Self Portraits 1900-1912 (4) Stanisław Wyspiański

Self-portrait, 1902

“Stanisław Wyspiański (Polish pronunciation: [staˈɲiswaf vɨˈspjaɲskʲi]; 15 January 1869 – 28 November 1907) was a Polish playwright, painter and poet, as well as interior and furniture designer. A patriotic writer, he created a series of symbolic, national dramaswithin the artistic philosophy of the Young Poland Movement. Wyspiański was one of the most outstanding and multifaceted artists of his time in Europe. He successfully joined the trends of modernism with themes of the Polish folk tradition and Romantic history.” This is how Wikipedia introduces the man who is referred to as being the fourth Polish Bard; this must refer to Wyspiański’s literary skills since the other three are poets. The self-portrait that accompanies the article shows Wyspiański at the age of 33 in 1902. Why is this such an interesting portrait?

The Wawel on the left bank of the Vistula River in Kraków

It is executed in pastels and measures just 35cm by 35cm. It makes fine use of the whiteness of the paper to produce a crystalline, pellucid effect. This is clearly a symbolist work and shows his constant predisposition to add elaborate and striking floral designs. The self-portrait is to be found in the National Museum, Warsaw. However,he only visited Warsaw once.As is quite well-known, Stanisław Wyspiański came from Kraków, in whose general history and culture Wyspiański was deeply immersed. He was responsible for the design of furniture and interiors, and the development of Wawel, the astonishingly beautiful palace on a limestone hill overlooking the Vistula. In 1904 just before the emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, gave the order to withdraw troops from Wawel, Wyspiański and the architect Władysław Ekielski worked on plans to develop the Warwel Akropolis. This is a location that he knew well.” His father, Franciszek, a sculptor, had an atelier at the foot of the Wawel hill, home to a cathedral rich with evidence of the strength of the former Polish state, and to a royal castle, by then an Austrian army barracks.” (http://www.culture.pl/web/english/resources-visual-arts-full-page/-/eo_event_asset_publisher/eAN5/content/stanislaw-wyspianski)

  Stanisław Wyspiański is associated with the movement which was referred to as “The Young Poland Movement”. It appears that some of its members attended the St Anne’s Secondary School in Kraków. Here the students were the pupils were taught in Polish-something which was unusual since the area was under Austrian domination and German used by the dominating power. Lectures were delivered upon Polish history and thus a counter-culture was inculcated.

A lovely presentation with a Chopin track can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpxtIs_aQhw

 

 

Portrait of Ireny Solskiej.1904. Pastel. 48 x 62 cm. Muzeum Narodowe, Poznań.
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