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#139: Edward Mesjasz (1929-2007) — Prince Józef Poniatowski in formal uniform


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Edward Messiah (1929-2007) was a well-known and respected realist painter. He specialized in combat. Associated with Częstochowa. He was born on February 1, 1929 in Lipno, Kłobuck County. From his youth, he showed interest and artistic abilities. Initially, he was taught drawing by his father, a soldier of the 1st Krechowiec Uhlan Regiment from the 1920s and an outstanding draftsman. He studied in Krakow at the Academy of Fine Arts, graduating in 1954. During his studies, he also attended Jerzy Kossak's studio, which deepened his interest in historical and battle topics. Immediately after graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts, he started working at the Art High School in Częstochowa, where he became a teacher and mentor, among others. Jerzy Duda-Gracz. In later years, he also taught technical drawing and lettering at other educational institutions in Częstochowa. He was a member of the Association of Polish Artists. He created mainly battle paintings, landscapes, and genre scenes, most often involving horses. He had several individual exhibitions, including: in the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa (1972) and in the District Museum in Częstochowa (1978). He participated in many collective exhibitions in the country. The peak of popularity occurred in the period from 1970 to the mid-1980s. He painted pictures thematically related to the history of the Polish Arms, from Mieszko I to the Polish People's Army. Following his childhood experiences, he loved painting September 1939, especially the Polish cavalry fights. In addition to the accounts of the participants of those events who were alive at that time, he made his works more realistic with careful inspections and studies of the battlefields. Until his last days, he painted using a magnifying glass due to his poor eyesight. He died after a serious illness in Częstochowa on May 29, 2007.

Owning a painting by Edward Mejsasz marked one's position in society in the 1970s and 1980s. The works of this painter from Częstochowa have traveled around the world. He himself was Jerzy Duda-Gracz's mentor. This is what Jerzy Duda-Gracz wrote about E. Messiah in a letter for the 50th anniversary of the Fine Arts Secondary School in Częstochowa:

“Finally, a few words about my first and most important Master - Professor Edward Messiah. Battle fighter and chronicler of September 1939, the last heir of the romantic uhlan legend of the Republic of Poland. I had many teachers at school and at the Academy, but I owe "everything" artistically to Him. In addition to the basics of painting and drawing still lifes, plasters, figures and landscapes, in addition to the addiction of daily sketching, in addition to awakening the love for Polish tradition and art, Professor Mesjasz taught me the most important thing: faithfulness to myself, always and everywhere...."

You can read more in an interview conducted with the artist in 2005:


Many art experts and critics, as well as history enthusiasts, believe that the work of Edward Messiah, in some respects, even exceeds the work of his master - Jerzy Kossak. His wonderful painting achievements were mainly related to the History of the Polish Arms, the history of the Polish Cavalry, but not only that. It is difficult not to be amazed when looking at his outdoor scenes, landscapes, genre scenes and portraits.

Picture description

The presented portrait by Edward Messiah entitled "Prince Józef Poniatowski in formal uniform" is a copy of a painting by Józef Grassi from around 1810. Grassi's canvas, currently stored at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, was modeled on the artist's twenty-year-earlier composition, showing the prince in an almost identical pose. In this work, Edward Mesjasz slightly modified the arrangement of orders and the framing of the figures, and softened the sharp features of the original. Thanks to the skillful rendering of some details of the figure and the uniform (e.g. the epaulette), certain values of Grassi's painting have been preserved here.

The images of Prince Józef Poniatowski were an important element of Polish visual culture (especially in the first half of the 19th century). The prince was perceived as a hero during the partition. Poniatowski served as a moral model. During his youth, he was a boy and a boy, but when his homeland was threatened, he turned into a hero. Wiktor Gomulicki wrote: "And a banal label can be attached to Prince Józef: 'an admirer of women.' But it won't be exact. It wasn't so much that the prince was an admirer of women, but that women were admirers of the prince. An anecdotal history of Warsaw states that there was a time when "all the beautiful ladies were crazy about the prince." Apparently without harming the truth, one might add: and not beautiful. His heroic death near Leipzig, during the Battle of Nations, was perceived as a national tragedy and another wasted opportunity to regain independence. The images of the prince based on Grassi's compositions were an expression of attachment to patriotic values and sentiment towards the Napoleonic era.

Parameters and state of preservation

Oil on canvas glued to plywood. Oval, dimensions at the widest point: 24x30 cm. Dimensions including the frame at its widest point: 34x40 cm. Signed ld "kop. E. Mesjasz". On the back there is an inscription in pen: "Priest Józef Poniatowski in a formal uniform." The painting is framed in a beautiful oval wooden frame with decorative ornaments. The painting is in good condition. The frame has some damages and scratches - visible in the photos. The painting is ready to hang.



Dimensions: oval 24x30 cm. Dimensions including frame: 34x40 cm.

Signature: Signed ld "kop. E. Mesjasz". On the back there is an inscription in pen: "Rev. Józef Poniatowski in formal uniform"

Support material: Oil on canvas glued to plywood

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