Główka chłopca Wyspiański, Stanisław (1869 - 1907)

Główka chłopca (Chłopiec)

Stanisław Wyspiański (1869-1907) was an influential figure in the formation of his original and recognizable style of art. His studies in Krakow with Jan Matejko, travels, and several years spent in Paris with his friend Józef Mehoffer had a big effect on him. He was especially taken by the works of Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Toulouse-Lautrec that he encountered there. As he was sensitive to oil paints, he began to use pastels mostly. Besides painting, he was also active in graphics, decorative polychromes, stained glass designs, theatre productions, interior and furniture design, poetry and drama. His art, belonging to the Young Poland program, is described as symbolic, expressionist, and Art Nouveau.

Description of the painting:
This small drawing by Wyspiański probably depicts his adopted son, Teodor Tadeusz. When the artist met his future wife, Teodora Teofila Pytko from the village of Konary near Tarnów, she already had a son with a Kraków lawyer whom she had worked for previously. Later she gave birth to three more children of Wyspiański’s, Stasiek, Helenka, and Mietek, who are known from many charming portraits. The oldest, adopted by the artist Todor, is at the same time the least known. At the time of the creation of the discussed portrait Todor was already a few years old.

The slanted silhouette and raised head of the boy allow you to imagine him sitting, elbows resting on his knees and staring into the space in front of him. Maybe he had perched in front of the Wyspiański house in Węgrzyce Wielkie, gazing at the rolling landscape of the village where Wyspiański had bought a farm and moved with his family? Maybe he was watching his siblings playing, or maybe he had bent over his work and raised his head for a moment and got lost in thought. His face under the thick, messy hair appears serious, almost menacing. This can be seen in the strongly accentuated line of his jaw, the tension in the line of his neck, his closed lips and focused gaze.

This drawing was created shortly after the move to Węgrzyce, when Wyspiański’s health was already visibly deteriorating from day to day. The artist’s right hand had been almost paralyzed. In the last year of his life, only a few drawings were created under his authorship. Probably the portrait presented here was one of the last works of the artist before his death, which occurred in November of the same year.