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 Hendrik Siemiradzki  (1843 - 1902)

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Lived/Active: Russian Federation/Poland/Ukraine      Known for: early Christian figures, utopia scene painting

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The Sword Dance
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Henryk Siemiradzki (15 November 1843 – 23 August 1902) was a Polish and Russian Academic painter.  He was particularly known for his depictions of scenes from the ancient Graeco-Roman world and the New Testament.

Siemiradzki was born to a Polish szlachta family of a military physician in the village of Novobelgorod (now Pechenegi) near Kharkiv, Ukraine.  He studied at Kharkiv Gymnasium where he learned painting under a scion of Karl Briullov, D. I. Besperchy.  He entered the Physics-Mathematics School of Kharkov University but continued his painting lessons from Bespechy.

After graduating from the University with the degree of Kandidat he abandoned his scientific career and moved to Saint Petersburg to study painting at the Imperial Academy of Arts in the years 1864-1870.  Upon his graduation he was awarded a gold medal.  In 1870-1871 he studied under Karl von Piloty in Munich on a grant from the Academy.  In 1871 he moved to Rome, while spending summers at his estate in Strzalkowo, near Czestochowa in Poland.

In 1873 he received the title of an Academician of the Imperial Academy of Arts for his painting Christ and a Sinner, based on a verse by Aleksey Konstantinovich Tolstoy.  In 1876-1879 Siemiradzki worked on frescoes for the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour (Moscow). In 1879 he offered one of his best-known works, the enormous Pochodnie Nerona (Nero's torches), painted 1876, to the fledgling Polish National Museum in Kraków. In 1893 he worked on two large paintings for the State Historical Museum (Moscow).  His works are exhibited in the museums of Poland, Russia and Ukraine.

He died in Strzalkowo in 1902.  Originally he was buried in Warsaw but later his remains were moved to the national Pantheone on Skalka in Kraków.

Many of his paintings depict scenes from antiquity, commonly sunlit Utopian scenes or compositions presenting the lives of early Christians. He also painted biblical and historical scenes, landscapes, and portraits.  His well known works also include the painted curtains for the Juliusz Slowacki theater in Kraków, and for the Lwów theater.

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