REALISM IN POLAND.
In Poland, the intensive development of realistic painting took place in the second half of the 19th century. Landscapes and genre scenes predominate (from village life), observed more and more carefully and reproduced more and more carefully.
The creativity of the Barbizonians - echoed vividly in the • works of a Polish painter residing in France, JÓZEF SZERMENTOWSKI (1833—1876). But this artist learned to paint outdoors even before leaving the country, bringing from his travels around Poland drawings and oil sketches (cityscapes and landscapes), which betray a keenness of observation and fidelity to the presented motif. Landscapes from the Pyrenees and from the vicinity of Barbizon - the forests of Fontainebleau - especially the oft-repeated motif of spreading trees (as in The Plowman's Rest) resemble the work of Theodore Rousseau. But still the most valuable and best known canvases of the artist today, such as Peasant Funeral or the aforementioned Plowman's Rest, albeit painted in France, their mood reminds us of the views and the special sadness of the old Polish countryside.
Szermentowski's earlier canvases are painted in faded colors with a predominance of grey, greenery, browns and muted yellows. Later, his palette brightens noticeably, as evidenced by a very Polish painting from the last year of the artist's life: Cattle going down to the water hole.
Only two years older than Szermentowski (but living much longer) great Polish landscape painter, WOJCIECH GERSON (1831—1901), is a distinguished teacher of many outstanding Polish painters, active for many years in the 20th century. His painting Cemetery in the Mountains, painted with precision, masterful touches of the brush, in green and lead grey, it reflects the mood of loneliness and sadness in the face of the eternal, stone nature.
A valuable contribution to the overall output of Polish realism is the work of the Gierymski brothers. MAKSYMILIAN GIERYMSKI (1846—1874), died young, he was the creator of scenes from the January Uprising (np. Insurgent patrol) and landscapes. ALEXANDER GIERYMSKI (1850—1901) he divided his artistic interests between realism and impressionism, popular in European painting at that time. At the same time, he was the only truly outstanding realist painter, who was not interested in the countryside, but in the city. The artist's numerous trips abroad brought many views of foreign cities, architectural monuments, depicted in the mysterious glow of the night (like for example. Paris Opera) or in the darkness of a church interior (np. Interior of the Basilica of St. Mark in Venice). Gierymski's interest in impressionism is evidenced by his famous painting Gazebo, in which the artist analyzes the effect of sunlight on color.
Gierymski's realistic paintings were created during the artist's stay in Poland, mainly in Warsaw. His Orange, sandblasters, Haven in Solec due to its fidelity to reality and sharpness of characteristics, as well as the specific "Warsaw" mood, constitute an almost documentary image of an epoch in the city's history. A comparison with similar literary images in the works of Bolesław Prus is irresistible, and especially in his Doll. It's worth adding, that Prus - although he was not an art critic - spoke vehemently in defense of Gierymski's paintings.
A contemporary of Aleksander Gierymski – JÓZEF CHELMOŃSKI (1849—1905) again, he chose the Polish countryside as the subject of his paintings, however, presenting it differently than the realists of the older generation. Chełmoński's village is cheerful and cheerful, both in the choice of topics, as well as in color. The artist sees its separateness, powab, sees the charm of her folklore; paints a girl, who, lying on the ground, weaves the Indian summer thread between her fingers; he paints an old peasant with a boy watching storks in flight. Other themes of his paintings are: colorful crowd of peasants in front of the inn, chilled partridges during a cruel snowstorm, and horses, both free and harnessed (the famous four, depicting a team galloping straight at the viewer). Although Chełmoński uses a realistic technique, but the color is more vivid, brighter, not without the influence of Impressionism, whom he met thoroughly in France.
The heir of Polish realists in. XIX was STANISLAW LENTZ (1863—1920). He was already creating in those years, when the echoes of Impressionism began to sound louder and louder in Polish painting, secession, symbolism and expressionism, when such excellent painters began to decide on the face of the new art, like Stanislaw Wyspianski, Joseph Mehoffer, Jacek Malczewski and Witold Wojtkiewicz (we will discuss their work in later chapters of the manual). Stanislaw Lentz, mainly a portraitist, he used brown tones and the "wide brush" technique, which strongly, it definitely defined the shapes and features of the depicted figures.
In Lentz's work, Polish realism is already at the threshold of this period, so in the 20th century he met revolutionary ideas eye to eye and the artist met new tasks, as evidenced by his painting The Strike, depicting three workers in the strong, dangerous, uncompromising attitude.