Assistant: Kama Guzik
+48 12 433 56 20
This work by Maurycy Gottlieb is a portrait of his good friend and fellow student – Walerian Kryciński. It was painted in 1875 during their stay in Vienna, when they shared an apartment together with other friends. They were both students of the Krakow Academy of Fine Arts, directed by Jan Matejko.
The back of the painting bears Kryciński's statement confirming the circumstances of the portrait's origins. Owned by a private collector, this work remains relatively little-known.
Maurycy Gottlieb was born in 1856 in Drohobych, in a wealthy Orthodox Jewish family. He began to study painting in Lviv and from 1871, he continued his education at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. Becoming acquainted with Jan Matejko's history painting served as a turning point in the artistic path of the young painter. At the beginning of 1874, having written to Matejko to ask for enrolment in the School of Fine Arts, he arrived in Krakow.
In 1875, Gottlieb returned to Vienna, and in the autumn of the same year he went to Karl Piloty's studio at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich with a letter of recommendation from Matejko. He spent the next few years travelling. Finally, he settled in Krakow, where he died in July 1879, aged only 23.
Gottlieb, who was considered by Matejko to be one of his most talented students, reached his artistic maturity and critical acclaim very early. His paintings reflect his fascination with Jewish history and customs, biblical motifs, oriental themes as well as Polish history and literature.
He was an excellent portraitist, who – similarly to Matejko – was able to capture the world of inner feelings of the portrayed person. His portraits of men and women were painted in warm, dark tones, frequently depicting the model in historical or oriental costumes.
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