Henryk Hektor Siemiradzki

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Basic information
Henryk Hektor Siemiradzki
Date of creation
Russian Empire
oil painting
canvas oil
Dimensions (height x width, cm)
51 x 81
Information about author
Henryk Hektor Siemiradzki
Artist's lifetime
Henryk Siemiradzki was a famous artist of Polish origin, a representative of late monumental academism, professor of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Arts, and honorary member of Academies of Fine Arts in Rome, Paris, Berlin and Turin. The artist was born on October 12 (24), 1843, in the village of Novobilhorod near Kharkiv (now the town of Pechenihy, Chuguiv district). Hipolit and Michalina Siemiradzki, his parents, were of Polish descent; the father of the future artist served as an officer in the Imperial Russian Army in the Kharkiv Governorate. Henryk Siemiradzki's talent for painting was recognized at a very early age, so the boy was sent to the Kharkiv gymnasium to get an education. His teacher was Dmytro Bezperchyi, who was a student of the famous artist Karl Briullov. However, after graduating from the gymnasium, the artist’s father insisted on his entering the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics at Kharkiv University. Nonetheless, Henryk Siemiradzki remained engaged in painting. In 1864, the future artist graduated from the university and defended a graduation thesis on "About insect instincts''. Still, associating his career only with art, he went to St. Petersburg to enter the Academy of Arts. There Siemiradzki was initially enrolled as a non-degree student; he studied in the life class mentored by Bogdan Willewalde and Karl Wenig. But later, due to his hard work and talent, Henryk was promoted to the general class, thus he became a full-fledged student of the Academy. In the long run, all that gave rise to the hope of his obtaining the Great Gold Medal and a free internship abroad; the artist managed to bring his hope into life after graduating from the Academy. After all, during his studies at the Academy, Henryk received many awards for his art works. In 1871, the artist went to Munich, where he worked for a year and studied with the German artist Karl Theodor von Piloty. From 1873, he was in Rome. In 1873, he painted the work “Sinner”, which was exhibited at the World's Fair in Vienna; the artist was awarded with the Golden Medal for that masterpiece, and that became his first international award. Later, the painting was sent to St. Petersburg, and the master was awarded the title of Academician for that work. In the same 1873 year, Siemiradzki married Maria Pruszynska. They had four children, namely three boys – Boleslav, Kazimierz (died in infancy), and Leon, and a daughter Wanda. In 1883, Henry bought a house and settled in Rome for good. In 1901, Henryk Siemiradzki was diagnosed with tongue cancer. The 58-year-old artist died on August 23, 1902, in the village of Strzalkowo (now Poland). He was first buried in the Powazki Cemetery in Warsaw near his parents' graves, however, a year later, he was reburied in the Krakow Pauline Church "Na Skalce" (“On the Rock”). The main themes of his work were taken from ancient and sacred stories; less frequently, he painted portraits. The artist’s works are characterized by theatricality, scenic depiction of landscapes, and academic idealization; in his works, the artist managed to capture air effects, light, and variability of colors highly influenced by light.
Object description
Against the background of a sunny mountain landscape, a scene of people resting in the shade of a large tree. In the centre is a woman seated on a rock from behind; she has dark hair that is braided upwards, in which a red ribbon is visible; she is wearing a yellow tunic, which is brightly sunlit on the back and waist. The woman with her left-hand holds an undressed child with dark, dishevelled hair, her face facing the viewer, but her gaze is directed to the left side of the work. On their right, another woman is depicted in the left profile. She is leaning on her left arm and resting in a half-lying pose under a tree trunk. Her head is slightly bent down and her gaze is directed to the left side of the work. This woman too is dark-haired, with her hair high and a ribbon woven into it; she is wearing a white tunic shirt and her lower body is covered in dark drapery. Between the women, there is a wicker basket of fruit on the grass.
In the bottom right there is a signature: «H.Siemiradzki». On the reverse side: «Dla drogiej kuzyny Ludwiki Radziszewskiej»