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Wojtkiewicz, Witold (1879-1909) (author), Lithographic Institute of Aureliusz Pruszyński (Krakow; 1873-after 1930) (publisher), Jadwiga Mrozowska as Anastazja. Melpomene’s Portfolio

Height: 16 cm, Width: 37,7 cm

The National Museum in Lublin (Lublin Castle), ul. Zamkowa 9, Lublin

Popularizing note

The graphic work comes from Teka Melpomeny [Melpomene Portfolio] published in 1904 in Kraków under the direction of S. Szreniawa-Rzecki. The collection contains almost 40 lithographic caricatures depicting actors from Krakow's theatres in a satirical manner. They were designed by Young Poland artists: W. Bystrzynski, K. Frycz, S. Kuczborski, A. Procajlowicz, S. Szreniawa-Rzecki, K. Sichulski, and W. Wojtkiewicz, who frequented Jan Apoleni Michalik's famous Lviv Confectionery, known as Michalik's Den. The prints were made free of charge thanks to Zenon Pruszyński, who was a friend of the artists and ran the famous Kraków lithography workshop after his father Aureliusz.Witold Wojtkiewicz portrayed Jadwiga Stanisława Mrozowska-Toeplitz in the role of Anastasia. Until 1905, Mrozowska was affiliated with city theatres in Lwów and Kraków, and played on the stages of Warsaw, Łódź, Vilnius and Grodno. Despite a lack of stage experience and acting training, she quickly gained popularity and audience sympathy. In 1907, she left for Italy. Her passion was travelling. During an expedition to Asia she discovered, among other things, a pass in the Pamir Mountains, which was named after her.The premiere of the play Anastasia, in which Mrozowska played the leading role, took place on the stage of the Municipal Theatre in Kraków on 12 March 1904. The adaptation of Eliza Orzeszkowa's short story of the same title was mounted by Adolf Walewski, the theatre's director at the time. In Anastasia, the writer refers to the problems of fin de siècle decadence, using the example of the title character to present her own concept of "noble melancholy" that liberates an active attitude toward life.Wojtkiewicz published his first caricatures in "Liberum Veto", "Chochoł" [Straw Man], "Kurier Warszawski" [Warsaw Courier] and "Wędrowiec" [Wanderer]. As a caricaturist, he collaborated with the "Zielony Balonik" cabaret, creating, among other things, invitations to cabaret shows taking place in Michalik's Jama. He portrayed Mrozowska three times in Teka Melpomeny. The stiff figure of Anastasia, immobile in melancholic reverie, was portrayed by the artist in a synthetic way, accurately reflecting the actress's appearance. In her portrayal, he avoids excessive exaggeration typical of the virulent caricature not unfamiliar to him in his early works.Anna Hałata

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