Feliks Michał Wygrzywalski (Przemyśl 1875 – 1944), Bather in Capri
Oil on canvas cm 50 x 68,5 signed (F. M. Wygrzywalski) lower right.
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Born in 1875 to Przemyśl, son of a railway engineer, Wygrzywalski, after a period of training at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich under the guidance of Johann Caspar Herterich and Carl von Marr, he moved to Paris to study at the Académie Julian, a private school that allowed students to study the nude. After his Parisian stay, he settled in Rome. In the capital he was able to study the work of the Italian masters of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as Caravaggio, Raffaello and Guercino. From 1907 he moved to Poland, to Lviv; here he paints compositions inspired by Max Klinger, sometimes by Siemiradzki, as well as genre and marine scenes. The most important public assignment that was assigned to him, now at the height of his success, is undoubtedly the decoration, with friezes representing allegorical scenes, of the room of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Lviv. As, on the other hand, significant proofs of his pictorial talent are the paintings considered his masterpieces as “Freedom”, “The Strike”, “Capri” – where he spent an intense period, fascinated by the light and colors of the island – and the self-portrait, all preserved in the Lviv National Gallery.
In the painting presented here, Wygrzywalski engages in one of the most recurrent themes in his pictorial production, the female nude, characterizing one of his most famous works, “Icy butterfly” of 1901, depicting a fairy in the shoes of a naked girl in a landscape winter. In this case, instead, it is the torrid summer that serves as background to the painting, probably the one that the painter himself must have experienced during his stay in Capri: a sensual bather, lying in a slight twist on a rock on which they break sea waves, is offered to the eye of the observer, smiling in the sun that highlights her buttocks in the foreground. The love for the Belpaese and Italian women, as evidenced by this painting, is also confirmed by the marriage of the Polish painter with a young Italian woman – Rosa Imassa -, who became the muse for her pictorial compositions.