The Ledóchowski Family herb2 Ród Ledóchowskich

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


 


Teresa Tyszkiewicz 1906 - 1992
née Ledóchowska

 

Teresa Tyszkiewicz was one of the leading Polish artists of the second half of the twentieth century.

ChildrenShe was born Maria Teresa Józefa on 8th June 1906 in Kraków, and was the second daughter of the Austrian Colonel and later Polish General, Count Ignacy Ledóchowski and his wife Paulina, née Łubieńska.  Her family  was devoted to Polish independence and the Catholic church.  She, her elder sister Jadwiga (1904-1994) and the two younger children Józefa Maria (“Inka”, 1907-1983) and Wladimir (Włodzimierz or “Włodek”, 1910-1987) spent their childhood, including the 1914-1918 First World War and the 1920 Bolshevik War, in Kraków.  They enjoyed idyllic holidays in Krakowiec, the country home of their grandmother Jadwiga Łubieńska, and in Wulka (sometimes spelt Wólka) Rosnowska, the country home of their mother Paulina, which they remembered fondly for the rest of their lives.  Teresa passed her matric at the Ursuline High School in Kraków in 1924.

StudentsStudies
Teresa started her studies at the School of Industrial Art in Krakow in 1926 but after, in her own words, “two years of boredom” she moved to the Academy of Fine Arts (then still called the School of Fine Arts) in Warsaw in 1928.  While studying painting until 1933 under Karol Tichy and Tadeusz Pruszkowski, she met the famous painter Józef Czapski, who lived in France during the later Communist era.  Czapski was then involved with the publication Wiadomości Literackie (“Literature News”).  How closely she was then involved with the bohemian world of Warsaw is difficult to assess today.  She remained closely in touch with Felicjan Szczęsny Kowarski, whom she had known in Kraków, during this time in Warsaw but also during the War and after the War in Łódź.  It is known that she was also in touch with Jan S. Sokołowski, a student of Kowarski, a member of the “Pryzmat” (“prism”) group of artists.  She probably also moved in right wing aristocratic circles due to her social background and may have known Jerzy Giedroyć, who became well known as editor of the Paris monthly Kultura during the Communist era.   Her father General Ignacy did not support the Piłsudski coup in 1926 and was compulsorily retired in 1927, which may have made her life a bit more difficult during the subsequent “Sanacja” regime.

Early career
Teresa launched her artistic career with an exhibition of figure compositions and portraits at the Henryk Koterba Salon in Warsaw in 1937.  Mieczysław Wallis described this debut as very interesting and inspired by French painting styles.  Indeed, like her social circle, it can be described as in the colourful tradition of French Young artistimpressionism, as represented also by Józef Czapski and Kowarski.  Czapski spent time in Paris and belonged to the “Kapist” group (named after the initials “KP” for “Komitet Paryski” or “Paris Committee”). The equivalent of Barbizon (a French village which gave its name to a school of art) was the Wiśniowa country house of the Count Mycielskis.  We know Teresa spent time there.  According to Wallis’ account, her paintings were figure compositions and portraits rather than landscapes which inspired the Kapists.

Unfortunately Teresa’s work from that period has not survived.  Zamość Museum has her only pre-War painting, Flowers (1938) – a theme that recurred throughout her life.  She received an “Honourable Distinction” for this painting at the Tenth Salon of the Art Promotion Institute (Instytut Propagandy Sztuki or “IPS”) in Warsaw in 1938.  A photograph of A portrait of Mr T in Ilustrowany Kurier Codzienny (the “Illustrated Daily Courier”), published in Lwów, has also been preserved.  Probably a painting of her husband, it was one of the paintings she showed (together with Jan Hryńkowski, co-founder of the “Formist” group) at an exhibition in Lwów in 1937.

The period before the Second World War was clearly an interesting and intensive phase of development of her intellectual personality.  Unfortunately it is difficult to study and reconstruct this process today.  We know she wrote a diary, but this was left behind in 1939 and she never returned there.  It seems that cubism and expressionism also guided her exploration.  After the War she wrote about it as follows:  “…a fascination with Picasso and his cubist expression, being a continuation of my interest and pre-War explorations.  I believed that they showed the way to painting the world, and in particular people, with a new dimension and a new expression consistent with the times we live in.”

StanislawMarriage
In 1933 Teresa married Count Stanisław Tyszkiewicz and settled in his forest estate, not far from Teresa’s mother’s and grandmother’s estates in Wulka Rosnowska and Krakowiec, West of Lwów.  It could be that the distance from Warsaw accounted for the fact that she received her official Academy of Fine Arts diploma only after the War, in 1946, when she was a teacher at the Higher College of Applied Arts in Łódź.  The Tyszkiewiczes ran a book for guests to write in.  We know it contained a humorous drawing of Adolf Bocheński by Kowarski.  She was very friendly with the Bocheński brothers from neighbouring Ponikwa and with Mieczysław Pruszyński, who together with her brother Wladimir had been at the prestigious Jesuit boarding school Chyrów.  Her friendship with the latter and his family continued for the rest of her life.  She certainly also knew his brother the writer Ksawery Pruszyński, who also worked with Wiadomości Literackie.

Living near Lwów, Teresa befriended local intellectual and artistic circles.  In 1937 she delivered a lecture entitled “New forms in art” at Lwów Museum.  In March 1938 she was elected to the Board of ZZPAP (initials for the Union of Polish Artists) in Lwów.  Zofia Libiszowska, daughter of Wojciech Gołuchowski, the Wojewoda (a similar title to Prefect of a Department in France or Sheriff of a County in England) of the Lwów region, who was Teresa’s close friend before Young couplethe War, during the War and after the War in Łódź, remembers Teresa’s home as an active meeting place.  Teresa had established her studio in an extension to the house, which was “inaccessible to the profane”.  She rejected snobbery associated with landed wealth and social status and aspired to the company of intellectuals, scholars and writers.  “Very hospitable, she welcomed friends with great joy.  However she got rid of “bores” ruthlessly.” 

Guests included Leon Chwistek, an outstanding contemporary painter, philosopher and mathematician, and his wife.  Their daughter remembers: “The Tyszkiewiczes used to invite my parents to their estate near Lwów.  There they met painters and writers.  Some of the painters were frightened of the great danes (“dogs” in Polish!).  Apparently one of the sculptors was so frightened he climbed on to a table.  They did not take me, but I remember that after one of their stays they said they met Pia Górska” (today forgotten, but enjoying great artistic success in Poland and abroad in the 1920s and 1930s).  Apart from Chwistek and Pia Maria Górska friends of the Tyszkiewiczes included Tytus Czyżewski and maybe it is due to him, as well as Chwistek and Jan Hryńkowski, that Teresa’s art developed in a different direction than the prevailing “colourism”.  Her work was applauded by innovators but gave rise to dislike and misunderstanding among conservatives.

War
Teresa’s life and artistic work were unfortunately interrupted by the War. They moved to Warsaw and also spent time in Kraków.  After a while they started work in the Rada Główna Opiekuńcza (“RGO”) (the “General Council of Care”, the principal charitable organization permitted by the Germans to remain in existence during the occupation, headed by a certain Count Adam Ronikier, who had Austrian connections).  In 1941 Ronikier recommended Stanisław Tyszkiewicz to be head of the RGO office in Warsaw, but he was not in the end appointed to this position. 

We know that in Kraków in 1943 Tyszkiewicz told Ronikier about mass revenge executions going on in Warsaw.  Through the RGO Teresa met Stanisław Papuziński and Aleksandra Majewska, people devoted to social affairs.  The Tyszkiewiczes were involved in charitable work in addition to the RGO.  She remained in contact with pre-War friends including Ludwik Hering, a friend of Ludwik Czapski, and also Feliks Kowarski and Zofia Libiszowska (Gołuchowska up to 1943).  They were heavily involved in conspiratorial artistic activities.   They often visited the salon of Maria Sobańska, where the intellectual elite of Warsaw met before the War.  Teresa also ran her own salon, in which various meetings and discussions took place, including the one she described between Sergiusz Hessen and Karol Irzykowski.  She also read a lot and tried to paint, but was very critical of her work at this time.

Łódź
After the Warsaw Rising the Tyszkiewiczes lived in Kraków.  Teresa’s beloved pre-War family homes were all now outside Poland’s new borders set by the Yalta Conference and, even if they had been within the new borders, would have been confiscated.  None of the family ever saw their beloved homes Stanislaw 1946or the rest of the Lwów region ever again.  Like many other survivors the Tyszkiewiczes moved to Łódź, the temporary capital of Poland while Warsaw was being rebuilt, where Teresa got a job with the newly formed Wyższa Szkoła Sztuk Plastycznych (“WSSP”) (High School of Applied Art).  Kowarski, who was now also living in Łódź, undoubtedly contributed to this appointment.  Although he was not a founder of this School, as a recognized authority of the Warsaw Academy of Art he undoubtedly had a say in the choice of staff.  She worked as illustrator of magazines, e.g. Świerszczyk (the “Little Cricket”) or children’s books, e.g. Na listeczku kalinowym (“On the little leaf”) by Ewa Szelburg-Zarembina.  But Stalinist repression made no exception for Teresa’s artistic ambitions and in 1950 the School removed her from painting.

Teresa’s father General Ignacy had died in a German concentration camp in 1945 after being arrested in 1944 for being in the Polish Resistance.  Her grandmother Jadwiga Łubieńska had died in 1942 and her mother Paulina died in the care of the Ursuline nuns in 1951.  Her brother Wladimir , Polish Vice Consul in Paris until the Allies recognised the new communist government in July 1945, could not return to Poland.  After the death of Sanisław the only family Teresa had left were her two beloved sisters, the nuns Jadwiga and Józefa (“Inka”).

But as her friends, colleagues and family well know, Teresa did not surrender to setbacks like many others of her background, but instead regained her “joie de vivre” and took on a completely new life and new work responsibilities with considerable enthusiasm.

Teacher at the Łódź WSSP
Having removed her from painting, the Łódź WSSP (High School of Applied Arts) transferred Teresa to printing on textiles.  As someone who had in the past painted on an easel she had to cope with completely new issues.   As with her other duties Teresa approached this new subject very seriously and she was soon much liked by her students and highly regarded by industry as a specialist in this field.  She headed the Department of Printing on Textiles which trained designers of silk and cotton cloths.  Most designs at that time were by people she had trained. 

Painting 1960Thanks to her own hard work and talent Teresa developed her own new programme for training designers, who whatever their area of activity were not to break the link with art.  She supervised the technical workshops.  She also worked with the Instytut Wzornictwa Przemysłowego (Institute of Industrial Design) in Warsaw and took part in evaluation committees in the silk and cotton industries.  She published articles about design, and the connection between art and design and fashion, in the trade press.  She also wrote reviews promoting younger academics to more senior positions, such as Stanisław Fijałkowski, Jerzy Nowosielski and Janina Kraupe-Świderska.  She retired on 1st October 1973 but continued working at the School and for agencies of the textile industry until 1985.

Her artwork
Notwithstanding her intensive duties at the School and involvement in the issues of industrial textile design Teresa continued her own artwork.  As she wrote in the text quoted above, from before the War Teresa tried through her art to search for a new way “of painting the world…in a new dimension and expression”.  After the War she declared herself decisively to be on the side of the modern.  In 1948 she was invited and took part in the “First Exhibition of Modern Art” in Kraków, which was the most important display of new art in Poland since the War.

Blind AlleysAfter several years of work based on “cubist expressionism” Teresa started to lose faith in “the possibility of shaping or inventing any form…..One could not believe in any of them any more.  I explained it to myself with the fact that our whole period had no form, having lost the earlier and not having found the new.   In this critical situation there appeared – like a revelation – Tachisme (a French art style – translator’s note).  With it disappeared the excruciating problem of inventing shape, opening, in my opinion, the only way to continue painting.  Shape forms itself, with the help of a spontaneous gesture and artistic material (paint), organising itself according to its own laws, and thus in a perfect and authentic manner……spontaneity and the laws governing the material gave rise to unlimited trust, seemed infallible.”  To what extent her opinions were a result of the then prevailing time in art, and of the opinions of Teilhard de Chardin, a theologian she studied for years, not always willingly accepted by the Catholic Church, needs more research.

Nevertheless her opinions set out this way were the foundation of the most important series of her work, collectively known as Ślepe drogi  (“Blind alleys”)  , starting in the 1960s.  White canvas surfaces covered with freely drawn “with a gesture” black lines, a record of emotion, but also of order.  One can interpret them as a graphic record.  Białoszewski expressed it very aptly, entitling one of his verses dedicated to her painting: “The effort of thought out movement”.

Diptych 1990

In the post-War artistic community
Apart from her teaching and her own work, Teresa wrote for the press, for example Kuźnica (“the foundry”), and delivered lectures, for example at the Łódź WSSP School and open air conferences at Osieki.    She took active part in meetings of the Pickwick literature club, the Piąte Koło (“Fifth Circle”) Group, and Nowa Linia (“New Line”) in Łódź, and also in the Club of Young Artists and Scientists and the Krzywe Koło Gallery in Warsaw.  She became friends with the artists forming the Kraków Group.  She was a unique link between the communities in Warsaw, Kraków and Łódź.  In her flat-cum-artist’s-studio she ran what was probably the last salon in Łódź, where she welcomed artists, writers, friends and acquaintances.  In addition to her closest friends the Pruszyńskis and Libiszowskis, frequent guests included the Nowosielskis, the Fijałkowskis, Antoni Starczewski, Inka and Ireneusz Pierzgalski, Maria and Krystyn Zieliński, Andrzej Łobodziński, and many others.  She was a seasoned debater.  As Professor Fijałkowski says, Teresa Tyszkiewicz alongside Władysław Strzemiński had the greatest influence on art in Łódź.  Stzemiński and later Stefan Wegner, advocates of rationalism in art, represented a fundamental counterweight to her views, in which the emotional-intuitive element played a decisive role.  Indirect but very characteristic illustrations of her artistic views were her friendship with Miron Białoszewski and her participation in the “Panoramic Maritime Happening” of Tadeusz Kantor in Łazy (a village-holiday resort on the Baltic coast) in 1967.  She became a legendary figure of the School (now Academy) of Fine Arts and the artistic community not just of Łódź.

ColleaguesColleagues 2



 

 

 

 

From left: S. Fijałkowski, T. Tyszkiewicz, I. Pierzgalski, K. Zieliński

Family life
AdultsThroughout her intensive artistic and intellectual life Teresa remained in close touch with her family, particularly her three brothers and sisters.  All four loved each other dearly.  She was particularly close to her sister Józefa (“Inka”) in the Otorowo convent of the “Grey Ursulines” (Congregation of the Ursulines of the Agonising Heart of Jesus founded by St Julia Urszula Ledóchowska, sister of Teresa’s father General Ignacy).  Teresa visited her frequently, first with her husband, then alone.  Paulina, the mother of Teresa and Inka, was cared for there by the Ursulines after the War and died and was buried in Otorowo in 1951.  Teresa spent her holidays with Inka in the Ursuline convents of Otorowo and nearby Pniewy and also in Scauri in Italy.  Contact with her elder sister Jadwiga was a bit more difficult as she was in the enclosed convent of the “Black Ursulines” (Ursulines of the Sacred Heart) in Kraków.

BasiaTeresa often repeated how much she loved her brother Wladimir, but he was even further away.  Initially a courier for the Polish Resistance travelling between German occupied Poland and neutral countries, later an Intelligence officer and Polish Vice Consul in Paris until the Allies recognised the new communist government in Poland in July 1945, he could not then return to Poland.  He emigrated to South Africa.  At one point he was in Rhodesia and Teresa visited him there in 1956, where she painted the beautiful portrait of Wladimir’s wife Maria Barbara ("Basia").  She visited him again in South Africa in 1982.  Wladimir’s sons Jan and Christopher remember their aunt as a very loving person , whom they visited several times as a family in her flat in Łódź and who had many lively discussions with them on a wide variety of subjects.  During Martial Law in 1982 and 1983 Jan travelled to Poland several times with large trucks of aid for Solidarity and visited Teresa on each occasion as well as more frequently in later years.

Teresa died in 1992.

 

 

 

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Information on living family members will be included in this website only if submitted or approved by them. Informacja o żyjących członkach rodziny może zostać umieszczona na tych stronach jedynie w wypadku gdy dana osoba wyrazi zgodę. Jan Ledóchowski