Girl with Chrysanthemums (1894) by Olga BoznańskaThe National Museum in Krakow
Serious and tidy, an innocent-looking girl stands out alone against a gloomy background.
Lines are almost nonexistent, outlines are blurred, could it be Impressionism? No, the artist doesn’t paint en plein air treating the human figure as part of the landscape; she paints in her studio trying to give the portrait a strong expression, to give it a soul.
Even these misty tones don’t remind us of Monet or Renoir that much: the painting is constructed on a greyscale, the red hair is the only source of color. The play on opaque tones and short, light brushstrokes, generates an aura of mystery.
The chrysanthemum is a reference to symbolist paintings, which often associate youth having ethereal charm to delicate flowers: a frail balance between the childhood innocence and the growing maturity and beauty.
This pale and melancholy face conveys tenderness and anguish. What would her intense black eyes want to tell us? Boznańska breaks the conventions of children’s portraits - usually elegant and decorative - offering an innovative, psychological interpretation of the subject.
Text and audio by eArs ▬ making arts & culture a place for everybody