The theme of the representation of university professors by the painter Leon Wyczółkowski goes well with the recent wave of publications focused on academic portraits. We have today twenty seven of them, the present study allows us to underline their salient features like: the realism and detailed image of the head, the setting within a characteristic space stressed by the play of colourful shades and lights, roughly designed silhouette contrasting with well studied face, little deformations of elements on the bottom egde of the portrait, richly coloured backround usually without any representation of objects. The portraits can be devided into three groups, most interesting is the one with the scientists with their attributs, where the specific instruments or the backround spaces indicate the corresponding fields of sciences and the achievements of the models. Another group, which most completely illustrates this study shows professors clad with university traditional costumes like gowns, where the model represents the institution. Wyczółkowski has painted nine of such portraits, including three of the rectors. The third group represents the classic image of a man in a casual dress, in white shirt, with tie, waistcoat and jacket viewed from the waist up or only a bust, the backround is in neutral colour without nothing or only a tissue. The official university dress was not always shown on every portrait of a professor in 19 c. becasue not all portrats were ordered by the academy. From the time of his instalation in Kraków, the artist painted the portraits of professors at a rate of one, at least, every seven years. The portraits painted at the turn of the 19th and 20th centures are the best, their quality grew with quantity, in one decade he executed over ten portraits of great Polish scientists. When we compare them we see that he never made them the same way, never followed one rigid pattern, each portrait is unique by a specific trait or a feature like, for example a pose. All respresentations of professors have in common a monumental character made of the pose, the face`s traits or a dress (exapt of Rydygier in surgeon`s attire). This way of putting a person on stage aims to enhance his prestige, to glorify his memory because these were professors ranking also high in the society and because also the portraits were ordered for it. We can hardly tell what was the contribution of the model, his autocreation from the artist`s contibution, his creation, nevertheless each image shows a noble, proud, wise person, this was the goal of the artist, to male us believe that we contemplate honourable people.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
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