ALEKSANDER ORLOWSKI: THE ACADEMICIAN OF BATTLE PAINTING

Depicting the scenes from Warsaw Uprising and painting the images of the heroes of the Napoleonic Wars, the Romantic painter, Aleksander Orlowski is remembered as the pioneer of political caricature in Russian art.

Famous for his genre paintings and portraiture, Orlowski was born on March 9, 1777, in Warsaw, Poland. His father had an inn in the small provincial town of Sedlitz.  When Orlowski was a child he met princess Isabella Czartoryskich, who was impressed by his pictures and financed his painting classes.

From 1793-98, Orlowski studied under Jean-Pierre Norblin de la Gourdaine, Marcello Bacciarelli, Bartolomeo Follin and Wincenty de Lesseur in Warsaw. The early Warsaw period of his artistic activity was marked with an interest for the national liberation movement of the polish people under the leadership of Thaddeus Koœciuszko. In 1974, Orlowski was a volunteer in the partisan group of Koœciuszko. After the defeat of the liberation movement, Orlowski worked for some time with a troupe of travelling actors.

In 1799, Orlowski worked as a caricaturist for Prince Józef Poniatowski. In 1802, he moved to Lithuania, and then came to St. Petersburg, where he lived to the end of his life. Under the patronage of Prince A. Czartoryskich, Orlowski was admitted into the service of the Grand Duke Constantin Pavlovich.

A talented painter, draftsman and graphic artist, Orlowski created a lot of graphic works, pastels and watercolors of romantic character. In 1809, he was awarded the title of Academician. Genre watercolors depicting working people and scenes from the life of the high society showed us the life of St. Petersburg of that time. Portraiture takes up a big part of his activities.

In 1816, Orlowski, one of the first, tried lithography and published several series of lithographic works, which were appreciated by his contemporaries. After 1819 he worked as a graphic artist for the Topographic Department of the Army Headquarters. In 1812 and 1813, Orlowski illustrated Gasper Drouville’s ‘Journey to Parsia' and the ‘Fables of Ivan Krylov in 1824.

Orlowski traveled much throughout Russia and created many genre and battle paintings, as well as portraits of his contemporaries. In Russia, the painter was called Alexander Osipovich Orlowski.

Orlowski died on March 13, 1832, in St. Petersburg.

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