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Walery Gadomski studied at the School of Drawing and Painting under Wojciech Stattler (drawing and painting) and Henryk Kossowski (sculpture) in the period 1850–1858. He was simultaneously educated in Franz Bauer’s workshop at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna (1856–1858). He fought in the January Uprising. In the years 1876–1889, he taught sculpting at the School of Fine Arts in Kraków. He became famous for his busts of contemporaries, for example, Jan Matejko or Józef Szujski, and historical figures (Veit Stoss, Jan Długosz).

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Walery Gadomski studied at the School of Drawing and Painting under Wojciech Stattler (drawing and painting) and Henryk Kossowski (sculpture) in the period 1850–1858. He was simultaneously educated in Franz Bauer’s workshop at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna (1856–1858). He fought in the January Uprising. In the years 1876–1889, he taught sculpting at the School of Fine Arts in Kraków. He became famous for his busts of contemporaries, for example, Jan Matejko or Józef Szujski, and historical figures (Veit Stoss, Jan Długosz). This time, he depicted Zofia Potocka, a figure of equal merit for the communities of Kraków and Krzeszowice.
Zofia née Branicka Potocka (1790–1879), wife of Artur Potocki, daughter of Franciszek Ksawery and Aleksandra, sister of General Władysław Grzegorz Branicki, mother of Adam Potocki, collected Italian paintings and was an activist for the Archconfraternity of Mercy and the Charity Society [Arcybractwo Miłosierdzia i Towarzystwa Dobroczynności]. She founded a hospital and a shelter for the poor in Krzeszowice and named it after her husband. She gave her patronage to the campaigns by offering assistance to those injured in the January Uprising. She was also the initiator of the reconstruction of St. Leonard’s Chapel at the Wawel and the founder of the Rescue Office, bringing help to victims of fire. She ran orphanages and shelters for the elderly as well as funded scholarships for lower secondary school pupils.
A solid bust en face depicts the noble woman as an elderly lady. The image is realistic: she has a wrinkled face, hollow cheeks, and an aquiline nose, with a lace coif with a ribbon under the chin on her head. A veristic portrait that shows the model’s countenance without beautifying has been known since the time of ancient Rome and was practised for private individuals. It originates from the ancient custom of making a wax posthumous mask of the deceased person’s face.

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

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Sculpture “Portrait of Zofia Potocka” by Walery Gadomski

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