As a seventeen-year-old boy, he participated in the January Uprising. He was educated at the Warsaw Drawing School initially, but then received a government scholarship in 1867 and went to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. He became one of the leading painters of the Munich realistic school. Initially best known for this battle paintings, he also created many landscape paintings, especially of southern Poland, which he visited several times.
Completely successful in western Europe, he did not gain approval nor popularity in Poland of the 19th century, although he sent paintings to exhibitions in Warsaw regularly from 1868 on. He did however win awards at exhibitions in Munich (1869) and in Berlin (1872).