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Portrait of Roman Duch

Popularization note

In 1925, Witkacy turned to the art of portraiture, realised within the framework of the one-man "S.I. Witkiewicz Portrait Company", which was to become a source of quick profit and remedy financial troubles. The artist defined the rules for creating portraits in pastel, charcoal, crayon and pencil techniques in detailed regulations, specifying with the letters A, B, C, D and E the nature of the five basic types and their combinations. They were often created under the influence of psychoactive substances - drugs, intoxicants or alcohol, and the artist described his state with sign abbreviations. Witkacy painted a portrait of Roman Duch - the son of Róża and Kazimierz, in return for Kazimierz's help in publishing Pojęcia i twierdzenia implikowane przez pojęcie Istnienia [Concepts and Theorems Implied by the Concept of Existence]. While making efforts to have the treatise printed, he quite often visited the Warsaw flat of the Duch family, whom he mentioned in a letter to Helena Maciakowa as "always extremely nice". About their son, he wrote: "That Roman is going to be a strange fellow". The image of Roman was described as Type B+E, defined in the "Rules of the Company" as "a childish type", in which "due to the mobility of children", achieving a pure Type B - an objective image of the model without a caricatured depiction and with some characteristic features, as well as with any psychological interpretation typical of Type E, was "mostly impossible". The artist therefore assumed "a more sketchy execution". In portraying an eleven-year-old boy, Witkacy departs from the compositional arrangement reserved for children's portraits, which show the model frontally, behind a table with typical attributes - fruit or books or writing utensils - arranged around it. The portrait of the Spirit, characterised by almost photographic realism, typical of the late period of the artist's work, concentrates on the meticulous preparation of the model's head, especially the full lips and large green eyes with a fixed, nostalgic gaze. While working on the image, Witkacy abstained from smoking (NP) and alcohol (NΠ), except for "pyffka" and tea.

Anna Hałata

Information about the object

Information about this object

Author / creator

Witkiewicz, Stanisław Ignacy (Witkacy) (1885-1939) (author)


cały obiekt: height: 48,2 cm, width: 69 cm

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Creation / finding place

powstanie: Warsaw (Masovian Voivodeship)


The National Museum in Lublin

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