About the Film:
Jan Matejko is the finest representative of historicism in Polish painting and the founder of the national school of historical painting. The genre of historical painting was to play a special role in a nation whose political sovereignty had been denied by the partition treaties of 1772-95. Matejko showed the former grandeur of the Polish Republic and the glory of its armies to lift the hearts and minds of Poles and to resurrect faith in its restoration as an independent country.
Matejko's historical painting project went far beyond academic conventions. What particularly set his canvases apart from contemporary historical paintings was his attitude to the past. He was not one to look merely for a colourful, sensational or sentimental anecdote. He understood history as a continuous and essentially dynamic process, and believed it the artist's job to study historical events in detail in order to produce a solid evaluation and a moral assessment of the involved people and political forces. This goal of synthesising universal teachings from history made him depart very early on from detached and accurate illustrations of the external, visual side of past events. Instead, he was interested in extracting from the darkness of the past living and feeling human beings whom he would often present in the midst of clashing political or moral interests.Growing out of Matejko's ardent patriotism, his profound knowledge of history, and his love for the artistic heritage of the past, his art was more than anything his way of serving his country and supporting the goal of national independence.