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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Leon Kapliński

Jan Dzialynski, 1864, Leon Kaplinski
It's somewhat unfortunate, but very often portrait artists are much better known by who he or she has painted than by how, or how well, they've painted. Other factors involve how many portraits the artist has painted, and to some degree, the era in which they lived and worked. By that I mean, before the development of portrait photography, there were hundreds of portrait artists in every major art market in the world. The competition for commissions was tremendous. About 1900, high quality, archival, relatively inexpensive photos, though often smaller in size, cut the ranks of portrait painters to about a third or less of their previous number. Moreover, the advent of high resolution color photos, just during my own lifetime, has had a similar effect.
Stefan Czarniecki, 1862, Leon Kaplinski
The Polish portrait artist, Leon Kapliński, wasn't plagued by photography, but by the fact that those he painted were much more important than he was. He is also quite difficult to write about in that so little of his work survives, and due to the fact that he was at least equally involved with the Polish underground whose leaders he painted (above, top, and bottom) as he was with art. He was, in fact, at best, a mediocre painter. Kapliński studied art both in Poland and Paris. His first known works are copies of paintings by famous Italian artists. Later he gained a degree of recognition for his patriotic historical paintings.
Leon Kaplinski, 1861,
Henryk Rodakowski
Born 1826 in Petrykozy, not far from Warsaw. He was the son of a small landowner. The Kap-lińskis were a Frankist family; his grandfather Eliasz Adam Kapliński was one of the last known Frankists (a Jewish religious movement of the 18th and 19th centuries, centered on the leadership of the Jacob Frank, who claimed to be the Jewish Messiah). Leon Kapliński first studied law and philosophy in Warsaw and Wrocław (Breslau). He was engaged in various revolutionary underground groups before being forced to flee from the part of Poland under Russian rule. Many of Leon Kaplinski's paint-ings have been lost. Mainly influenced by clas-sical Italian art and his contemporary Henryk Rodakowski (left), Kaplinski continued the tradition of academic painting showing no inter-est for the emerging modernism of the mid-19th-century.

Portrait of a Woman 
Leon Kaplinski
Kaplinski took part in the Polish revolutionary movement in 1848, then emigrated to Paris where he spent most of his remaining years. He took part in Polish émigré political activities, closely connected with the circle of Hotel Lam-bert and the Czartoryski family. He accompanied the Count Witold Czartoryski during his trip to the Balkans and the Near East. Kapliński also edited the periodical Ephémérides Polonaises. He was married to Helena Michalina Hrynie-wiecka. In 1871. Leon Kaplinski moved back to Poland, where he lived mostly in Kraków. He died in 1873 in Milosław.
Portrait of Seweryn Markiewicz,
1860, Leon Kaplinski


  1. I would like to correct one thing. "Portret kobiety" means "Portrait of a woman". Best regards from Poland��

  2. Jaroslaw--

    Thanks for the help. My Polish is almost as good as my Russian which is far worse than my Greek. Thanks for reading and writing.