Daria Khristova nee Chernenko
L'Ecole de Paris / Roman Kramsztyk (Polish, 1885-1942) Portrait of Biala Murzynka
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The artist's family
Thence by descent
It is possible that this lot is a study for the larger, three quarter length, portrait of the same sitter which is held in the collection of the Pushkin Museum, Moscow. (Exh.cat. Roman Kramsztyk, 1885-1942: Wystawa Monofraficzna, February March, 1997, Warsaw, no. 152, p. 204. Illustrated in b/w).
Roman Kramsztyk studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, he attended the private art studio of Adolf Edouard Herstein and later enrolled at the School of Fine Arts in Munich. In 1911 he exhibited his work for the first time at the Salon d'Automne in Paris. Exhibitions that followed in Berlin, Barcelona and, in 1913, in Krakow were a resounding success.
After four years in Paris, the events of World War I forced his return to Poland where he joined the avant-garde group Rytm (Rhythm), making him the only portrait painter amongst his peers. In 1932, Kramsztyk made the decision to leave the group due to a period which saw him doubt his art and question his painting.
During the interwar years, he gained in reputation and produced commissioned works for industrialists and politicians. With the outbreak of the second World War, he moved to Warsaw but found himself trapped in the ghetto. Dedicated to his art, he executed numerous portraits and was devoted to depicting the atrocities that took place in the Jewish ghetto of Warsaw. A sketchbook, which presented tragically realistic drawings is now preserved in Israel as a document of the Holocaust horror.
Several versions of his death exist, all of which agree that: during the liquidation of the ghetto, he was "mortally wounded by a gun shot in the apartment where he was living, among his paintings, by a member of the Ukrainian SS militia", as per Wladyslaw Szpilman's testimony in his autobiography, 'The Pianist', which inspired the eponymous film by Roman Polanski.