The writer, publicist, historian and publisher Józef Ignacy Kraszewski (1812–1887) knew many artists, was an assiduous researcher of art history and a collector of art, and helped to shape Romantic theory. He was also a competent painter and draughtsman. Kraszewski started his art studies in 1829 at Vilnius University under Jan Rustem and Wincenty Smokowski. He later kept in touch with Smokowski, and wrote to him about matters of art. However, extant paintings by Kraszewski are few. Oriental portrait is one of the best known. It is probably a copy, done as a student assignment. The minute brushwork renders perfectly the facial features of the people in the painting and the details of their dress. His choice of subject may have been determined by the Romantic interest in exotic Oriental countries, their colourful costumes and customs, and their great wealth. People would dress up in Oriental costume for themed evenings, which were fashionable in country houses in the 19th century. But Oriental portrait is not just a documentary study of different types. The painter sought to convey the emotions of the subjects, and to tell a story. Unfortunately for the contemporary viewer, the idea behind the picture is impossible to grasp completely. Text author Rūta Janonienė.


  • Title: Oriental Portrait
  • Creator: Józef Ignacy Kraszewski
  • Date Created: 1846
  • Physical Dimensions: 82,5cm x 65cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on Canvas

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