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Anna Bilińska-Bohdanowicz

Polish painter

Anna Bilińska-Bohdanowicz
Self-Portrait with Apron and Brushes, 1887
Anna Bilińska

8 December 1857
Died18 April 1893 (1893-04-19) (aged 35)
EducationAcadémie Julian
Known forPainting
Spouse(s)Antoni Bohdanowicz

Anna Bilińska-Bohdanowicz (8 December 1857 – 18 April 1893) was a Polish painter, known for her portraits. A representative of Realism, she spent much of her artistic life in Paris.


She was born in Zlatopol (formerly a frontier town of the Russian Empire, today a part of Novomyrhorod) as Anna Bilińska, and spent her childhood there with her father who was a Polish physician. Of her background, she joked that she "ha[d] a Cossack's temperament but a Polish heart" (Polish: ma temperament kozaczy, ale serce polskie).[1] The family then moved to Central Russia, where Anna’s first art teachers were Ignacy Jasiński and Michał Elwiro Andriolli, both deported by the Tsarist government to Vyatka for their part in the January Uprising of 1863–1864. Later she studied music and art in Warsaw, where in 1877 she became a student of the painter Wojciech Gerson. During this time, she began to exhibit her work at Warsaw's Zachęta Society for the Promotion of Fine Arts (Polish: Towarzystwo Zachęty Sztuk Pięknych).

In early 1882 she accompanied her chronically ill friend Klementyna Krassowska on a journey to Munich, Salzburg, Vienna and northern Italy, before travelling to and settling in Paris where she studied along with Marie Bashkirtseff and a British artist Emmeline Deane at the Académie Julian,[2] and where later she also taught. She lived in France until 1892, when she married Antoni Bohdanowicz, a doctor of medicine, and took his name. They returned to Warsaw after their marriage, where she intended to open a Parisian-style art school for women, but fell ill with a heart condition and died a year later on 18 April 1893.

Anna Bilińska-Bohdanowicz is best known for her portraits, painted with great intuition. Her Self-Portrait with Apron and Brushes (1887) developed a new self-portrait pose by placing the artist in front of a model's backdrop, thus stating that she is her own model.[3] She also painted still lifes, genre scenes and landscapes, and was a representative of realism. Her paintings can be found in the National Museum in Warsaw and National Museum in Kraków.


Bilińska-Bohdanowicz was included in the 2018 exhibit Women in Paris 1850–1900.[4]

Shortly after Bilińska's father died, her portrait, in deep mourning, was painted in 1886 by her friend Emmeline Deane in Paris.[5]

Bilińska's work is not well known, even in her home country, perhaps due to her early death. However, the National Museum in Warsaw planned to hold a major exhibition of her work, and Deane's portrait of her, in 2021.[5]

Selected paintings


  • Clara Erskine Clement, Women in the Fine Arts from the Seventh Century B.C. to The Twentieth Century A.D., 1904
  • Magdalena Schlender, Die Selbstbildnisse der polnischen Malerin Anna Bilińska (The self-portraits of the Polish painter Anna Bilińska), Hamburg 2005
  • Magdalena Schlender, Anna Bilińska Bohdanowicz, probably 2009.


  1. ^ Renata Higersberger. Piękna, Skradziona, Odzyskana. nimoz.pl
  2. ^ "Anna Bilińska-Bohdanowicz". Culture.pl.
  3. ^ Frances Borzello, Seeing Ourselves: Women's Self-Portraiture, 1998.
  4. ^ Madeline, Laurence (2017). Women artists in Paris, 1850–1900. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0300223934.
  5. ^ a b "The Great British Art Tour: time at last to pay Anna Bilinska proper attention". The Guardian. 28 January 2021. By Katharine Wall, collections manager, Victoria Art Gallery, Bath

External links