Leon Kapliński
Hetman Stefan Czarniecki, [1863]
Purchased in 1965

material: oil on canvas

dimensions: 130 x 97 cm


According to tradition, this ceremonial formal portrait of Hetman Stefan Czarniecki (1599–1665) was inspired by a poem by Zygmunt Krasiński entitled Przedświt [Dawn]. Kapliński, a participant in the Revolutions of 1848, former prisoner of Prussia and political activist associated with the émigré circle of the Hôtel Lambert, painted it in Paris, during the Polish January Uprising. It was of symbolic significance that the work devoted to a man who participated in the Polish struggle with Cossack rebellions, led by Paweł Pawluk (1637) and Bohdan Chmielnicki (1648–1655), the Swedish invasion (1655–1660) and Russia (1654–1667) was painted at that particular time. In his poem, Krasiński depicted the ghost of this “most valiant” commander who, “at the dawn of a better day,” told an exile, the lyrical subject of the poem, the messianic prophecy of the imminent arrival of the Kingdom of God and the return of Poles to their homeland. In Kapliński’s painting, Czarniecki is not a ghost of the past, though. His dignified portrait, rendered in the spirit of historical realism, symbolizes the living tradition of bravery, sacrifice and belief that – to quote Przedświt by Zygmunt Krasiński – “Resurrection is our right.”

Wacława Milewska

exposition: The Gallery of 19th Century Polish Art in Sukiennice,
The Cloth Hall, 1, Main Market Square

key: Romanticism. Towards national art >>>

© 2010 National Museum in Krakow
design & concept: creator.pl