Żniwo Tetmajer, Włodzimierz (1861 - 1923)


Włodzimierz Przerwa-Tetmajer (1862-1923) studied under J. Siedlecki, then at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow under W.Łuszczkiewicz, F. Cynk and L.Loeffer. He also studied at the Academy in Vienna and Munich, as well as at the Paris Académie Colarossi. Between 1889 and 1895 he attended Jan Matejko‘s studio. He regularly exhibited his works both in Poland and abroad. In 1895 he moved to Bronowice, where he settled permanently. In addition to painting, he was also involved in stage design, art criticism, and poetry. He was the natural brother of Kazimierz PrzerwaTetmajer.*

Description of the painting:

The painting depicts a noon harvest scene, divided into two parts horizontal, from the left edge of the frame and vertical, from the right. These two parts are connecting by a vivid figure of a girl sitting on a quilt, wearing a bright red dress and a cap of the same color, protecting her from the intense sunlight. She is situated with her back turned to the viewer, as if observing the work. The left part of the frame shows the already cut grain, among which women are moving. They are dressed in peasant clothes in the colors of white, pink and red. The aerial perspective used here makes the next planes less and less distinct, as well as the colors fading. At the left edge, in front of the women, there is an empty jug lying on an intensely red quilt. The figures are shown in successive, horizontal strips, on a diagonal line running from the left, upper edge of the painting. The closest to the viewer is a woman with a strong posture. Her face is round and rosy. In her right hand she holds a sickle, with which she cuts the grain fields. Behind her is a figure bent over, followed by a small girl. On the last plane are blurred outlines of three women. The right side of the artwork remains distinct regardless of the distance. On the first plane, among the ears of grain, there are characteristic Polish landscape flowers poppies and cornflowers. The wall of vertical rows is separated from the left part of the work by its vertical character. Next to it, in the distance, there is a woman walking towards the working women. Her figure is clearly visible, a basket hanging on her arms, possibly bringing food. The view of the right part of the painting is closed off by the silhouette of the village with a visible church tower and buildings.

In the painting one can see the influences of Impressionism. The artist uses a bright palette of colors portraying the scene in strong Southern light. The way the grain is depicted gives off a feeling of an endless expanse, almost like a sea. In this almost monochromatic space, the costumes of the women stand out. The strongest accent in terms of color is the figure of the girl sitting in the foreground. The surprising division of the painting is noteworthy. The background of the left side of the painting is less distinct than the right. Perhaps the artist intended to emphasize the dynamics of the farm work in this way. The sky in this part of the painting seems to be veiled by dust from the harvested grain. It is possible that the artist is depicting an atmospheric phenomenon. The distant figures appear to be a mirage, through the jittery particles of warm, Southern air they seem to be shrouded in fog. The moment captured shows the work of women in the field, with no male figures present. This may symbolize a connection with nature and a metaphorical reference to a woman giving life, as the earth gives its crops. Therefore, the presence of the girls in the field conveys the idea of collective work of all the generations. Through such a representation, Tetmajer exalts the work of farming, giving it an eternal, symbolic meaning.