Jozef Marian Chelmonski (1849-1914)
From 1867 to 1871 Chelmonski studied at the Warsaw Drawing School and in the private studio of Wojciech Gerson who exerted a strong influence on his early work. From 1871 to 1874 he lived in Munich where for several months he studied at the Munich Academy with Herman Anschutz and Alexander Strahuber. Or greater importance, however, was his association with the circle of Munich-based Polish artists, including, Jozef Brandt and Maksymilian Gierymski.
Return trips to Poland in 1872 and 1874 provided him the opportunity to visit Podolia and the Ukraine. The seemingly limitless expanse of the eastern Polish border regions left an indelible impression, evident in the artist`s work, which, together with that of the brothers Aleksander and Maksymilan Gierymski, epitomizes Polish landscape painting of the period.
In 1875, with the help of the sculptor Cyprian Godebski, Chelmonski went to Paris, visiting Vienna and Italy en route. His stay in the French capital, where he very quickly began exhibiting in official salons, brought him considerable renown. In 1882, for example, he drew praise for his Cossack Encampment, and in 1889 he won the Grand Prix at the Universal Exposition.
In 1878 the Parisian art dealer A. Goupil contracted with the artist for first option on the purchase of all his paintings; many of the works of this period thus came into the possession of English and American collectors. These canvases typically feature the motif for which Chelmonski is best known - a team of four horses galloping through the snow. Unfortunately, the repetitions of the motif worked from memory an on commission were often hastily executed and considerably diminished in quality relative to the originals.
Chelmonski also worked as a graphic artist and illustrator. A collection of his mono-lithographs was published in the Portfolio of Polish Graphic Artists (Krakow, 1903). From 1884 to 1892 he was affiliated with the Parisian magazine Le monde ilustre.
He returned permanently to Poland in 188 and settled in the village of Kuklowka, near the town of Grodzisk Mazowiecki, making occasional trips to Lithuania, the Ukraine, and Polesie. His landscapes and genre paintings form this period demonstrate a marked tranquility of form. Now melancholic and reflective, the landscapes express a deepened affection for the lowlands of his native region. A frequently recurring element is a flock of birds, as in Passage of Storks and Quails, or a stray animal.
Chelmonski works were first exhibited in Poland at the Warsaw "Zacheta" Society of Fine Arts (1871). Many Polish exhibitions followed. Showings abroad included Berlin (1891), San Francisco (1894), Vienna (1894), Chicago (1903), and Dusseldorf (1904). One-man exhibitions were held in Warsaw (1890, 1907, 1917, 1924, 1927), Krakow (1907), Lwow (1907), and Lowicz (1936).
In recognition od his service to Polish art he was elected honorary president of the "Sztuka" Society of Polish Artists in 1897, an honorary member of the Society of the Friends of Art in 1904, and an honorary member of the "Zacheta" Society of Fine Arts in Warsaw in 1907. Chelmonski sizeable legacy - oil paintings, drawings, sketch books - resides mainly in Polish museums ( including fifty-three of his paintings in the National Museum in Warsaw), and in private collections in Poland, Germany, England and America.