Advanced search Advanced search

Stanislaw Wyspianski, ROSES, 1903

add Your note 
Lot description Show orginal version
Estimations: 466 364 - 932 727 EUR
114.5 x 156.5cm - pastel, paper signed p.d.: SW 1903


- Property of Prof. Dr. Julian Nowak in Cracow (1865-1946).

- Property of the heirs of the above.

- Private collection, Warsaw.

Image reproduced, exhibited and mentioned in:

- S. Przybyszewski, T. Żuk-Skarszewski, S. Świerz, Stanisław Wyspiański. Paintings, Biblioteka Polska, Kraków, Warsaw, Bydgoszcz 1925, p. 121, no. 404 (Roses; owned by Prof. Dr. Juljan Nowak in Kraków);

- Society of Friends of Fine Arts, Society of Book Lovers, Stanisław Wyspiański w czterdziestolecie śmierci, Kraków 1947, p. 11, cat. no. 66 (Roses; owned by the heirs of Prof. Dr. Julian Nowak).

The presented Roses, painted in 1903, refers to the polychromies made by the artist in the Franciscan Church in Cracow in 1895. In July 1850, a fire consumed much of Cracow, including partially the Franciscan Church. Restoration work continued throughout the second half of the 19th century, with the goal of removing Baroque elements and restoring the medieval appearance of the building. The competition for wall decorations, announced in 1894, was won by the design of Jozef Mikulski and Franciszek Gorski. However, problems with its execution meant that the commission eventually went in June 1895 to Stanislaw Wyspianski, who already had extensive experience gained from his work on the polychromes of St. Mary's Church.

Even before receiving the commission, Wyspiański wrote to Lucjan Rydel in a letter dated November 16, 1894: In the meantime I am busy composing the decoration of the Franciscan Church, which I am doing on my own and for my own satisfaction only, - but who knows, maybe still from what is to come - two main compositions for the Franciscans I will mention to you - and these are: - A garden of utter happiness, where it is lubo, so nice, so peaceful as never on earth can be and was.

The artist was entrusted with the ornamental decoration of the walls and vault of the chancel and transept, with the exception of four fields intended for paintings of historical subjects. The intensive work, which absorbed Wyspianski completely, lasted from June to December 1895. In the spring of the following year, the artist made only a few changes at the request of the commissioner.

Both the roses, pansies, mulleins, forget-me-nots, lilies, nasturtiums and other floral motifs, as well as the Mother of God with the Infant during the coronation, Caritas, the Fall of the rebellious angels and St. Michael the Archangel became the hallmark of this Krakow temple. They are an excellent example of the successful combination of decorative art of the late 19th century with ancient sacred architecture.

The Roses on display, like the Franciscan polychromes, are painted with a flat stain with soft, gently undulating contours. Nature had been a passion for Wyspianski since his earliest years, contributing to his 1896 Herbarium, in which the artist meticulously noted the flora he encountered. This fascination was described by the artist's cousin Maria Waśkowska-Kreinerowa: Stanisław Wyspiański collects and brings home flowers with his own hands not only for their beauty, decoration, but for his own pleasure. He, then in 1896, studies these flowers systematically throughout their blooming period. Unfolding each one individually, he traces with all accuracy all the details, leaves, petals, innervation and the whole in various bends and gradients. She intends to publish this extensive sketchbook, supplemented with appropriate additions, as a study of stylized plants, and the material for decorative ornamental purposes. (Maria Waśkowska-Kreinerowa, Stanisław Wyspiański in his apartment on Poselska Street in Cracow, [in:] Wyspiański in the Eyes of His Contemporaries, vol. 1, ed. L. Płoszewski, Cracow 1971, pp. 72-73)

The artist incorporated floral motifs both in his stained glass designs, polychromes and portraits. We can see the motif of roses in the outstanding Double Portrait of Eliza Pareńska from 1905 (see opposite). As you can see in the painting, both the model and the flowers capture the mood of the moment. The left side of the painting is a portrait of a young Eliza surrounded by delicate flowers in full bloom. The right side, on the other hand, shows the girl, who is tired of posing, with her hair in disarray and the roses emphasizing her fatigue with drooping, wilting flowers.

As Antoni Waśkowski wrote in his introduction to the Stanislaw Wyspiański catalog on the fortieth anniversary of his death: While still a student in Paris, the painter-poet awoke. Since then, every painting of his is a drama, every drama - a painting.

Probably not coincidentally, Wyspianski in the presented Roses painted these majestic flowers in three stages of development. Youth is represented by tiny, but intense in color, buds. Two fully developed, firm flowers identify maturity, while the drooping petals of the withering rose refer to old age. Wyspianski thus portrays the beauty, delicacy and fragility of life.

Not insignificant to his work was the fatal illness he had been struggling with since his studies in Paris. Confronting the sense of impending death, he left us a monumental work whose purpose is to delight, but at the same time to remind us - tempus fugit.

The first owner of the painting was Julian Nowak (1865-1946) - a physician, bacteriologist, professor of veterinary medicine, rector of Jagiellonian University, patron of the arts, politician and prime minister of Poland in 1922. Julian Nowak was not only a patron of Stanislaw Wyspianski's art, he was also his friend. As Paweł Banaś wrote in "Modern Products" in the collection of Julian I. Nowak: We invariably associate the name of Julian Ignacy Nowak with the figure of Stanisław Wyspiański. After all, it was with him and Stanislaw Estreicher that the creator of Wesele nad Wisłą (The Wedding on the Vistula River) strolled, to him he read excerpts from his new dramas, confided in him about his ideas, he could always count on his financial assistance, as well as on his caring care in his serious illness up to its tragic end in Dr. Rutkowski's private clinic. In the Nowaks' villa, erected before World War I, contemporaries could admire Wyspianski's paintings and sketches, and Nowak himself would later return to the years spent in close intimacy with Wyspianski often and eagerly.

On Julian Nowak's initiative, around the turnpike in the vicinity of Krakowski Park, the aforementioned villa was built together with a small colony of villas of professors at the Jagiellonian University. Initially the street was called Leczycka Street, but through Prof. Nowak's efforts it was renamed Wyspianski Street in 1926. The Nowak villa was like a small Wyspianski museum - the professor's collection included: Portrait of Julian Nowak, 1904 (see opposite), Madonna and Child - Caritas, 1904, View of the Planty at Dawn, 1894, and Roses, presented above, 1903.

In his memoirs about Wyspianski, Julian Nowak wrote that one day he longed to have God the Father from the Franciscans. Wyspianski was not easily persuaded to make a replica. The professor tricked the artist into painting a scaled-down version of the stained glass on cardboard. Wyspianski proceeded with the work, but before it was even finished, he decided that it was impossible to diminish what had been done on a larger scale - and I was struggling, I couldn't figure out why the lines on the cardboard were so stiff, soulless - and it was all a consequence of the diminution. The agitated artist wiped down the carton, but seeing the disappointment on the professor's face, he eventually made a replica of the Franciscan Madonna on it. It is likely, therefore, that the Roses, which the artist had painted a year earlier, too, were commissioned by the professor, who was fascinated by the painter's work.

Prof. Julian Nowak commissioned Wyspiański to decorate the House of the Medical Society, which was built in 1904. At the time, the artist designed not only an excellent stained glass window - Apollo - but also interior elements such as polychromes and a staircase with a balustrade of stylized chestnut leaves, floors, chandeliers and furniture.

The decoration of the Franciscan church contributed to the spread of floral motifs in Wyspianski's paintings. Sketches in the Herbarium, which was created at the time, became the starting point for stylized balustrades, chandeliers and other elements of interior decoration.

Stanislaw Wyspianski (Krakow 1869 - Krakow 1907) came from a poor bourgeois family with strong patriotic and artistic traditions. He was the son of a woodcarver-sculptor Franciszek, and was orphaned by his mother at the age of seven; at eleven he was taken in by her family due to his father's progressive alcoholism.
The patriotic atmosphere of his uncles' home, their guests - prominent Krakow scholars and artists - influenced his interest in the history of his homeland, the past of Krakow and shaped Wyspianski's consciousness and attitude. As a junior high school student, Wyspiański, who betrayed a talent for painting, enrolled at the School of Fine Arts for the year 1884-1885, which he undertook after high school graduation and received in 1887-1891, 1892-1893, 1894-1895 under the direction of Władysław Łuszczkiewicz, Florian Cynk and Izydor Jablonski. In parallel, he studied art and literary history at the Jagiellonian University.
For seven months in late 1889-1890, he worked alongside Jan Matejko on the polychrome of St. Mary's Church. Thanks to a scholarship, in March 1890 he embarked on his first six-month artistic journey in Europe, through Vienna, Italy to Paris, with a tour of Gothic cathedrals in France, in Germany, visiting Munich, Bayreuth, Dresden, Prague, as well as Wroclaw, Poznan and Gniezno. Upon his return, he was commissioned by Matejko to design additions to the Gothic stained glass windows for St. Mary's Church. After receiving a new scholarship in May 1891, he left for Paris.
By the end of that year, he was living with Jozef Mehoffer in the same studio; both did not get into the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, but took up studies at the Academie Colarossi - Wyspiański in the atelier of Gustaven Courtiois, as well as with J. Blanc and L. A. Girardot. Both also enter subsequent competitions for the Rudolfinum in Prague and for a curtain for the Municipal Theater in Krakow, in which they lose. In 1892, the friends part tumultuously.
Wyspianski then rented his own studio and began writing his first dramatic works, referring to mythology. Both he and Mehoffer are invited to a competition for a stained glass window for the cathedral in Lvov Wyspianski spent the fall of 1892 and winter of 1893 in Krakow, and in February he returned to Paris, where he again lived with Mehoffer until the fall, when he moved out to his own atelier. In December 1893, Wyspianski visited Krakow, where he presented an exhibition of portraits and Parisian landscapes considered by critics to be Impressionist.
In the spring of 1894, he returned to Paris, from where he sent his finished design for the stained glass window Vows of Jan Kazimierz to Lvov for a competition. He arrives in Krakow in October 1894 and, due to the non-renewal of his scholarship, remains permanently.
The Parisian period, which lasted two and a half years, had an impact on shaping Wyspianski's symbolic art, at which time he expanded his worldview by learning about the fashionable theosophical concepts of Edouard Schure, the philosophical concepts of Friedrich Nietzsche, also exploring ancient drama and mythology and becoming fascinated by contemporary theater. Between 1895 and 1897, he worked on the design and realization of a monumental set of polychromies and stained glass windows for the Franciscan Church in Cracow, whose interpretations are believed to be based on a system of hermetic cosmogony; in parallel, he created a series of illustrations to the Iliad and began a series of symbolic canvases alluding to native legends.
The year 1898 marked the artist's literary and theatrical debut: the drama Legenda I appeared in print, and the Municipal Theater staged the drama Warszawianka. Wyspianski was among the founders of the Society of Polish Artists , "Sztuka", and in 1898 became the artistic director of the magazine , "Życie". Creating in a certain isolation and keeping a distance from his surroundings, at that time he became much closer to the artistic community, frequenting ,,Paona", where he created a series of capital portraits of the establishment's regulars.
In 1900 he began work on the drama November Night and sketches of designs for stained glass windows for Wawel Cathedral; on September 18 he married Teofila Pytko, his aunt's maid and mother of his three children; on November 20 he was present at the wedding of his friend, writer Lucjan Rydel to Jadwiga Mikołajczykówna and at their famous wedding in Włodzimierz Tetmajer's manor house in Bronowice.He immortalized the event in the dissonant stage drama The Wedding, which premiered in Krakow on March 16, 1901.
In 1902, he was appointed docent in the department of decorative and ecclesiastical arts at the Academy of Fine Arts. Despite his deteriorating health, in 1903 he was engaged in staging his dramas on the stage of the Cracow theater, in 1904 in designing the decor of the Doctors' Department Store, arranging the so-called "Light House". Świetlica Towarzystwa Artystów Polskich , "Sztuka" (The Common Room of the Society of Polish Artists, "Art"), and, together with architect Władysław Ekielski, a project to restore the splendor of the Wawel Hill, abandoned by the Austrian authorities, intending to elevate it to the status of a symbolic Wawel Acropolis; he continued to enlarge the portrait gallery of prominent personalities, painted family images, and in December - persuaded by Feliks Jasieński - began a series of pastel landscapes of the view from the studio window. In 1905, he ran in a competition for the position of director of the Municipal Theater, but the unfavorable attitude of the community forced him to withdraw.
A serious venereal disease was making rapid progress, and the artist briefly stayed in a treatment center for the neurologically ill. In the summer of 1906, he moved to his own home in the village of Węgrzce near Krakow, and was appointed a professor at the Academy. In 1907, dramas on historical, mythological and contemporary themes appeared in print. After a temporary improvement in his health in the summer, however, the artist died on November 28 in a Krakow clinic, surrounded by family and friends; after a solemn funeral mass at St. Mary's Church, the coffin was deposited in the Crypt of Merit of the Pauline Church on Skalka.
Subordinated to the imperative of artistic synthesis of the arts, Wyspianski's oeuvre, which closed between 1889 and 1907, includes 17 dramatic works and rhapsodies, as well as poetic trifles dedicated to friends, hundreds of portraits, dozens of landscapes, countless studies and drawings for stained glass and polychrome designs, costume studies and designs for scenography, furniture, book covers, vignettes, interludes and inventory drawings. One is struck by the unparalleled ardor and creative power of an artist subjected to the pressures of a terminal illness for many years.
His art, like the entire era, is made of contradictions. Creating his own artistic vision of the world and man, Wyspianski tries to reconcile tradition with contemporaneity, the reality of historical facts and everyday life, and observation of nature in his literary and painting works.
(Written by: Elżbieta Charazińska)
Early Art Auction
16 June 2024 CEST/Warsaw
Start price
419 727 EUR
466 364 - 932 727 EUR
Hammer price
506 471 EUR
Hammer price without Byuer's Premium
422 059 EUR
Views: 334 | Favourites: 2


Early Art Auction
16 June 2024 CEST/Warsaw
Lots bidding

All lots are listed to bid

Buyer's premium
OneBid does not charge additional fees for the bidding.
Bid increments
  > 100
  5 000
  > 500
  10 000
  > 1 000
  100 000
  > 2 000
  200 000
  > 5 000
  500 000
  > 10 000
Terms and Conditions
About the Auction
About the Seller
Agra-Art SA
Wilcza 70
00-670 Warszawa
+48 22 625 08 08
+48 22 745 10 20
Opening hours
11:00 - 18:00
11:00 - 18:00
11:00 - 18:00
11:00 - 18:00
11:00 - 18:00
11:00 - 15:00