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Gallery of Polish Masters - 1. About themselves – the artists’ self-portrait

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1. About themselves – the artists’ self-portrait

The first section has been dedicated to artists’ self-portraits. Images of 11 different painters and illustrators can be found here, representing styles and trends originating from the 19th century Realism, sometimes foreshadowing avant-garde. The images are sometimes official and representational or intimate and personal.
A large scale painting in a decorative frame, hung on the right of the Gallery entrance, is the image of Wojciech Kossak. The artist portrayed himself in the lancer’s uniform of the Austrian-Hungarian army. At that time, he was 22 years old and he was just on the threshold of his painting career. It is worth paying attention to some attributes that appear in the painting. The sabre pommel, which the man portrayed holds in his right hand, is a symbol of the rank of lancer, the burning cigarette in his left hand is a symbolic of the elegance and style of that time. The following self-portraits are more personal. They present artists in their studios, with brushes and palette, standing next to an easel, relating to the painter’s occupation.
The second row includes two images of Wojciech Weiss – marked with the headphones symbol – originating from different periods of the artist’s changing style. The first painting, dating back to 1902, is representative of the Young Poland Modernism and the decadency of the turn of the 20th century. The second self-portrait by Weiss, painted 8 years later, is an example of the so-called white period, when the artist began his experimentation with colours.
The expressive image of Gustaw Gwozdecki – the next painting worth discussing – is hung below. The artist was a member the artistic bohemian circles living in the French capital in the first part of the 20th century and defined as the École de Paris (the School of Paris). The suggestive look of the portrayed man, looking directly into the viewer’s eyes, exasperates and confuses. The painting is regarded as a breakthrough in Gwozdecki’s work. It documents his transition from Expressionism to Fauvism which relied on a spontaneous play with splashes of colour, with a thick border around them.  
The works gathered in this part of the exhibition were intended for the decoration of private rooms: studios and living-rooms with studies of the family, their friends and the artists themselves. Let us bear this in mind when viewing self-portraits of other Masters.

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