Syrewicz, Bolesław

Venus/Wenus, 1864. Marble, 76 x 28 x 27 cm, Royal Łazienki Museum, Warsaw/Muzeum Łazienki Królewskie w Warszawie, Inv. No. LKr 790
Venus/Wenus, 1864. Marble, 76 x 28 x 27 cm, Royal Łazienki Museum, Warsaw/Muzeum Łazienki Królewskie w Warszawie, Inv. No. LKr 790

Bolesław Syrewicz, Polish sculptor, member of the "Munich School". From 1857, he studied at the Academy of Arts in Berlin and from 1859-62 at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. *21 May 1835 in Warsaw, †10 February 1899 ibid. Son of a civil servant at the state Tax and Finance Commission (acc. to the Munich matriculation register: landowner). After initially training to be an artist under the painter and graphic artist Jan Feliks Piwarski (1794-1859), from 1851 Syrewicz studied at the School of Fine Arts in Warsaw/Szkoła Sztuk Pięknych w Warszawie under the sculptor Konstanty Hegel (1799-1876). In 1857, he was expelled from the school and moved to Berlin. There he studied at the Royal Prussian Academy of Arts under the sculptor and medallist August Fischer (1805-1866). His first known sculpture, a life-size plaster statue of "Julius Caesar", was exhibited and sold in Warsaw. On 25 October 1859, he joined the sculpture class of Max Widnmann (1812-1895) at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. From 1862-67, he studied at the Accademia di San Luca in Rome under the sculptor Luigi Amici (1817-1897) and others. For his relief "Baptism of Jesus" (lost in Warsaw in 1944), he was awarded a silver medal from Pope Pius IX. In 1867, he returned to Warsaw. In 1869, he took over the workshop of the sculptor Władysław Oleszczyński (1807-1866) at the Royal Castle in Warsaw. He travelled to Paris, Vienna and Dresden, worked in Florence for a short time, and in 1874 travelled to Austria, Bavaria and Italy. In 1875, he completed church reliefs in Paris. In 1880, he undertook a study trip to Berlin, Brüssels, Düsseldorf and Naples. In 1883, he became the curator of sculpture in the Royal palaces in Warsaw. In the 1890s he fell ill and died, forgotten and in poverty. As well as full-length artworks, Syrewicz mainly created likenesses as busts and on medallions. He worked in marble, granite and limestone, less frequently in bronze, with plaster or clay models being used at the beginning. A large part of his work, around 50 works, are funerary monuments, 30 of which are in Warsaw. These include busts of the deceased and full-length sculptures (actor Jan Królikowski, before 1890) but also "Christ carrying the cross" (1896, both in Powązki, Roman Catholic cemetery) or a group with angels and professional mourner (1888 Lublin, Roman Catholic cemetery). A likeness of the painter Wojciech Gerson (1869/70, Marble) can be found in the National Museum in Warsaw/Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie. Religious sculptures ("St. Cecilia", 1869; "Christ crucified", 1875; "Saints Peter and Paul", 1885) can be found in chapels and churches in Warsaw, Piotrków Trybunalski and Łomża. A significant part of his work was lost in the Second World War. Syrewicz was an academic artist and combined classic antique concepts (see cover image) with  realistic technical expression. His naturalist works (bust of the philanthropist Joanna Neybaur, 1885-87, Evangelical Lutheran cemetery, Warsaw-Wola/Cmentarz Ewangelicko-Augsburski w Warszawie) demonstrate great mastery of material, for example in the way he represents garments with different textures, something that was astonishing to contemporary observers.


Group exhibitions: 1869, 1872-73, 1876, 1890, 1896 Warsaw, Society for the Promotion of Fine Arts/Towarzystwo Zachęty Sztuk Pięknych / 1869 Kraków, Society of the Friends of Fine Art/Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Sztuk Pięknych

Literature: Katarzyna Mikocka-Rachubowa: Rzeźba polska XIX wieku. Od klasycyzmu do symbolizmu, Collection catalogue National Museum, Warsaw/Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie, 1993; Halina Stępień/Maria Liczbińska: Artyści polscy w środowisku monachijskim w latach 1828-1914. Materiały źródłowe, Warsaw 1994, page 7, 63; Maria Irena Kwiatkowska: Rzeźbiarze warszawscy XIX wieku, Warsaw 1995; Polski Słownik Biograficzny, vol. 46, 2009/10, page 281 (further literature there); Paweł Freus, in: De Gruyter Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon, vol. 107, Berlin/Boston 2020, page 320 f.

Online: Matriculation database, matriculation register 1, Academy of Fine Arts, Munich, 01612 Boleslaw Syrewiez (sic!),

Jolanta Laskownicka, on Internetowy polski słownik biograficzny (further literature there),

Paweł Freus: Bolesław Syrewicz (2008), on:,

One work on the website of Powązki cemetery/Cmentarz Powązkowski w Warszawie,

One further work in the Royal Łazienki Museum, Warsaw/Muzeum Łazienki Królewskie w Warszawie,

(All links last retrieved in October 2020)


Axel Feuß, October 2020

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  • Venus/Wenus, 1864

    Venus/Wenus, 1864. Marble, 76 x 28 x 27 cm