Celuia ZentekThe author of “Polish Women of Montparnasse” found many previously unpublished materials, and the events she described take place from the departments, during World War I, the 1920s and 1930s, and World War II.
Excerpt from the book “Polish Women of Montparnasse”
On the evening of November 11, 1882, Anna Belenska got off a train soaked in clouds of steam at the Gare de l’Est (East Railway Station) in Paris. The journey from Warsaw with transport took almost four days. She has only 150 rubles in the bag, but she is ready to conquer Paris.
Miss Belenska will be twenty-eight in a few weeks. She is a tall – by the standards of the times – a woman, one meter and seventy meters tall. The coat’s modest design emphasizes the slim figure. In her dark sharp eyes you can see determination and stubbornness, and the dark brown hair and strongly streaked chin show the toughness and strength of spirit. “It is not an average pretty face, but undoubtedly original. Above the lively chin there is a line of passionate lips, and above it they move, and the nostrils taut – the nostrils of an Arab youth; and above it dominates everything wide, the forehead, under which, In the darkness of the strongly defined arches of the eyebrows, two large, deep, and resolute, though sad, brows twinkle and stare at the elusive pupils”—distinguished Anna, D. Bohdanovic.
There is a “goat spirit” in her, thirsty for freedom and freedom, which she tasted in her childhood in the Ukrainian steppes. But now Anna has a very specific plan. She wants to be a full-fledged artist, to create – like her fellow painters – figurative scenes, covering large canvases with historical or religious installations. That is why she came to Paris.
It is true that here, as in Warsaw, Krakow Or Munich, women still cannot study at the Faculty of Fine Arts, but they have much greater chances of becoming professionals. I have heard more than once: “A woman has to decide whether she wants to be an artist or a woman.” Anna does not want to choose. Being a painter is much more important than getting married. There will come a time for them when you are sure that having a family does not mean giving up art.
Although there is a talented cartoonist in Lviv it is not timely idle. It will be a long time before you call him a lover. In his travel bag, he keeps messages from Votek, which he wrote recently Diary, sheet music for favorite Ukrainian dumkas, a collection of books (including Elisa Orzeszwa’s favorite novels), as well as a modest wardrobe. The modest amount her father collected for her must have been barely enough for Annie in the first few months of her life in Paris.
When he pays for his private school education, there will be little food and all that is left. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about peace – you’ll stay with a friend. Her name is Zofia Stankiewiczówna and she was the first among the young painters in Warsaw to begin her studies at the Académie Julian. It was she who persuaded Anna to join her. Anna gets out of the station and takes the carriage. The French words he learned years ago sound strange, he just doesn’t understand everything. Gives the address of a friend. The horses move slowly along the wide street. Rain barrels on the roof. Through the carriage window you look out over the lit shops and buildings and the colorful company in the glowing interiors of the elegant cafés emerging from the darkness of November.
He looks at Haussmann’s houses which are very different from those in Warsaw or Krakow, and admires the silhouettes of plane trees growing in rows. I do not believe that! This is a Polish woman from the far borderlands who has arrived here! Here she finally managed to overcome the main obstacle to her career as a professional painter: in Paris, women can paint live models, even nude! Neither at the Gerson Private School in Warsaw nor in Krakow, it is possible.
After all, the science of the act has a negative effect on a woman. It harms their health! Some academics claim that drawing a nude mannequin is punishable by a penalty – infertility. Jan Matejko, an undisputed authority in painting, and Anna’s potential mentor, is strict about morals and does not allow his male students to photograph nude models. How can a woman paint a scene in a cafe when she can’t even sit inside? How can he create a pictorial composition or a historical image (and only these are recognized by national critics), since he cannot learn the anatomy of the human body?
Anna Belenska: Half-life of a male Krzysztof Wilczyski
The day after her arrival, on a Sunday, Anna takes an all-inclusive bus to the Louvre. “Venus Milunska is wonderful – other aphrodisiacs are like chefs” – she writes in the magazine. The next day he begins his education in Paris. Kozak’s soul, Anna Belenska, entered the world on December 8, 1854 in the borderlands – in Zlotopol, in Sherech-Povyat (Kiev province). Today it is one of the Ukrainian provinces of Novomigorod, 230 kilometers south of Kiev.
When Anna comes to Paris to study painting and drawing, she is one of the oldest students. So it renews itself by three years – many women did the same in that time. This change has become so strong that in most sources and publications only the year of her birth is indicated – 1857, and sometimes 1858. In the obituary, Anna was even more renewed, perhaps trying to strengthen the tragedy of a prematurely interrupted life.
In the catalogs accompanying painting exhibitions, it was customary to mark the artist’s name with the artist’s name, respectively, Mrs. (married woman) or Mademoiselle (virgin). With masculine surnames such a distinction is never used, the linguistic designation of a celibate or a married man is just a monosyllabic.
The correct date of birth was recorded on Anna’s marriage certificate, while the death certificate included only the age of the deceased, confirming the credibility of this date. Dr. Bohdanovic knew the true age of his wife, but after her death he was not eager to make any corrections. And he did not correct his wife’s birthday even by publishing the artist’s memoirs in memory of Anna. Bohdanovic – four years younger than Anna – probably did not want the age difference to have a bad influence on the idealized image of the painter he created.
Anna Belenska is the eldest of four children of Polish physician Jan Belinski and Walleria née Gorzkowski. Her childhood takes place in the spectacle of bleak landscapes and vast expanses of the Kiev region. Later, in Warsaw and Paris, she will constantly be accompanied by longing for the landscapes and folklore of Ukraine. Returning to the familiar pages several times, Anna will create colorful photos of Ukrainians in folk costumes.
Dr. Bohdanovich will write about his wife: “He loves long-distance landscapes, melodies, domkas, Ukrainian folk genres and costumes, and is often paraphrased in them into portraits.” And then: “The undeniable fact that what ¶ the nature of this land was deeply rooted in Belinska’s soul, a kind of meditation, some sad poetry, was later reflected in the choice of themes and colors of the artist’s works, and at the same time an extraordinary dose of independence and civic courage, and So to speak, the bustle characterizes every moment of her life. ”
The only source of information about Anna’s childhood and early youth is an introduction to fragments of the artist’s memoirs, which her husband published many years after her death. This, in turn, refers to the “loose stories” of the painter. According to these accounts, Anna already as a girl showed a far-reaching tendency to do everything in her own way. “At the age of eight, having been alarmed by a sudden hum in one of the adjoining rooms, she ran to her mother shouting: Thief take the baton!”
Documents indicating Biliñska’s age are the marriage certificate written in French (Actes d’État Civil, Paris) and the death certificate in Russian (entered into the parish books of St. Alexander’s Church in Warsaw).
When she was twelve years old, she stretches her huge apron and, having collected the necessary materials, begins to rebuild the checkered furnace. When he was eighteen, on a trip next door to Grójec, he saw a driver fall from a goat, take charge, control the fearsome horses and bring the company home. When the January uprising ended, Anna was nine years old. The Biliñski family lives in Wiatka, where Doctor Biliñski practices. It is a small city located about a thousand kilometers northeast of Moscow (currently known as Kirov). It is far from Warsaw – 2205 kilometers.
After 1863, Witka became a place of exile for many rebels and conspirators. One of them was the Polish painter Elwiro Micha³ Andriolli. He was just giving twelve-year-old Anna’s first professional drawing lessons. Dr. Biliñski, a man with broad interests in art, astronomy and history, fosters his daughter’s passion for painting. He paints himself an amateur. It is true that as a mature artist, Anna will assert that she discovered her passion for art “just like this”, by looking at the drawings in the first primer. Such a novel about a “natural” talent, revealed from an early age, was a typical element of the composition of the image of female artists of the nineteenth century. Often they had to justify their talent by pointing out the natural gifts given by God that could not be wasted.
For several years, Biliñskis lived in Kiev, where Anna, like most virgins in the families of Polish intelligentsia and nobles, takes home lessons. She is learning to play the piano – she has musical talent, just like her younger brothers. In 1875, the Belenskys moved to Warsaw. It is about providing a better learning environment for children. Dr. Belinsky keeps his home in Warsaw, but visits it rarely, and continues to practice his profession in the East. Whenever he appears in Warsaw, he and Anna visit exhibitions, listen to concerts and have long conversations.
Anna is growing up. The future of a young woman from the bourgeoisie in Warsaw is determined by marriage. The Bilinskis family cannot provide a suitable dowry for their daughter, without which fewer interesting candidates are left. Anyway, Anna is a hard-earned virgin, and she knows she’s going to have to fend for herself. He reads a lot. One of her favorite authors, Elisa Orzeszwa, advocated bold, even subversive, ideas of those times about the need for women to have an education. However, the belief that women are less intellectually gifted is still common. Even at the beginning of the 20th century, a neurologist from Leipzig, Paul Julius Mobius, asserted that women had smaller heads and brains than men, which made them suitable only for the role of mothers.
Polish women premiered in Montparnasse on May 25, and Agora Publishing published the book
“Internet Geek. Food Enthusiast. Thinker. Beer Practitioner. Bacon Specialist. Music Addict. Traveler.”