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Eugene (Eugeniusz) Chruscicki (1914-1984)-Painting,Polish History - $600 (Markham)


This original work of art is by a talented and highly trained Polish/Canadian artist Eugene (Eugeniusz) Chruscicki (1914-1984). Some historical context for this work of art. Chruscicki was especially fond of historical battles led by Poland, which took place in Europe in the 2nd part of the 17th Century. During this period, the concept of Poland as the bulwark of Christianity was firmly established in Europe. In 1683 Polish King John III Sobieski, at the head of Polish, Austrian and German forces, defeated the Turkish army in the battle of Vienna. Vienna was under siege by the Turkish army. An important part of the victory was played by the Polish Winged Hussars. King John III Sobieski and the Winged Hussars were painted by Chruscicki in many of his works. In these paintings, heroic power and the excitement of conquest are mingled with reverie and fairy tale. The artist employed general contours and a precise organization of space to create a greater depth of field and a sense of movement in the figures. This work of art is one of the series of the “battle of Vienna” paintings that the artist created and very likely exhibited in 1977, part of 54 of his historical paintings, under the title: “Our Heritage”; or/and in 1983 part of a series of paintings under the title: “The Battle of Vienna”. The book: “The art of Eugene Chruscicki, 1914-1984”, 1987, contains four plates (#11, 12, 13 &14) of other paintings from this series. The composition is of a battle between the Polish Winged Hussars and the Turkish soldiers held in 1683 to relieve Vienna of the Turkish siege. It depicts the Hussars on their horses (King John III Sobieski likely in the centre on his black horse), flying the red and white Polish ensign and the white eagle emblem is displayed on one of the shields, facing defeated Turkish soldiers. The composition is in the impressionistic style, with bold brush strokes and the colors (especially the fiery reds) are bold and vivid capturing the drama and action. The horses in the painting are especially very well drawn. The colors in the painting are reminiscent of the famous Polish master Jan Matejko’s (1838-93) colors employed in his historical battle of Vienna paintings. This work of art has to be seen to be appreciated.


Title: Untitled. Subject: A scene from the battle of Vienna, 1683

Medium: Oil on board

Size: 21”x45” (image); 22”x46” (framed)

Date: 1974

Signature: Signed lower right. Also, signed and dated verso.

Condition: Very good. No scratches or missing paint

Framing: Gold & black wooden molding

Provenance: Toronto estate

Asking Price: $600.00

About the Artist: Eugene (Eugeniusz) Chruscicki (pronounced Cro - Ci – Ki) was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1914. In 1930 he enrolled at the prestigious Wojciech Gerson School of Fine Art studying under professors: F. Slupski, E.Okun and C.Doniszewski. Eugene graduated in 1937 and took part in the International Exhibition in Berlin where he obtained an honorable distinction. During WWII he served in the Polish army, was taken prisoner by the Germans and managed to escape back to Warsaw. Here he was engaged as a sculptor in the workshop of Prof. F. Strynkiewicz. In 1944 Eugene took part in the unsuccessful Warsaw uprising and was deported by the Germans to concentration camps: Saxsonhausen and later on to Buchenwald. On a march from Buchenwald he escaped to the lines of the advancing Americans. In 1945 he found himself in several DP Camps. Here he worked in the Polish theater in Germany as a designer, school teacher, painter and sculptor. His paintings were shown in Munich and other cities. In the camp he met his future wife and they married in 1946. He came to Canada on December 1948 and later on reunited with his wife and daughter. Initially, he worked in Orillia as a labourer and in February 1949 he moved to Toronto. Here he was commissioned to paint portraits and worked for the newspapers in the publicity section. In 1949 he exhibited the “Oberek” (Polish Dance) in the Art Gallery of Toronto (later AGO). Eugene also taught art in various clubs. In 1950 Eugene was commissioned to paint a large mural of eight battles at the newly purchased Polish Veterans Association’s home in Toronto (College & Shaw Streets). The Mural depicted the most important battles and victories in Polish history such as: Grunwald, Vienna, and Monte Casino. His most important work in Canada was an altar piece carved from Bass wood, painted in tempera for the National Catholic Church of Saint John the Baptist in Toronto (1953-4). In 1960 he joined the CBC-TV where he worked on ballet, opera and drama sets till his retirement in 1979. He was a versatile artist. In addition to painting he was a sculptor, graphic designer, set designer, muralist and stained glass maker. He was at home with various painting styles. In 1953 The Telegram said about Chruscicki: “The classical background of the artist is evident, though Mr. Chruscicki works now in a modern style. He is a precisionist in composition, each line significant, falling into place in the harmonious symphonic design of the whole….”. In addition to portraits, landscapes and religious works, a large part of his oeuvre was historical paintings all to do with military campaigns and important military figures in Polish history. In 1977, Chruscicki showed 54 of his historical paintings under the title: “Our Heritage”. They included portraits of Polish kings, generals and noblemen, as well as battle scenes including: knights, horses and armies. In 1983 he exhibited a series of paintings under the title: “The Battle of Vienna” in which the Polish army together with German and Austrian forces defeating the Turkish army and lifting the siege of Vienna. The artist’s historical canvases reveal his involvement with the beauty of the past and his nostalgia for its vanishing glory. Eugene died in July 1984 of cancer and his funeral was held at the St. John’s Cathedral, where he built the altar and the Baptismal font. One of his works, a portrait of Copernicus, was presented to Pope John-Paul II. Chruscicki believed that art has a vital role to play in society. Throughout his life in Canada he remained a steadfast participant in the life of the Polish-Canadian community. Through his art he strengthened the community, enhanced its awareness and enriched its cultural identity. A book has been written about Eugene Chruscicki’s work: “The art of Eugene Chruscicki - Chruscicki, Eugene, 1914-1984”, 1987. Link to images of the artist: Link to the images of the altar piece carved from Bass wood, painted in tempera for the National Catholic Church of Saint John the Baptist in Toronto:

Polish–Ottoman War (1683–1699): After a few years of peace, the Ottoman Empire attacked the Habsburg Empire again. The Turks almost captured Vienna, but king of Poland John III Sobieski (1629-96) led a Christian alliance that defeated them in the Battle of Vienna which shook the Ottoman Empire's hegemony in south-eastern Europe. The Third Polish–Ottoman War or the War of the Holy League refers to the Polish side of the conflict otherwise known as the Great Turkish War. The conflict begun with a great Polish victory at the battle of Vienna in 1683, and ended with the Treaty of Karlowitz, restoring to the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth lands lost in the previous Polish-Ottoman War (1672–76). It was the last conflict between the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Ottoman Empire, and despite the Polish victory, it marked the decline of power of not only the Ottoman Empire, but also of the Commonwealth, which would never again interfere in affairs outside of its declining borders.

The Polish Hussars: The Polish Hussars or “Winged Hussars”, were the elite branch of the cavalry in Poland and in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth armies between the 16th and 18th centuries. Modeled on the Hungarian Hussars, the early hussars were light cavalry of exiled Serbian warriors. Later on, most hussars were recruited from the wealthier Polish nobility. The true "winged hussars" were transformed into a heavily armored shock cavalry during the reforms of the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania Stephen Bathory in the 1570’s and were later led by the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania John III Sobieski. In 1776 their duties and traditions were passed on to the Uhlans by a parliamentary decree. Polish Hussars are well known for the famed "wings" on their armor. There are two different accepted theories, both of which suggest a practical purpose. One is that they were meant to protect the backside of riders as riders cannot pivot at the waist very well to protect themselves because their hips are grounded by the way that their legs sit against the horse. However, many believe that the wings were designed to make a lot of noise--either to spook enemy horses who were not accustomed to such a racket or because it made the cavalry seem a lot bigger than it actually was, just to intimidate.

About the Polish White Eagle: The coat of arms of Poland is a white, crowned eagle with a golden beak and talons, on a red background. According to legend, the White Eagle emblem originated when Poland's legendary founder Lech saw a white eagle's nest. When he looked at the bird, a ray of sunshine from the red setting sun fell on its wings, so they appeared tipped with gold, the rest of the eagle was pure white. He was delighted and decided to settle there and placed the eagle on his emblem. He also named the place Gniezdno (currently Gniezno) from the Polish word gniazdo (nest). The symbol of an eagle appeared for the first time on the coins made during the reign of Bolesław I (992-1025), initially as the coat of arms of the Piast dynasty. Beginning in the 12th century, the eagle has appeared on the shields, ensigns, coins, and seals of the Piast dukes. It also appeared on the Polish coat of arms during Przemysł II reign as a reminder of the Piast tradition before the fragmentation of Poland.

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