Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Ups and Downs of Anna Bilińska-Bohdanowicz

Anna Bilińska-Bohdanowicz (1857-1893) traveled from her native Poland to Paris to reach her dream of becoming a portrait painter. 

Self portrait by Anna Bilińska-Bohdanowicz
After years of hard work, she started winning competitions and getting her work exhibited at the Salon and the Royal Academy. She won second place in a competition sponsored by the Académie Julian, where she hoped to study. But she faced serious setbacks. 
"She didn't have much money and her living conditions were poor in spite of the fact that she supported herself teaching music and drawing. On occasion she would find clients for her paintings, but they did not fetch much at the time. The death of her father in 1884 left her without a livelihood. It was then that Rodolphe Julian helped the young artist by exempting her from study fees and by hiring her as the leader of one of his workshops."
Unfinished self portrait by Anna Bilińska-Bohdanowicz
In the mid 1880s, two people close to her died: her good friend Klementyna Krassowska and her fiancé Wojciech Grabowski, throwing her into a deep depression.
"She spent a few months under the care of her friend, the painter Maria Gażycz. In 1892 in Paris she married Antoni Bohdanowicz, who was a doctor. They both returned to Warsaw the same year. Bilińska intended to open a painting school for women in the capitol of Poland, which would have mimicked the practices of the Parisian academies. However the project was stopped short when the artist fell ill with a heart condition, which led to her untimely death."
Read more
Book: Women Artists in Paris, 1850-1900
Biography of Anna Bilińska-Bohdanowicz (source of the quotes)
Wikipedia on Anna Bilińska-Bohdanowicz


Evelyn said...

Many thanks, James, for your series on so many wonderful female artists I'd never heard of -- and the challenges they faced.

Best, Evelyn

Vladimir Venkov said...

Thanks James! Interesting info. I didn't know about her.

Susan Krzywicki said...

The images you show of her work have a tragic look that seems to parallel her life. Love the deep earthy colors, and only wish that she had been able to maintain her health in order to create more.

Yvonne said...

The Exhibit Women Artists is Paris is marvelous. It is wonderful to see some fabulous women artists finally get some recognition. Many I had not heard of but then there were the Rosa Bonheurs. I have been to it twice and will go again.

John Simpson said...

James, I don't know if you've ever heard of the Coomans sisters,from France, but they were highly regarded as academic painters, both of whom exhibited regularly at the Paris Salon back in the 1890s.Such artists as
Cecilia Beaux, Gretchen Rogers,and Christine Herter Kendall ,amongst others,are getting the proper recognition for their work which they should have gotten during their lifetime.