Konrad Krzyżanowski was a Polish painter, portraitist, draftsman, illustrator, and educator. Born in Kremenchuk in Ukraine, died in 1922 in Warsaw. He created under the influence of Art Nouveau but is also considered to be a representative of early Expressionism.
In 1877-91, he attended the Middle School in Kiev and the Mikołaj Muraszko Painting School. A year later he enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg. At that time he met Ilya Repin. In 1896 he left for Italy. After leaving the university, as a result of a conflict with its rector, Krzyżanowski went to Munich, where he studied under the guidance of Simon Holóssy. In 1900 he returned to Poland. In Warsaw, he was connected to associations gathered around the Warsaw Artistic Society and “the Chimera magazine”. For the magazine, he created lithographs of Japanese graphic artists by, among others, Utagawa Hiroshige and Kitagawa Utamaro. He also designed initials and vignettes.
Moreover, he ran his own school of painting, and in 1904 he was employed as a professor at the newly established School of Fine Arts in Warsaw. It was there that he met his student, Michalina Piotruszewska, who soon turned out to be the love of his life. Krzyżanowski married her in 1922 and stayed with her until he died. Piotruszewska was his muse and the painter immortalized her in many paintings.
In 1912, together with his wife, he spent the year in Paris and London. He visited a number of museums there, drew the interiors of Gothic cathedrals and studied the form of sculptures. During the First World War, he was arrested (for allegedly removing plans near the fronts), after the release, he settled in Kiev. He taught painting and exhibited his works there. After the war, he returned to Warsaw and ran his own painting school there until the end of his life. Such artists as Mikalojus K. Čiurlionis or Tadeusz Pruszkowski emerged from Krzyżanowski’s studio.
Krzyżanowski’s work included mainly portrait painting (especially of people connected with the artistic environment of the late 19th and early 20th century), such as, among others, Zenon Przesmycki (pen name Miriam), Stanisław Przybyszewski and Dagny Przybyszewska, as well as Feliks Jasieński (Manggha). In his portraits, he tried to capture the character of the model rather than the physical similarity. His work included also landscapes (especially from Ukraine) and illustrations for books (e.g. Połów gwiazd by K. Makuszyński or Dno nędzy by W. Sieroszewski). Krzyżanowski’s work was influenced both by earlier art (Velázquez and Rembrandt) and by contemporary Art Nouveau (especially its expressionist and symbolic trends).