Education: Warsaw School of Drawing
Maksymilian Gierymski's Famous Artworks
“Forest Landscape,” 1866
“Skirmish with Tartars,” 1867
“Marching Out Insurgents from the Village in 1863,” 1867
“A Camp of Gypsies,” 1867-68
“Back Without You,” 1868
“Insurgent Rider 1863,” 1869
“Autumn Landscape with a Ploughman,” 1868-69
“A Hunting Party,” 1871
“Spring in a Small Town,” 1872-73
“Insurrectionary Patrol,” 1873
Maksymilian Gierymski was a Realist painter in the 19th century, the most famous and influential of the Munich School of Polish painters. He died while still a young man, but his representation of subjects and his technique of painting left a unique impression on his contemporaries and future generations — despite strong resistance in Poland to his work.
Maksymilian Gierymski's Early Impressions
Maksymilian Gierymski was born to Joseph Gierymski and Julia Kieliszewski in 1846. His father was a clerk with the government, and later became the administrator of the Ujazdow military hospital. Gierymski’s brother Alexander was born in 1850 and later followed in Gierymski’s footsteps to become an artist, as well.
Gierymski graduated from the Real High School in Warsaw in 1862, having studied Mathematics and Natural Sciences, and enrolled at the Polytechnical Institute of Agriculture and Forestry at Pulawy, and also started to learn how to play the piano. In January 1863, young Poles began spontaneous protests against conscription into the Imperial Russian army, and an insurgency grew. Gierymski abandoned his studies and joined the insurgency, called the January Uprising thereafter. The insurgency lasted a year and a half in all, ending with the crushing defeat of the insurgents, public executions, and deportations to Siberia. Gierymski was 17 at the time, and the experience left a deep impression on him.
Maksymilian Gierymski and Warsaw
Gierymski resumed his studies at the Warsaw Main School, reading Physics and Mathematics. He also started to take drawing classes at the Warsaw School of Drawing but was disappointed with the level of skill. In 1865, he gave up studying and began to work on his own. At around the same time, he also became friends with the battle painter Juliusz Kossak. Kossak, the much more experienced painter, helped Gierymski with learn technique, and in 1867, Gierymski was given a government scholarship to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich.
Maksymilian Gierymski's Success
In Munich, Gierymski’s distinct, individual style of painting began to emerge. His great friend in Munich was Adam Chmielowski, later sanctified by the Catholic church, but a painter at the time. Soon after his arrival in the city, Gierymski began attending the workshop of Franz Adams, the great battle painter. The next year, he was admitted into the Munich Kunstverein at the age of 22.
By 1869, Gierymski was painting in a style that was unique to him and over the next four years would create the work that made him famous. His exhibitions at both the International Exhibition in Munich
and at the Kunstverein in Vienna were huge successes. In Vienna, some of his paintings were bought for Joseph II of Austria, and once that became known, collectors, gallerists, and journalists took an increasing interest in Gierymski. In 1873, he was awarded a gold medal at the Universal Exposition in Vienna and was accepted as a member of the Academy of Arts in Berlin the next year. He stopped sending his work to Poland in 1870, though, because throughout the year of his successes elsewhere, in Warsaw, his work was routinely rejected.
Maksymilian Gierymski's Mature Style
At this time, the style of painting favored in Poland emphasized content over form, particularly, content of a grand, patriotic nature. Gierymski’s work seemed to reject both those premises, emphasizing realistic representations of mundane, deglamorized realities in the midst of muted, yet transcendental natural landscapes. His battle paintings remembered his experiences of the January Uprising but instead of representing any of the historically significant moments, Gierymski chose to represent his experience of battle: the dull, dangerous, and anxious moments for common soldiers. Even his pastoral paintings juxtapose the mundane realities of human life with the natural environments in which they exist. His attempt was to make the real world poetic, instead of idealizing abstract values. The precision of his skill and the sensitivity with which he treated his subjects express a mature artistic sensibility seeking beauty in reality.
Maksymilian Gierymski's Death
Gierymski traveled to Poland every summer from 1870 onwards with his brother. He developed a lung illness over this time and was forced to stop painting and visit spa towns through 1874. In September of that year, he died of tuberculosis in Bad Reichenhall. You can buy Maksymilian Gierymski's artworks online.
Maksymilian Gierymski's Major Exhibitions
2014 National Museum, Krakow
Maksymilian Gierymski's Museums / Collections
National Museum, Krakow
National Museum, Warsaw
“Maksymilian Gierymski” by Antoni Sygietyski