Discovering Tetmajer

25 June 2023

The Museum of Krakow celebrates the Year of Włodzimierz Tetmajer, culminating in a monographic exhibition at the Krzysztofory Palace.

Dorota Dziunikowska
Kraków Culture

The painter, graphic artist, poet, prose writer, playwright, stage designer, columnist and political activist involved in the struggle for Polish independence, who died a century ago, was immortalised by Stanisław Wyspiański in The Wedding as the universally respected Host. The manor house in Bronowice near Kraków owned at the time by Włodzimierz Tetmajer is the setting of the famous 1901 drama (the Groom, Lucjan Rydel, bought it back seven years later). As part of this year's celebrations, Rydlówka – now a branch of the Museum of Krakow – is hosting dozens of lectures, workshops and concerts commemorating its original owner. At the beginning of June, mallow planting campaigns were held across the country on Tetmajera and Malwowa Streets, and the winners of the “Living Images of Tetmajer” film and photography contest will be announced in the summer. In turn, a social outdoor exhibition Tetmajer Ceaselessly Brings Opposites Together is planned for the second half of the year. Check the Museum of Krakow’s website and social media for the programme of current events.

The centrepiece of the celebrations is the monographic presentation Włodzimierz Tetmajer. The Power of Colour and Temperament at the Krzysztofory Palace. As the exhibition's curator Marta Marek points out, this is the largest ever exhibition of the artist's works. Previous individual presentations were held while Tetmajer was still alive or shortly after his death; works by the author of Blessing of Easter Food at Bronowice* are yet to see such a comprehensive review, and they remain largely scattered, most often hidden in museum warehouses or church and private collections. The exhibition took nearly a year and a half to prepare, involving extensive searches all over the country. Tetmajer's family, his heirs and private individuals were also involved in creating the exposition. As a result, the Krzysztofory Palace presents nearly five hundred exhibits, including more than two hundred oil paintings and sketches and almost as many drawings and sketches for paintings. Illustration and polychrome designs for church interiors will also be shown. The works are complemented by memorabilia and photographs, as well as biographical materials, including documents related to Włodzimierz Tetmajer's activities as a folk and independence activist. “I tried to combine biographical themes with painting contexts,” explains Marta Marek. “The layout of the exhibition reflects the successive stages of Tetmajer's life and artistic development.” His private life was closely intertwined with creativity, as shown in his most famous genre scenes and depictions of folk customs and traditional rituals. The curator emphasises how well the painter “understood what he was painting”. It's worth noting that this was possible not only because of his family ties – through the artist's marriage to Anna Mikołajczykówna (older sister of the Bride from The Wedding), a peasant from Bronowice – but also because of his ethnographic research into the already-vanishing culture of the Polish countryside.

“We hope that the exhibition will contribute to a better understanding of Włodzimierz Tetmajer's legacy and to verify the widespread, not always accurate opinions about his life and work,” the organisers declare. And while it has been possible to show only some of the curator's discoveries, not all of which even found a place in the catalogue accompanying the exhibition, this work is not finished. The nationwide academic conference Faces of Tetmajer planned by the Museum of Krakow for the autumn will certainly bring more fascinating details to light.

* This painting, distinctive of Włodzimierz Tetmajer's work, can be seen in the Gallery of 20th and 21st Century Polish Art at the Main Building of the National Museum in Krakow.

The text was published in the 2/2023 issue of the "Kraków Culture" quarterly.


Kraków Travel
Kids in Kraków
Close We use cookies to facilitate the use of our services. If you do not want cookies to be saved on your hard drive, change the settings of your browser.