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Alfred Wierusz-Kowalski

Alfred Wierusz-Kowalski was born in Suwałki on 11 October 1849. He received his education in the Warsaw Drawing Class, and later studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Dresden and in Munich – where he set up his private studio and became a leading representative of the milieu of Polish painters there at the turn of the 19th and 20th century.

The artist’s paintings – realistic and imbued with emotions – show scenes from everyday life in Polish villages and small towns. They reveal the world of simple activities and games – horse-driven carts carrying passengers on muddy roads at dusk, excursions to the market, sleigh rides, wedding processions and groups of carts on the way to church pulled by teams of horses. These images are set in the scenery of the Polish landscape, featuring meagre trees, thickets, dusty roads, roads wet with melting snow, cottages perched in the distance or woods outlined against the sky.

The vibrant joyfulness of laughing peasants dashing through the snow in sleighs alternates with the melancholy contemplation of travellers getting ready for a journey at dawn. The realism of Alfred Wierusz-Kowalski’s work does not consist only in his attention for detail and truth of detail, but in being capable of expressing the mood of the moment and the essence of the presented scene and the surrounding landscape.

Evocative, atmospheric and immersed in the realities of the 19th century, his paintings quickly won popularity and gained lasting fame for the artist when sent to exhibitions and art galleries in European and American cities. Distinctions, awards and purchases made by state and private collections have established Wierusz-Kowalski’s position as a truly talented painter. Today the artist’s work is displayed in numerous museum galleries.

Alfred Kowalski died on 15 February 1915 and was buried in Munich. In 1936 his remains were brought to Poland and interred along the “Avenue of Merit” at the Powązki Cemetery in Warsaw.

An iconic example of the artist’s painting is a picture of a wolf looking at a sleeping, snow-covered village. The image of this lone wolf – from the picture “Wolf” (120 x 150 cm) – has been reproduced on the collector coin, while the artist’s portrait is a photograph taken at the Munich studio.

Eliza Ptaszyńska
Regional Museum in Suwałki