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Gallery of Polish Masters - 5. Muses – the artist’s inspiration

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5. Muses – the artist’s inspiration

The study in which we are now helps us to reflect on the social and artistic status of a model spending time with a painter, sculptor or illustrator in a long-running session in the studio. They resulted in portraits featuring the beauty and internal life of Masters’ friends, muses and lovers, sometimes life partners.
A romantic story is connected with Self-Portrait with the Future Wife by Vlastimil Hofman. The painting was created in Prague where the artist stayed during World War I. Vlastimil was a Pole of Czech origin, an admirer and follower of Jacek Malczewski’s symbolism. The Hofmans lived in Cracow, however, in 1914 the artist together with his father moved to Prague in order to join the army. Soon released from the Austrian army because of an injury, he lived with his cousin Ludwik Hammer and his wife Adelina. They fell in love with each other. Ada left her husband and together with Vlastimil she first went to Cracow. In 1919 they left for Paris and got married there. Their double portrait is considered to be one of the most remarkable works painted by Vlastimil Hofman. We can find here both solid realistic craftsmanship and rich imagery: a wreath on Adela’s head, a prayer-book in her hands and the austere winter landscape refer to the models’ spiritual experience.
Some other stylistics and trends of artistic experimentation are represented by the succeeding images of muses.  The decorativeness of folk painting on glass can be observed, inspired by Renaissance portraits, experiments with colour and even humour or self-irony! That description fits the final watercolour sketch in this study titled A Painter and A Model by Zygmunt Waliszewski. Waliszewski was one of the most talented Polish Colourists. He liked experimenting and playing with painting conventions. On a small card, which at the same time was an invitation to an artists’ ball, he depicted a painter – perhaps himself? He embraces a naked girl − a model with his left arm; in his right hand he is holding a palette and brushes, a symbol of the painting profession. It is worth mentioning that Waliszewski created even more equally fine invitation cards to balls and cultural events, actively contributing to  Warsaw artistic life of the 1930s. Joking and a sense of detachment to art, but also to himself, deserve particular recognition in the context of the artist's serious health problems. Zygmunt Waliszewski suffered from the incurable Bürger disease and he had both legs amputated. He had also heart disease and died of a heart attack at the age of 39.


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