The Great Painters

Stanisław Wyspiański

- "fourth" polish bard

Stanisław Wyspiański
Illustrated Daily Courier - Illustration Archive, signature: 1-K-1939a-4 - National Digital Archive, Wikipedia

Stanisław Wyspiański


The greatest individuality of Young Poland. With its versatility it resembled Renaissance masters. A revolutionary playwright, a novelty in painting, a restorer of decorative arts - but also a reformer of the whole patriotic tradition. His life had a dimension of an ancient tragedy. With a brush and a pen he fought for the Polish soul. Even today, Stanisław Wyspiański's painting and poetic work is a challenge, still serving as a national examination of conscience.








Stanisław Wyspiański


(January 15) Stanislaw Wyspianski was born in Krakow, the first-born son of Franciszek (a sculptor, he had several artistic successes, as well as underground help to the January insurgents) and Maria née Rogowska (musically and poetically talented).


His childhood passed in Długosz's House on Kanonicza Street, in the immediate vicinity of the Castle and the Cathedral, among the sculptures in his father's studio - unfortunately not entirely happy. In 1875 his younger brother Tadeusz died, and a year later the mother of then 7-year-old Stanislaw died, which was a blow to him. The material troubles turned his father's work (educated and talented) into a craft - he "cured" frustration with alcohol.



A depressed widower, unable to provide his son with care, so Stanisław Wyspiański settled in the house (at 1 Kopernika Street - now the Wyspiański Hotel) of his godmother (mother's sister), the famous aunt Stankiewiczowa. Her husband, Kazimierz Stankiewicz, occupied for years in prison an assassination attempt on a tsarist agent. Noble, cordial and surrounded by nimbus of the heroic past, Uncle Stankiewicz took over the role of father and took care of Stanisław Wyspiański's education. The young Wyspianski attended the classical St. Anne's Gymnasium, where he made long term friendships with the Tsar: Lucjan Rydel (1870-1918), Józef Mehoffer (1869-1946) and Stanisław Estreicher (1869-1939).


studied at the School of Fine Arts and Jagiellonian University


He worked on Matejko's polychrome in St. Mary's Church, which became a life adventure for Stanisław Wyspiański - he quickly advanced to the role of right hand Jana Matejki and architect Tadeusz Stryjeński (1849-1943), he spent six months on scaffolding


he studied painting in Paris; he prepared stained-glass projects for the Lviv Cathedral


he realised his first monumental project - he made a polychromy in the Franciscan church. He also dealt with the project of renovation of medieval stained-glass windows, which survived the fire of the Dominican Fathers' monastery in Krakow. Together with his widowed aunt Stankiewiczowa, he lived in a tenement house of the Grabowski family at 10 Poselska Street, in a flat overlooking the dome of St. Peter and Paul's Church. The artist's first-born daughter, Helena, was also born this year.


Stanisław Wyspiański received an award for Franciscan stained-glass windows (he designed: "God the Father - Become", "Four Elements", "Blessed Salome" and "Stigmatization of St. Francis"), there was also a stage premiere of "Warszawianka", which was very popular


married Teodora Teofilia Pytko on 18 September (a boy with whom he already had two children together)

Stanisław Wyspiański
Portrait of the artist with his wife 1904, National Museum in Krakow, Wikipedia


The premiere of "Wedding" staged on March 16th in the Municipal Theatre - the play became an artistic sensation, a social scandal and a real "cult spectacle". He lived with his family at 157 Krowoderska Street, where he arranged his "sapphire studio".


On June 9th, the Zwierzyniec Horse - Lajkonik scouted (and has been scouting to this day) in an outfit designed by Stanisław Wyspiański.


received an award from the Academy of Arts and Sciences for his series of landscapes and was elected president of "Art".

Stanisław Wyspiański
View from the studio window on Kosciuszko Mound 1904, Private Property, Wikipedia


The state of his health deteriorated rapidly (the artist suffered from incurable syphilis for many years) - to protect his family, he bought a farm in Węgrzce near Kraków, where he moved in the autumn. He worked all the time: he received guests lying down, dictated his last poems to his aunt Stankiewiczowa, tried to draw with coal attached to a hand stiffened with a board.

Stanisław Wyspiański
Planty at dawn 1894, National Museum in Krakow, Wikipedia


Stanisław Wyspiański died in Krakow on 28 November, when he was only 38 years old. His funeral became a great national manifestation On his last journey - from St. Mary's Church through Wawel to Skałka (where he was buried in the crypt of the meritorious) - he was accompanied by tens of thousands of people and the ringing of the Sigismund Bell.

Stanisław Wyspiański
View from the studio window on Kosciuszko Mound 1904, National Museum in Krakow, Wikipedia

Interesting facts:

Not so, Lord God!

Despite his relationship with many institutions, Stanisław Wyspiański remained a "separate" and lonely artist. Distrustful character, self-esteem and unfulfillment, lack of willingness to make concessions, loyalty to his concepts - they do not make his life easier, they multiply conflicts. Anecdotes circulate about his reformist passion and independence: "He would always arrange everything differently, he would make his own hoof. After all, the malicious used to say that already on the first day of creation he would interrupt the Creator with an exclamation mark: "Not so, Lord God!". "

Miss and child

In September 1900 Stanisław Wyspiański married Teodora Teofila Pytko, a simple peasant. She was a maid with a child (later dreamt up by Wyspiański), and the artist had two more children with her before he took her as his wife.

Hip hop

Stanisław Wyspiański's right is the hip-hop musician Sokół (Wojciech Sosnowski), who commemorated his ancestor by performing a song to a poem "Let no one cry over my grave", published in the album "Poets" of the producer group WhiteHouse in 2009.

Stanisław Wyspiański
Helenka's head, the artist's daughter 1900, National Museum in Warsaw, Wikipedia

About the art of Stanisław Wyspiański:

An inexhaustible source of inspiration for Stanisław Wyspiański was nature. He drew motifs of flowers from observations of nature. In the summer of 1886, Zielnik was created - a collection of over 100 "portraits" of field flowers, drawn with a sharp pencil with truly Japanese pedantry. Plants from Zielnik, transformed into a new type of ornament, returned in all his work - in stained glass, polychrome, graphics and on portraits.

Stanisław Wyspiański obviously knows "Polonia" Jana Matejka and its version "Weddings of Jan Kazimierz" - however, the design of stained-glass windows for the Lviv Cathedral owes more to late Gothic than to historical canvases master Jan. Moving, rapidly collapsing draperies, expressive gestures of the figure, choked stems of thorns - all this was seen by the artist in the altar of Wit Stwosz (ca. 1447-1533), whose fragments he sketched in his free time. "Polonia" resembles the Marian "Dormition of the Virgin Mary", and the lamenting people repeat the gestures of "crying" from the Wawel tombstone of Kazimierz Jagiellonczyk.

"Wit Stwosz is Wyspianski's spiritual father - his dramatic and passionately expressive form. 
Xawery Dunikowski

Allergy to lead white and repeated poisoning causes the artist to discover pastel. The new technique allows for new means of expression: quick notation of impressions, impressivity, sharp intensity of colours.

"With oil paints in constant discord, it seems to hurt me." 

- Stanisław Wyspiański in a letter from Paris

Stanisław Wyspiański
Girl with a flower vase 1902,National Museum in Krakow, Wikipedia

The children in Stanisław Wyspiański's portraits - genuinely and unnoticed, often asleep - belong as if to a different order of reality, as if they were newcomers from a different world to which adults have no access. Children's faces have an expression of concentrated seriousness, sadness in wide open eyes, a mood of reverie and surprise.

 "Wyspianski's painting has a colossal load of poetry. You can cry, because with poetry you should cry!" 

Tadeusz Kantor

The interior decoration of the Medical House is a masterful example of "applied art". However, it has been removed from the Castle's restaurant, and its efforts to get the theatre's director were unsuccessful. At the end of his life, Stanisław Wyspiański remained in a sense an unfulfilled painter. Portraits and landscapes could not replace his visionary, monumental plans.

"A great decorative talent who needs churches, palaces, public buildings to express himself... Space! The nation tied the painter's hands (...) so Wyspiański wrote. (...) We could have had stained-glass windows in Wawel Cathedral, the polychrome of the Jasna Góra church, the polychrome of the Hall in the city archive and so many, so many other things... there was a lot of shame and sadness left".

Feliks Jasieński

Stanisław Wyspiański in the Museums:

Stanisław Wyspiański
Chochoły (Planty nocą), 1898-1899, Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie, Wikipedia
galeria marzeń

Cracow: National Museum - Wawel State Art Collection - Library of the Polish Academy of Sciences. You can admire there, among others..:

  • „Wnętrze paryskiej pracowni artysty” namalowany w 1893
  • „Polonia” namalowany w 1893-1894
  • „Planty o świcie” namalowany w 1894
  • „Nasturcje” namalowany w 1895-1896
  • „Strącone Anioły” namalowany w 1896
  • „Bóg Ojciec – Stań się” 1897-1904
  • „Helenka” namalowany w 1900
  • „Dziewczynka w niebieskim kapeluszu” namalowany w 1895
  • „Chaty w Grębowie” namalowany w 1900
  • „Dziewczynka z wazonem z kwiatami” namalowany w 1902
  • „Autoportret” namalowany w 1902
  • „Apollo – System Słoneczny Kopernika” 1904
  • „Widok z okna pracowni na kopiec Kościuszki” namalowany w 1904
  • „Widok z okna pracowni na kopiec Kościuszki w zimowy pogodny dzień” namalowany w 1905
  • „Macierzyństwo” namalowany w 1905
  • „Wieże Kościoła Mariackiego” namalowany w 1905
  • „Krajobraz z Rudawą” namalowany w 1905
  • „Zagroda wiejska w Konarach” namalowany w 1905
  • „Portret artysty z żoną” namalowany w 1907
galeria marzeń


  • Paryż: Biblioteka Polska
galeria marzeń


  • Lwów: Państwowa Galeria Obrazów
galeria marzeń

Łódź: Museum of Art:

  • „Śpiący Mietek” namalowany w 1904
galeria marzeń

Other Polish cities:

  • Bytom: Muzeum Górnośląskie
  • Gdańsk: Muzeum Narodowe
  • Lublin: Muzeum Okręgowe
  • Poznań: Muzeum Narodowe
  • Radom: Muzeum Okręgowe
  • Szczecin: Muzeum Pomorza Zachodniego
  • Wrocław: Muzeum Śląskie
  • Kielce: Muzeum Świętokrzyskie – Można tam podziwiać m. in.:

    • „Portret Elizy Pareńskiej” „Macierzyństwo” namalowany w 1905
galeria marzeń

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

  • „Dziewczynka gasząca świecę” namalowany w 1893
  • „Apollo i Melpomena” namalowany w 1896
  • „Chochoły” namalowany w 1898-1899
  • „Żona artysty w chłopskim kaftanie” namalowany w 1902
  • Autoportret” namalowany w 1902
  • „Macierzyństwo” namalowany w 1902
  • „Caritas” namalowany w 1904
  • „Widok z okna pracowni na kopiec Kościuszki w okresie roztopów” namalowany w 1905

Stanisław Wyspiański (1869-1907)

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Stanisław Wyspiański
Ludwik Solski as an old viarus in "Warszawianka", 1904, Wikipedia