Antoni Pleszowski
At the Grave, 1887
Purchased in 1896

material: bronze

dimensions: 125 × 84 × 87 cm

description: A woman with hair covered by a veil, who seems to be deep in thought, is the personification of reflection on the passing of time and the loss of a dear person. The way of portraying the sitting figure in a natural pose derives from the works of Michelangelo as well as from the later Roman Baroque sepulchral sculpture. Antoni Pleszowski, educated in Krakow, Vienna and Rome, knew the latter very well. A static composition has been overcome with the use of a dynamic arrangement of an elaborately sculpted heavy fabric. The plaster cast of Antoni Pleszowski’s sculpture was first displayed in 1887, at the 1st Major Exhibition of Polish Art, held in the Sukiennice in Krakow. The extraordinary suggestiveness of the work did not escape critics’ attention. This is what Henryk Struve wrote about it: “We do not need a description to know that this figure is sitting in the silence of the cemetery, in the immediate vicinity of death, and her wistful reverie soaks through to our soul, too”. Due to the lack of attributes that would set this scene in a specific place and time – which defies the 19th-century convention of using historical costume – the work may be interpreted as a kind of harbinger of Symbolism. Agata Małodobry

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

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

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