Advanced search Advanced search

Władysław Podkowiński, SZAŁ - SZKIC, 1893

add Your note 
Lot description Show orginal version
Estimations: 93 273 - 186 545 EUR
49,8 x 36,5cm - oil, canvas The painting is accompanied by an expert's report by Elżbieta Charazińska dated May 2024.

The painting Frenzy of Exultation, as well as the legend that has accompanied it since its creation, are among the most famous and intriguing stories in the history of Polish art. Podkowiński painted the final large-scale version of the painting long and laboriously, from the autumn of 1893 to the spring of 1894, in his Warsaw studio, the glazed belvedere of the Kossakowski palace at 19 Nowy Świat St. It was preceded by small-scale composition sketches, in which he reduced the color range under the influence of his thickening vision. As noted by the artist's concerned friends, it was at this time that the symptoms of a fatal lung disease, which he probably acquired while still in his lean student days, when he was often starving, intensified. Extremely sensitive by nature, with a fragile mental and physical constitution, in the 1990s he strongly experienced the long-standing drama of disappointed feelings for the wife of a close friend. He gave vent to these unfulfilled passions, which nevertheless caused remorse, in the fantastic-symbolic content of his paintings.

The presented painting is one of the compositional sketches for the famous symbolic painting by Wladyslaw Podkowiński, Frenzy of Exultation, from 1894. In its compositional solution it repeats the layout of the final, monumental version of the painting. The creation of the large canvas (310 x 275 cm, owned by the National Museum in Krakow) was preceded by numerous oil sketches made by Podkowiński over the course of 1893.Their reliable number is not known, despite the studies of the artist's work by many art historians. Enigmatic mentions in the reviews of the period, or scanty data, limited to the title, sometimes with the notation "first sketch to Frenzy" in the catalogs of past exhibitions, do not allow from a scientific position to assign them to specific paintings (preserved or lost), without hypothetical multiplication of entities. At the artist's monographic exhibition in 1990, it was possible to confirm the authenticity of four of them, as noted in the catalog, as well as to establish the existence of another oil sketch and three drawings before World War II (cf: E. Charazinska, Władysław Podkowiński, Catalogue of the monographic exhibition, National Museum in Warsaw, Warsaw 1990, No. I/54, 121-125 and No. I/120, No. II/250-252). Three of the known oil sketches are set in black and orangish and brown ochre, while the fourth is limited to a range of black with gray and golden ochre. In 1999, another sketch appeared at the Agra-Art Auction House (cat. 24 X 1999, no. 21 and il.). It was richer in color, resolved in tones of black with brown ochres with touches of red and streaks of blue, as well as patches of emerald green and golden ochres. Meanwhile, in 2021, also offered by Agra (cat. 17 X 2021, no. 4 and il.), there was another sketch, this time signed. In it, the tonality of black was broken up with brown ochres and grays with a slight touch of blue. For the background is an important element in the whole composition. It emerges diagonally across the painting and its color solution determines the balance of the composition and the strength of its expression. In all versions, as well as in the large painting, it contrasts with the valorous black of the right side. Inferring from the final solution of the painting, monumental in scale, for Podkowiński the most important thing was the strong, decisive contrast of the contractual parts of "white and black". The artist arrived at it, seeking the final effect by eliminating other colors at the stage of sketches of the entire composition.

The presented painting has been examined conservatively and compared with other versions. In each version, a bay horse-beast with a naked woman on its back, huddled around its neck, emerges from the right, dark part of the painting and, climbing to leap, hovers over a brightened precipice, or flies off into space. In the version in question, the gloom of blackness collides on the left with golden ochre, especially in the upper part, transitioning gently downward into the darker tones of brown ochre. The area under the hind hooves is filled with gradations of black of varying intensity, blurring the shape of the horse's rump and flared tail in the lightness of the free stain. On the muscular torso, a great patch of foam, rolling from the muzzle, splashing in impasto drops in space, shines white conquered by the light coming from the left. The horse's wild eye is pockmarked with blood, as is the large pink poking out of its tongue. Contrasting with the horse's black ointment is the light cream (with trace, delicately placed streaks of pink) of the woman's round, naked body and her long, thick golden-red hair, freely flowing and tangled with the steed's black mane. Here the artist has achieved a sort of natural effect of uniting the woman's delicate, taut body with the horse's body, despite the strong contrast of the expression of her intoxicated face with the wild "frenzy" of the horse's muzzle, whose bloated snouts and raised lips show white teeth. In this study, noteworthy is the careful elaboration of the woman's face with half-closed eyes under strongly defined arches of raised eyebrows, which betrays the realistic treatment of the model. In other sketches, the characterization becomes decidedly more conventional.

From the expert opinion of Elżbieta Charazińska

Władysław Podkowiński (Warsaw 1866 - Warsaw 1895) - painter and illustrator, one of the first Polish Impressionists, known as the author of the famous painting Frenzy of Exultation. He began his artistic studies at the Warsaw Drawing Class under Wojciech Gerson (1882-1885), then in the academic year 1885/1886 he continued them at the St. Petersburg Academy under the batalist B.P. Willewalde. Returning to Warsaw, he rented a studio together with his friend Jozef Pankiewicz. In 1889 they both went to Paris, where they came into contact with Impressionist painting, which influenced their later work. After returning to Poland (January 1890), the artist stayed in Warsaw and at the country estates of his painter friends - in Chrzęsne, Mokra Wieś, and Sobótka in Sandomierskie.
At that time he painted impressionistic landscapes, city views and portraits, sometimes enlivened with staffage. Beginning in 1892, he also created compositions with symbolic and literary content, different in color and mood - Dance of Skeletons (1892), Frenzy of Exultation (1893), Chopin's Funeral March (1894). In addition, starting in 1884, the artist worked for years as a cartoonist with the Warsaw magazines "Wanderer" and "Illustrated Weekly".
Early Art Auction
16 June 2024 CEST/Warsaw
Start price
69 955 EUR
93 273 - 186 545 EUR
Hammer price
139 909 EUR
Hammer price without Byuer's Premium
116 591 EUR
Views: 428 | Favourites: 5


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