Stanisław Grocholski
Death of an Orphan, 1884
Gift of Marceli Czartoryski, 1887

material: oil on canvas

dimensions: 133 × 174 cm

description: Death of an Orphan is one of the most renowned works by Stanisław Grocholski. As to the treatment of the subject, the painting represents the style of artists from the Munich art circle. The scene takes place inside a shabby room. The body of a dead girl is lying on the bed. The white of starched bedclothes and the child’s dress is contrasted with the mourning black of a woman sitting beside. The realism of the representation is highlighted by the poses of the figures and the verismo of fabrics and furniture rendered in detail. A candle, put out by wind, which is an element of ascetic still life, symbolizes the transitory and fleeting nature of human hopes. The atmosphere of sorrow and grief is enhanced by a narrow, dark palette, dominated by steel blues, greys, white and saturated black. Grocholski has portrayed the death of the child in a seemingly detached way. The anonymity of the figure, the colourlessness of the interior and the description devoid of pathos do not deprive the scene of its tragic nature, but only give it a calm, intimate quality. Aleksandra Krypczyk

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

key: Realism, polish impressionism, beginnings of symbolism >>>

© 2010 National Museum in Krakow
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