Boznańska, Olga

Portrait of Paul Nauen
Portrait of Paul Nauen, Munich 1893, oil on canvas, 121 x 91 cm

Boznańska, Olga, Polish painter, member of the “Munich School”. 1886-88 studies in Munich at the private painting school of Carl Kricheldorf (1863-1934), from 1888 under Wilhelm Dürr the Younger (1857-1900). 1889-98: workshop in Munich. *15.4.1865 Cracow, †26.10.1940 Paris. Daughter of the railway engineer, Adam Boznański h. Nowina (1838-1906) and his wife Eugenia (maiden name, Mondan, 1832-1892). First lessons in drawing from her mother, after that under Józef Wojciech Siedlecki (1841-1915) and Hipolit Lipiński (1846-1884); 1883 under Kazimierz Pochwalski (1855-1940). 1884-86: studies at the College of Womens’ Courses/Wyższe Kursy dla Kobiet run by Adrian Baraniecki (1828-1891) in Cracow; under Siedlecki and the genre, history and portrait painter, Antoni Piotrowski (1853-1924). From October 1886 she lives in Munich. At first she studies for two years at the private school of Karl Cricheldorf; from 1888, under Wilhelm Dürr. In 1889 she sets up her own workshop. She keeps up contacts with the Polish painters, Józef Brandt (1841-1915), Alfred Wierusz Kowalski (1849-1915) and Wacław Szymanowski (1859-1930), friendships with the painters Paul Nauen (1859-1932) and Samuel Hirszenberg (1865-1908). 1888/89: she divides her time between Cracow, Berlin and Vienna, 1892, ’94 and ’97 in France. 1895/96: she takes over as head of the private painting school belonging to Theodor Hummel (1864-1939) in Munich. She rejects an offer from Julian Fałat (1853-1929) to become a Professor at the Cracow Art Academy. In autumn 1898 she moves to live in Paris. There she briefly teaches at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière; in 1909 in her own workshop. From 1898 she is a member, then (in 1913) President of the Society of Polish Artists, Sztuka, 1899: President of the Cracow Association of Polish Women Artists; from 1904, member of the Société nationale des beaux-arts in Paris. In 1912 she is awarded the Order of the Legion of Honour, and in 1938 the Polonia Restituta Order. Olga Boznańska mainly paints  portraits, including those of contemporary painters and writers, as well as commissioned portraits from all over Europe and America; in addition self-portraits, still lifes, interiors and landscapes in oil on canvas. From 1893 onwards: almost exclusively on paperboard. Their representative design is oriented on the works of Diego Velázquez, Wilhelm Leibl and the Munich School and this gives her subjects narrative and genre characteristics. Initially she paints in bronze tones, but around 1890 mainly in cool greyish-silver colours oriented on the work of James Abbott McNeill Whistler, and (in stronger colours) Edouard Manet. Her models often pose in front of the indistinct background of her workshop. Her few varied colours are arranged within a general colour scheme. In the 1930s she abandons her Impressionist-style colouring and lets her models emerge, as it were, from their veil of colours. Her works can be found in the national museums in Breslau, Danzig, Kielce, Cracow, Posen/Poznań and Warsaw, as well as in numerous other Polish museums, in the Musée National d'Art Moderne and in the Musée d‘Orsay in Paris and in the Galleria Internazionale d'Arte Moderna Ca’ Pesaro in Venice. 


Solo exhibitions: Paris: 1898 Galerie Georges Thomas; 1909 Le Petit Musée Beaudouin; 1945, 1990 Bibliothèque Polonaise à Paris / Cracow: 1945, 1946 Society of the Friends of the Fine Arts/Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Sztuk Pięknych w Krakowie; 1960, 2014 National Mmuseum/Muzeum Narodowe w Krakowie / 2015 National Museum in Warsaw/Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie

Group exhibitions: Munich: 1888-90, 1892-93, 1909, 1913 Glaspalast; 1894-96, 1898-1900 Munich Secession / Berlin: 1891  Berlin Artists’ Club; 1893-94, 1897-1901 the Major Berlin Art Exhibition; 1898 Verein der Künstlerinnen und Kunstfreundinnen zu Berlin; 1903, 1905, 1910 Berlin Secession / Vienna: 1894, 1899 Künstlerhaus; 1902, 1906, 1910 Vienna Secession; 1908 artists’ association Sztuka, Hagenbund / Paris: 1896-97, 1899, 1901-08 Exposition nationale des beaux-arts de la Société nationale des beaux-arts; 1900 World Exhibition  / 1907 Pittsburgh, Carnegie International / 1910, 1914, 1938 Biennale, Venice

Further Reading: Helena Blumówna: Olga Boznańska, 1865-1940. Materiały do monografii, Warsaw 1949; Olga Boznańska (1865-1940). Wystawa zbiorowa, National Museum in Cracow/Muzeum Narodowe w Krakowie, Cracow 1960; Helena Blum: Olga Boznańska, Warsaw 1974; Münchner Maler im 19. Jahrhundert, vol. 1, Munich 1982, p. 121 f.; Saur Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon, vol. 13, Munich/Leipzig 1996, p. 485 f.; Halina Ste̜pień: Artyści polscy w środowisku monachijskim w latach 1856-1914 (Studia z historii sztuki / Instytut Sztuki, Polska Akademia Nauk, 50), Warsaw 2003; Jednodniówka – Eintagszeitung. New edition edited by Zbigniew Fałtynowicz / Eliza Ptaszyńska, Muzeum Okręgowe w Suwałkach, Suwałki 2008, simultaneously the exhibition catalogue “Signatur - anders geschrieben. Anwesenheit polnische Künstler in der Lichte von Archivalien“, Polnisches Kulturzentrum, Munich 2008; Ewa Bobrowska/Urszula Kozakowska-Zaucha: Olga Boznańska (1865-1940). Przewodnik, exhibition catalogue. National Museum in Cracow/Muzeum Narodowe w Krakowie, Cracow 2014 (Polish/English); Renata Higersberger (ed.): Olga Boznańska (1865-1940), exhibition catalogue. National Museum in Warsaw/Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie, Warsaw 2015 (Polish/English)

Online: Irena Kossowska: Olga Boznańska (2002) at:,

Many works at the Pinakoteka Zascianek,

Many works at the Athenaeum,


Axel Feuß, March 2017

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  • Portrait of Paul Nauen

    Portrait of Paul Nauen, Munich 1893, oil on canvas, 121 x 91 cm