Jacek Malczewski (1854 - 1929)
Artur Wohl collection, Krakov
Private collection, Israel
Sale, Sotheby’s, April 9, 2002, lot 59
Settlement agreed on behalf of the heirs of Artur Wohl, June 2017.
Adam Heydl, Jacek Malczewski, 1933, p. 218, illust. 45, Widzenie Ezechjela, lent by Wohl
Jacek Malczewski combined autobiographical and nationalistic themes in original and personal psychodramas. In a Vision of Ezekiel, Jesus supports the balding Ezekiel as he confronts a valley of dry bones. Dated 1917, the painting reflects the carnage of World War I and the long-standing Polish struggle for independence.
After studying at the École des beaux-arts de Paris with Henri Lehmann, Malczewski returned to Poland 1877 to unleash his visions that were tied to the land and its people. Nationalist and folkloric myths mingle with the supernatural, and religion wards off evil. Malczewski is often the primary actor in his paintings. Framed by a triangular bolt of color, the balding Ezekiel is a self-portrait.
Malczewski’s best known paintings are Poznan, Cracow and Warsaw, but a widening appreciation of his dark subjects and original compositions places him with Ferdinand Hodler and Edvard Munch at the forefront of the international Symbolist movement.
With its field of skeletons, Vision of Ezekiel frightfully anticipates the Polish death camps of WWII, or in a lighter vein, a Hollywood disaster film. It is the finest Malczewski painting outside of Poland and a memorable example of the artist’s heated imagination.