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Gallery of Polish Masters - 15. The remains of the day. Still lifes

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15. The remains of the day. Still lifes

Still lifes account for the largest number of works out of almost 130 exhibits displayed in the Gallery of Polish Masters. 15 works in this section show a wide spectrum of techniques and the thematic potential of this extremely popular artistic genre in Polish art. Still lifes are not only a pretext for formal experimentation, but also an encouragement for reflection on existential, spiritual and mystical issues.
Still Life with Roses and Apples, hung under the name plate of this section, painted by Józef Pankiewicz, a master of Polish Modernism and Post-Impressionism, is an example of colour experiments in the pastel technique. The influence of still lives by Paul Cézanne, the outstanding French Post-Impressionist, can be observed here as well.  
Mela Muter, in turn, in her expressive Still Life with Crabs, intrigues us with garish colours and the daring way she framed the table with the crustaceans.
Thematically anti-aesthetic Nature Morte au gibier (Still Life with Game) by Henryk Epstein, placed next to the title plate for this section, is an example of Post-Impressionism from the circle of the École de Paris. The Great Bittern, one of the species of migratory heron might have been familiar to the artist from time spent hunting in Eperney in France. Epstein had a cottage there and he often went there from Paris, where he had lived since 1913. This painting was Krzysztof Musiał’s gift to the Museum of the City of Łódź just before the opening of the Gallery, in autumn 2010. This is how our museum, as one of few such institutions in Poland, comes to be the possessor of a work painted by Henryk Epstein, who was born in Łódź.
Four still lifes in this collection were painted by Olga Boznańska. They are hung on a separate partition wall, to the right of Epstein’s painting. Boznańska was a prominent portrait artist, and still lifes were her second favourite painting subject. She achieved total mastery in this area. Flowers and objects of everyday life, such as dishes or fabrics, in the artist’s paintings grow to the position of a symbol of human existence. Flowers were the theme which especially referred to the different phases of human life, from the cradle to the grave.
It is not feasible to discuss all the artistic offerings in this study. Each still life creates its own microcosm, telling an unique story. Therefore, we would highly recommend their discerning contemplation, revelling in their nuances and discovering ideas and meanings.



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