Jan Chelminski (1851-1925)
Chelminski began his training with two years (1866-68) at the Warsaw Drawing School and independent study with Juliusz Kossak. In 1893 he left for Munich, where he worked with Alexander Strahuber and Alexander Wagner, Jozef Brandt, and Franz Adam. During this period hr traveled extensively in Europe and the United States. With lengthy stays in New York, Paris, and London. Ten years before his death he returned to New York.
Chelminski exhibited sporadically in Poland beginning in 1873, and from 1875 in Munich , Berlin, Vienna, London and Paris. His first works were copies of watercolors by Juliusz Kossak . Under the influence of Kossak and of Jozef Brandt, and Maksymilian Gierymski, he painted hunting scenes and eighteenth-century genre pictures that won him rapid popularity. With the support of Franza Adam he gained entry to the court of Bacariam where he painted portraits of , among others , Princess Teresa, Prince Regent Leopold, and Prince Emanuel. King Louis bought his The Hunt Par Force. In England and America Chelminski painted sport and genre scenes in the spirit of English painting. These proved very popular, their renown growing especially after Chelminski married the sister of Roland F. Knoedler, the well-known antiquarian. While in America Chelminski became friends with Theodore Roosevelt and illustrated his hunting stories, which appears in Century Magazine in 1885.
Chelminski`s financial success allowed him to collect weapons, especially of the Napoleonic period, and to devote time to serous research of the military history. His first work reflecting this interests was Battle of Yorktown, a composition in which both George Washington and Tadeusz Kosciuszko appear. The picture is now in a private collection in the United States.
During a short stay in Saint Petersburg in 1898 Chelminski worked at the imperial court. A large collection of his battle scenes from the Napoleonic era was exhibited in 1904 at the Galerie des artistes moderns in Paris. Among the works shown were Polish Uhlan from 1812, Portrait of Prince Jozef Poniatowski ,and Review of the Troops of the Duchy of Warsaw by Tsar Alexander I. The same year forty-eight oils devoted to the army of the Duchy of Warsaw by were exhibited in Paris. They were also shown in Warsaw in 1907 at the salon of Stefan Kulikowski. Knoedler bought the entire cycle in 19131 and offered it to the Municipal Museum of Warsaw. The paintings are now in the Army Museum in Warsaw. In 1913 these works, together with a text by Commandant A. Malibran, were published in an album entitled L`Armee du duche de Varsovie (Paris: J. Leroy at fils). Chelminski`s battle scenes, though perhaps less dynamic than the vest work in this genre, demonstrate superior craft and provide valuable documentation of the uniforms and weaponry of the period, all depicted after the manner, for example, of Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier.
Chelminski`s major one-man exhibitions were in London (1892, Continental Gallery), Warsaw (1894, the salon of Aleksander Krywulit) and Paris (1901, Galerie Chaine, Galerier Somouson).
The artist`s works are in Polish museums, including those in Warsaw and Radom, and in private collections in England and the United States.