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Gallery of Polish Masters - 10. In the fetters of familiarity. The native landscape

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10. In the fetters of familiarity. The native landscape

Landscapes constitute the next most numerous group of works from Krzysztof Musiał’s collection. Polish artists working in the second half of the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th century set great store by it. Poland partitioned by three foreign powers was not an independent country at that time. Therefore the native landscape conveyed a certain message.
A perfect example of that function is a panoramic composition by Józef Brandt, titled Cossacks’ Camp. Evening, which opens the study. It was painted in Munich where the artist set up a studio in 1870 and he ran an informal school of painting, teaching there a generation of painters called the Munich School of Polish painters Thus the caption Warsaw in the right bottom corner of the canvas might be surprising here. It was a manifestation of his connection with the Polish nation, stressing his cultural individuality, also in art. It is also an expression of his fascination with the lush vegetation of the borderlands, exceptionally picturesque and in a way exotic. The painting is produced in a range of browns and ochres characteristic of the Munich School.
Another outstanding landscapist and teacher was Jan Stanisławski, master of Polish Modernism. Born in the Ukraine, the artist was keen to paint views of his native land, most often in the miniature format. Three of them are presented in the cabinet, so we can admire their poetic and intimate mood. They are confronted with other landscapes made by Władysław Podkowiński, Konrad Krzyżanowski, Stanisław Czajkowski, Czesław Rzepiński or the master of winter landscapes – Julian Fałat.
A genuine rarity in this group is an intimate composition By the Bonfire, painted by  Witold Wojtkiewicz. The prematurely-deceased master of the Young Poland Symbolism and Expressionism did not specialize in landscapes. The nocturnal scene from the Gallery of Polish Masters was probably created during Wojtkiewicz’s stay in Petersburg. The 21-year-old artist went there, at the invitation of his uncle, and began studies at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts. Perhaps this intimate scene by the bonfire, having no counterparts in his later artwork, was created at school in Petersburg.    

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