2007 | 48 | 95-109
Article title

THREE GENERATIONS OF THE WIERUSZ-KOWALSKIS. STYLES, EPOCHS, LANDS (Trzy pokolenia Wieruszów-Kowalskich. Style, epoki, kraje)

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The collections of the Regional Museum in Suwalki contain a set of works by three generations of the Wierusz-Kowalskis: Alfred (1849-1915), Czeslaw (1882-1984) and Joanna (1930-2005). The oldest representative of the family was born in Suwalki and died in Munich. Czeslaw, his oldest son, was born in Munich and died in Warsaw. Joanna, Czeslaw's second wife, was born in Wilno and died in Paris. The paintings found themselves in the Suwalki Museum thanks to contacts between its long-term director, Zygmunt Filipowicz, and Czeslaw Wierusz-Kowalski, established in the course of work on an exhibition commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Alfred's death. The years-long links between members of the family and the town produced successive donations and the sale of souvenirs and works. A permanent exposition of works by Alfred Wierusz-Kowalski - the only such show in Poland - was inaugurated in 1976. The displayed artist is a leading representative of Polish painters working during the second half of the nineteenth century in Munich. The show of oil paintings, sketches, drawings, and nineteenth-century graphic reproductions was accompanied by furniture and painting equipment - an easel, a table, and a stool from the artist's Munich flat and studio. The Suwalki collections include also photographs, diplomas, letters and other documents related to the oeuvre and personal life of the painter. The originally deposited works and souvenirs of Alfred Wierusz-Kowalski were donated by Czeslaw and became a permanent part of the Museum collections. Many of Czeslaw's compositions were also offered by his wife, Helena. The efforts made by the present-day Museum director, Jerzy Brzozowski, and his contacts with the granddaughter of the Munich-based artist became the reason why the painter and conservator donated more than ten of her oil works as well as drawings from the most recent stage in her oeuvre. The unusual 'Wierusz' exhibits are not only composed of numerous purchased or donated works, documents, and souvenirs but also outline one a half century in the history of Polish art, nation and state. Born in different countries, students at the Munich, Paris and Warsaw academies, the authors died in the capitals of three states, thus personifying the complicated history not only of their family but also of Europe. Their oeuvre encompasses nineteenth-century realism represented by Alfred, Czeslaw's colourism, and the lyrical abstraction of Joanna. Each member of this talented family was compelled to confront his works not only with European and Polish art, but also with his/her predecessor. The Suwalki collection remains an interesting contribution to art-related studies.
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  • Eliza Ptaszynska, Muzeum Okregowe w Suwalkach, ul. T. Kosciuszki 81, 16-400 Suwalki, Poland
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