The coat of arms of the Wyczółkowski family – a horseshoe with a raven, just like the coat of arms of the Krasiński family. [Ślepowron coat of arms]. My father had Ostrów on the Wieprz River, about eighty hectares, a manor house with a thatched roof. I barely remember my father. He died of consumption in 1861, not hereditary, but acquired. He fell under ice, trying to save horses and caught a fatal cold. Very ill, he sold his property for 10,000 Polish zlotys. As far as my siblings are concerned, I had a brother Tolek, Teodor, who lived seven years, a sister, who died when she was nineteen, Andzia, who died when she was eight, and Zosia, who lived for a short time. My wonderful childhood was followed by several sad years in Warsaw.
I was drafted to the army, to cavalry. I did not serve, since my uncle paid for me in the guberniya. I paid back to my uncle 150 rubles with the painting St. Casimir. I received passport and traveled abroad. When I was going out of Warsaw, I had to bribe a clerk in the district.
Matejko – what a power, might and strength; all old paintings paled in comparison with his works. He was perceived by everyone as a revolutionary. Gerson was a great teacher, whereas Matejko had no teaching skills. Matejko was teaching to paint without models; he was growing up, as noticed by Adam Chmielowski, admiring Veit Stoss. Matejko… was not a colorist; he was a colorful, but not harmonious artist. Grunwald was the best painting made by Matejko. The entire painting was being made very close to me, since my studio was next to his. Grunwald was purchased by Benni, the chairman of the Society for Encouragement of Fine Arts.
I turned to Gerson myself. [After completing six grades of the middle school, Wyczółkowski was enrolled in 1869 to the school called The Drawing Class in Warsaw]. I was drawing small portraits for the poor. Teachers were giving us historical topics such as Chrzanowska, Oświęcimówna. Saint Adalbert; I drew the Saint kneeling at the trunk. Two rowers [Prussians] come with oars and beat him. [Gerson] – Mr. Leon, these oars are slightly too big. He was a very friendly and kindhearted professor.
I was going through life on my own, with nobody’s help.
[As part of inheritance from his grandparents, Wyczółkowski received 1,000 rubles in 1877]. A whole army of heirs …
I went to Paris; my first exhibition was organized in 1878. Lvov 1880. There [in Lvov] I met Kornel Ujejski and Adam Chmielowski… During that time, he was preparing himself to cross the gate of the Jesuit Order. He was painting Ecce Homo, which he later donated to Andrzej Szeptycki, Metropolitan of the Greek Catholic Church in Lvov. Brother Albert, Adam Chmielowski was older than me.
When I was painting Alina in Lvov, my friends were giving me hard time for its grayish green background. Adam Chmielowski gave me an idea; I was painting Alina realistically: It is a legend, myth. Why do you paint it realistically, paint her as a legend. I stayed in Lvov between 1879 and 1880.
Later, I stayed in Warsaw until 1883, followed by Volhynia, Laszki at Głębockis until 1887, and in the village with my cousin, 2 or 3 years…
The Ukraine is beautiful; plain, very colorful country, fossilized sea. Its endless space is magnetizing. At night, I was going to the steppe, feasting my eyes on its beauty until the morning. Chahars lined with lilies of the valley, yellow kingcups, looking like a carpet of flowers. Trees on black backgrounds look like whitened cypresses. While in the Ukraine, in August 1885 or 1886, I saw a beautiful Bethlehem star (Venus) in Berezne when I was staying at Kazimierz Podhorski. I was dazzled by stones, a hill, and the huge star. I was standing in disbelief. – Can you see this star?! Peace, quiet and a live star close to the earth. I will never forget this.
Who gave me an idea to go to the Ukraine? Mrs. Głębocka in Laszki. She had a damaged painting made by Matejko; great great grandfather’s father of Głębocki, who was presented for baptism by Jagiełło. During the first 5-year stage in the Ukraine, I was going to Warsaw from time to time.
[Wyczółkowski stayed in Paris during the second Universal Exhibition in 1889 and the third one in 1900, where he was awarded with bronze medal for his works].
Druid – [Fossilized Druid, the final version, 1894; sketches to the painting were made in 1892-1894] old song, Youth – [Happy Youth, 1891] new song. Druid presents the remains of my romanticism. After that, I eliminated romanticism from my works.
Between 1893 and 1894, I lived in Warsaw, where Herman, on behalf of Fałat, offered to me professorship in Krakow [October 26]. I asked for a month to think about it, and later – I moved to Krakow. I met Herman in 1894. Fałat asked him to accept professorship. I met Fałat in Munich in 1875.
Portraits: Bloch, Lentz, Komierowski
Portraits in Warsaw: Bloch, Lentz, Komierowski. Speed record. In technique, rush contributes to liveliness, but also to shallowness.
I had a shelter with Pruszyński, near St. Florian’s Gate in Krakow. My works made during that period included The Ukrainian Portfolio and The Gdańsk Portfolio. Before that, I had a joint portfolio, Jasieński took care of that. New things are being developed and later they are etched. Thin things were made with a dry roll. They were purchased to an exhibition in Brussels, to its collections.
Tatras. Giewont 1899. Tatras 1904, 1905, 1906, 1910.
1904 – 75 paintings. Lake Czarny Staw 6 times: morning, before lunch, after lunch, in the evening. I was in Zakopane with Jasieński . Morskie Oko from Czarny Staw 1. Against the black background, like salted, purchased by Gebethner, 2. In snow – Raczyński. The portrait of Szymon Tatar was bought by some industrialist. In the evening, the third Morskie Oko.
Yaremche 1910/11 – about 60 paintings.
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