Popiel (Sulima Popiel) Tadeusz (1863 - 1913), a painter born i Szczucin in Tarnow province (exact date unknown), was a son of Antoni (1827 - 1903), a clerk and later an executive officer of the Emperor's and King's Customs in Brody and Szczakowa, a member of the Galicia Farming Society in Lwow, an author of several books such as "Podrecznik do hodowli bydla rogatego..."[A handbook on the cattle breeding] (Lw. 1882-4), and Antonina Stanicek, the brother of a sculptor Antoni (vide). Similarily like his brother, Popiel used the coat of arms name as a part of the surname. Popiel spent his youth in Szczakowa and Brody, where he completed education in a vocational school. In 1876 he was admitted to the School of Arts in Krakow, completed courses run by Wladyslaw Luszczkiewicz, Feliks Szynalewski, Florian Cynk, Izydor Jablonski and Leopold Loeffler. Popiel was considered as extremaly talented by his professors , he was admitted in 1881 to the Composition Class, or so-called Masters' School and studied under personal care of Jan Matejko. Matejko was Popiel's protector and sponsor; Popiel received with his personal recommendation his first commission, a painting  Zmartwychwstanie Panskie (Lord's resurrection) for the chapel of the correction facility in Stanislawow. Also, Matejko tried to obtain for Popiel a scholarship from the Interior Department. During his studies at Matejko's Popiel painted following paintings: Zydzi w niewoli babilonskiej (Jews in Babylonian oppression), Mojzesz na gorze Synaj (Moses on Mount Sinai) and Jozef i zona Putyfara (Joseph and Potiphar's wife), which stabilized his reputation as a painter, since the first one was bought by Maurycy Poznanski, the second used to be shown at many expositions and was rewarded with bronze medal at the Paris Salon in 1890, the third (Joseph and Potiphar's wife), shown at Aleksander Krywult's Salon in Warszawa was laughed out by Boleslaw Prus ("On a strong influence of March cold weather upon relations between Joseph and Mrs. Potiphar", Kur. Warsz. 1883 no. 81).

Since 1884 Popiel exhibited his paintings in the Alliance for Encouragement of the Arts in Warszawa (TZSP) [Kon w pustyni (A horse in the dessert) , Zyd (A Jew)], and since 1885 in the Art Society in Krakow (TPSP) [Nauka (Learning), Zydzi modlacy sie przy swietle ksiezyca (Jews praying in the light of moon)].  In 1885 Popiel went to Vienna to H, Makart's School of Composition - there he painted Uriel Acosta   - then he travelled to Muenchen and studied there under K. Piloty and A. Wagner. He painted there Ostatnie chwile Zygmunta Augusta (The last moments of the Zygmunt August's life), Niewiasty jerozolimskie (Jerusalem women),  Nerona (Nero), Swieto Tory (Simhath Torah). He came back to Poland and lived in Lviv and Krakow, painting and exibiting historic, genre, portraits and landscape paintings. In 1890 with a group of painters he started a financed by Maurycy Harasimowicz School of Drawing, originally for women, since 1891 for women and men. In that year he starten on an European journey with Harasimowicz visiting Kopenhaven, Muenchen, Vienna and Praha.

In 1893 the painting Po burzy (After the storm), exibited at the Polish Section of the World's Columbian Exposition in San Francisco was granted a gold medal and after that the grand gold medals at Chicago and Philadelphia, finally it was bought by the St. Louis Museum. Unfotunatelly, apart from the recognition, Popiel had no financial advantage from it because he was cheated by his representative. Nevertheless, he was very successful. In 1894 he painted a fresco for the front wall of the industrial pavillon at the Lviv Domestic Exposition, exhibited Simhath Torah, and enjoyed exhibition of Panorama Raclawicka (Raclawice panorama) which some parts (landscapes and peasants) were painted by him (main creators were Jan Styka and Wojciech Kossak). He co-worked with Styka at panoramas Golgota (Golgotha) and Bem w Siedmiogrodzie (Bem in Transylvania) and also painted during 1896-7 dioramas for Golgotha  

Tadeusz POPIEL

Captured by Tartars
 ca. 1897

Oil, canvas, 28 x 40 in.
Sign. in r.h. lower corner w/oil: T.Popiel
courtesy of Ms. Chelchowska, Toronto

and Branki w jasyrze (Captive women taken by Turks). Still in 1910 for Battle of Grunwald celebrations, Popiel painted with Zygmunt Rozwadowski a panorama Bitwa pod Grunwaldem (Battle of Grunwald), however, he was not satisfied with his work ("it did not come out as it should"). Since 1895 Popiel was a member of the Commission of Experts of the Lviv TPSP. In 1897 he lived in Czerniowce, where he established a drawing school for women. He often travelled to Rumania whwre he exhibited his works. In the same 1897 Warsaw TZSP commisioned from Popiel restoration and decoration of the main nave and the dome of the St. Katarzyna church in Petersburg. Also, Popiel decorated plafonds at the P.M. Tretiakov palace in Moscow. In 1898 he restored the interior of the Poor Clare church, preserved exhibited there paintings of Stamislaw Stroinski and painting historic frescos on the walls. Also, he decorated the Lviv City Theatre.

In 1899 he won a contest for decoration of the St. Stanislaus chapel in the Padua Cathedral. In accordance with the conditions of the contest, he spent a year in Italy before starting his work, sudying in Florentia Academy, in Rome and in Loretto, whwre he bettered his fresco skills under L. Seitz. In Venice he met Giuseppe Sarto, the patriarch, who became the pope Pius X. Popiel painted his portrait and the pope Pius X granted Popiel the office of the papal chamberlain (cameriere di spada e cappa). The works in the Padua chapel, finished in 1900, made Popiel famous and shortly thereafter he became much sought after in church decorations. Still in 1900 he was commissioned to paint 40 paintings for the Lviv Church of the National Home iconostasis. He prepared himself for this commission very dilligently, studying the paintings in the Kijow Lawra. In the same year he finished paintings for the parochial church in Biecz and a chapel in the Goetz palace in Okocim. During following years he painted for Holland chapel in the Padua cathedral, a chapel in Ponte di Brento, a parochial church in Aracella In Krakow he decorated the main nave of the church of the St. Francis order. Also, he painted frescos in the parish and St. Bernard order churches in Dukla, Nuns of the Visitation in Jaslo, Przemysl cathedral, in churches in Wisnicz, Odrzykon, Biezdzierz, Klimkowice, St. Joseph in Lviv and Carmelitan order in Przemysl. He designed stained glass for Kolaczyce church and Lviv cathedral. In Poznan province he decorated churches in Kepno, Grodzisk near Pleszewo and in Poznan parochial and St. Florian churches (jezyce). Sometimes he did just the design, commissioning execution from Karol Politynski (Odrzykon and Klimowce).

Tadeusz POPIEL 

Autumn Landscape at Sunset
ca. 1910

Oil, canvas, 26 x 40 in.
Sign. in r.h. lower corner w/black oil: T.Popiel
courtesy of Ms. Chelchowska, Toronto

In the meanwhile he painted landscapes - geat deal of them in Italy, genre paintings [Przed karczma (In front of a tavern), Za Oceanem (Beyond an Ocean)], of moralist character, portraits (he was very popular and much sought after as portrait painter; he painted since 1894 a number of portraits of the Lviv Technical Institute professors) and historical portraits (such as a retinue of the Polish kings based on the Matejko's figures, commissioned by Stanislaw Badeni for the Koropiec palace). He also was an activist: apart from the aforementioned Schools he was one of the creators of the Young Art Society in Lviv in 1900, which was a kind of advisory service for young artists, and Artist Union in Poznan, where he exhibited his works in 1908, 1910 and 1912 and where he found buyers for his already famous paintings Jaselka (Christmas play) and Syzyf (Sisyph). Popiels paintings were known to general public since they were very often printed in almost all magazines during thirty years period prior to World War 1.

Known and sough after during his life, ignored by the adherents of the new trends, Popiel was an epigone of historism and eclectism. Following his master Matejko and Vienna and Muenchen style in his historic and genre works, in the religious fresco he was under distinctive influence of the pre-rafael masters. Unusually dilligent and productive, he understood art as a service to the Nation and the Church, but he did not bring anything new to it. During his last ten years of life he mainly stayed in Krakow and near Swoszowice, where he keep a spacy study. Died in Krakow on February 22, 1913 and was buried in the Rakowice cemetery.

Since 1894 he was married with Maria of Starzewski family (dec. 1958) and had daughters: Maria (1895-1979) married with Juliusz Skorkowski) and Anna (1900-1982) married with Grzegorz Ogniewski.

In 1913 the Artist Union in Poznan organized the post-mortem exhibition of the Popiel's works. With time he became forgotten. His works are mainly in private collections: with Janusz Ogniewski in Krakow (the family portraits, landscapes, Droga na Sybir (The way to Siberia) and  with Jozefa Matejkiewicz in Krakow.

Autoportret u Janusza Ogniewskiego w Kr.; - Estreicher w XIX, III 102, 159; Grajewski, Bibliografia ilustracji; Pol. Bibliogr. Sztuki I Cz. 1 i 2; Enc. XX w.; W Enc. Powsz. (PWN); Benezit, Dictionaire (1966); Swieykowski, Pam. Tow. sztuk Pieknych; Thieme-Becker, Lexicon d. Kuenstler; Vollmer, Kuenstler Lexicon; Gumowski M., Muz. Wielkopolskie w Poznaniu, Kr. 1924; Husarski, Sto piecdziesiat lat malarstwa polskiego, Katalog, s. 88; Katalog Galeryi Miejskiej, Lw. 1908 s. 49; Katalog Muzeum Narodowego Polskiego, Rapperswil 1909 s. 100; Katalog wystawy lwowskiej, Lw. 1894 s. 22; Katalog wystawy sztuki polskiej, Wien 1915 s 62; Katalog wystawy w Salonie Stowarzyszenia Artystow w Poznaniu, P. 1912; Katalog zabytkow sztuki w Polsce, IV: Miasto Krakow cz. 2: Koscioly i Klasztory Srodmiescia I; Toz, S. nowa, I z 1; Pajzderski N., Poznan, P. 1922 s. 93; - Dobrowolski, Nowoczesne malarstwo polskie, II; - Gorski K.M., Polska sztuka wspolczesna 1877-1894, Kr. 1907 s. 41-2, 64; Jaworski T., Wystawa Falata i Popiela w Poznaniu, "Swiat" 1910 nr 18 s 3-5; Kopera F., Dzieje malarstwa w Polsce, Kr. 1929 III 422; Kowalczyk J., [artykul o kaplicy sw. Stanislawa w Padwie], "Il Santo" (Padova) 1981 I; [Lech], Poznanskie polichromie T. Popiela, "Gaz. Malarska" 1932 nr 9 s. 1-3; tenze, T. Popiel jako malarz sztalugowy, tamze 1932 nr 7 s. 1-3; tenze, T. Popiel, szkic monografii, P. 1913; Pol. zycie artyst. w l. 1890-1914; Plazewska, Warsz. Salon A. Krywulta (zapisany takze pod imieniem Leon); Zbiorowa wystawa T. Popiela w Poznaniu, "Kur. Warsz." 1910 nr 55 s. 4-5; [Zengtellr J.] Zdora J., Malarze i rzezbiarze lwowscy I:Tadeusz Popiel, "Echo Muzycz., Teatr, i Artyst." 1891 nr 18 s.238-9; - Mater. do Dziej. Akad. sztuk Pieknych; Szematyzmy Krol. Galicji, 1855-92 (dotyczy ojca); - "Czas" 1889 nr z 23 II, 1894 nr z 3 III, 1898 nr z 30 XI, 1913 nr z 3 III; "Dzien. Pol." (Lw.) 1894 nr 54; Kalendarz J. Czecha R. 73: 1904 s. 116 (dotyczy ojca), 1914 s. 100; "Prawda" 1883 nr 45 s. 535-6, 1897 nr 5 s. 54-5; "Tyg. Ilustr." 1902 s. 605 i n.; - Matrialy w Red. PSB; - Materialy i informacje Janusza Ogniewskiego w Krakowie; - Zyciorys Antoniego Popiela (ojca), opracowany przez Zdzislawa Kosieka, W Materialach Red. PSB.

Piotr Blonski


Translation from Polish to English: sp

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Slawomir Popiel

This site was created on June 15, 1998 and updated on May 13, 2007
Copyright 1998. Jan Popiel & Slawomir Popiel.