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Friday, November 6, 2015

Jan Stanislawski

Spring, Jan Stanislawski (There's no indication as to which spring.)
Mallow, before 1900, Jan Stanislawski
As I've mentioned before, most of my life I've had very little consciousness having to do with Russian art. I think probably most people fall into that category. However, since I've been writing about artists from all over the world, I've come to have a profound respect for the artists of eastern Europe and particularly the Russians. In fact, I'd go even further to say I've come to love their art. I've come to especially love their landscapes. There's such an incredible variety as to seasons and top-ography to be found, not to mention all the evolving styles of the past two-hundred years during which Russian artists have dem-onstrated their appreciation for the impressive beauty of their homeland. One such artist is not Russian but Ukrainian. (One has to be careful as to nationalities in this region now days.) His name is Jan Stanislawski.

Work of Jan Stanislawski, Warsaw National Museum
Lato, Jan Stanislawski
I think it would be safe to say Stanislawski's Russian landscapes are like no others, at least no others I've seen in Russian art. First of all they're not huge, impressive, couch paintings, or larger, that would dominate an entire room in the Hermitage. Most of them, even grouped, as seen in the Warsaw National Museum (above), seem almost like miniatures. Yet they are not miniatures in the sense of eye-straining, delicate brushwork usually associated with tabletop size paintings. The style and technique would probably be considered petite Impres-sionism. That's especially true in terms of Stanislawski's astute use of color. Despite the loose brushwork, from a few feet away, they appear almost like framed postcard photos. The color is always "spot on" to such a degree that any lack of minute details are inconsequential. Stanislawski's Spring (top) is an excellent example of what I mean. The painting is hardly much larger than you see on your monitor screen (depending upon its size, perhaps not even as large).

These are not self-portraits. The portrait on the left is by Oleksander Murashko,
while the one on the right is by Stanislaw Wyspianski.
Jan Stanislawski was born in 1860. His hometown was a village called Vishana near Korsun, neither of which I, or most people, have ever heard of. If you can picture a map of the Ukraine, it's smack in the center. He was trained as a mathematician, graduating from Warsaw University in 1882, then subsequently studied for a short time at the Imperial Technical Institute in St Petersburg. In 1883, Stanislawski enrolled in the School of Fine Arts in Kraków, then later continued his studies in Paris under Charles Emile Auguste Durand. From Paris, Stanislawski visited Italy (below), Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and eastern Galicia.

Santa Maria della Salute, 1904, Jan Stanislawski, painted while in Venice.
Park w Zakopanem, Jan Stanislawski
During the 1890s, Stanislawski initiated, or helped organize painting exhibitions all over eastern Europe. Around the same time, he and his friend, Julian Fałat, collaborated with Wojciech Kossak in painting the landscape parts of Kossak's panorama, Napoleon’s Army Crossing the Berezina. In 1897 Stanislawski become a teacher of landscape painting at the School of Fine Arts in Kraków. After the school was upgraded to an academy in 1900 he was granted full professorship. He also taught the ladies at Teodor Axentowicz’s Private School of Painting and Drawing for Women and at Teofila Certowicz’s Art School for Women in Kraków. Later Stanislawski co-founded the Society of Polish Artists in Kraków, becoming its Chairman in 1898. During the early 1900s, Stanislawski went on to joined the Viennese Secession, showing his works at exhibitions in 1901, 1902 and 1905. He died two years later at the age of forty-six. Obesity was especially deadly in that era.

Church of Michajlowska, Jan Stanislawski
Following Stanislawski's death, his work was featured in two exhibitions in Krakow, and in the years since, his paintings have become quite collectible, perhaps as much for their small size and painting style as for their content, which, by Russian standards, was quite mundane. The pieces I've chosen here, such as his Church of Michajlowska (above) are among his most exceptional works. The vast majority of his landscapes such as his Hollyhocks in the Sun (below), are notable more for their color and painterly qualities than for any association with the familiar landmarks chosen by most landscape painters.

Hollyhocks in the Sun, before 1900, Jan Stanislawski
No, they're not giant mushrooms or toadstools, not even
a community of Hobbit houses. They're Jan Stanislawski's
Beehives in the Ukraine, painted around 1895.



  1. Jan Stanisławski was POLISH painter.

  2. Stanislawa---

    Technically, Jan Stanislawski was neither Polish nor Russian but Ukrainian, having been born Vilshana near Korsun, Ukraine. In that he lived and worked most of his life in Krakow creates a quandary for anyone writing about the man. Do you consider the place of birth as the basis for his nationality or where he spent his life and died? Given the fluid borders of Eastern Europe during much of its past history, a "then and now" element also complicates the designation as to nationality. His work tends to be lumped in with Russian art by critics and other writers (including myself). I suppose we could settle this by applying hyphens (Polish-Russian or Ukrainian-Polish) but in a blog such as this in which I try to simplify art, and especially art history, for the reader who may have only a passing interest in either one, I tend to give the greatest weight to an artist's place of birth. I did, however, go to some lengths to identify Stanislawski with his Polish presence as well as his Russian-Ukrainian roots.

    Thanks for your comment and thanks for following my blog. I hope this explains my reasoning.

    1. Thank you for your explanation, but I am Polish and I am a little sensitive to assigning parts of Polish culture by Russians.

      Jan Stanisławski was born in Polish family. His father Antoni Robert Stanisławski was a Polish poet faumous for translation of Divine Comedy by Dante into Polish language (not Russian nor Ukrainian).

      Here is a link to Ukrainian Encyclopedia where you can find info that Jan Stanisławski was a Polish painter.\S\T\StanisK5awskiJan.htm
      Jan Stanisławski is called a Polish painter (польский художник) in Russian Wikipedia too. Please, check it, writing Станиславский, Ян in it.