Władysław Podkowiński, Chopin's Funeral March (Marsz żałobny Chopina)

Muzeum Narodowe w Krakowie

Date: 1894
Technique: Oil on canvas, 83.5 x 119.5 cm

/.../ Just how much artists intently listened to the Chopin inspirations is demonstrated by the last work of Władysław Podkowiński, Marsz żałobny Chopina (Chopin's funeral march), started in the fall of 1894, unfinished, because it was interrupted by the artist's death. The impulse for creating this symbolic composition was a poem by Kornel Ujejski Marsz pogrzebowy (Funeral march) from the series Tłumaczenia Chopina i Beethovena (Translations of Chopin and Beethoven). The poet's story about a man in despair after loosing his love was brought to several metaphorical signs deprived of any literalness - to a somber, forested landscape, outlines of bells, birds and angels, clouds of mist and the figure of a man with his hands spread and face twisted with spasmodic grimace, showing faintly in the depths. Independent of the literary inspirations, the young painter, harassed by attacks of progressive tuberculosis, concluded a metaphor of his own fate in the work - the battle with pain, fear and intense sense of dying. Cezary Jellenta, an outstanding critic, author of the theory of intensivism, thoroughly analyzed this canvas, writing that Podkowiński, like no one else, understood that "despair, when it fills the entire essence of a person, takes away his sight and ability to comprehend - and plunges him into one terrible, stone deaf muddle of impressions". Marsz żałobny Chopina was a modernist masterpiece of "intensity of feelings" and spoke to this, what Jellenta thought was most important, and what manifests through:
unity and speed, immediacy, lightning fast impressions, that great painters can sometimes achieve, who audaciously blended all the minor effects and shapes into a single, mighty painting, into one enormous accent and mood: clash, whirlwind, thunderbolt, distress, danger, vividness.
(Aleksandra Melbechowska-Luty)

Source 1
Source 2


  1. Thanks for posting it! It's not easy to track the details of this painting over the net, as it's really dark, but very worth it :)

    BTW - I would translate the title into Chopin Mourning March rather than Funeral, simply because in Polish the word "Funeral" should be translated as "Pogrzebowy", but "Żałobny" has a broader meaning - it's rather mourning in general. The fact is that it's used during the funerals, but not only. But that's rather peanuts ;)

    1. I knew there was something wrong. I don't know Polish, but in South Slavic languages 'žalosni' means 'sad'. 'Žalost' can be translated as 'sadness' and 'mourning'. 'Funeral' is 'pogreb' or 'sahrana'.
      In Slovenian and Croatian languages title is like in English (Funeral march) 'Pogrebni marš'. In Serbian the title is 'Posmrtni marš' - literally : 'after death march'.
      Nevertheless, I think that 'Funeral march' is some kind of English official translation of the title.

    2. True, it's rather official translation. Still worth to know the difference :)


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