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Gallery of Polish Masters - 2. Man – that sounds stately! A portrait studium of a model

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2.  Man – that sounds stately! A portrait studium of a model

The portrait is one of the most frequent and popular themes in almost all of the fine arts. Numerous examples of images of a human face can also be found in Krzysztof Musiał’s collection. It would be best to start the review with a bust of a bearded man, an intimate profile of an old man in a purple hat – marked with a headphones symbol. The author of this mysterious work, perfect as far as the craftsmanship goes, is Henryk Siemiradzki, one of the most remarkable representatives of the 19th century Academism and Realism, a graduate from the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts in Petersburg. The portrait was painted in 1875, five years after the artist had finished his studies, during his scholarship in Rome. At that time Siemiradzki was working on a monumental religious composition titled Nero’s Torches, and perhaps Bust of a Bearded Man at the Gallery of Polish Masters was created with that painting in mind.
The appearance of an aging man also fascinated Eugeniusz Zak, a representative of the École de Paris, active in the early 20th century. The realistic study of An Old Man’s Head was created by Zak during his second stay in the French capital, just before the outbreak of World War I. He must have valued the work highly as it appeared in a photo of the artist’s Parisian flat where he photographed himself with his works in the background.
The portrait, understood either as the image of a particular person or a study of an anonymous model, was also popular with sculptors. In front of the windows there are sculptures by Masters of that area of fine arts: Konstanty Laszczka, Xawery Dunikowski, Henryk Kuna and Alfons Karny.
An interesting tale is connected with the bronze-cast Head of a Liaison Officer Jola Korzybska created by Alfons Karny. The work was created in 1940, in Warsaw under the occupation of the Nazis and it presents Doctor Marian Korzybski’s daughter Jola, who later became a liaison officer during the Warsaw Uprising. Alfons Karny sculpted her image to express his gratitude to the doctor for treating and feeding him – the Korzybskis invited him to dinner every day when the artist was ill with anemia. The sculpture suffered damage during the war – there is the mark of a bullet on the left temple. However, the model for the work, Jola Korzybska luckily survived the war and lived to ripe old age.


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