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Suwalki. They discovered an unknown painting by Jan Matejko. It can be seen at the exhibition. For the second time since 1910

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In the District Museum in Suwałki (Podlaskie Voivodeship) you can see the recently found early painting by Jan Matejko from 1859, depicting a young woman, until the end of August. Thanks to the analysis of other works by the master, it was possible to determine that the model was his older sister Maria – as it turns out – one of the most important personalities in the artist’s life.

– The discovery of the portrait is one of the most spectacular events of recent years related to the work of Jan Matejko. Specialist analyzes of the work have shown that it is one of the most outstanding portraits of the then young artist – says Barbara Ciciora from the National Museum in Krakow.

It is a portrait of a young woman, which can be seen at the District Museum in Suwałki until the end of August. According to the researchers from the aforementioned museum in Krakow, the painting depicts Jan Matejko’s older sister – a figure completely forgotten in the artist’s biography so far.

This is what the found portrait of Maria Matejko looks like District Museum in Suwałki

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It was presented in 1910 in Krakow’s Cloth Hall

– It started with the fact that art historian and art dealer Sylwester Rudnik and antiquarian Jerzy Kuriata discovered this painting in the private collection of Danuta Piontek (a patron of the arts and one of the most influential business women of the 1990s, who died in 2021) – points out Ciciora.

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The painting measures 62 by 46.8 cm. In the lower left corner there is the monogram JM 1859. Before it came to Suwałki, the painting was shown in November 2022 at the Diocesan Museum in Siedlce. It’s been 112 years since the previous public presentation, which took place in 1910 in the Krakow Cloth Hall as part of the exhibition of women’s portraits.

Maria is also visible in other paintings by the master

– We learned that we see a portrait of the painter’s sister in it thanks to a comparative analysis with the images of female figures in his other sketches and paintings, for which she posed for many years. Her features, and even certain character traits, such as calmness and subtlety, are borne by Barbara Radziwiłłówna from the painting “Zygmunt August i Barbara Radziwiłłówna” or the lady-in-waiting in the painting “Poisoning of Queen Bona” – emphasizes our interlocutor.

The face of the painter’s sister can be found in the painting “Zygmunt August i Barbara Radziwiłłówna”National Museum in Krakow

He adds that thanks to the study of sibling relationships and the biography of Maria Matejko, it was possible to discover a figure who played a key role in the painter’s youthful adolescence.

– Maria, full of melancholy, warmth and love, was a support for her two-year-younger brother, his companion and muse – says Ciciora.

Maria is also a courtesan in the painting “Poisoning of Queen Bona” National Museum in Krakow

Barbara Ciciora: Maria’s domain was spiritual matters

Marianna Waleria, called Maria at home, was born on December 24, 1836 as the eighth of eleven children of the Matejko family. She married in 1867 in Kraków, Józef Golichowski, a Master of Pharmacy. The young couple left for the United States, where Golichowski made a fortune, thanks to which he opened a pharmacy in Chernivtsi in 1872. Maria and her husband brought up three children: Maria, Janina and Adam. She died in 1917.

– Maria’s domain was spiritual matters. The most telling about it are her special eyes shown in the found portrait – beautiful, black, with a look full of melancholy, which mood is felt despite lowered eyelids. Even if no written records have been preserved, the eyes and the arrangement of the lips show the delicacy of this girl, the deep feelings that filled her interior, subtle and calm, full of gentleness and love – points out Barbara Ciciora.

Jan Matejko also sketched his sister in a notebookNational Museum in Krakow

Maria was replaced in Matejko’s paintings by his wife

He adds that the best proof of the accuracy of the above characterization is the study of her face, which we see in Jan Matejko’s sketchbook from the early 1860s, which was supposed to be used to paint the figure of the Polish community in Z. Krasiński’s painting Polonia. From the psalms of the future.

SEE ALSO: This sketch was seen by Emperor Franz Joseph I. After 149 years, it was exhibited for the first time

– It was one of the last portraits of a young sister, a testimony to the mutual devotion of two young people thirsty for family love. Soon, Maria’s place in the paintings was replaced by the beautiful Teodora, the master’s beloved wife, smiles our interlocutor.

The painting can be seen in the museum in Suwałki until the end of August District Museum in Suwałki

Main photo source: District Museum in Suwałki

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