Anna Bilińska-Bohdanowicz was born in 1857 in Zlatopil in Ukraine, she died in 1893 in Warsaw. She was one of the greatest Polish female painters of the 19th century. Her Self-portrait was awarded a medal at the World’s fair in Paris in 1889. She was a first Polish woman, who became famous in the Parisian artist’s circle and also the first one with the professional, academic, artistic education.
Her first drawing teacher was in the years 1869-1871 Michał Elwiro Andriolli. Later she studied painting under Wojciech Gerson in Warsaw. Thanks to the money she made from teaching music, as well as drawing lessons, she kept her independent studio there. In the year 1882 she traveled through Munich, Vienna, Salzburg and northern Italy with her friend Klementyna Krassowska. During the journey she have met Wojciech Grabowski, the man who she fell in love with later on. In November 1882 she went to Paris with Zofia Stankiewicz, where she attended Académie Julian and Atelier Robert Fleury. In 1884 she exibited her first work. Unfortunately, her financial situation worsened at the time due to her father’s death. However, the money inherrited after her friend – Klementyna Krassowska turned out to be her sole deliverance. At the same time, the artist’s fiancé Wojciech Grabowski also died. After this tragic incident, Bilińska fell into deep depression. A year before her death, she married a doctor of medicine, Antoni Bohdanowicz. She is buried in the Powązki Cemetery in Warsaw.
The most important part of Bilińska’s work were portraits maintained in a realistic style, characterized by simplicity and expressive power (A lady with binoculars, 1884, Portrait of a young woman with a rose, 1892). An important part of her work are also self-portraits from 1887 (thanks to them she won a silver medal at the salon in that year) and 1892, which shows the artist’s enormous self-esteem. Bilińska also created landscapes (Seascape with a ship, 1889, or View at the street Unter den Linden in Berlin, 1890).
Translated by: Biuro Tłumaczeń Samorządu Studentów Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego