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Girl with Chrysanthemums

Olga Boznańska1894

The National Museum in Krakow

The National Museum in Krakow

In 1894 in Munich, Olga Boznańska's Girl with Chrysanthemums, one of her best pieces, was created – a true display of color limited to subtle shades of silver-grey hues, captured in the form of delicate brush strokes. In the image of the girl, shown against the background of the neutral, white and greyish wall, the artist created a new type of children’s portrait that breaks with the convention of presenting small models in elegant outfits, in refined and stylish interiors.

Unusually serious for her age, the lonely girl dressed in a modest dress is holding lightly-coloured chrysanthemums with her entwined hands, she attracts attention with her pale face with large eyes that are amazing in their blackness, shining like in a fever. The expression of these eyes looking directly, with tension, curiosity and boldness makes the girl, like a hypnotist, establish a psychological connection with the viewer.

The portrait exudes a pensive, sad, mysterious and vague aura, similar to the aura of the poems of Maurice Maeterlinck, known and appreciated by Boznańska. This similarity was noticed by William Ritter in 1896 in the Parisian “Gazette des Beaux-Arts”. In his opinion, in this portrait “a girl with strange disquieting eyes, as if two drops of ink spilling out onto the morbidly pale face, a contemporary ideal of Maeterlinck's character. It is an enigmatic child that will drive mad those who scrutinise her for too long (…). The girl is so frightening, so pale and so white that she sends shivers up the spine.”

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Details

  • Title: Girl with Chrysanthemums
  • Creator: Olga Boznańska
  • Date Created: 1894
  • Provenance: Purchased, 1950
  • Medium: oil, cartonboard

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