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Powiśle – Riverbank of the Vistula in Warsaw

Aleksander Gierymski1883

The National Museum in Krakow

The National Museum in Krakow
Kraków, Poland

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Aleksander Gierymski’s return from Rome to Warsaw in March 1879 marked the beginning of the next phase in his career. At that time, Gierymski collaborated with a group of artists and intellectuals advocating realism in art, centred around the magazine “Wędrowiec.” The artist’s fascination with his home town and getting closer to the artistic and ideological concept of his brother Maksymilian’s painting resulted in a number of realist and naturalist works. They were marked by the authenticity of depiction of the big-city environment including a wide cross-section of its inhabitants. The picture of the factory-port riverbank of the Vistula is one of Gierymski’s works devoted to the poor districts of Warsaw. The painting is a portrayal of everyday riverside activities. The composition of the scene emphasizes the artist’s detachment from this subject. The misery of chaotically arranged architecture, scattered rafts, boats, nets and people occupied with mundane activities have been painted with the unemotional meticulousness of a documentalist. Despite the emphasis on the randomness of the composition, the artist has been able to achieve a clear and precise balance of verticals and horizontals. The work is characterized by a warm, muted palette. A faint gleam of sunlight reflected in the surface of the water in the thickening twilight and the figures frozen to the spot create the drowsy atmosphere of the end of the day.

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  • Title: Powiśle – Riverbank of the Vistula in Warsaw
  • Creator: Aleksander Gierymski
  • Date Created: 1883
  • Provenance: Purchased in 1950
  • Medium: oil, canvas

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