National Museum in Warsaw

In a strike of insanity, I decided to visit the National Museum in Warsaw on the coldest day of polish winter. It was worth the pain but I nearly suffered from hypothermia while waiting for the trams to arrive.

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I bought a ticket for the permanent exposition which cost me 20 zlotych. If you want to visit the temporary collections, you will have to pay 5 zlotych more which is a small sum. The Museum has six permanent collections that are spread on its three floors :

  • Faras Gallery, featuring medieval Nubian paintings
  • Gallery of Medieval Art, featuring works of ecclesiastical nature from the Late Middle Ages in Poland and Eastern Europe
  • Gallery of Old Masters, featuring European and old Polish Arts, Paintings and Nature from the 15-18 century
  • Gallery of 19th Century Art
  • Gallery of 20th and 21st Century Art
  • Gallery of Polish Design, featuring design pieces from early 20th Century

Let’s start with the Faras Gallery.

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I noticed that there were a lot of paintings of Virgin and Child. Even though the paintings were smudged in some parts, you can tell that the colors were once very vivid.

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Here is a painting of Mary and Jesus from Southern Germany, 15th Century. It’s interesting to look at their representations in different age and culture.

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I imagine that the gallery of Medieval Art would speak more to a religious audience or at least to someone who has basic notions of Bible.

The Gallery of 19th Century Art was my favorite part of the museum. I found a new appreciation for painting when I started painting myself. Now that I understand a bit better the challenges of the craft, small details and harmony of colours on all these canvases leave me in awe.

Here are some paintings that struck a cord in me :

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Aleksander Gierymski, Jewish Woman selling Oranges, 1880-81

It’s seemingly a straightforward painting but the more you look at it the more layers you find. Also I find the constrast between the cold colours in the background and the lady’s red clothes quite satisfying.

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Henryk Siemiradzki, Roman Idyll – before a Bath, 1885-89

I love Siemiradzki’s work of light and shadow in this painting. I love how the sunrays seep through whatever is casting a shadow on those girls. An idyllic scene that radiates with peace.

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Maurycy Gottlieb, Recha welcoming Nathan, 1876-77

I have no idea who Recha and Nathan and what their roles are. I like how the painter used muted colors and yet we still manage to detect subtle hues. Not too much, not too little.

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Jean Pierre Norblin de la Gourdaine, Company on an Outing by the Lake after 1777

Photos don’t give paintings justice but this one got really butchered. However I still wanted to put it in this post because it is one of my favorites. The warm tones and the haziness of the scenery make me think of a sleepy afternoon.

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Jacek Malczewski, Sunday in the Mine, 1882

I like how in this painting, none of the characters interact with each other. None of them look at the same direction. A dozen of persons are huddled together and yet they all look lonely and beaten down. It’s not a cheerful Sunday that they’re having down in the Mine.


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