IS CHRIST ALLOWED TO BE A HUTSUL HIGHLANDER? ON THE ORIGINS OF RUTHENIAN NATIONAL-ORIENTATED RELIGIOUS ART AS EXEMPLIFIED IN THE WORKS OF JULIAN PANKIEWICZ
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Concerned with the development and composition of Ruthenian national-orientated religious art towards the end of the 19th century in Eastern Galicia and a period when romantic ideas anchored in the vernacular tradition 'were nourished in a specific way'. New roads were sought in the traces of folk culture in order to explain its distinctiveness among the 'newly-arising' nations of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Painters of a religious persuasion turned their views towards the depths of history, to art in the Middle Ages and early-Renaissance, while being inspired in a specific way by folklore. While Polish artists drew on religious art linked to the Roman Catholic Church for inspiration, the specific character of Ruthenian religious art arose from its sources being Byzantine while coming into being in territories dominated by the Greek Catholic (or Uniate) Church, evolving clearly defined Ukrainian national characteristics. Considered here are the works of Julian Pankiewicz and the criticism levelled at his works by priests, usually lacking in artistic taste and any aesthetic sense to understand the latest trends in art while deciding on a church's furnishings and commissions, rarely questioned by its congregation. Pankiewicz defended his renditions of Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ in folk costume, referred to as 'Hutsul' or 'Ukrainian' as presenting the search in the field of ecclesiastical art for a separate road based on national traditions - as, so he claimed, had already occurred with other nations.
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