Józef Chełmoński (1849–1914)
At a Fair, 1883
Permanent loan

material: oil on canvas

dimensions: 57 × 92,5 cm

description: Vivid scenes from borderland fairs were held in high esteem by the clientele of Chełmoński, therefore the artist often returned to this subject, only slightly modifying some elements of the composition. This painting was executed in Paris, and like other works devoted to native subjects painted by Chełmoński during his stay by the Seine, it was also produced thanks to his famous, almost photographic memory as well as based on sketches done during study trips to the Borderlands. The portrayal of the fair participants relishing the taste of freshly brewed tea in the shadow of a makeshift tent is characterized by a free, almost bravura technique. The static group of people sitting around the table has been contrasted with a dynamically rendered carriage drawn by a skittish horse. It is driven by a coachman, who is reining back the horse violently. The exotic, borderland atmosphere is highlighted by the perfectly captured types: Jewish stallholders, Orthodox priests, landowners, peasants and strolling beggars. The scorching summer sun illuminates the white of a tablecloth, the shiny surface of a samovar and tableware casting reflections on the hair coat of the chestnut horse and the polished surface of the black carriage. The vision created by Chełmoński appeals to the viewer’s imagination, making it possible to explore the reality of the Borderlands which fascinates with its vitality and exoticism. Aleksandra Krypczyk

exposition: The Gallery of 19th Century Polish Art in Sukiennice,
The Cloth Hall, 1, Main Market Square

key: Realism, polish impressionism, beginnings of symbolism >>>

© 2010 National Museum in Krakow
design & concept: creator.pl