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Leon Wyczółkowski, painter and graphic artist, was born on April 24, 1852 in Huta Miastkowska near Garwolin. He attended the school in Kamionka near Lublin and the middle school in Siedlce. In 1869-1875, he studied in the Warsaw School of Drawing and Painting under the direction of Wojciech Gerson. In 1875-1877, he continued studies in the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich at Alexander Wagner, and later at the Cracow School of Fine Arts in the studio of Jan Matejko (1877-1979).
Leon Wyczółkowski, painter and graphic artist, was born on April 24, 1852 in Huta Miastkowska near Garwolin, in the region of Podlasie. He attended the school in Kamionka near Lublin and the middle school in Siedlce. In 1869-1875, he studied in the Warsaw School of Drawing and Painting under the direction of Wojciech Gerson. In 1875-1877, he continued studies in the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich at Alexander Wagner, and later at the Cracow School of Fine Arts in the studio of Jan Matejko (1877-1979). In 1887 and 1889, he stayed for a brief period in Paris, and took up residence in Lvov in 1880. In 1881, he moved to Warsaw, where he had run a private school of painting. In 1883-1893, he had traveled across the Ukraine and Podolia. He lived in Cracow between 1895 and 1929. During that time he had spent a lot of time traveling across the country and Europe. He also participated in numerous exhibitions. He was a member of the Society for Encouragement of Fine Arts in Warsaw and the “Sztuka” Society of Polish Artists in Cracow. In 1895, he was appointed professor of painting at the Cracow School of Fine Arts, in which he also had served as rector in 1909-1910. In the end of his career, in 1934-1936, he chaired the Department of Graphic Arts in the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. He died in Warsaw on December 27, 1936. He was buried in a rural cemetery of Wtelno, in the Bydgoszcz area.
During the initial period of his artistic activity he had been using oil technique. Later, starting around 1900, he worked mainly in pastel, watercolor and ink. He painted historic architecture, romantic scenery of the Tatra Mountains, still life, flowers, and trees. He also was interested in light and color.
He had painted portraits in a variety of styles, commissioned by artists, friends and acquaintances. He became interested in graphic art around 1902.
Leon Wyczółkowski received many awards and distinctions for his work. He participated in a number of exhibitions in the country and abroad. In 1898, he took part in an exhibition of the SECESSION Group in Vienna. In 1891 and 1896, spectators admired works of the artist in Berlin, and in 1905 - in Munich. He represented Polish art at the Biennale in Venice (1914), the Universal Exposition in Paris (1900). He also had art shows of his works in Prague, Florence, Philadelphia, New York, Moscow, and Lvov. In 1921–1922, he joined the exhibition of the Poznań Group ŚWIT. The Town Museum of Bydgoszcz prepared a monographic exhibition of the artist in 1934. After the artist’s death, his wife, Franciszka Wyczółkowska, in accordance with his will, handed over his artistic legacy to the Museum of Bydgoszcz on April 8, 1937. It comprises 425 paintings, graphic artworks, drawings, personal memorabilia, and furnishings from his studio.
For the collections donated to the Wielkopolska Museum of Poznań in 1922, Leon Wyczółkowski received financial compensation from the Ministry of the former Prussian District. He used the funds to purchase a manor house in Gościeradz near Bydgoszcz. The stay of Leon Wyczółkowski in Gościeradz and Bydgoszcz was reflected in particular in his graphic art, in such series as Gościeradz, Fragments of the Gościeradz Park, Spruces, and Impressions from Pomerania. In addition, the Leon Wyczółkowski Regional Museum in Bydgoszcz has such works as Beets Harvest (1896), pastel on cardboard, Spring in Gościeradz (1933), watercolor, ink, pencil, Kurgan in the Ukraine (1894), oil on canvas and St. Mary’s Altar, lithography.
The District Museum in Bydgoszcz, which was opened after the war – on April 11, 1946, on the anniversary of the artist’s nameday – took the honorable name of Leon Wyczółkowski. In 1924-2007, the Bydgoszcz Museum had organized 69 individual and collective exhibitions with the works made by Wyczółkowski. In 2007, a scientific session dedicated to the Secrets of the artist’s workshop took place. In 2008, within the jubilee exhibition on the occasion of the 85th anniversary of the Museum, the Annex was prepared in the form of an independent exhibition Collection of the works by Leon Wyczółkowski.
On July 3, 2009, the permanent exhibition The Art of Leon Wyczółkowski was opened in the Leon Wyczółkowski tenement house on the Młyńska Island, in which the collections were placed after the revitalization of the Island. The Museum continues to purchase works made by its Patron, supplementing the extensive Bydgoszcz collection.