Orłowski, Aleksander

Orłowski Aleksander - Russian painter and graphic artist

Aleksander Orłowski was born in 1777 in the family of the owner of a tavern in the Polish town of Sedlec. Since childhood, he was fond of drawing. The talented boy potential drew attention of Princess Izabela Czartoryska who sent him to study in Warsaw in the studio of the court painter Jean-Pierre Norblin. Norblin formed Orlovsky's interest for romantic subjects and various pictorial and graphic techniques mastering.

In 1794, Orłowski entered the service in the Polish army, but continued to draw. During the uprising of Tadeusz Kościuszko, he performed his first self-portraits and humorous drawings that brought him the fame of a cartoonist. He created genre scenes, landscapes and illustrations as well. Orlovsky's works of this period were imbued with the theme of patriotism and liberation struggle.

 After the defeat of the Polish uprising, Orłowski decided to leave Poland and, with the help of Princess Czartoryska, moved to Russia. Since 1802, the artist lived and worked in St. Petersburg, where he quickly became popular and even acquired patronage of the Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich. At the same time, he joined the writers’ community, chumming up with Pushkin, Viazemsky, Davydov and Krylov.

Orłowski traveled a lot around Russia, visited Moscow, Novgorod and other cities. The result of those trips were numerous genre drawings and sketches, devoted to the habits and everyday life of the Russian province.
He performed a series of watercolors with sketches of uniforms for the Imperial Battalion and the Guards Regiments in 1807. Small painted seascapes and images of equestrian warriors might be referred to the same period. In 1809, for the painting "The encampment of the Ural Cossacks", the artist was awarded with the title of Academician.
He was one of the first artists in Russia that developed lithography and achieved significant success in that field. Since 1816, he performed a number of separate sheets and thematic albums-series in this technique.

In 1819, Orłowski entered the military topographic General Staff depot as a drawing artist and a painter, where he executed orders for the development of sketches of new military uniforms.
His famous horse troikas later reproduced on varnish boxes were in great demand. A significant place in Orłowski’s creative work was occupied by the episodes from Polish history, genre and battle scenes, images of the representatives of military regiments and nationalities of Russia. Cooperating with contemporary writers, Orłowski was also engaged in books’ illustration.

In 1831, the patron of the artist, Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich, died. Orlovsky lost his service and actually could not gain his living. He was trying to get a new job, but without success. A year later, in 1832, the artist died, unable to withstand such a sharp change in living conditions, constant illnesses and lack of support.

Exhibits in the Museum Collection