongst swords
1887
oil on canvas
155 x 77 cm
Private collection

Henryk Hektor Siemiradzki (1843-1902) was a Polish 19th-century painter active in the period of foreign Partitions of Poland, and best remembered for his monumental Academic art. He was particularly known for his depictions of scenes from the ancient Graeco-Roman world and the New Testament. He is one of the best representatives of the late European Neoclassicism. Many of his paintings depict scenes from antiquity, often the sunlit pastoral scenes or compositions presenting the lives of early Christians. He painted biblical and historical scenes, landscapes, and portraits. The democratic critics took his art very negatively, noting the lack of psychological analysis and deep thought under the beautiful surface.

He was born into the family of a Polish military physician-officer in the service of the Russian Tzar. His childhood and youth were spent in Kharkov, then part of the Russian Empire, now the territory of Ukraine. In 1860, under pressure from his family, he entered the Kharkov University. After graduating with a BA in science, he abandoned his scientific career and moved to Saint Petersburg to study painting at the Imperial Academy of Arts. The Academy at that point did not accept students older than twenty. Very soon, however, the professors paid attention to the talented young man and he was admitted as a student, despite the age limits. He impressed his classmates with his knowledge of science and ancient history. His teachers remarked that he was an excellent colorist and draftsman. Upon his graduation he was awarded a gold medal. In 1870-1871 he studied in Munich on a grant from the Academy. In 1872 he moved to Rome.

St. Petersburg Academy granted him with titles and awards, he received large official commissions, his works represented the Russian art school at various world exhibitions. His work brought him the Grand Prix at the World exhibition in Paris. He was accepted also into the Legion of Honour. He painted a cycle of murals devoted to the life of Alexander Nevsky, and some episodes from the life of Christ. In 1931, the Communists blew up the Cathedral. All murals by outstanding artists, including Siemiradzki, were lost forever.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Jacek Malczewski


Vicious circle
1897
oil on canvas
174 × 240 cm
The National Museum, Poznan, Poland

The vicious circle - an allegory of the role of the artist. Left, illuminated portion of the image symbolizes the sensual intoxication, right, dark -  shows the fears and anxieties of the creator. The artist presents himself as a boy sitting on top of the ladder. The image can be interpreted as a question about the role of the artist.

Jacek Malczewski (1854-1929) was a painter and illustrator, initiator and main representative of Symbolism in Polish painting at the turn of the 19th century, stimulating the rebirth of the Romantic tradition. He is one of the greatest and most acclaimed artists in the history of Polish art. His work combined Symbolism with themes of Polish patriotism and martyrdom. He espoused the realism of, among others, Gustave Courbet and the Barbizon school. He is regarded as father of Polish Symbolism.

He was born in Radom, part of Congress Poland controlled by the Russian Empire. During his childhood and early teen years he was greatly influenced by his father, a Polish patriot and social activist who introduced him to the world of Romantic literature inspired by the November Uprising. His father instilled into his son the ideas of patriotism and national messianism expressed most fully in Polish literature of the Romantic period. Similarly, the strong sense of being Polish, sensitivity to the beauty of his country's landscape and a knowledge of national folk art were established during his stay at the residence of his uncle, where he was tutored by a future writer and publicist.

Over the course of some 30 years between 1885 and 1916, he regularly visited Paris, Munich and Vienna. He made several trips to Italy, Greece and Turkey. He also took part in the archaeological expedition. He drew his inspiration from a wide variety of sources often exotic or even biblical, but inadvertently, translated them back into Polish folklore, tradition and motives in his own painting. In 1897?1900 and 1912?1921 he served as Professor of the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. He was elected Rector of the Academy in 1912. His art has been compared to that of French Gustave Moreau, Swiss Arnold Bocklin, and even Spanish Salvador Dali. His paintings received high honours at the international exhibits. He lost his vision towards the end of his life and died in Krakow.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Wojciech Gerson


The shepherd's concert
1862
oil on canvas
92.5 × 134.5 cm
Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland

Wojciech Gerson (1831-1901) was a leading Polish painter of mid-19th century, and one of the foremost representatives of the Polish school of Realism during the foreign Partitions of Poland. A large number of his artwork has been stolen by Nazi Germany in World War II, and never recovered. He is revered in Poland for his historical paintings of patriotic nature, scenes of country life, and mountain landscapes. He also wrote art-reviews and published a book of anatomy for the artists, worked as an architect and art critic.

He was born in Warsaw during the November Uprising against the Russians. He enrolled at the School of Fine Arts in Warsaw in 1844 and graduated with honors in 1850. He graduated with a silver medal in St. Petersburg and returned to Warsaw in 1855. He left for Paris in 1856 and came back to Poland in 1858. He was a professor at the School of Fine Arts (future Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw) and trained a generation of future luminaries of Polish neo-romanticism artists there, until his retirement in 1896. He introduced the outdoor landscape trips and genre studies to his students with considerable impact. He resided in Warsaw for the rest of his life, nevertheless continued to travel abroad, until the turn of the century.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Lempicka, Tamara


Young Lady with Gloves (Muchacha en verde)
1930
oil on plywood
61 x 46 cm
Musee National D'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris

"I liked to go out in the evenings and have a good-looking man tell me how beautiful I am or how great an artist I am." (Lempicka)

Tamara de Lempicka (1898-1980), born in Moscow, in the Russian Empire, was a Polish Art Deco painter and "the first woman artist to be a glamour star." She took advantage of the growing interest in women who were entering the arts following the First World War, and indeed, she strongly believed that she stood out among them.
She wrote, "I was the first woman who did clear painting - and that was the success of my painting. Among a hundred paintings, you could recognize mine. And the galleries began to put me in the best rooms, always in the center, because my painting attracted people. It was neat, it was finished".

She is best known for her Art Deco-styled portraits. Sexy, bedroom-eyed women in stylish dress are rendered in haunting poses. Perhaps it was her own dramatic life mirrored in her art. Married twice to wealthy, she moved from her native Poland to Russia, and then to Paris. In 1925 she exhibited her works at the first Art Deco show in Paris. She moved to America in 1939 with her second husband. Her works appeared exclusively at many galleries and museums, but her artistic output decreased. In 1960 she changed her style to abstract art and began creating works with a spatula. After her husband died in 1962 she ceased painting and moved to Mexico permanently, buying a beautiful house in Cuernavaca, built by a Japanese architect.

She despaired of growing old and in her last years sought the company of young people. She mourned at the loss of her beauty and was cantankerous to the end. She died in her sleep on March 18, 1980 with her daughter at her side. Her wish to be cremated and have her ashes spread on the top of the volcano Popocatepetl was carried out.
American singer-songwriter Madonna is a huge fan and collector of her work.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Picasso, Pablo


Portrait de Marie-Therese Walter 1937
1937
oil on canvas
46 x 38 cm
Musee Picasso, Paris, France

By 1927 at the latest Picasso met the young Marie-Therese Walter, who soon became his lover.

"My mother said to me, 'If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.' Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso." (Picasso)

"Pablo Diego Jose Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno Maria de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santisima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso", known as Pablo Picasso, (1881-1973) was a Spanish painter and sculptor, born in Malaga on the southern coast of Spain. One of the greatest, dynamic and most influential artists of the 20th century, he is widely known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore.

He was exposed to art from a very young age by his father, who was a painter and art instructor. After studying at various art schools between 1892 and 1896, including academies in Barcelona and Madrid, he went on to the Royal Academy of San Fernando in Madrid during the winter of 1896-1897. Picasso soon became bored with academics and set himself up as an independent artist. In Barcelona in 1899 Picasso’s circle of friends included young avantgarde artists and writers who traveled between Madrid, Barcelona, and Paris. Picasso also visited these cities and absorbed the local culture. His early works were influenced by old masters such as El Greco and Velazquez and by modern artists including Paul Gauguin, Edgar Degas, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Picasso moved to Paris in 1904 and settled in a dilapidated section of Montmartre, a working-class quarter. This area was home to many young artists and writers, and he was gradually assimilated into their stimulating intellectual community. Although Picasso benefited greatly from the artistic atmosphere in Paris and his circle of friends, he was often lonely, unhappy, and terribly poor.

Picasso demonstrated extraordinary artistic talent in his early years, painting in a realistic manner through his childhood and adolescence. During the first decade of the 20th century his style changed as he experimented with different theories, techniques, and ideas. His revolutionary artistic accomplishments brought him universal renown and immense fortune, making him one of the best-known figures in 20th century art. Based on sales of his works at auctions, he holds the title of top ranked artist. He was also a prolific artist with estimates of 50,000 works of art production in his lifetime, including paintings, drawings, sculptures, etc..

For the last three decades of his long life Picasso lived mostly in south of France. He worked up until the day he died at age 91; literally painting till 3 am on Sunday, April 8th, which was just hours before his death. He died while he and his wife Jacqueline Roque entertained friends for dinner. Jacqueline prevented his children Claude and Paloma from attending the funeral. Picasso was interred at the Chateau of Vauvenargues near Aix-en-Provence, a property he had acquired in 1958 and occupied with Jacqueline between 1959 and 1962. Devastated and lonely after the death of Picasso, Jacqueline took her own life by gunshot in 1986 when she was 59 years old.
Picasso's final words were “Drink to me, drink to my health, you know I can’t drink any more.”

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Olga Boznanska


Interior of the Artist's Studio in Cracow
1906
oil on cardboard
National Museum, Cracow, Poland

Olga Boznanska (1865-1940) was a Polish painter of the turn of the 20th century. She was a notable female painter in Poland and Europe, and was stylistically associated with the French impressionism. Working primarily on cardboard which gave the surface of her paintings a dry, matte appearance, her mature works are characterised by shimmering, scumbled brushwork, a lightness of touch, and intense emotional psychology, her later paintings often featuring solemn children, the elderly and themes of motherhood. While she painted numerous high quality still lives and landscapes, it is her portraits that are most noteworthy.

She was born in Krakow during foreign partitions of Poland. She was the daughter of a railway engineer. She developed a unique and fully resolved mature style. Despite this she is of course indebted to the work of Whistler and the impressionists, and the grand interiors and expensive frocks depicted mean her paintings are very much of their era. However, the melancholy which pervades her work, coupled with her approach to handling paint - the tiny, precise and nervous rendering of features and how they meet the tumult of brushwork around them, the sketchy and uncompromising state in which she left some of her works - are closer to more modern developments in painting.

She studied art at length at first under the guidance of her mother, and later under artists. Between 1886-1889 she studied at the Munich Academy of Fine arts, developing her skills by copying Old Masters in the Alte Pinakothek and relying on the group of Polish artists living in Munich at the time for support and encouragement. In 1898 she moved to Paris. While her Munich works were characterised by a formal and restrained academic approach, in Paris, under the influence of Whistler, her work matured and her approach became more painterly.

She found success in France, exhibiting widely, gaining commissions from throughout Europe, and winning many honours for her painting. She became a member of the Societe Nationale des Beaux Arts in 1904 and also enjoyed membership of the Society of Polish Artists in Paris, the Polish Artistic Society, the Association of Polish Women Artist in Krakow and the International Society of Sculptors, Engravers and Painters in London. She was awarded a gold medal at the international exhibition in Munich in 1905, the French Legion of Honour in 1912, the Grand Prix at the Expo Exhibition in Paris in 1939 and the Order of Polonia Restituta in 1938.
Despite her growing popularity in Europe it was a deep disappointment to her that her reputation in her native Poland never matched the acclaim she received elsewhere. By the 1930's the commercial popularity of her work was in decline, and not being someone who could ask favours of others, she fell into financial difficulties. Things became so bad that by 1934 friends in Poland had organised a committee to raise funds for her by eliciting commissions and donations from the government and wealthy patrons.

A number of personal tragedies during the late 1930's - the death of her father, the breaking off of an engagement to be married, the mental difficulties and suicide of her sister Izabela and then the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1940, left her in a fragile state and leading the life of a recluse in her Paris studio. Her health deteriorated rapidly and she died out of public view and in poverty.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Rihard Jakopic


The Green Veil
Date     1915
oil on canvas
132.3 × 102.5 cm
location unknown

Rihard Jakopic (1869-1943) was a Slovene painter. He was the leading Slovene Impressionist painter, patron of arts and theoretician. Together with Matej Sternen, Matija Jama and Ivan Grohar, he is considered the pioneer of Slovene impressionist painting.

He was born in Krakovo, a suburb of Ljubljana, the capital of Carniola in the Austria-Hungary, now Slovenia. His father was a well-situated tradesman with agricultural goods. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, the Art School in Munich, and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. In Ljubljana, he established the "Slovene School of Impressionist Drawing and Painting", the predecessor of the Academy of Fine Arts at the University of Ljubljana. He also built a pavilion in the Tivoli Park in Ljubljana, known as The Jakopi? Pavilion. The pavilion became the central venue for art exhibitions in the Slovene Lands at the time. He was one of the early members of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts founded in 1938 and an iniciator for the foundation of the National Gallery of Slovenia. Over 1200 paintings and 650 drawings by him have been preserved.