The Woman spell-bound in the painting. Olga’s Boznanska self-portrait.

Melancholic look from big eyes, faint smile, hair pined-up into old-fashion bun and dark, geared up dress- this is how Olga Boznanska has introduced herself trough her self-portrait, which can be admired in Gallery of Polish Masters in Museum of the City of Lodz. She looks on it almost like on images and photographs which depict her. Despite the fact that her image is famously know and her work thoroughly examined, one of the most famous polish painters stays enigmatic still.

Olga Boznańska, Self-portrait with brush and flowers | c. 1906, oil on panel, Museum of the City of Lodz, Poland | © Krzysztof Musial Collection

Olga Boznańska Self-portrait with brush and flowers | c. 1906, oil on panel, Museum of the City of Lodz, Poland | © Krzysztof Musial Collection

Olga Boznanska was born in 1865 in Cracow. Her parents were Eugenia Mondan, who was a teacher with French roots, and an engineer Adam Boznanski. Mother has quickly discovered talents of her daughters – Olga’s artistic and music one in the youngest, Iza – and she consequently helped daughters to develop them. Thanks to her, painter was able to attend systematically to Art course, which she was continuing on Wyzsze Kursy dla Kobiet Adriana Baranickiego (tłum. Higher Courses for Women by Adrian Baranicki) . Parents had supported her art education , even when she stepped into adulthood; it was unusual for art pupils, especially for women . They had made courageous decision to enable their 21-year-old daughter to study art craft abroad. They have chosen Munich, firstly because it seemed to be more safe in those days than Paris, secondly because polish artistic colony worked there and it included some of Eugenia’s and Adam friends: Józef Brandt and Alfred Wierusz-Kowalski.

In spite of care of Boznanska’s, her family had undoubted influence on her personality status but not only in a positive way. Her first biographer, Helena Blum, suggested, on the basis of painter’s friends statements, that: ‘’artist in family home has acquired a slight of melancholy and some kind of excess of outdated conventionalities. Olga’s mother was oversensitive person and her two daughters inherited it from her’’. Nowadays, researchers have similar outlook on it; e.g. Joanna Sosnakowska, who states that: ‘’both daughter were separated from world. As a consequence, younger was mentally ill, and the older one gained bizarre behaviours. All researchers were unanimous that the Boznanska’s childhood was crucial to understand her life.

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