Other Polish historical painters.
The Warsaw painter devoted a large part of his work to historical themes JOSEPH SIMMLER (1825—1868), at the same time an excellent portraitist. His first paintings, like for example. romantic and idyllic Farewell of Wacław and Maria, they do not announce later, great works by the artist, which include, above all, the painting The Death of Barbara Radziwiłłówna from. 1860, showing the pain of King Sigismund over the corpse of his young wife in the dark scenery captured in the backstage curtains. Perfect, compact composition of this picture, male, the calm despair of the king expressed only by the gesture of clasped hands, the mood conveyed by the calm color and the soft, yet distinct, chiaroscuro contrast make this painting (despite being a bit too meticulous in rendering details) one of the leading works of the early phase of realism in Poland.
Speaking of the historical trend in Polish painting of the 19th century, one cannot omit the work of a great realist, mainly a master of portrait art, HENRYK RODAKOWSKI (1823—1894). Historical paintings occupy quite a small part of the painter's already sparse oeuvre, but they are genuinely painted works, sometimes sketchy and sweeping (np. Envoys begging Sobieski for help for Vienna from. 1861), at other times precise and somewhat theatrical in terms of composing the scene (np. Coconut war, picture painted in. 1872). On the border of historical and portrait themes, there is one of the painter's most outstanding paintings: Portrait of General Dembinski, deputy commander-in-chief in the November Uprising, and then the hero of the Hungarian revolution of 1848-1849, fighting under Bem's command. The artist gave the general a focused and expressive face, set him free under a tent on a drum, with his chin resting on his cupped hand; next to it, a keg of gunpowder, a map spread out on it — symbolic props characterizing the activity of the portrayed person; in the background a landscape and soldiers of the revolutionary Hungarian army.
It's a masterpiece, painted in muffled, but a rich range composed of greenery, red and gold in color, was awarded a 1st class medal in Paris, and Eugene Delacroix himself voted for his distinction, an artist demanding as much from others, what about yourself. The relationship between Dembinski's portrait and historical themes caused, that the coloring of this work differs very clearly from the coloring of Rodakowski's other portrait works (like for example. subtle and melancholy portraits of the artist's father and mother), preferably painted alive, albeit soft contrasts of the brown background and clothes of the figure with the pale one, subtle body complexion (face and hands).
Painter and draughtsman, which represented a fully realistic workshop and which at the same time, thanks to the themes of his paintings and drawings, he may also be considered the last Polish romantic he was ARTHUR GROTTGER (1837—1867). At the beginning of his work, he tried to imitate the artists of the first half of the 19th century known to us. — Aleksander Orłowski and January Suchodolski, painting battle scenes, hunting scenes and historical paintings (np. The Escape of Henryk Walezy).
However, Grottger owes its importance to Polish art primarily to its drawing cycles, dedicated to the January Uprising and the dramatic events in Warsaw that preceded it. Grottger's four cycles: Warsaw I, Warsaw II, Polonia and Lituania are like a panorama of the suffering of the nation and its unequal struggle with the invader.
In his drawings, Grottger uses a technique that is perhaps too precise in details, therefore, these works lack freedom and momentum, which we observe in other masters contemporary to the artist. However, thanks to the blunt characteristics of the face and gestures, which always express the depth of experiences and the strength of internal tensions - Grottger's works are a valuable artistic document of important moments in the history of the nation.
Grottger also devoted several of his paintings to national themes, such as Battle from the series "Polonia” and Fire of the manor house near Miechów.