Woman and Snake

Kajetan Stefanowicz

  • Woman and Snake 2
  • Woman and Snake 3
Basic information
Kajetan Stefanowicz
Woman and Snake
Date of creation
tempera painting
cardboard tempera
Dimensions (height x width, cm)
105 x 76
Information about author
Kajetan Stefanowicz
Artist's lifetime
Kajetan Stefanowicz is one of the brightest representatives of the Lviv secession, a graphic artist, decorator, and illustrator. His work is characterized by oriental motifs, flatness, and complex symbolism of images. The artist was born on July 12, 1886 in the city of Drohobych in the family of Armenian intellectuals. He had his first painting lesson with his father, the artist Antoni Stefanowicz, then he studied architecture under the supervision of the architect and painter Edgar Kováts (1849–1912) at the Lviv Polytechnic National University. Between 1906 and 1908, he studied under the supervision of Jozef Pankiewicz and Jozef Mehoffer at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, and in 1908–1910, he studied under the supervision of Otto Seitz at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. In 1911, he received a scholarship from the Sapiegos Foundation and continued his studies at the École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs (National School of Fine Arts) in Paris. In 1914, with the beginning of World War I, he joined the ranks of the Eastern Legion (Legion Wschodni) in Lviv and began his military service. In 1920, he remained in the officers reserve and worked as a training officer for the Military Ministry. With the beginning of the Polish-Soviet war, he returned to his regiment at the front. He was killed by a sniper bullet on September 20, 1920 near Rahachow (now Gomel region, Belarus). The artist was buried at the Cemetery of the Defenders of Lviv on the territory of the Lychakiv Cemetery.
Object description
Between 1912 and 1913, Kajetan Stefanowicz created five paintings, namely “Fauns”, “Space”, “Woman and Snake”, “Silence”, and “Prince and Death”; perhaps they were conceived by him as a series of decorative panels, as evidenced by almost the same (with deviations of several centimeters) cardboard size and visual integrity of their artistic performance, as well as the repetition of compositional techniques and related colors. The principles of decorativism and ornamentation are preserved, as in other works of the artist, perhaps they become even somewhat enhanced; in particular, he stylized natural forms to curvilinear planes, dividing the volumes into small elements, and applied the contour so that sometimes the images became quite difficult to recognize. Among the possible interpretations, a series of these panels can be interpreted as the evolution of sensuality, and development and completion of female feelings. The symbols in these works are intertwined with each other, like lines of secession ornaments.