Zmartwychwstanie (Nieśmiertelność) Malczewski, Jacek (1854 - 1929)

Zmartwychwstanie (Nieśmiertelność)


Jack Malczewski (1854-1929) inherited a love for art and romantic literature, particularly the poetry of Juliusz Słowacki, from his family home. 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 particular impact on the young artist. His first teacher was Adolf Dygasiński. From 1867 to 1871, he spent his youth in the manor house of his uncle and aunt, the Karczewskis, in Wielgie. In 1873 he began his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow under the tutelage of Jan Matejko. He was a student of Władysław Łuszczkiewicz. He also studied at the École des BeauxArts in Paris. He traveled to Italy, Vienna, Munich, Greece and Minor Asia. 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 romanticizing realism, then naturalism; the prevailing theme of his work in this period was the fate of exiles in Siberia and the inspiration of Juliusz Słowacki‘sAnhellim“. At the same time, fantastic and allegorical elements began to appear in Malczewski‘s work. After his father‘s death in 1884, the recurring theme in Jacek Malczewski‘s work was Thanatos the god of death. After 1890, his art became thoroughly symbolic. Works manifesting the turn towards Symbolist style are:Introduction of 1890,Melancholy from 18901894, andVicious Circle from 18951897. The artist addressed existential, historical and artistic topics, interweaving ancient and Biblical themes with local folklore and the Polish landscape, which was so important in his work. Form, color, monumentality of representations and their expressiveness became his trademark.

Description of the painting:


In “The Resurrection,” Jacek Malczewski depicted two figures: a man and an angel. The painter presented a scene of death. This is confirmed by the fact of the man’s tight grip on the scapular hung around his neck and the symbolism of two types of insects that appear in the painting. Butterflies are symbols of the soul and a promise of resurrection. Their individual stages of development are said to reflect the stages of human life. The bug held by the man, according to the myth of Titonos, is a symbol of immortality. Attention is drawn to the way the insect is painted – head down. The ascending butterflies are opposed to the downward-facing bug, pointing to the earth. The immortality of the soul is opposed to the mortality, weight, and transience of its earthly covering.
In the picture we can see two figures: an angel wrapped in wings, taking on a female shape, and an older man. The angel is opening a glass container, from which bluewhite butterflies are flying out. The man is holding a butterfly net in his right hand and is gripping a rosary on his neck with his left hand. A brown Siberian coat is slipping off his shoulders. Both the divine messenger and the exile have their eyes shut. The serene atmosphere of the central figures is disturbed by the landscape in the background. A cloudy, stormy sky and the contours of a seen cemetery with simple wooden crosses. In his artwork, Jacek Malczewski uses a very sophisticated code of meanings. He carefully selects symbols and allegories taken from Greek mythology, Christian culture and folk beliefs.
Butterflies have been associated with the imagination and carriers of the human soul since ancient times. Often, life flying out of a human‘s body was depicted as a small figure with butterfly wings. In Greek,soul andbutterfly are even referred to with the same wordpsyche‘. Christian philosophers directly connected the figure of the insect with the resurrection of Christ*. The butterfly is the last, most beautiful, and most delicate form of transformation of a caterpillar to a perfect being. Emerging from the dead cocoon and soaring to the sky becomes a symbol of transition, crossing the boundary of immortality.
The symbolism of the cicada is less unambiguous. In Meleager‘s epigram we read of an insect that can deceive longing, gives sleep to tired eyes. Its music spreads bliss around and releases from sorrow. Without a doubt, Jack Malczewski was also familiar with the myth of Eos and Tithonus, according to which the lover goddess asked Zeus for the gift of immortality for her future husband. The Lord of Olympus fulfilled her request. However, over the years Eos noticed that the face of the chosen one had changed greatly. He had obtained immortality, but not eternal youth. Tithonus was shrinking so quickly and painfully that as a several hundredyearold man he fit in a cradle. Zeus decided to end his suffering and transformed Tithonus into a cicada.
In today‘s duo of a butterfly and a grasshopper, symbols of resurrection and immortality, but also changeability and transience of the physical body have been placed together. That the reflections on them appear in the context of a man‘s death is confirmed by his tightly clenched hand on a scapular. Accepting the scapular is to provide Mary‘s protection in the last hour of life, Her intercession and no condemnation. The butterflies flying to heaven on the wings of an angel make a blissful rustling of solace for the exile and increase the hope of resurrection.