Polish painters – Romanticism.
In Poland, in recent years,. 18th century elements of Romanticism can be found in the works of ALEKSANDR ORŁOWSKI (1777—1832), in his countless drawings and sketches depicting scenes from the Kościuszko Uprising, in which the artist took part. They are also clear in his landscapes, genre scenes, characteristic human types and hot-drawn images of animals, impatiently, and above all in the studies of horses with a rider on their back, perfect in movement and expression. Orłowski spent the last thirty years of his work in Russia, painting mainly riders on mounts: Kyrgyz, Tatars, Circassians. He also painted memories from Poland. Mickiewicz wrote about him in the third book of Pan Tadeusz:
“Our painter Orłowski (…)
He liked to reminisce about his youth,
He glorified everything in Poland: Earth, sky, Forests".
He learned a lot from Orłowski, but also from Gericault, in his youth, the greatest Polish Romantic painter and one of the greatest European painters of that time — PIOTR MICHAŁOWSKI (1800—1855).
Michałowski concentrated his attention on only a few topics: horse scenes (free, in harness and under riders), battles and portraits. In the topic of "rider on horseback" he achieved the greatest artistic successes in the series “Cuirassiers” painted in Paris and in the cycle dedicated to Napoleon, with whom - like many patriots of the time - he was associated (idle, as it turned out) hope. These compositions reveal the uncommon bravado of the brush, who "builds" horses and riders with bold, nervous streaks, masculine and organically binds them with the background into an indivisible whole. In animal movements, usually shown in a jump, at a gallop, in effort, the artist was able to contain extraordinary strength and dynamism.
In his earlier paintings, Michałowski limits himself to the contrasts of browns, gray and bright white - in the later ones it allows the color to speak: blues, roses, orange, yellowing, which in the latest version of Somosierra create one great blaze of color.
Michałowski also achieved incomparable mastery in portraits, especially in peasants. Painted with wide streaks, mostly white and brown, they bring out the simple ones from the thick features, village people the whole truth of thoughts and feelings, the full depth of psychological expression. In these portraits, Michałowski is already a mature realist.
For a complete understanding, what was Michałowski's style and what new values he brought to Polish painting, let's compare his painting The Battle of Somosierra with the work of his contemporary historical painter JANUARY SUCHODOLSKI (1797—1875) titled Conquering the Somosierra Gorge from 1843.
That's true: the dynamism of Suchodolski's composition expressing the hustle and bustle of the fight, the passion of the attackers enchanted in the gesture - these are undoubted signs of romanticism. However, the contour drawing defining the shapes of the figures of soldiers and animals is as expressive as before, accurate and therefore somewhat cool. In Michałowski's work, the idea of battle was expressed in a painterly way - with lively and spontaneously placed patches of color. The dynamism of the work is expressed not only, with a violent gesture (maybe that's not the most important thing), but the whole composition of the picture, built from the bottom up, as if driven by the sheer force of the charge. The pathos of the attack turns to fury, seems to, that short, quick strokes of the brush can barely keep up with the rapidly changing situations in the heat of battle, and flashes of light and thickening shadows deepen the drama of the moment.