Trzy głowy Tryptyk

Trzy głowy (Tryptyk)

Jack Malczewski (1854-1929) had a passion for art and romantic literature, particularly the poetry of Juliusz Słowacki, which he inherited from his family. He came from a noble but not wealthy family. His father Julian supported him in his career as a painter. The events of 1863, the January Uprising and subsequent repression, had a particularly strong impact on the young artist. His first teacher was Adolf Dygasiński. From 1867 to 1871, he spent his youth in the mansion of his aunt and uncle, the Karczewski family, in Wielgie. In 1873 he began studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, under the tutelage of Jan Matejko. He was a student of Władysław Łuszczkiewicz and also studied at the École des BeauxArts in Paris. He traveled to Italy, Vienna, Munich, Greece and Asia Minor. From 1896 to 1900 and 1910 to 1914 he was a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. From 1912 to 1914 he was its rector. He began with a romantic realism, then naturalism, and his works of this period were dominated by the fate of the exiles to Siberia and the inspirations of Juliusz Słowacki‘sAnhellim“. At the same time, fantastic and allegorical views began to appear in Malczewski‘s works. After his father‘s death in 1884, the recurring theme in Malczewski‘s work was Thanatos the god of death. After 1890 his art became purely symbolic. Works manifesting the turn towards symbolism areIntroduction from 1890,Melancholia from 18901894, andVicious Circle from 18951897. The artist addressed existential, historical and artistic themes, combining ancient and biblical motifs with native folklore and the Polish landscape so important in his works. Form, color, monumentality of the representations and their expressiveness became his trademarks.

Description of the image:
This work was praised by critics as “genuinely masterful”. Triptychs appear quite often in Jacek Malczewski’s work. The triptych arrangement used by the artist brings to mind associations with sacred art. Going further down this path, the central part of the presentation becomes the central point of the work. This impression is intensified by the way the images flanking it are composed. The men painted “on the wings” of the Rogalinski triptych are turned towards the central figure. It shows the goal of their journey – the homeland, which is reborn with spring. Heavenly messengers accompany them on their way. The divine procession is opened by Archangel Gabriel bearing a white lily, then Archangel Raphael depicted with little Tobias and Archangel Michael with a sword. They guard the travelers and embody the second functioning title of the triptych “Faith, Hope and Love”.

Three performances connect the elderly characters appearing in them, differing in hairstyles, facial hair and details of clothing resembling Siberian costumes. They are shown almost up to the waist. Their silhouettes fill almost the entire frame of the image. The background with elements of landscape captured at different times of the year with angelic figures is also significant. It is also worth noting the different, dominant color palette of each quarter.

Starting from the left wing, we see the figure of a man portrayed in a right profile, turned to the right. The old man with a bald forehead and thick, already grey mustaches supports his left hand on a wooden cane. In his right hand he holds a brown, Siberian hat. He has a cloak thrown over his shoulders. An element that attracts the viewer’s attention is the white collar of a festive shirt fastened with the last button and an ornamental finish of the waistcoat put on it. The hues, browns and greys used in painting the figure contrast with the incredibly vivid and bright background. Behind the silhouette of the man stretches a wonderful view of meadows covered with lush, colorful flowers and greening cereals and grasses. Above the blooming nature, the horizon line and a blue sky covered with white, fluffy clouds are outlined. It is towards him that the first figure in the procession of angels, Archangel Gabriel, walks along the path marked between the rows. In his hands he carries a branch of white lilies. The symbol of the Annunciation and Divine mission. It is towards him that the man is looking.

An angelic procession continues on the right wing of the triptych. The figure of a man shown in profile is facing to the left. The old man‘s hair is slightly shorter and evenly trimmed, his face framed by a white beard. He has both hands folded on a wooden staff. He holds a Siberian hat in his hands. His brown cloak falls from his shoulders. The old man looks ahead. In the background we no longer see spring, which has passed. The predominant brown and gray, gravel, freshly plowed fields of land suggest that autumn has come. Reddening piled clouds stand out against a slightly green sky. The day is coming to an end. But the pilgrims do not cease their journey. The Archangel Raphael presented in shades of red has given shelter under his wings to the little Tobias. The procession is closed by the silhouette of an angel holding a raised sword Archangel Michael, painted on the edge of the canvas.

The central presentation portrays a man facing the vieweren face‘. His eyes are however lowered. His long beard and hair suggest that out of the three figures, he spent the most time on the road. His left hand is clenched around a silver crucifix. He is dressed in a Siberian coat and cap. Behind him is a view of an orchard covered with melting snow and a manor house with the remains of tall chimneys of a burntdown house. The appearing storks in the background allow to determine the presented season as prespring. A moment of awakening, of returning to life, of the resurrection of the surrounding nature. This is the place and time to which the weary travellers are heading.

Angels are often featured characters in Jack Malczewski‘s paintings. In this view, they set a kind of hierarchical and chronological order of the representation. At the head is Archangel Gabriel as a messenger, bringing hope but also challenging one to take up a fight, a challenge. Archangel Raphael as the guardian of travelers, happily bringing them back home. And Archangel Michael, associated with the Day of Judgment, patron of fighting soldiers. Messenger, guardian and knight. Beings from the border of the spiritual, divine and earthly worlds. Often taking on a human form, but belonging to a different, immaterial sphere. In this view, they become visible signs of God‘s presence. Marking the beginning and end of man‘s journey. Moreover, they assure of God‘s protection of the one undertaking the journey. Urging the hero to fully entrust it.

Complementing the interpretation of the triptych seems to be the second functioning title of the workFaith, Hope, Love“. It draws attention to the three Divine Virtues. Faith, depicted in the middle part of the triptych, hope identified here with the image and presence of the greenclad Archangel Gabriel, God‘s messenger, and love which can manifest itself in the form of the innocent red wings that provide shelter, or in the promise of a just judgment and care for them by Archangel Michael. The presented journey can be identified both with a person‘s journey through life, and in the dimension of faith with a journey exploring traces of God‘s presence, or in a martyrologicalpatriotic sense with a journey towards the longawaited independence.