The Great Painters

Artur Grottger

- romantic knight of the national art

Artur Grottger
Artur Grottger, portrait photography, Wikipedia

Artur Grottger


One of the leading representatives of Romanticism in Polish painting - an artist, fighting with the help of art for the independence of his homeland. His masterful paintings hit the sensitive strings of Poles, appealed to their patriotic feelings and strengthened the cult of romantic heroism. He drew and painted battle scenes, horses, sledges, hunting and caricatures. In the history of Polish art, he wrote himself mainly as the creator of patriotic drawing cycles, which - repeatedly reproduced - entered the canon of national art.









Artur Grottger


On 11 November, in Ottyniowice (Ukraine), Artur Grottger, son of Jan Józef (a painter by education, fought in the November Uprising as an officer of the 5th Uhlan Regiment "Warsaw Children") and Krystyna Blahao de Chodietow was born. Artur Grottger received his first drawing lessons from his father - a painter, who was also a great storyteller. The artist grew up on his father's patriotic stories and insurgent memories


Artur Grottger studied with the Lviv painter Jan Maszkowski



artistic consultations in Lviv were provided by Juliusz Kossak


1851 On October 16, 1851 the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I. also came to Lviv. Arthur Grottger painted the monarch's entrance to the city. When the emperor received the watercolour, he funded a scholarship for the young artist (20 guilders per month), ordering him to undertake artistic studies in Krakow and then in Vienna.


He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, where he perfected his artistic workshop under the supervision of such painters and educators as Prof. Władysław Łuszczkiewicz and Prof. Wojciech Stattler. During his studies he also made friends with Jan Matejko.


Arthur Grottger began his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, where he also achieved success as an illustrator, collaborating with well-known Viennese magazines such as "Museestunden", "Waldheim's Illustierte Zeitung" and "Waldheim's Illustierte Blatter".


the artist started working with the Polish magazine "Postęp", published in Vienna, and in 1863 he became its editor-in-chief


During the January Uprising, he was involved in helping refugees. Unfortunately, he lost his Emperor Franz Joseph I scholarship after a Pole suspected of conspiracy activity was arrested in Arthur Grottger's flat on 23 December. The artist fell into poverty and had to leave Vienna.

Artur Grottger
Portrait of Rozalia Matilda Glaser, Wikipedia
Artur Grottger
Self-portrait, 1867, Wikipedia


the painter's younger brother Jarosław Grottger was exiled to Siberia for participating in the uprising


Arthur Grottger fell in love with Wanda Monné, who became his muse (her image appears in almost every female figure he drew). Unfortunately, Wanda's family opposed this relationship because of the artist's health and financial problems.

Artur Grottger
Opelia 1865, National Museum in Krakow, Wikipedia


he left for France in the hope of success, but lung disease made his work very difficult


Arthur Grottger, who was seriously ill with tuberculosis, died on 13 December in the Amélie-les-Bains-Palalda health resort (France). The fiancée brought the artist's corpse to Lviv on 4 July 1868. Arthur Grottger was buried in a place which he supposedly once chose during a walk with his fiancée. Six years after the funeral, the Lviv sculptor and the painter's friend, Paris Filippi, made a monument that stood on the artist's grave.

The "Polonia" series, Wikipedia

Interesting facts:


Alexander Pappenheim, a Bavarian count, visiting one of Lviv's art shops, bought a nice watercolour, and then asked the seller about the author. He was amazed to learn that this was the first work of a 14-year-old boy, Artur Grottger. He decided to meet him - he made friends with the young artist and became his patron.

200 illustrations

Artur Grottger has made over 200 illustrations for Viennese magazines. He achieved material stability and brought his mother and sister from Lviv to Vienna.


Arthur Grottger has sold the reproduction rights for his works to Viennese companies that have released albums with graphic prints. This has helped the artist's drawings to reach a wider audience. These publications soon found themselves on the tsarist list of prohibited works in the Kingdom of Poland. This resulted in a significant increase in their popularity among patriotic circles. These works gained symbolic significance, building the legend of the January Uprising.


Arthur Grottger was commemorated by his fiancée and friend with an extraordinary monument: "On his tombstone turmoil this monument, consisting of several sculptural elements, was erected. The main one was a statue of a young, deeply saddened woman with a face resembling that of Wanda, kneeling on a huge boulder, next to which a stone falcon with wings spread, symbolising love and fidelity, sat. Underneath these two sculptures, on the said boulder, there is an oval medallion with a relief image of Grottger [modeled by Wanda herself, who became a gifted sculptor], a lyre with broken strings and a broken painting palette - symbols of the artist's creativity and talent interrupted by death, and a dead skull - a symbol of memory of that death. To the left of the medallion there is a stone image of a large folder of drawings, the cover of which includes the titles of Grottger's main drawing cycles: "Warsaw", "Polonia", "Lituania", "Winter Evenings" and "War". On the epitaphic tombstone of the tumba there was the name of the deceased artist and an inscription arranged by Wanda: "May Christ, who called you, receive you, and may angels lead you to his glory". Above the top plate of the tumba there was another inscription: "This monument to his holy memory was erected by Wanda". " - Witold Szolgini

Artur Grottger
The Swedish fight, Wikipedia

About Artur Grottger's art:

Arthur Grottger, prevented by his friends from participating directly in the fighting, followed the January Uprising from Vienna. He created his drawings on the basis of the news coming from Polish lands. Perhaps that is why he could present the January Uprising in a pathetic, lofty and idealised tone. Completely different from the experienced participation in the Uprising Maximilian Gierymski.

"He was then left behind, and in the tragic struggle for freedom, he gave a permanent testimony with his art, the most wonderful.

Marceli Krajewski

The artist was able to depict the culmination moment for his work. He chose it in such a way that the viewer could read the meaning of the shown events without any obstacles, as well as tell himself the story of what had just happened and what would happen next. He achieved this effect by painting emotions on the characters' faces, selecting gestures. Fear, fear or distrust were sometimes signalled by the behaviour of not only people, but also animals. In this way, he achieved an extraordinary legibility of his works, which certainly contributed to the popularization of his vision of the January Uprising.

"He has not shown the world the enemy, the enemy; but he has shown a more terrible thing: he has shown misfortunes, disasters, crimes, after which only history and mankind know this enemy. He has shown in this poem, still Varsovia: look what we are and what has been done with us. If a stranger, when looking at these images, feels compassion for the misfortune, he will condemn those about whom Grottger has cried out: "woe to them". Grottger's works, contained in several cheeses, organically spiritually linked, have a monumental value, both national and artistic, both for Poles and for the whole civilised world. They belong to the great tragedies of hearts and societies. Almost every character in these paintings is typical, and the views of nature, forests, whenever they serve as a background, are of unparalleled magnificence".

Alfred Szczepański

Arthur Grottger became famous primarily as a creator of drawing cycles, made in drawing technique, with black crayon with lights brought out in white crayon. He was an illustrator with an excellent drawing workshop, perfectly reflecting shapes with line and chiaroscuro, building the mood with a rich range of grays. His "Polonia" is a collection of nine chronologically arranged, black-and-white drawings which present events in the Kingdom of Poland.

"I put everything in these robots that he thought, felt and loved about life".
Artur Grottger

Artur Grottger
Farewell to the insurgent, Wikipedia

Arthur Grottger's next cycle, 'The Future of the World', is a series of events that have been presented to the public. "This time he makes six drawings. The "Polonia" and "Lituania" combined into one whole carry a strong patriotic message. Had it not been for the premature death of the artist, most probably the series would have been complemented by a show of fights in Ukraine. The series of paintings were described as a "miraculous poem".

"The painter should be a poet, he should embody his ideas and ideas in sensual, visible characters as the poet embodies them in the invisible sound of the word.
Ryszard Berwiński

Drawing the cycle "Warsaw I" Arthur Grottger knew that the course of events was widely known and communicated by the press throughout Europe. So he did not stress sensationalism and proposed an innovative narrative in which the events took place from the point of view of their participants.

"It wasn't historical painting, it wasn't presenting facts directly, in its main, most important moments - these are left by the artist on the side, as a thing known and known (...) You know, he tells the author to the viewer that in Warsaw the army was shooting at defenseless people walking in a procession, you know that they were falling into churches, beating with their butts, dragging them to the citadel, you know what they were praying for and what they were persecuting others for, you know all the feelings of both sides and all their actions; So I will not tell you anything about the celebration of the Grochow anniversary or about the funeral of the first victims (...); I will not go into the history of these events, only in side, subordinate, episodic scenes, I will show you what people felt during this, and this way you will understand the events better. ” 

Stanisław Tarnowski

Arthur Grottger limited himself to depicting only a few characters, yet he achieved the effect of representing the entire community.

"Often one figure epitomises a multi-armed drama, often a group of one seems to paint thousands of people".

Józef Ignacy Kraszewski

Arthur Grottger in the Museums:

Artur Grottger
Tartars in flight, Wikipedia
Artur Grottger
Welcome to the insurgent, Wikipedia
galeria marzeń


  • Lwów: Lwowska Galeria Sztuki. Można tam podziwiać m. in.:
    • „Spotkanie Jana III Sobieskiego z cesarzem Leopoldem I pod Schwechat” namalowany w 1859
    • „Na przejażdżce. Portret Aleksandra Pappenheima” namalowany ok. 1860
    • „Rekonesans” namalowany w 1862
    • „Portret mężczyzny” bez daty
jan matejko


  • Budapeszt: Országos Magyar Szépmüvészeti Muzeum. Można tam podziwiać m. in.:
    • „Obraz symboliczny Polski z cyklu Polonia” namalowany w 1863
    • „Żałobne wieści z cyklu Polonia” namalowany w 1863
    • „Obrona dworu z cyklu Polonia” namalowany w 1863
    • „Schronisko z cyklu Polonia” namalowany w 1863
    • „Kucie kos z cyklu Polonia” namalowany w 1863
    • „Pobór w nocy z cyklu Polonia” namalowany w 1863
    • „Cykl: Polonia (I. Karta tytułowa II. Branka III. Kucie kos IV. Bitwa V. Schronisko VI. Obrona dworu VII. Po odejściu wroga VIII. Żałobne wieści IX. Na pobojowisku)” namalowany w 1863
    • „Na pobojowisku z cyklu Polonia” namalowany w 1866
jan matejko


  • Londyn: Victoria and Albert Museum
    • Cykl: Warszawa II (I. Plac Zamkowy II. Chłop i szlachta III. Lud w kościele IV. Wdowa V. Zamknięcie kościołów VI. Więzienie księdza VII. Sybir)” namalowany w 1862
galeria marzeń


  • Bytom: Muzeum Górnośląskie. Można tam podziwiać m. in.:
    • „Portret hrabianki Thun” namalowany w 1860
  • Katowice: Silesian Museum. You can admire there, among others..:
    • „Portret kobiety” bez daty
  • Kraków: Muzeum Narodowe – Zamek Królewski na Wawelu. Można tam podziwiać m. in.:
    • „Portret Fryderyki z Maszkowskich Jakubowiczowej” namalowany w 1858
    • „Pobudka” lub „Pobudka powstańców” namalowany w 1858
    • „Wianki” namalowany w 1859
    • „Modlitwa wieczorna rolnika” namalowany w 1860
    • Cykl: Lituania (I. Puszcza II. Znak III. Przysięga IV. Bój V. Duch VI. Widzenie)” namalowany w latach 1864-1866
    • „Autoportret” namalowany w 1865
    • „Portret rudowłosej” namalowany w 1865
    • „Ofelia” namalowany w 1865
    • „Wedeta” namalowany w 1865
    • „Przejście przez granicę” namalowany w 1865
    • „Powitanie powstańca” namalowany w 1865
    • „Pożegnanie powstańca” namalowany w 1865-1866
    • „Fryne” namalowany w 1867
  • Łódź: Muzeum Sztuki. Można tam podziwiać m. in.:
    • „Portret klaczy w Porębie” namalowany w 1858
    • „Czytający starzec” bez daty
    • „Pejzaż” bez daty
  • Poznań: National Museum. You can admire there, among others..:
    • „Pochód na Sybir” namalowany w 1867
  • Tarnów: Muzeum Okręgowe. Można tam podziwiać m. in.:
    • „Szlachcic pod figurą” namalowany w 1866
  • Toruń: Muzeum Okręgowe. Można tam podziwiać m. in.:
    • „Utarczka ze Szwedami” namalowany w 1856
  • Warsaw: National Museum - Polish Army Museum. You can admire there, among others..:
    • „Tatarzy w ucieczce” namalowany ok. 1855
    • „Ucieczka Henryka Walezego z Polski” namalowany w 1860
    • „Portret dziewczynki” namalowany w 1860
    • „Autoportret z cygarkiem” namalowany w latach 1860-1867
    • „W Saskim Ogrodzie w Warszawie” namalowany w 1863
    • „Portret Marii Sawiczewskiej, siostry artysty” namalowany ok. 1863-1864
    • „Pochód na Sybir” namalowany w 1866
    • „Portret Klementyny z Dzieduszyckich Szembekowej-Szolc” namalowany w 1866
    • „Portret Wincentego Chochlik Wasilewskiego” namalowany w 1867
    • „Autoportret” namalowany w 1867
    • „Przed posągiem Napoleona” namalowany w 1867
    • „Joanna d’Arc” bez daty
  • Wrocław: National Museum. You can admire there, among others..:
    • Pierwsze ćwiczenia (Szkoła szlachcica polskiego)” namalowany w 1858
    • „Admonicja (Szkoła szlachcica polskiego)” namalowany w 1858
    • Wyprawa (Szkoła szlachcica polskiego)” namalowany w 1858
    • „Ostatnia przestroga (Szkoła szlachcica polskiego)” namalowany w 1858.
    • „Obywatel z Barszczowic” namalowany w 1860
    • „Portret nieznanego mężczyzny” namalowany w 1860
    • „Cykl: Warszawa I (I. Błogosławieństwo II. Lud w kościele III. Chłop i szlachta IV. Żydzi warszawscy V. Pierwsza ofiara VI. Wdowa VII. Zamknięcie kościołów)” namalowany w 1861
    • „Po powstaniu (W drodze do kościoła)” namalowany w 1864
    • „Dostojnik” namalowany w 1864
    • „Popiersie kobiety” namalowany w 1864
    • „Portret dziewczynki z medalionem” namalowany w 1865
    • „Portret Jerzego Lubomirskiego” namalowany w 1866
    • „Cykl: Wojna (I. Pójdź ze mną przez padół płaczu II. Kometa III. Losowanie rekrutów IV. Pożegnanie V. Pożoga VI. Głód VII. Zdrada i kara VIII. Ludzie czy szakale? IX. Już tylko nędza X. Świętokradztwo XI. Ludzkości, rodzie Kaina)” namalowany w latach 1866-1867

Artur Grottger (1837-1867)

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Artur Grottger
Lithuania, Wikipedia