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A Polish painter known for historical scenes, often with horses, Wojciech Kossak was born in Paris, and was a member of a family of four generations of notable painters whose surname was Kossak. His father was historical painter, Juliusz Kossak (1824-1899); he was the identical twin brother of freedom fighter Tadeusz Kossak (1857-1935), and the father of painter Jerzy Kossak (1886-1955).
Wojciech Kossak was much influenced by his father with whom he studied drawing. In 1871 Wojciech attended the School of Fine Arts in Krakow, where his teacher was Wladyslaw Luszczkiewicz (1828-1900). Four years later, he enrolled in the Munich Academy of Fine Arts* and was a student of Alexander Wagner (1839-1919), Alexander Strohuber (1814-1882), and Wilhlem Lindenschmit (1829-1895).
He returned to Krakow in 1876, and worked on paintings of historic patriotic themes, often of battles. He was especially fond of depicting horses, which viewers found especially appealing. His authenticity in rendering these subjects improved after he spent a short period of service in 1876 in the Krakow Cavalry Regiment. In 1877, he again went to Paris and this time studied with Alexandre Cabanel (1823-1889) and Leon Bonnat (1833-1922) at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts*.
In 1884, Kossak returned to Krakow and continued to do large-scale oil paintings and watercolours of historical themes including the Napoleonic Wars and subjects of notable Polish battles in Central and Eastern Europe against foreign invaders. One of his most famous paintings is The Raclawice Panorama, which is in a collection in Wroclaw, Poland. To view this circular panorama* advantageously, the viewer should stand in the middle from where various scenes from different perspectives can be seen. Eight other artists participated in the creation of the work, which is a patriotic commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the victorious Battle of Raclawice, whereby an insurrection in defense of Polish independence was remembered for the bravery of the participants.
He also did several portraits including self portraits, family member subjects as well as the nobility, and military figures.
Wojciech Kossak died in Krakow in 1942.
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