Chełmoński, Józef

Trial before the Village Mayor, Munich 1873
Trial before the Village Mayor, Munich 1873, oil on canvas, 64,5 x 147 cm


Józef Chełmoński (1849-1914), Polish painter, member of the “Munich School”. From 1872 student at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts.

Chełmoński, Józef, Polish painter, member of the “Munich School”. 1871-74: in Munich. From 1872: student at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich. *7.11.1849 Boczki (now Boczki Chełmońskie), †6.4.1914 Kuklówka (now Kuklówka Zarzeczna). After taking his first art lessons from his father, an estate owner and village head in Boczki, he studies (1867-71) in the Warsaw drawing class/Klasie Rysunkowej under Wojciech Gerson (1831-1901). 1871: the painter Maksymilian Gierymski (1846-1874) enables him to travel to study in Munich. On the 23.1.1872 he enrols in the nature class at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, studies under Hermann Anschütz (1802-1880) and Alexander Strähuber (1814-1882). His first works (including “Trial before the Village Mayor, 1873“, see picture) arouse the interest of art critics and bring him financial success. 1872, 1874: trips to Poland; periods of study in the Ukraine and in Podolia. 1875: return to Warsaw; along with Stanisław Witkiewicz, Adam Chmielowski and Antoni Piotrowski, he makes up the first Polish Naturalism Group with their own joint workshop. 1875-87: in Paris: he is recognised by the jury at the Spring Salon, 1876. 1881-92: works as an illustrator on the periodical, Le Monde illustré. 1887: returns to Warsaw. 1889 onwards: he farms his estate at Kuklówka, and paints open-air pictures. 1898 onwards: President of the Sztuka artists’ association in Cracow. Many awards: 1889 International Art Exhibition Paris, Grand Prix; Berlin 1891, Munich 1892, San Francisco 1894: gold medals. During his studies at the Warsaw drawing class he creates stiff realist scenes from rural life in simple colours. They are unsuccessful at exhibitions in Warsaw (Zachęta). In Munich he is influenced by the naturalist style of the Polish artists’ colony, above all by Józef Brandt (1841-1915) and Maksymilian Gierymski’s dramatically composed, loosely painted genre scenes. Back in Warsaw his compositions are heavily rejected for their “coarse realism”. In Paris, inspired by his previous stays in Masovia and the Ukraine, he creates dynamic rural scenes featuring horse markets and taverns. His large-format pictures of galloping horses and carts are popular with collectors. They are also purchased for English and American collections. Landscapes in the style of open-air painting from the late phase in Kuklówka, including many winter pictures, earn him recognition from international critics. His works can be found in the national museums in Danzig, Cracow, Posen/Poznań, Stettin, Breslau and Warsaw, and in many other Polish museums.

Solo exhibitions: 1890, 1907, 1917, 1924, 1927 Warsaw, Zachęta / 1907 Cracow and Lemberg/Lwów: Society of the Friends of the Fine Arts/Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Sztuk Pięknych / 1987 National Museum Poznan/Muzeum Narodowe w Poznaniu 

Further Reading: Maciej Masłowski: Józef Chełmoński, Warsaw 1973; Tadeusz Matuszczak: Józef Chełmoński, 1849-1914. Wystawa monograficzna, Poznań: Muzeum Narodowe w Poznaniu, 1987; Halina Stępień/Maria Liczbińska: Artyści polscy w środowisku monachijskim w latach 1828-1914. Materiały źródłowe, Warsaw 1994, p. 10, 32; Saur Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon, vol. 18, Munich/Leipzig 1998, p. 382 f.; Tadeusz Matuszczak: Józef Chełmoński, Cracow 2003; Halina Ste̜pień: Artyści polscy w środowisku monachijskim. W latach 1856-1914 (Studia z historii sztuki / Instytut Sztuki, Polska Akademia Nauk, 50), Warsaw 2003; Egzotyczna Europa. Kraj urodzenia na płótnach polskich monachijczyków/Das exotische Europa. Heimatvisionen auf den Gemälden der polnische Künstler in München, exhibition catalogue. Suwałki 2015

Online: Matriculation data base, Matriculation book 2, Academy of Fine Arts Munich, 02737 Josef Chełmonski,

Axel Feuß: Polnische Künstler in München 1828-1914, p. 3, Ill. 10, at Porta Polonica,

Many works at,

Irena Kossowska: Józef Chełmoński (2004) auf (polnisch/englisch),

Many works at Pinakoteka Zascianek,


Axel Feuß



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Trial before the Village Mayor, Munich 1873
Trial before the Village Mayor, Munich 1873
Trial before the Village Mayor, Munich 1873, oil on canvas, 64,5 x 147 cm