Tune In to 'Girl With Chrysanthemums'

Take an audio tour of Olga Boznańska's arresting portrait

By Google Arts & Culture

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Serious and tidy, an innocent-looking girl stands out alone against a gloomy background.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Girl with Chrysanthemums (1894) by Olga BoznańskaThe National Museum in Krakow

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