Aleksander Gierymski

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Aleksander Gierymski, self-portrait, 1900

Ignacy Aleksander Gierymski (born 30 January 1850 in Warsaw, died between 6 and 8 March 1901 in Rome) was a Polish painter of the late 19th century. He was the younger brother of Maksymilian Gierymski.


Aleksander Gierymski finished the Secondary State School nr III in Warsaw in 1867, and in the same year he started drawing studies in Warsaw. Between 1868 – 1872 he was studying in Academy of Fine Arts in Munich from which he graduated with gold medal. He got a commendation for his diploma work The Merchant of Venice. Between 1873-1874 he stayed in Italy, mostly in Rome. There he made his first famous works: Roman Inn and Morra Game, which Gierymski brought to Warsaw in the beginning of 1875 and exhibited at Zachęta Gallery. Both paintings caught the attention of audiences and critics.

Since the end of 1875 to 1879 the artist went back to Rome. In this period he was working on his improvement, especially spending a lot of time studying the Italian paintings. The most important work of the Roman period was his painting In the Gazebo. It was an announcement to impressionism, which was proceed by long studies on this matter (for ex. Cylinder on a table, Man in red tail-coat and others). On the painting In the Gazebo we can see the scene of an 18th-century social gathering, which take place in a gazebo, that is filled with light from behind. These give possibility to Gierymski to play witch colors and the light, and his work can be compared to contemporary French impressionists, who’s painting he probably hadn't seen, because he hadn't been in Paris yet.

The most excellent period for Gierymski was between years 1879 -1888 which he spend in Warsaw. In this time he was working with group of young positivist writers and painters, cluster near periodic Wędrowiec (Eng. Wanderer). Responsible for art affairs in these magazine was Stanisław Witkiewicz, who took a battle for Gierymski public recognition. Paintings, which he was making in this period for ex. Jewish women selling oranges; The Old Town Gate, Solec’s Marina, Feast of Trumpets and Sandblasters and others are based on life of poor people from two districts in Warsaw – Powiśle and Old Town. Unfortunately his works were never comprehended and respect in contemporary Poland. As unappreciated persons in his motherland, without livelihoods he left Warsaw behind and went aboard in 1888.

Since then he was mostly in Germany and France. Changing of surroundings changed his works. Away from his homeland he started to paint things less personal. Mostly he was painting landscapes (Kufstein Castel Outlook, Part of Rotenburg[disambiguation needed], sea landscapes). Frequently he was painting at night, which allowed him to paint objects under artificial illumination (Munich nocturnes, Paris Opera at Night, Twilight over Seine).

He came back to Poland in 1893 and stayed till 1895, in order to apply for a position at the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow. This journey made him interested in human life again. As the result of this interest we can count for example the painting Peasant's Coffin.

For the last years of his life he stayed in Italy. From that period comes works like Interior of Basilica of San Marco in Venice, Piazza del Popolo in Rome or outlooks of Verona.

His bitter disappointments of the life are shown on his self-portrait painted a year before his death. He is looking at the world with the naturalist eye, despite his hot-temper. Last years of his life he spend in a mental hospital, although he left a unique heritage. His works represents realism the same like Corbert’s, he wasn’t afraid of the matters of life, even of low class people.

Gierymski died between 6-8 of March 1901 in Rome in mental hospital on Via Lungara Street. He was buried at the Campo Verano Cemetery in Rome on 10 March 1901.

Major Works[edit]

  • Jewish women selling lemons (1881), Silesian Museum, Katowice, Poland
  • Jewess with Oranges (1881), National Museum in Warsaw (stolen in 1944, found in Germany in 2010)[1]
  • In the gazebo (1882), The National Museum in Warsaw
  • Powiśle (1883), National Museum in Kraków, Gallery of 19th Century Polish Art at Sukiennice
  • Feast of Trumpets I (1884), The National Museum in Warsaw
  • Sandblasters (1887), The National Museum in Warsaw
  • Wittelsbach Square in Munich at night (1890), The National Museum in Warsaw
  • Twilight over Seine (1892–1893), The National Museum in Kraków Gallery of 19th Century Polish Art at Sukiennice
  • Peasant's Coffin (1894–1895), The National Museum in Warsaw
  • A boy carrying a shaft (1895), National Museum in Wrocław
  • Lake on the sunset (1900), private collection
  • Stone Pine near Villa Borghese in Rome (1900), The National Museum in Kraków Gallery of 19th Century Polish Art st Sukiennice
  • The Sea (1901), The National Museum in Warsaw


External links[edit]


  1. ^ Objects lost due to World War II The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage