The year 2019 marks the centenary of the signing, on 3 September 1919, of the agreement between France and Poland “concerning emigration and immigration”. It led to the arrival of large numbers of Polish workers in France, notably in the mining region in the north of the country. Between 1919 and 1928, 280,000 were contracts were signed following this international agreement. The year 1918 symbolised Poland’s renewed independence after 123 years of partition.
To mark this event that left an indelible mark on the region’s identity, the Musée du Louvre-Lens is organising a large retrospective of 19th-century Polish painting, in association with the National Museum of Warsaw and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute. This is the first exhibition in France to embrace this pivotal century in Poland’s history.
The exhibition retraces this particular period in the history of Poland’s culture, when, despite the country being divided between the Russian empire, the Austrian empire and the kingdom of Prussia, artists created an authentic Polish identity. It reveals the way that artists, drawing inspiration from national history, landscapes and agricultural life, shaped images of Poland for the Polish, as well as for the rest of the world. They produced a wealth of paintings that were both striking and evocative, marking the European art world of the time.
Thanks to prestigious loans from the Polish national museums and private collections, the exhibition brings together 130 paintings – dating from 1840 to 1918 – by the leading names of Polish painting, including Jan Matejko, Józef Brandt, Jacek Malczewski, Józef Chełmoński and Olga Boznańska.
Exhibition organised with the National Museum of Warsaw and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, as part of POLSKA 100, the international cultural programme accompanying the centenary of Poland’s return to independence. Financed by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage of the Republic of Poland as par to of the NIEPODLEGŁA 2017–2022 programme.