Polish Painter, 1846-1896
Polish painter and draughtsman. He spent his early years in Odessa and Kiev, subsequently living in France, in particular in Paris, where he studied under the Polish portrait painter Tadeusz Gorecki (1825-68), continuing (1868-71) at the Akademie der Kenste in Munich. In 1871 he moved to Krakew where he studied until 1875 under Jan Matejko at the School of Fine Arts. During ten years in Krakew he produced many striking portraits. In the portrait of Mrs Fedorowicz (1878; Krakew, N. Mus.) he achieved subtle effects of modelling by means of carefully differentiated tones and meticulously distributed light. The Realism of these portraits is subsumed into an advanced proto-Impressionist technique, on occasion using both small patches of distinct colour and broadly applied areas of impasto. Alongside such works, Pruszkowski produced paintings based on fantastic legends, fables and folk-tales. In these works one can trace influences going back to the artist's Munich period; but Pruszkowski's essentially Romantic vision translated his subjects into an entirely Polish context, as in Midsummer's Night (1875; Warsaw, N. Mus.) and Water Nymphs (1877; Krakew, N. Mus.). In 1882 Pruszkowski moved to the village of Mnikow outside Krakew, where he worked in the isolation he believed essential for creative activity. Contact with the country people, however, provided him with themes for his work; alongside his fantastic and legendary subjects he painted genre scenes of peasant life. He brought to his subjects a diversity of means of formal depiction, from the realistic to the near visionary. However, there are notable recurrent motifs, for example the image of the native willow, the symbolic haunt of spirits, as in Willow on Marshland (1892; Ledz, Mus. A.). The visionary element achieved its apogee in the pastel compositions from the last years of his life. In works such as Death of Ellenai (1892; Wroclaw, N. Mus.) the evanescent nature of forms is expressed through restrained colour schemes, generally tending towards silvery greyish azure or shades of pink.