Wojciech Kossak (1856-1942)
A battle scene from the Austro-Prussian War in 1866 signed and dated 'Wojcieck Kossak 1899' (lower right) oil on canvas, 69x138 cm Wojciech Kossak (Paris, France, 31 December 1856 – 29 July 1942, Kraków, Poland) was a noted Polish painter and member of the celebrated Kossak family of artists and writers. He was the son of painter Juliusz Kossak (1824–1899), and twin brother of freedom fighter Tadeusz Kossak, and the father of two highly talented literary daughters, Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska and Magdalena Samozwaniec and of a painter son, Jerzy Kossak (1886–1955). Wojciech Horacy Kossak’s middle name was in honour of his godfather, the French painter Horace Vernet (1789-1863). Kossak began his education when he went to middle school in Warsaw; he simultaneously studied painting with his father Juliusz. Between 1871-1873, he studied at the School of Drawing and Painting (later Kraków Academy of Fine Arts), until 1875 followed by the Munich Academy of Fine Arts.
His historical painting was different in style from that of his predecessor Jan Matejko (1838-1893). Kossak belonged to a new generation of Polish battle-scene artists influenced by the work of his father Juliusz. However, like Matejko, he is known for depicting the history of Polish armed struggle and notable Polish battles of Central and Eastern Europe against foreign oppressors.
Depicted in the present painting is the Seven Weeks’ War, also called Austro-Prussian War (1866), a war between Prussia on the one side and Austria, Bavaria, Saxony, Hanover, and certain minor German states on the other. It ended in a Prussian victory, which meant the exclusion of Austria from Germany.
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