The Great Painters

Leon Wyczółkowski

- master of speed

Leon Wyczółkowski
Leon Wyczółkowski - self-portrait, Wikipedia

Leon Wyczółkowski (1852-1936)

He was an excellent portraitist, he painted for art's sake, but also to have something to eat - his paintings painted with even "factory" speed have become legendary. A great graphic artist and draftsman. He beautifully recreated Polish architecture and nature. His graphic works would have been enough for the whole and great work of another artist's life, and yet he left behind not only refined graphic works, but also plenty of paintings.









Leon Wyczółkowski


On 11 April, in Huta Miastkowska near Garwolin, in the house of his grandfather, was born Leon Wyczółkowski, son of Mateusz (a petty nobleman and merchant of glass) and Antonina of Faliñska. The future painter went from Ostrów to a folk school in Kamionka near Lublin.


the painter's father died



He started his education in the gymnasium in Siedlce, but spent the period of the uprising in his grandparents' house. He spent his youthful years in Warsaw, very saddened by his mother's repeated unsuccessful marriage. After graduating from the gymnasium, the 17-year-old Leon Wyczółkowski entered the drawing class.


He studied in Warsaw's Drawing Class under Antoni Kamieński, Rafał Hadziewicz, and after 2 years became a pupil of Wojciech Gerson (an outstanding pedagogical talent). Leon Wyczółkowski received a silver medal for "Dying Gall".


At the end of his studies he made a painting "St. Casimir and Dlugosz" (lost), which was purchased from an exhibition at the Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts - it was a kind of examination essay of the primus.


He went to Munich and studied in the studio of Hungarian painter Alexander Wagner at the Academy of Fine Arts there. Leon Wyczółkowski's contact with the atmosphere of the Munich market and, at the same time, the misery he experienced after the exhaustion of funds, resulted in two currents in his work: the actual work of the artist and the production dictated by a compromise with the audience - sometimes this paid pseudo-creation gained the means to enable him to create true creativity.


He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow under the direction of Jana Matejki, and even lived in his house, he also made friends with another student of Master Jan - Jack Malczewski


He lived in Lviv, where he met Adam Chmielowski. Under the influence of this artist, he created two paintings: "Girl and Basilisk" and "Podwawel Dragon". He also painted "Alina" and "Portrait of Dobrinski children".


Leon Wyczółkowski came back to Warsaw, he was consumed by painting portraits and fashionable salon scenes


stay in Ukraine, where, among others, he undertook to restore a damaged painting Jana Matejko


visited Paris (world exhibition), getting acquainted with Monet's works and Japanese art


fishing paintings by Leon Wyczółkowski at the exhibition in Berlin won the favour of the critics


on the proposal of Julian Fałat (1853-1929), the new rector of the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, accepted the position of lecturer at the Krakow Academy of Fine Arts, moved permanently to Krakow and started to paint Wawel Castle


he has been to Zakopane and the Tatra Mountains many times


he received a bronze medal at an exhibition in Saint-Louis


he returned to Warsaw, where he spent a year unable to get through to Krakow

Leon Wyczółkowski
Fishermen wading in water, 1891 National Museum in Warsaw, Wikipedia


Leon Wyczółkowski married Franciszka from Pankow. However, he had no offspring


he was in the 6th Infantry Regiment in the camp near Warsaw


The "Teka Białowieska" "Teka Białowieska" has appeared and Leon Wyczółkowski's many years' dream of owning a piece of land has come true. He donated to the Museum of Wielkopolska in Poznan his rich collection of paintings and decorative art, in return for which the Poznan National Department gave him Gosieradz near the Tuchola Forest. The artist was then associated with Wielkopolska and Pomerania, although he still had his studio in Krakow.

Leon Wyczółkowski
Spring in Gościeradz, 1931 District Museum in Bydgoszcz, Wikipedia


Leon Wyczółkowski won the gold medal at the International Universal Exhibition in Paris

Leon Wyczółkowski
Portrait of Irena Solska, 1899 National Museum in Krakow, Wikipedia


he received a gold medal at the General National Exhibition in Poznań


Warsaw City Prize


Leon Wyczółkowski became a member of the Czech Academy of Sciences and Arts


was appointed honorary professor of the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow


he was appointed professor of graphics at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw


Leon Wyczółkowski died on 27 December due to pneumonia in Warsaw

Interesting facts:

Wawel Treasury

"Skarbiec wawelski" (1907) by Leon Wyczółkowski is a unique cycle of 17 pastels, which shows 30 monuments stored in the treasury of the Cracow Cathedral and a sarcophagus from the confession of St Stanislaus standing in the middle of the cathedral nave.


Leon Wyczółkowski did not want to bend over to the forms of life of great magnate courts and whenever he could, he did not take part in them. Invited to the seat of the Branicki family, he did not accept hospitality in the palace: "great request - I would like to live on the manor house, so that I could paint peacefully".

Naked models

In 1898 Leon Wyczółkowski with the painting "Stańczyk" responded to slanders about revolutionary tendencies. On the painting, next to the chest on which the puppets, depicting famous Cracow personalities, sit Stańczyk, covering his face with his hand. In fact, Leon Wyczółkowski had quite bold pedagogical methods for those times - he introduced naked models into the studio of the Academy of Fine Arts...

Juliusz Kossak

Leon Wyczółkowski painted a pastel portrait Juliusz Kossak - a beautiful tribute paid to the man and the artist by a younger painter who has already reached full artistic maturity. He painted the portrait 2 days before Juliusz's death.

A record of speed

The artist, who was solicited by numerous clients for portraits, disregarding his paid production, once reached a record speed - he painted the financier Bloch at the request of his family within an hour and a half... He confessed passionately about one of the portraits, made to order from a photograph: "Even when I die, I'll be banging my heels out of spite that I painted it!"

425 works

On April 8th, 1937, Franciszek's wife, in accordance with her husband's last will, handed over to the city of Bydgoszcz 425 works, sketchbooks and personal memorabilia and studio equipment. The act of donation obliged Bydgoszcz to take care of the collection, popularise the works and commemorate anniversaries connected with the artist and take care of his grave.


Leon Wyczółkowski from 1915 was married to Franciszka Pankowska. He had no offspring.


Friends have been talking to him and he is being shrewdly treated as a 'Wyczółek'.


Leon Wyczółkowski won many distinctions. Among them there are:

  • Great Ribbon of the Order of Polonia Restituta (1934)
  • Commander's Cross with the Star of the Order of Polonia Restituta (1928)
  • Commander's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta (29 December 1921)
  • Officer's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta (13 July 1921, as one of the first 15 persons awarded the Order of Polonia Restituta)
  • Gold Cross of Merit (twice: 1930 and 11 June 1932)
  • Złoty Wawrzyn Akademicki (5 November 1935)
Leon Wyczółkowski
I saw once - scene at the piano, 1884 National Museum in Warsaw, Wikipedia

About art of Leon Wyczółkowski:

Leon Wyczółkowski did not want to close himself in one circle of subjects, in one way of seeing, in one technique, as he used to say: "play on one note". So he abandoned the multicolouring for painting as if monochromatic. Then, with passion and mature artistry, he began to express himself in his black-and-white graphics, in painting he returned to the multi-colour palette.
"I like you, Wyczół, for playing with your art."
- Stanisław Witkiewicz

He had the gift of painting pictures "one breath and one day". He worked very fast and his output is uneven, but he created spontaneously, simply from the hand, in one fell swoop, a lot of masterpieces in which the boldness and speed of decision goes for better with its certainty and striking accuracy, the freshness of experience with its strength and sometimes depth.

He was attracted by mixing techniques: pastel with watercolour, pastel with ink, watercolour with lithographic chalk, with tempera and ink, then again with gouache and chalk, finally ink with chalk...

"Experimenting with the sign of a romantic, I'm a romantic (...) There was a painter's and graphic artist's counterpoint with me, otherwise I would only play the piano with one finger. 

– Leon Wyczółkowski

Stanisław Wyspiański
Beet digging, 1893 National Museum in Krakow, Wikipedia

Leon Wyczółkowski was invited to the magnate's courts in Ukraine primarily as a portraitist. With these portraits, he paid for the opportunity to paint what took him deep into the country - a purifying and inspiring encounter with the Ukrainian people and nature. And it was exactly in this order - the people were in the first place, and they painted nature only as painting studios. Ukrainian paintings by Leon Wyczółkowski were inspired by Maximilian and Aleksandra Gierymski and Chełmoński and from social ideas of Chmielowski and Witkiewicz.

"It is characteristic that none of the portraits that have been painted during this time wanted to be exposed to the public... The custom-made portraits, in which the painter had to follow both his tastes and the requirements of the people he was portraying, are unknown to the general public, often even the size of the paintings when applying them to the places intended for them on the walls...". 

- Henryk Piątkowski, painter and critic

Leon Wyczółkowski developed great artistry in the landscape, especially in the Tatra Mountains, where he travelled many times. He painted several dozen Tatra landscapes, paintings and studies painted in oil, pastel or watercolour. He painted the Black Pond 6 times in 1 day, in ever different lighting.

"I've been sitting in Zakopane for a week; I paint so furiously that I lose weight"

Leon Wyczółkowskiin a letter to Feliks Jasieński

Leon Wyczółkowski in Museums:

Leon Wyczółkowski
Fisherman, 1891 National Museum in Krakow, Wikipedia
galeria marzeń

Cracow: National Museum - Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow - Gallery of 19th century Polish Art in Sukiennice. You can admire there, among others:

  • „Rybak” namalowany w 1891
  • „Rybak z siecią” namalowany w 1891
  • „Orka na Ukrainie” namalowany w 1892
  • „Druid skamieniały” namalowany w 1892
  • „Głowa Chrystusa” namalowany w 1882–1883
  • „Studium do gry w krokieta” namalowany w 1892
  • Kopanie buraków” namalowany w 1893
  • „Gra w krykieta” namalowany w 1895
  • „Krucyfiks wawelski” namalowany w 1896
  • „Japonka” namalowany w 1897
  • „Stańczyk” namalowany w 1898
  • „Portret Jana Kasprowicza” namalowany w 1898
  • „Portret Ireny Solskiej” namalowany w 1899
  • „Portret Juliusza Kossaka” namalowany w 1900
  • „Portret Józefa Chełmońskiego” namalowany w 1900
  • „Portret Konstantego Laszczki” namalowany w 1902
  • „Portret Natalii Siennickiej-Duninowej” namalowany w 1903
  • „Mnich nad Morskim Okiem” namalowany w 1904
  • „Motyw z Grenady” namalowany w 1905
  • Karol Estreicher w loży na Weselu Wyspiańskiego” namalowany w 1905-1906
  • „Akt” namalowany w 1908
  • „Krajobraz morski z Połągi” namalowany w 1908
  • „Białe róże” namalowany w 1909
  • „Portret Józefa Chełmońskiego” namalowany w 1910
  • „Krajobraz z Jaremcza” namalowany w 1910
  • „Rybacy huculscy” namalowany w 1910
  • „Karczma w Suczawie” namalowany w 1910
  • „Portret Feliksa Mangghi Jasieńskiego” namalowany w 1911
  • „Krajobraz ukraiński” namalowany w 1911
  • „Kurza Stopka” namalowany ok. 1911-1912
  • „Wawel od Stradomia” namalowany ok. 1911-1912
  • „Most Dębnicki w Krakowie – zimą” namalowany w 1914
  • „Attyka Kamienicy Celejowskiej w Kazimierzu nad Wisłą” namalowany w 1918
  • „Dąb pośród młodych drzew” namalowany w 1921
  • „Portret Erazma Barącza” namalowany w 1924
  • „Gra w krokieta” bez daty
  • „Portret Lucjana Rydla” bez daty
  • „Ukrzyżowanie z kościoła św. Marka w Krakowie” bez daty
Leon Wyczółkowski
Relics of St. Stanislaw, pastel from the Wawel Treasure House series, 1907 National Museum in Warsaw, Wikipedia
Leon Wyczółkowski
Orca in Ukraine, 1892 National Museum in Krakow, Wikipedia
galeria marzeń

Other Polish cities:

  • Bydgoszcz: Muzeum Okręgowe. Można tam podziwiać m. in.:
    • „Kurhan na Ukrainie” namalowany w 1894
    • „Wejście do kaplicy Zygmuntowskiej” namalowany w 1920
    • „Arrasy w katedrze wawelskiej” namalowany w 1921
    • „Kościół Mariacki z widokiem Krakowa” namalowany w 1924
    • „Absyda kościoła Mariackiego w Krakowie” namalowany w 1924
    • „Dęby rogalińskie – zimą” namalowany w 1925
    • „Cis w rezerwacie Wierzchlesie” namalowany w 1930
    • „Świerk w słońcu” namalowany w 1931
    • „Wiosna” namalowany w 1933
    • „Kościół w Świeciu w czasie powodzi” bez daty
    • „Kościół św. Jana w Toruniu” bez daty
  • Bytom: Muzeum Górnośląskie. Można tam podziwiać m. in.:
    • „Welon” namalowany w 1885
    • „Portret Idalii Pawlikowskiej” namalowany w 1902
  • Katowice: Muzeum Śląskie:
    • „Siewca” namalowany w 1896
    • „Martwa natura z rybami” namalowany w 1911
  • Poznań: National Museum. You can admire there, among others..:
    • „Dziady” namalowany w 1896
    • „Autoportret w kapeluszu” namalowany w 1896
    • „Pałac Działyńskich w Poznaniu” namalowany w 1929
    • „Ratusz w Poznaniu” namalowany w 1929
    • „Buraki” bez daty
galeria marzeń

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

  • „Portret babki artysty Falińskiej” namalowany w 1880
  • Portret mężczyzny z binoklami” namalowany w 1880
  • „Portret kobiety” namalowany w 1880
  • „Portret młodej kobiety w pracowni malarza” namalowany w 1883
  • „Ujrzałem raz…” namalowany w 1884
  • „W buduarze” namalowany w 1885
  • „Wesołe pacholęta” namalowany w 1891
  • Rybacy brodzący” namalowany w 1891
  • „Portret prof. Ludwika Rydygiera z asystentami” namalowany w 1897
  • „Portret Feliksa Jasieńskiego” namalowany w 1903
  • „Autoportret” namalowany w 1904
  • „Woły” namalowany w 1904
  • „Martwa natura z wazą i chińskim parawanem” namalowany w 1905
  • „Skarbiec wawelski” namalowany w 1907
  • „Szymon Tatar” namalowany w 1907
  • „Sarkofag św. Stanisława w katedrze Wawelskiej” namalowany w 1907
  • „Stóg na polu” namalowany w 1907
  • „Krajobraz litewski namalowany w 1907
  • „Las” namalowany w 1907
  • „Kapliczka” namalowany w 1907
  • „Sosny z Połągi” namalowany w 1908
  • „Wieża ratuszowa w Gdańsku” namalowany w 1909
  • „Kościół Mariacki w Gdańsku” namalowany w 1909
  • „W porcie gdańskim” namalowany w 1909
  • „Żuraw nad Motławą” namalowany w 1909
  • „Hucuł z sakiem” namalowany w 1910
  • „Cerkiew w Worochcie” namalowany w 1910
  • „Wawel od strony Zwierzyńca – zimą” namalowany w 1910
  • „Autoportret w chińskim kaftanie” namalowany w 1911
  • „Kaplica Zygmuntowska z okna Zamkowego” namalowany ok. 1911-1912
  • „Nad rzeką” namalowany w 1912
  • „Koneła” namalowany w 1912
  • „Stary Ukrainiec splatający sieć” namalowany w 1912
  • „Martwa natura z pomarańczami” namalowany w 1912
  • „Wiatraki” namalowany w 1912
  • „Młocka na Ukrainie” namalowany w 1912
  • „Dachy staromiejskie w Warszawie” namalowany w 1916
  • „Syrenka na rynku staromiejskim w Warszawie” namalowany w 1916
  • „Brama Krakowska w Lublinie” namalowany ok. 1918-1919
  • „Brama Krakowska w Lublinie o zmierzchu – pod śniegiem” namalowany 1918-1919
  • „Kościół Dominikanów w Lublinie” namalowany ok. 1918-1919
  • „Kościół św. Wojciecha w Lublinie” – zadymce” namalowany ok. 1918-1919
  • „Dzielnica żydowska w Lublinie” namalowany ok. 1918-1919
  • „Brama Grodzka w Lublinie” namalowany ok. 1918-1919
  • „Portret Tadeusza Żuk-Skarszewskiego” namalowany w 1919
  • „Spichlerz Ulanowskich w Kazimierzu nad Wisłą” namalowany w 1920
  • „Kamienica Przybyłów w Kazimierzu nad Wisłą” namalowany w 1921
  • „Dęby białowieskie” namalowany w 1922
  • „Sosny białowieskie” namalowany w 1922
  • „Stary dąb” namalowany w 1922
  • „Suche świerki z puszczy” namalowany w 1922
  • „Zawieja w puszczy” namalowany w 1922
  • „Peonie w krysztale” namalowany w 1922
  • „Martwa natura z karafką” namalowany w 1923
  • „Prymule” namalowany w 1923
  • „Ośnieżone świerki gościeradzkie z krukiem w przelocie” namalowany w 1923
  • „Kościół św. Piotra w Krakowie” namalowany w 1924
  • „Świerki z suchymi gałęziami” namalowany w 1924
  • „Sędzielina” namalowany w 1924
  • „Dęby w słońcu” namalowany w 1924
  • „Anemony” namalowany w 1925
  • „Dęby rogalińskie pod śniegiem” namalowany w 1926
  • „Okiść” namalowany w 1926
  • „Absyda kościoła Mariackiego w Krakowie – pod śniegiem” namalowany ok. 1926-1927
  • „Absyda kościoła Mariackiego o świcie” namalowany ok. 1926-1927
  • „Sad” namalowany w 1927
  • „Świerk w słońcu” namalowany w 1929
  • „Suchar na tle kwitnących drzew” namalowany w 1933
  • „Kwitnąca grusza Małgorzatka” namalowany w 1933
  • „Studium Włoszki” bez daty
  • „Portret Antoniego Kurzawy” bez daty
  • „Kielich biskupa Maciejowskiego” bez daty
  • „Teatr w Łazienkach” bez daty

Leon Wyczółkowski (1852-1936)

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Leon Wyczółkowski