• The Cello in Art (5) – Jacek Malczewski

[This post is part of a series, which may be viewed complete on my other website cornishadrian.wordpress.com]

This is probably a less familiar image than the previous one by Augustus John, and there’s less evidence of a cello!  In Portrait of a Man with Cello (1923), the Polish painter Jacek Malczewski (1854-1929) depicts the young man strumming the instrument like an upright guitar or a lowered violin.  His languorous manner, slicked-back hair and exaggeratedly broad shirt collar, combined with the landscape, suggest nothing less than a weekend in the country along with a spot of music-making, don’t-ya-know.  To my untrained eye, the man bears a striking resemblance to a previous portrait that Malczewski had made of his son Rafał (below).  (Rafał also made a career as a painter, but he is best remembered as one of Poland’s most distinguished skiers and mountain-climbers.  In 1917, he narrowly escaped death in the Polish Tatras.  This portrait dates from that year.)

Earlier in his career, Jacek Malczewski had taken up Symbolism with a vengeance, and it is in this period that his most famous paintings were created.  He was best known for his forthright portraits, but rare are those without other allegorical ‘presences’ counterpointing, peering over the shoulder of or threatening the subject.  The most common ‘onlookers’ are chimeras (in Malczewski’s case, winged females with huge-thighed limbs and a lion’s claws), fauns and muses.

There is a number of portraits with musical themes and several of these reveal their folk origins by the inclusion of the narrow fiddle known as a gęśl.  Below are three such paintings: Self-Portrait with Fiddle (c.1908), Music (1908) and Shepherd Boy and Chimera (1905).

One Response to • The Cello in Art (5) – Jacek Malczewski

  1. Malczewski says:

    thanks for interesting information

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