The Great Painters

Maksymilian Gierymski

- painter-insurrectionist

Maksymilian Gierymski

 Maksymilian Gierymski, Wikipedia

Maksymilian Gierymski


He created a type of Polish landscape and showed the January Uprising in its truest sense. He had little time to prove his talent, but he left behind painting masterpieces and notes, striking with their maturity. In art it was not the subject matter that mattered to him, but the mood, colour and light. His realistic paintings in the landscape of Polish 19th century art were a real breakthrough.






Maksymilian Gierymski


(9 October) Maksymilian Gierymski, son of Józef (administrator of the Ujazdowski Hospital in Warsaw) and Julia née Kielichowska was born in Warsaw. The talented and sensitive Maksymilian attended the Real Middle School and simultaneously took piano lessons.


graduated from the Reals Gymnasium and began engineering studies at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the Polytechnic Institute in Puławy (the school was a living centre of conspiracy)



As a 17-year-old Maksymilian Gierymski took part in the January Uprising. His stay in the insurgent "party" was the most important experience in life, a bitter and dramatic initiation into adult life. Many months of wandering around the woods, endless, gruelling marches, camps in snow and mud - the young officer learned all the brutal prose of the insurgent everyday life.


after the fall of the uprising, he returned to Warsaw and, fortunately avoiding political repression, began his studies at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics of the Main School


After just one year, he enrolled in the newly opened Drawing Class, but a modest Warsaw university could not satisfy a demanding student. Lessons of correct, conventional painters, Maksymilian Gierymski complemented his knowledge with a well-known battalionist Juliusz Kossak (1824-1899), who did not spare him friendly, artistic consultations.



started to exhibit and cooperate with the editors of illustrated magazines. He was helped by his younger brother Aleksander Gierymski, who also dreamt of an artistic future.

Maksymilian Gierymski
Maksymilian Gierymski, Insurgent from 1863, 1869, Wikipedia


Maksymilian Gierymski received a 2-year government scholarship to study abroad and went to Munich to study. There, together with other great Polish painters of the 19th century, he and other 19th century painters, including Józef Chełmoński, Juliusz Kossak and Wojciechem Kossak and Stanisław Witkiewicz co-founded the so-called Munich group.


After 2 years of studies, the artist already rented his own studio and lived with his brother Aleksander Gierymski. Further orders from merchants and awards for Maximilian Gierymski began to multiply, one of the paintings went into the collection of Emperor Franz Joseph, other works were immediately purchased by German and Swiss Kunsthändlers - many of them were lost to Poland forever.


he started a series of costumed rococo hunting costumes - so-called "zopfs" (German der Zopf - wig, braid), which were an excuse for the artist to paint a family landscape


Maksymilian Gierymski was successful at the World Exhibition in Vienna, where he was awarded the medal "for painting". Unfortunately, this year also saw the first symptoms of lung disease, which was probably the result of inhumane combat conditions during the January Uprising.


was appointed (next to Jana Matejko) as a foreign member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin


Maximilian Gierymski died of tuberculosis on 16 September at the Bad Reichenhall health resort

Interesting facts:


Maksymilian Gierymski masterfully interpreted the Romantics: Chopin and Wagner. He also used characteristic musical terminology when writing about art. Music remained his great passion for the rest of his life.


In painting particular arrangements, hunters' gestures - riding or dismounting - Maximilian Gierymski uses auxiliary photographs, for which he is posed by his younger brother Aleksander, dressed in a rococo tailcoat and sitting on a wooden goat.

Maksymilian Gierymski

Maximilian Gierymski, Hunting trip, 1871

About the art of Maksymilian Gierymski:

The works exhibited in Munich by Maksymilian Gierymski attracted the attention of critics who appreciated the mood and subtle colouring of the landscapes and the nostalgic atmosphere of the soldier scenes. Unfortunately, the works sent to the country remained practically unnoticed. Their contemporary character, the subject matter devoid of extensive narrative, was not understood by the audience, accustomed to historical, pathetic academism.

"For Warsaw, Maximilian Gierymski is a kind of North Pole that you know exists... but you have never seen with your own eyes... he sold his best paintings to strangers [because]... they didn't want to buy them". 

Wiktor Gomulicki

Maximilian Gierymski was the first Polish painter to see the beauty and poetry in the everyday prose of life, in the grey, everyday reality of provincial towns, in the poor and sad autumn landscapes, which were the background for weary soldiers or refined Rococo horsemen.

"(...) Gierymski reconciled like no one else and united light and earth in the landscape, the horse and man into one inseparable whole, his paintings live the speech of nature". 

Leonard Lepszy

Maximilian Gierymski's early landscapes are described as 'clocked'. The painter's attention was focused on the variability of colours and light, depending on the time of day and year. With appropriate colours, he suggestively built the mood of the time of day.

"You have to see the time in the picture, like a clock."
Maksymilian Gierymski

The subject of Maximilian Gierymski's eagerly undertaken is the play of shine and shadow, the change of colours of nature in the light of day or night darkness. Among several night landscapes - the so-called nocturnes - a small "Night" is a real masterpiece. It is an unusual, mysterious and dreamy climate of a quiet summer night - achieved by means of painting. Drowning in the darkness contours of the forms and perfect colour matching make the effect of a uniform grey at first sight. Only good lighting of the painting brings out the whole variety of colours: blue sky, green trees, ore sand. It is a multi-colour world, only seen at night - that is the mastery of the painter's craft.

"What a simplicity of an object here, and how much in its expression of poetic charm and charm. There seems to be so little colour in this painting, and yet it is undeniably the work of a true colourist". 

Cyprian Godebski

Maksymilian Gierymski
Maksymilian Gierymski, Insurgent Patrol, 1872-1873,

In the picture "Uprising Patrol" many critics stressed the poignant contrast between the tense scene and the austere and monotonous landscape - untouched nature, indifferent to the tragedy of human fate.

"The scene presents the complexities of a bloody drama. Meanwhile, all nature breathes calm. The morning sun spills gentle light all over the sky. White streaks of clouds are silently dragging across the grey-blue sky". 

Antoni Sygietyński

Maximilian and Alexander Gierymski in the Museums:

galeria marzeń

Cracow: National Museum - State Art Collection at Wawel Castle - Gallery of Polish Art of the 19th century in Sukiennice. You can admire there, among others:

  • „Krajobraz leśny” namalowany w 1866
  • „Obóz Cyganów I” namalowany w latach 1867-1868
  • „Obóz Cyganów II” namalowany w latach 1867-1868
  • „Jabłoń nad potokiem” namalowany ok. 1868
  • „Droga wśród drzew” namalowany w 1870
  • „Zima w małym miasteczku” namalowany w 1872
galeria marzeń

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

  • „Szarża rosyjskiej artylerii konnej” namalowany w 1867
  • „Wymarsz powstańców ze wsi w 1863 roku” namalowany w 1867
  • „Pogrzeb mieszczanina” namalowany w 1868
  • „Zwiad kozaków kubańskich” namalowany w latach 1868-1869
  • „Krajobraz jesienny – studium pejzażu” namalowany w latach 1868-1869
  • „Krajobraz o wschodzie słońca – przedświt” namalowany w 1869
  • „Powstaniec z 1863 roku” namalowany w 1869
  • „Adiutant sztabowy z 1830 roku” namalowany w 1869
  • „Scena powstańcza w nocy” namalowany ok. 1869
  • „Przed cmentarzem” namalowany w 1870
  • „Konna kawalkada w brzezince” namalowany w latach 1870-1871
  • „Wyjazd na polowanie II” namalowany w 1871
  • „Powrót z polowania II” namalowany w 1872
  • „Polowanie w lesie” namalowany w 1872
  • „Noc” namalowany w latach 1872-1873
  • „Patrol powstańczy” namalowany w latach 1872-1873
Jerzy Nowosielski

Czech Republic:

  • Liberec: Oblstni Galerie
  • Praga: Pamtnik Nrodniho Pisemnictvi
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  • Schweinfurt: Sammlung Georg Schfer
Jacek Malczewski


  • Kaliningrad: Muzeum Miejskie
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  • Lwów – Lwowska Galeria Obrazów 
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Katowice: Silesian Museum. You can admire there, among others..:

  • „Sosny. Studium do obrazu „Czerkiesi pędzący do ataku” namalowany w 1868
  • „Rzeka” namalowany w latach 1868-1870
galeria marzeń

Other Polish cities:

  • Łódź: Muzeum Sztuki. Można tam podziwiać m. in.:
    • „Potyczka z Tatarami” namalowany w 1867
  • Poznań: National Museum. You can admire there, among others..:
    • „Patrol powstańczy przy ognisku” namalowany w 1872
    • „Wyjazd na polowanie I” namalowany w 1871
  • Toruń: Muzeum Okręgowe. Można tam podziwiać m. in.:
    • „Trębacz – Z polowania” namalowany ok. 1872
  • Bytom: Muzeum Górnośląskie
  • Kielce: Muzeum Narodowe
  • Lublin: Muzeum Okręgowe
  • Radom: Muzeum Okręgowe
  • Słupsk: Muzeum Pomorza Środkowego
  • Wrocław: Muzeum Narodowe

Maksymilian Gierymski (1846-1874)

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