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The Jan Matejko House invites its visitors to see a display of portraits of Prof. Karol Gilewski and Szymon Darowski – 'If You Know Hi m Thta's Him' – combined with a presentation of Jan Matejko's drawings.
The impressive oil portrait of Professor Gilewski was painted by Jan Matejko in 1872 on a 130 cm x 92 cm canvas on the basis of a photograph. The painting was commissioned by his wife Emilia Gilewska after the Professor's death.
Karol Gilewski (1831-1871) – a doctor and activist – was the head of forensic medicine in Krakow. In 1865 he became the chief of the internal medicine department of the Krakow university hospital, and in 1870 he was appointed the dean of the Faculty of Medicine and the director of the Jagiellonian University hospital. He was one of the doctors who treated Jan Matejko. In the painting, Matejko depicted the doctor wearing a tailcoat with a dean's chain around his neck, and resting his hands on an open medical book placed on the table in front of him.
The last time that Gilewski's portrait was mentioned was in a 1915 catalogue. For one hundred subsequent years, the storage location of the work remained unknown. It was not until 22 October 2015 that it turned up at an auction at the Dorotheum in Vienna. It was purchased by a private buyer and entrusted as a deposit at the NMK. After the conservation process, the painting is displayed in the Jan Matejko House.
'Portrait of Szymon Darowski' (1858) was purchased by the NMK on 19 June 2016 at an auction at the Agra Art auction house thanks to funding obtained from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.
Enriching the collection of the biographical branch of the NMK – the Jan Matejko House – through the purchase of 'Portrait of Szymon Darowski' is of particular significance on the eve of the upcoming 125th anniversary of the artist's passing, thus contributing to the celebrations of the event. This oil painting by Jan Matejko – an outstanding piece in terms of artistic value which documents the early period of his work – is likely to become an important component of the permanent exhibition in this branch.
The portrayed person – Szymon Darowski (1824-1899) – was a Krakow constructor who was a friend of the Matejko family, especially of Franciszek, the painter's elder brother. Darowski took part in the the Krakow uprising in 1846 and January uprising in 1863. He is buried at the Rakowice Cemetery in Krakow.
Jan Matejko painted Szymon Darowski while he was still a student of the Krakow Academy of Fine Arts, before leaving for a scholarship in Munich. The portrait, which the artist took with him to present at the Academy of Munich, was approved by the Director of the Academy – Wilhelm Kaulbach. The Sarmatian nobleman type, represented by the model, intrigued Jan Matejko also later, when he was looking for prototypes of the historical figures that he painted. The image of Szymon Darowski was also used by Matejko in his other paintings such as 'Jan Kochanowski with Urszulka' (1862), 'Skarga's Sermon' (1864) and 'Rejtan' (1866).
Matejko never parted with the portrait, and after his death, the painting was in the care of the artist's family. In 1896, it became the property of Marian Gorzkowski from Krakow, and later, until 1929 it enriched the Krakow collections of Franciszek Macharski,who bequeathed the painting to Dr. Leopold Macharski. Matejko's work was in his care until at least 1946. What happened with the portrait later is not exactly known. What we do know, however, is that for nearly 50 years the portrait belonged to the family of the person who decided to sell it at an auction.