The education of Olga Boznańska (1965-1940) began with private drawing lessons and then she attended the Women’s Courses at Baraniecki in Krakow. As a woman, she could not be a student at the Academy. An important stage of her education was her stay in Munich and visits to European museums, where she was captivated by Velázquez, Monet and Whistler. Her goal was Paris, and it was there she settled and set up a studio after achieving her first successes at exhibitions throughout Europe. She painted landscapes, still lifes, interior scenes and moody portraits, for which she became famous.
Description of the picture:
On the small painting, a petite girl is depicted, tightly wrapped in a bright-red shawl that highlights the pallor of the model’s skin. The delicate, light profile with closed eyes and silent lips does not show any emotion, and the slender fingers are intertwined in a free gesture. The same model can also be seen on other works of the artist. It is possible that her freedom came from being familiar with the studio and the artist.
The delicate, light profile with closed eyes and silent lips does not betray any emotion. Similarly, the hands with long, slender fingers are woven freely, almost nonchalantly. The unevenly cut, boyish hairstyle shines with golden glows on the pale face of the girl. The tiny figure is tightly wrapped in a red shawl, protecting the girl from the cold of her environment.
In the apparent freedom and innocence of the portrayal, a certain artificiality can be detected. Apart from the model, it does not seem to fit the age of a child, as if she were playing an imposed role. Her face seems calm, serious, and even sad. In the youngest models of Boznańska, one can often see curiosity, boredom, and sometimes even fear. “Halka”, on the other hand, seems self-confident, lost in her own thoughts, indifferent to her surroundings, or able to hide these emotions.
In the same year, the pastel “Girl with Sunflowers” was created in Boznańska’s studio, now located in the Museum of Lubuskie Land. It can be assumed that the model from the mentioned painting also posed for the Rogaline’s “Halka”. The similarity can be seen not only in the small face, which this time looks boldly, without lowering the eyelids, but also in the hairstyle and red clothing. The girl in the Lubusz painting is shown frontally, holding the sunflowers like a scepter, and the red clothing surrounds her like a royal cloak. The interesting contrast between the two versions of the same figure.
The painting was purchased for the husband’s collection by Róża Raczyńska at the TPSP in Krakow. Maybe she wanted to support the young, promising artist. The canvas began a small collection of Boznańska’s paintings in the Rogaline gallery. Róża must have valued her creativity, because more than twenty years later she appeared in her Paris studio ordering her own portrait. Today both paintings hang next to each other in the Gallery of Paintings in Rogalin.