Jan Chelminski, successful history painter and painter of battle scenes, member of the Munich School, as well as of the circle of Polish artist around Jozef Brandt, was born in Brzostow in 1851. Between 1866 and 1868 he studied art at a drawing school in Warsaw. He earned his living as retoucher and lithographer before he went to Munich in 1873. From 1873 to 1876 he was enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, where Alexander von Wagner and Alexander Strähuber were among his teachers. As of 1875 Jan Chelminski also regularly visited the studio of Jozef Brandt. The Polish native Jozef Brandt taught many young polish immigrants in his studio in Munich. They formed the so-called ‘Brandt-School‘ of which some artists – among them Jan Chelminski – were also part of the Munich School. In 1876 Jan Chelminski also took lessons with the battle scene and horse painter Franz Adam. From 1874 to 1887 Jan Chelminski was member of the Münchner Kunstverein (Munich Artist Association).
With depictions of historical Cossacks and Tatar warriors, horse markets and hunting scenes, Jan Chelminski became quite successful. Scenes from Napoleon‘s campaigns were also popular with him and other Polish painters. Around 1870 Maksymilian Gierymski revived the historical theme of coursing in Rococo costumes, in the following years Jan Chelminski also adopted this theme.
In 1882 Jan Chelminski traveled to England. As of 1884 he lived in New York, between 1888 and 1899 again in London, interrupted by a journey to St. Petersburg in 1889. In 1899 the artist relocated to Paris where he stayed for several years. In 1910 Jan Chelminski was one of the founding members of the Polish Literary-Artistic Society in Paris. In 1915 Jan Chelminski moved to New York again where he died in 1925.
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