Stanczyk during the ball at the mansion of Queen Bona towards of the lost Smolensk

MP 433; Matejko, Jan (1838-1893) (painter); Stańczyk; 1862; oil; canvas; 88 x 120 [106 x 135 x 9]

The artist, unlike the „ordinary bread eaters”, has the privilege to skillfully present his visions with the help of unconventional means of expression.

At the moment I mean the artist, a painter of oil paintings who thanks to the fact that he has a vision combined with the image of a specific situation, using canvas, paints and brushes, is able to present this vision to potential recipients of his work.

The artist, admittedly, a human, however, a person with a wider view of reality. The artist is more interested in what is in his mind and how to transfer his ideas to the outside world, so as not to be understood, because it is a long and endless process, but rather to immortalize his perception and interpretation, using ordinary accesories, in order to educate the audience, educate them through presenting with a brush stroke a different reality, seen by the eyes of his mind.

There are various interpretations of the painting entitled: „Stanczyk during the ball at the mansion of Queen Bona towards of the lost Smolensk” by Polish artist Jan Matejko, who resided mainly in the earlier capital of Poland, in Krakow. The interpretation of the image is simpler in perception, describing what it depicts on canvas with a light historical outline, as well as those that go deeper into its meaning, symbolic, historical and biographical analysis of the artist, to know what religious convictions the performer had.

Let me start with the formal analysis of the aforementioned work of art, and then go on to a more thorough analysis, describing my own observations based on the observation of the image and previously reviewed reviews.

The dominant feature of the painting is the figure of the main hero of the story depicted in the work, Stanczyk, clothed in a juicy red in the tint, of the court jester’s outfit. This figure definitely attracts attention the first moment, because despite the outfit, both the person’s face and the whole sitting posture depicted in the picture are clearly illuminated by light falling from the right side, getting inside through the open window, behind which takes place in the dark of the night another scene placed in the picture. Stanczyk’s are accompanying on the right side, on the height of the elbow resting on the armrest, ochers and browns tints of heavy table cloth covering the table, colors which spread with delicacy on the carpet, spreading through the floor, and also tints of the cream, yellows of the document situated on the table. The background plan behind the sitting figure is a dark green curtain, with shades of emerald, separating the figure from the scene placed on the left in the back of the painting, which bathed in delicate shades of orange of light reflecting on the robes of several characters engaged in the celebration of the moment.

Lines in a picture are concentrated in the center drawing the location of the main character sitting on the chair definitely prevail. These are vertical and horizontal lines, intersecting, can say creating a grating, through the backrest of the chair and its legs, the lines of the armrests, and the depth of the furniture by the seat. There are also diagonal lines, because the figure is slightly directed to the right and the position of his outstretched legs creates a certain diagonals.

The figure’s solid is proportional to the whole picture, situated in the realism of the scene, equally proportional to each other elements of the picture.

The scale of figures included in the picture is emphasised through planning. Stanczyk is the largest, because it is in the foreground, which does not mean its validity, for example in society, but rather as the hero of the depicted stage. On the other hand, the characters in the background are smaller in size because they are at a certain distance, while their rich outfits could indicate a higher social status.

Starting from the begining, approaching contextual analysis, namely if Stanczyk is the main hero of the scene in the picture, it would be necessary to reflect on his role and significance in the history of Poland. From Internet sources, it turns out that Stanczyk was an authentic figure, playing the role of a jester at the royal court, during the reign of the last rulers of the Jagiellon family. Form time to time his character appeared in literary works and works of art, as a hero or symbol, which was placed in scenes characteristic of his role, could be famous at that time, maybe Matejko also put him in his oli painting, because those reasons.

What is interesting is that the artist, honored a character with his own portrait. Thus having the features of his creator, the meaning of the interpretation may depend on the personal convictions of the artist’s performer. If a jester is a joker, if he is in sorrow, it means that his jokes may not have been understood or he wonders how to convey what he sees around to his audience, including the ruler of the country. The resignation visible on his face may therefore indicate that the community which he is trying to convince on important information, prefers to spend time on games and pleasures rather than pondering the fate of the country. It should be remembered that due to the self-portrait form, the work becomes more personal, because the author directly speaks through it, so these are his worries and doubts with regard to the status of Polish society and Poland as a whole. Perhaps he is wondering over what he has just read in the document put on the table, around which various translations, dates and events related to it are circulating today. Perhaps Stanczyk is wondering how to describe the threat to the country which he saw in his vision for amused guests, perhaps waiting for the right moment in the moment of reflection, silence, alienation.

In different ways can be also interpret the falling comet (or star) outside the window, actually it depends on the location of the work in the historical and personal context of the author of the picture.

Some technical remarks of the work, which are also improtant, are that the painting was painted in 1862, the artist was 24 years old and the work opened the door of a series of historical works on his career, and although initially mistreated by the first buyer, years later became one of the most important in the history of Polish art.

The size of the picture is 88×120 cm, it is currently in the National Museum in Warsaw, being available for admiration and interpretation by visitors. The canvas is framed in a gilded frame, located in the museum next to the self-portrait of the painter Jan Matejko.

A reference in Polish:

Sources: Anne D’Alleva „How to study History of art”; chapters: Formal analysis, Contextual analysis
„Great Painters. Matejko”