Bronowice - center of the world

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Bronowice - center of the world

One of the key initiatives of Young Polish painting was the artists' rediscovery of their native landscape, with a special fondness for the Polish countryside. 


"It got its symbolic meaning from literary programs; it was glorified in poetry by neo-romantics such as Asnyk, Wyspiański, Tetmajer, Kasprowicz, Rydel, and Orkan. Modernists' fascination with folk, which was perceived as the source of the nation's vital forces, became the manifestation of efforts to maintain national identity. A larger audience started to be aware of the naturalistic lesson found in Stanisław Witkiewicz's writings, which affirmed the biological strength of the peasants. The painting of Young Poland elevated folklorism and the fascination with the peasantry (referred to as "Peasant-mania"), interpreted as manifestations of patriotic attitudes, to the position of a modern myth. The vividness of peasant costumes and the picturesque rituals co-created an idealized representation of the Polish village embedded in the local landscape and natural rhythms, with the village being a definition of the intact enclave of Polishness. The idea of social solidarity was taking hold, culminating in Lucjan Rydel's marriage to a country girl named Jadwiga Mikołajczykówna in Bronowice, which served as the inspiration for the plot of the play ‘The Wedding.' In order to convey the tragedy of modern Poles who are incapable of heroic acts, Wyspiański took a close look at both the peasants and the intelligentsia socializing with them." 

cit. per Irena Kossowska, Łukasz Kossowski, Malarstwo polskie. Symbolizm i Młoda Polska, Warsaw 2010, p. 333.


The countryside was to serve as the foundation for the revitalization of the Polish nation, the unification of the former aristocracy and peasantry, and an idyll with a strong "ecological" component, being based on a close, direct relationship with nature. This relationship between the countryside and the natural world was appealing to painters such as Józef Chełmoński, Ferdynand Ruszczyc, Teodor Axentowicz, Włodzimierz Tetmajer, as well as Julian Fałat, who came from a peasant family. 

Włodzimierz Tetmajer with family, Bronowice, source: Wikimedia Commons

The village of Bronowice Małe near Krakow has gained a special place in culture, becoming a real artistic colony. Włodzimierz Tetmajer, the progenitor of Bronowice folklore, lived there from 1890 after marrying Anna Mikołajczykówna, the daughter of a peasant. They resided in a manor house that became known as "Tetmajerówna" and is remembered in history as an important part of the collective identity of Poles. Anna's sister later became the wife of Lucjan Rydel, who visited the manor house. The most well-known text devoted to the Young Poland "pheasant-mania"-"The Wedding" by Stanisław Wyspiański-was inspired by their wedding. Additionally, Wodzimierz Tetmajer served as inspiration for the character of "Host," and his eldest daughter Jadwiga served as inspiration for the character of "Isi" in the most significant Young Poland drama. Jadwiga inherited artistic talent from her father and initially mastered her skills under his supervision. After receiving drawing lessons from Józef Siedlecki, she later attended Maria Niedzielska's School of Fine Arts for Women in Krakow to further her education. In 1919, she and her father went to the artistic capital of Europe–Paris. After marrying Ludwik Naimski, a cavalry major in the Polish Army, she lived in a number of Polish cities before relocating permanently to Great Britain in 1956. Although Jadwiga lived a long way from her family home, the artist frequently returned to the theme of the Polish manor house-the center for national traditions and customs.

Paintings by the Tetmajer family were characterized by their shared love for their homeland, the epicenter of Polish folklore-Bronowice. The motif of the "Tetmajerówka" manor house often appeared in both Włodzimierz and Jadwiga's works. The "Landscape from Bronowice," offered at our auction, features the silhouette of the iconic manor house. The artist presented the place of her birth from the lakeside. Jadwiga Tetmajer used synthetic, softly modulated color spots, similar to her father. The accents of luminous white and glowing ochre were enlivened by broadly outlined patches of warm green and brown. 


The artist captured a similar, idyllic atmosphere of a rural landscape in another work offered in our auction catalog, "Landscape with a Dirt Road." Here, the artist presents the unadulterated beauty of her native land. The last warm rays of the setting sun glow above the hill on the horizon, softly illuminating the snobs of grain left after haymaking. Like her father, Jadwiga Tetmajer's painting is a standout example of the "peasant-mania" trend and emphasizes the significance of the Polish village landscape as a national archetype.