The Great Painters

Jacek Malczewski

- one of the most sovereign artists

Jacek Malczewski

Jacek Malczewski, self-portrait (1925), Wikipedia

Jacek Malczewski


His art is a real "explosive mixture" - it combines eroticism with mysticism, folklore with antiquity, lyrical reverie with brutal sensuality and pathos with ironic mockery. For years it has evoked extreme emotions, but leaves no one indifferent. His crazy, swinging imagination has created an incredibly expressive world.






Jacek Malczewski


(15 July) Jacek Malczewski, son of Julian and Maria of Korwin Szymanowski, was born in Radom.


he stayed in Wielgie in the estate of his uncle Feliks Karczewski, where his teacher was a January insurgent, naturalist and writer Adolf Dygasiński (1839-1902)



Jan Matejko (1838-1893) notices in Jacek Malczewski's "an impaired talent for painting" and personally asks his father to let his son leave the junior high school and devote himself exclusively to studies in an art school. This is what happened - Jacek Malczewski left the gymnasium and started studying at the Cracow School of Fine Arts.


he went to Paris, where he studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts


as a result of the conflict with Jan Matejko left the School of Fine Arts


After his father's death in January, Jacek Malczewski experiences dramatic moments. From then on, the motif of death appears in his paintings and constantly returns


study stay in Munich


He married Maria Gralewska, daughter of a Krakow pharmacist. They lived together in the Gralewskis' tenement house on Szczepańska Street in Krakow.


He married Maria Gralewska, daughter of a Krakow pharmacist. They lived together in the Gralewskis' tenement house on Szczepańska Street in Krakow.


he started working on the painting "Melancholy", which initiated a symbolic breakthrough in his work


he reconciled with Jan Matejko, who visited him in his studio on Łobzowska Street in Kraków

Jacek Malczewski


Hamlet of Poland - Portrait of Aleksander Wielopolski (1903). National Museum in Warsaw, Wikipedia


second stay in Munich


Jacek Malczewski became one of the founding members of the "Krakow Art Nouveau", the "Sztuka" Society of Polish Artists. He was a well-known and popular person, even a puppet appeared in the "Green Balloon" cabaret - Jacek Symbolewski


the artist's mother died, which the painter deeply experienced


He settled in Zwierzyniec in the Villa "Under the Mother of God".


He was elected rector of the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow and held this function until the outbreak of World War I. His opposition to the obligation to wear the Austrian representative uniform, which was for him the uniform of the invader, went down in history


Jacek Malczewski returned to Krakow (he spent the beginning of the war in Vienna) and settled at 8 Krupnicza Street, took up a job at the Academy and painted paintings inspired by war events.


received the order Polonia Restitua IV class


The 70th birthday of the painter and the 50th anniversary of Malczewski's creative work is officially celebrated. Jubilee exhibitions are held in Krakow, Poznan, Warsaw, Lviv.


At the National Exhibition in Poznań he received the Grand Gold Medal. The painter slowly began to lose his sight and had to stop painting. Jacek Malczewski died on 8 October in Cracow. As he wished, he was buried in a Franciscan tertiary habit, in which he portrayed himself years ago. His ashes were deposited in the Crypt of Merit in the Cracow church on the Rock.

Interesting facts:

„Femme fatale”
Beautiful Maria Balowa, the wife of starost Adam Bal, played the role of "femme fatale" in Jacek Malczewski's life, while Krakow was shaking with rumours. The social scandal reached its peak when in 1906 the painter went to Italy with his new muse. Maria Balowa's beauty mastered Malczewski's imagination, who repeatedly portrayed her and gave her features to the figures of Chimer and Polonia.
The picture "Death of Ellenai" was enthusiastically received by the audience. According to the legend, it was the only painting in front of which he stopped, visiting the Cloth Hall, intrigued Picasso.

There was probably no artist in Poland who left so many self-portraits. His passion for presenting himself is astonishing, but also puzzling. Accused of extreme egotism and megalomania, suspected of transvestitism, Jacek Malczewski certainly had narcissistic tendencies, but he was also able to make a merciless self-irony, sharp mockery. He portrayed himself in armour and a woman's apron, in a beret, a hat, a renaissance mop, a wig, and even... with an iron cake on his head.

Malczewski's visions are also used by filmmakers. In "Brzezina" Andrzej Wajda composes frames according to "Poisoned Well", and the symbolic folk from Jacek Malczewski's paintings can be found in Jan Jakub Kolski's films.
Jacek Malczewski

Poisoned well with chimera (1905). Jacek Malczewski Museum in Radom, Wikipedia

About the Art of Jacek Malczewski:

Jacek Malczewski said: "If I wasn't Polish, I wouldn't be an artist." Jan Matejko wanted to have his spiritual and artistic heir in him, but Malczewski preferred to go his own way. However, he never forgot about master Jan's instructions.

"Paint so that Poland may be resurrected!"
 – Jan Matejko

"Melancholia" is a breakthrough picture for Jacek Malczewski. Thematically, it is the culmination of the previous threads and explorations, as the subtitle written at the back of the canvas says: "Prologue of seeing / The last century in Poland - Tout un siècle". Formally, it surprises us with its spontaneous dynamics, bizarre, abruptly abbreviated poses of figures, as well as intricate construction of space built from several points of view.

"I could write a whole treatise on model setting by Malczewski. There are no imitations here, just the director's mechanism is shown, unveiled. This is what modern directing is all about, that this mechanism is revealed (...) Wrong circle, Melancholy, this is a large scale national opera".
 – Tadeusz Kantor

Jacek Malczewski

Portrait of Tadeusz Błotnicki with Medusa (1902). National Museum in Warsaw, Wikipedia

Jacek Malczewski

Christ in Emmaus (1909) Lviv Art Gallery, Wikipedia

Starting with "The Wrong Circle", Jacek Malczewski combines ancient, fairy-tale and historical themes in his paintings; he mixes classical myths with Polish folklore. In his paintings: "Angel and Shepherdess", "Angel, I'll Follow You" echoes the poems of Teofil Lenartowicz, which Malczewski valued and knew by heart, as well as other literary paintings (Sienkiewicz, Dygasiński), where the protagonist is a rural, unusual child, living his dreams and a sense of another, fantastic reality. Such a child - lonely and misunderstood by its surroundings - was for the symbolists a figure of the artist: a naive soul, unbiased, immersed in nature.

"Calling him a symbolist does not explain everything; for what is striking in his art is that mythology, supernaturality and phantasmagoria blend into everyday, banal reality, in a perfectly natural way, as if nothing ever happened. This will be one of the driving wheels of surrealism - and this makes Malczewski one of the great precursors of 20th century art".
 – Henri Loyrette, dyrektor Musée d’Orsay

Jacek Malczewski is primarily a painter of a man, a human face. The images of friends, often eminent people of the epoch, are a pretext for him to build complex allegories.

"Malczewski didn't so much portray, as judge his models. He often did it in an acute way and on the verge of social indecency".
 – Kazimierz Wyka

There is no doubt that Artur Grottger (1837-1867) shaped Jacek Malczewski's artistic imagination. The painter valued him higher than Jan Matejko. From Grottger's works, Malczewski draws primarily on visions of Polish martyrdom and religious lyricism.

"In the opinion of his contemporaries, Malczewski was considered a continuation of Grottger."
 – Jadwiga Puciata-Pawłowska 

Jacek Malczewski w Muzeach::

galeria marzeń

Warsaw: National Museum - Historical Museum - Polish Army Museum. You can admire there, among others..:

„Thanatos” namalowany w latach 1898-1899
„Aniele pójdę za Tobą” namalowany w 1901
„Śmierć” namalowany w 1902
„Hamlet Polski (Portret Aleksandra Wielopolskiego) namalowany w 1903
„Portret Władysława Reymonta” namalowany w 1905
„Autoportret w zbroi” namalowany w 1914
„Święta Agnieszka” namalowany w latach 1920-1921


Jacek Malczewski

Wrong wheel (1895-1897). National Museum in Poznań, Wikipedia

galeria marzeń

Poznan: National Museum (Raczynski Foundation at the National Museum in Poznan). You can admire there, among others..:

„Melancholia” namalowany w latach 1890-1894
„Śmierć na etapie” namalowany w 1891
„W tumanie” namalowany w latach 1893-1894
„Błędne koło” namalowany w latach 1895-1897
„Portret Adama Asnyka z muzą” namalowany w latach 1895-1897
„Thanatos I” namalowany w 1898
„Portret własny z hiacyntem” namalowany w 1902
„Anioł i Pastuszek” namalowany w 1902
„Wiosna (Krajobraz z Tobiaszem)” namalowany w 1904
„Zatruta studnia” namalowany w 1905
„Zatruta studnia” namalowany w 1906
„Śmierć Ellenai” namalowany w 1907
„Eloe ze zwłokami Ellenai” namalowany w latach 1908-1909
„Święty Jan i Salome” namalowany w 1911
„Tobiasz i Parki” namalowany w 1912


galeria marzeń

Kielce: National Museum. You can admire there, among others..:

„Polonia” namalowany w 1918
„Herkules na rozstajnych drogach (Portret Aleksandra Wielopolskiego)” namalowany w 1920


Jacek Malczewski


  • Indiana: Uniwersytet Notre-Dame
galeria marzeń


  • Lwów – Lwowska Galeria Obrazów
galeria marzeń

Cracow - National Museum - Society of the Friends of Fine Arts - Wawel Royal Castle - Museum of the Jagiellonian University - Academy of Fine Arts. You can admire there, among others..:

„Śmierć Ellenai” namalowany w 1883
„Portret narzeczonej Marii Gralewskiej” namalowany w 1887
„Introdukcja (albo Malraczyk)” namalowany w 1890
„Wigilia na Syberii” namalowany w 1892
„Natchnienie malarza” namalowany w 1897
„Wytchnienie” namalowany w 1899
„Autoportret na tle Wisły” namalowany w 1901
„Nieznana nuta” namalowany w 1902
„Krajobraz znad Wisły” namalowany w 1904
„Autoportret w białym stroju” namalowany w 1914
„Autoportret” namalowany ok. 1917


galeria marzeń

Wrocław: National Museum. You can admire there, among others..:

„Anioł i Pastuszek” namalowany w 1903


galeria marzeń

Radom: District Museum. You can admire there, among others..:

„Zatruta studnia – Chimera” namalowany w 1905


galeria marzeń

Katowice: Silesian Museum. You can admire there, among others..:

„Pożegnanie z pracownią” namalowany w 1913


galeria marzeń

Other Polish cities:

  • Bydgoszcz: Muzeum im. Leona Wyczółkowskiego
  • Bytom: Muzeum Górnośląskie
  • Gdańsk: Muzeum Narodowe – Muzeum Pomorskie
  • Lublin: Muzeum Lubelskie
  • Łódź: Muzeum Sztuki
  • Oblęgorek: Muzeum Henryka Sienkiewicz (Oddział Muzeum Narodowego w Kielcach)
  • Opole: Muzeum Śląska Opolskiego
  • Płock: Muzeum Mazowieckie
  • Szczecin: Muzeum Pomorza Zachodniego
  • Toruń – Muzeum Okręgowe


Jacek Malczewski


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Jacek Malczewski