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Michałowski created a model (probably made of plaster) for this figurine between 1832 and 1835 in Paris while being part of the circle of the Nicolas-Toussaint Charlet's studio, at that time — as the painter's daughter will later put it — “a real hotbed of Bonapartism.” Drawing on the iconography of heroic leaders, he represented Napoleon on a galloping horse, his hand outstretched to point the direction of an attack; that is in almost the same way as in his other representations of the emperor of that time: the oil painting, Napoleon on Horseback Giving Orders (the National Museum in Wrocław) and a similar watercolour painting (National Museum in Kraków).

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Michałowski created a model (probably made of plaster) for this figurine between 1832 and 1835 in Paris while being part of the circle of the Nicolas-Toussaint Charlet's studio, at that time — as the painter's daughter will later put it — “a real hotbed of Bonapartism.” Drawing on the iconography of heroic leaders, he represented Napoleon on a galloping horse, his hand outstretched to point the direction of an attack; that is in almost the same way as in his other representations of the emperor of that time: the oil painting, Napoleon on Horseback Giving Orders (the National Museum in Wrocław) and a similar watercolour painting (National Museum in Kraków).
As found out by an art historian, Jan K. Ostrowski, who had researched the history of the figurine, the painter gave the original to his father-in-law, Antoni Ostrowski, an exile in France. The years of the July Monarchy favoured the cult of Napoleon, and upon setting about delivering the emperor's mausoleum in connection with the planned shipping of his body from Saint Helena Island to Paris, it was proposed to erect a monument in the heart of the Louvre to commemorate Napoleon. Antoni Ostrowski believed that the monument could be modelled after the figurine made by Michałowski. To this end, in 1841, he commissioned a Paris moulder, Debraux d'Anglure, to produce a cast of it and commenced efforts to obtain a contract from the French government. The plan failed. The monumental statue of Napoleon for the Louvre, developed at the same time by an Italian sculptor, Carlo Marochetti, for a few years, was not completed either. Julia Michałowska, the painter's wife, tried to set this case in motion again in 1846, unsuccessfully again. Michałowski himself critically commented on the whole thing: “Why did they not ask for my opinion before giving the work I have never been satisfied with to be assessed by the public?” he wrote.
The figurine arrived at the National Museum in Kraków in 1974 as a gift from Andrzej Ciechanowiecki from London, who had bought it in an antique shop in Paris. Earlier, it had been part of a private collection somewhere near Tours. The detachable parts, namely the reins and the sword, have not been preserved. Also, copies of the figurine are kept in state and in private collections.

Elaborated by Anna Zeńczak (The National Museum in Kraków), © all rights reserved

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Difficulties with dating Piotr Michałowski's works

Why are there difficulties with dating Piotr Michałowski's works?
As a wealthy person, the artist did not put his works on sale. Consequently, he did not put signatures or dates on his works, making it difficult to ascertain the chronology of their production.

Experts try to handle these difficulties by examining not only the stylistic aspect of his works but also the material ones, that is, canvas stretchers, canvases, paper and cardboard supports, grounds, and pigments used by Michałowski. Then they try to match the materials used by the artist to those available at the place he stayed in at a given point.
During his Paris period (1832–1835), for instance, his canvasses had one distinguishing feature in common: they were thin and were not woven too tightly, yet with evenly spun threads; this facilitates matching them to this stage of the artist's oeuvre.

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Why are there difficulties with dating Piotr Michałowski's works?
As a wealthy person, the artist did not put his works on sale. Consequently, he did not put signatures or dates on his works, making it difficult to ascertain the chronology of their production.

Experts try to handle these difficulties by examining not only the stylistic aspect of his works but also the material ones, that is, canvas stretchers, canvases, paper and cardboard supports, grounds, and pigments used by Michałowski. Then they try to match the materials used by the artist to those available at the place he stayed in at a given point.
During his Paris period (1832–1835), for instance, his canvasses had one distinguishing feature in common: they were thin and were not woven too tightly, yet with evenly spun threads; this facilitates matching them to this stage of the artist's oeuvre.

Elaborated by the editorial team of Małopolska's Virtual Museums,
Licencja Creative Commons

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

See also:
Statuette “Napoleon on a Horse” by Piotr Michałowski
Painting “Jews” by Piotr Michałowski

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Kto zasługiwał na portret konny?

Portret konny od początku swojego pojawienia się miał przede wszystkim podkreślać walory militarne przedstawionego i był zarezerwowany dla zwycięskich wodzów. Już Aleksander Wielki ukazywany był jako jeździec, a na jego wzór posągi konne stawiali sobie władcy hellenistyczni. Taką formę upamiętnienia od Greków przejęli Rzymianie, a stworzony przez nich pomnik cesarza Marka Aureliusza stał się wzorem dla wszystkich średniowiecznych i renesansowych wizerunków konnego zwycięzcy. Warto dodać, że posąg ten – mimo wykonania z cennego brązu – uchował się dzięki temu, że długo uchodził nie za wizerunek pogańskiego imperatora-filozofa, lecz za portret Konstantyna Wielkiego, uważanego za chrześcijanina.

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Portret konny od początku swojego pojawienia się miał przede wszystkim podkreślać walory militarne przedstawionego i był zarezerwowany dla zwycięskich wodzów. Już Aleksander Wielki ukazywany był jako jeździec, a na jego wzór posągi konne stawiali sobie władcy hellenistyczni. Taką formę upamiętnienia od Greków przejęli Rzymianie, a stworzony przez nich pomnik cesarza Marka Aureliusza stał się wzorem dla wszystkich średniowiecznych i renesansowych wizerunków konnego zwycięzcy. Warto dodać, że posąg ten – mimo wykonania z cennego brązu – uchował się dzięki temu, że długo uchodził nie za wizerunek pogańskiego imperatora-filozofa, lecz za portret Konstantyna Wielkiego, uważanego za chrześcijanina.

Odrodzenie monumentalnego posągu konnego przyniósł renesans (powstały wtedy słynne pomniki takie jak np. Gattamelaty w Padwie i Bartolomeo Colleoniego w Wenecji), ale jego rozkwit nastąpił od XVI do XVIII wieku. Oprócz bardzo kosztownych monumentalnych pomników z brązu, pojawiły się niewielkie posążki, malowane obrazy i ryciny, których znaczenie propagandowe jako pierwszego środka masowego przekazu jest nie do przecenienia. W tym też czasie zaczęły się pojawiać konne wizerunki członków monarszych rodzin.

Również królowie polscy fundowali sobie portrety konne. Na władcach wzorowali się magnaci, a najczęściej – co zrozumiałe – zwycięscy hetmanowie. Nie zawsze jednak konny wizerunek tworzono na cześć wojennego triumfatora. Bywało i tak, że konny wizerunek był efektem megalomanii fundatora. Hieronim Florian Radziwiłł – okrutnik i głupiec, którego jedynym militarnym sukcesem było krwawe stłumienie rewolty chłopskiej – zamierzał wystawić sobie konny pomnik na specjalnie do tego celu przebudowanym rynku w Białej Podlaskiej. Projekt zakładał imponującą realizację, ale i ambicje Radziwiłła nie były byle jakie – żywił on przekonanie, że zostanie królem, a pewność zawdzięczał wróżbie cyganki…

Odbiorcami przynależnego elicie portretu konnego były szerokie masy szlacheckie. Nawet średnio zamożny szlachcic, choć w świetle prawa równy magnatom, nie mógł pozwolić sobie na choćby najtańszy i najskromniejszy wizerunek konny swojej osoby. Fundacja takiego portretu uznana by była za śmieszną próbę porównania się z senatorami i hetmanami. Bo w końcu, quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi, czy jak wolą niektórzy „Co wolno wojewodzie, to nie tobie, smrodzie”.

Zobacz też:
Obraz „Portret konny królewicza Władysława Zygmunta Wazy”
Rzeźba „August III”
Statuetka „Napoleon na koniu” Piotra Michałowskiego
Innowacje Rubensa

Opracowanie: Adam Spodaryk (Redakcja WMM), 
Licencja Creative Commons

Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa 3.0 Polska.

Bibliografia:

Mieczysław Morka, Polski nowożytny portret konny i jego europejska geneza, Warszawa 1986.

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Ruben’s innovations

Peter Paul Rubens developed a new type of equestrian portrait. The system that had been used up until then, in the Titian tradition (Horse portrait of Charles V), depicted a rider on a horse in profile. Rubens changed this, depicting the figure and mount slightly turned en trois quarts in a short perspective, so that they seemed to be heading directly towards the viewer.

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Peter Paul Rubens developed a new type of equestrian portrait. The system that had been used up until then, in the Titian tradition (Horse portrait of Charles V), depicted a rider on a horse in profile.

Portret konny Zygmunta III, Peter Paul Rubens workshop, ca. 1619, sorce: Wikipedia, domena publicnza

Rubens changed this, depicting the figure and mount slightly turned en trois quarts in a short perspective, so that they seemed to be heading directly towards the viewer. The whole composition changed: the horse is shown in an elegant, free walk, not as before in a gallop, while the rider is presented from the front, thanks to which his face is far more visible, and the silhouette adopts a dignified and reliable look, with the chest stuck out and hand resting on a baton.
The first picture of this type was the equestrian portrait of Archduke Albert, known from Jan Brueghel's Cabinet of curiosities  Allegory of Sight. This type has become a role model in Rubens workshop, used in paintings such as Equestrian portrait of Sigismund III Vasa and Equestrian portrait of Prince Lerma. These were often copied by artists from his circle, as in the presented painting, Equestrian portrait of Prince Sigismund Vasa, from the collection of Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection.

See also:

Statuette “Napoleon on a Horse” by Piotr Michałowski
Sculpture of Augustus III

Who deserved equestrian portrait?

 

 

Elaborated by Paulina Kluz (Editorial Team of Malopolskas Virtual Museums),
Licencja Creative Commons

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

Bibliography:
Ryszard Szmydki, Artystyczno-dyplomatyczne kontakty Zygmunta III Wazy z Niderlandami Południowymi, Lublin 2008.


 

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Statuette “Napoleon on a Horse” by Piotr Michałowski

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