Thursday, March 11, 2021

Polish Artist Jan Matejko

Jan Alojzy Matejko (Polish 1838-1893) was a portrait artist who also painted historical scenes.

Here is a painting of Copernicus, the Renaissance astronomer who proposed the heliocentric model of the universe.

Wikipedia says 'his works include large oil on canvas paintings like Rejtan, Union of Lublin or Battle of Grunwald, numerous portraits, a gallery of Polish kings, and murals in St. Mary's Basilica, Kraków.' 

During World War II, "Nazi Germany planned to destroy Battle of Grunwald and the Prussian Homage, which the Nazi authorities considered offensive to the German view of history (those paintings were among many that the Germans planned to purposefully destroy in their war on Polish culture; both were however successfully hidden by the members of Poland resistance)." (Source)

This 1861 painting is called Stańczyk during a Ball at the Court of the Queen.

There's a Jan Matejko House set aside as a museum in Kraków.
Book (Polish Edition): Jan Matejko


Kitexx said...

I'm so happy about this post - some years ago I was able to see "Prussian Homage" in Krakow - I spent almost an hour watching the way the paint was applied to canvas, and how simple strokes can make such a realistic work at the right scale! What I wouldn't give to be able to see more of the behind the scenes of his work... His work on the gallery of Polish Kings is still the most recognizable by any Polish person, and any historical movies/tv shows take heavy inspiration from his portraits.

Susan Krzywicki said...

There seems to be a complicated relationship or interaction between artists, the subject of war, war itself, and nationalism. Artists are often seen as a thread of hope and humanity. Often, their subjects used to be glorifications of war. Then, we read what you have written about how the Nazis were planning to destroy this work as a way to subjugate the Poles. And the complexity of the other painting you showed - Smolensk was "lost" to Poland and now, still, is part of Russia. It is hundreds of miles from Poland, with another country, Belarus in between. So, what was that Polish nationalism all about?

It makes me wonder about the nature of humans and our role on this planet.

widdly said...

The Stańczyk painting is a cracker. There are so many great paintings of jesters. Perhaps it is the way they can speak truth about the ruling class. It is a bit like the way we have comedians ( Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers etc.) covering current affairs on TV these days.

Borsuki z Mazur said...

Matejko is one of my favourite artists (I'm from Poland). His largest painting is "The Maid of Orleans" which is almost 5x10m. I was able to see it in Rogalin Museum. Thanks to allow others to know him better.

indianrunner said...

And it's worth to mention that Matejko helped Stanisław Wyspiański to become such a brilliant artist... You could make a post about him too.