|-- Chodowiecki's art prints|
Artwork of Chodowiecki is quiet impressive - over 2.000 aquafortes, 30 oil paintings and over 4000 hand drawings.
He was born in Gdansk on 16'th of November 1726 as a son of a grain merchant and a French Huguenot emigrant He spoke fluent French, German and Polish, however in every day's life he used to speak first mentioned language.
Whole adult life he spent in Berlin, where he learnt fist to become merchant, then studied art in B.Rode's workshop, became a member and finally years after became director of Academy of Art.
First works of Chodowiecki were miniatures on ivory and small oil on canvas pictures. He won his fame on picture "Jean Calas Bids Farewell to Family" and etching "Great Calas" based on this painting.
In fact Chodowiecki was the best as a engraver and drawer. And on those two directions he concentrated his art life. Aquaforte was his favorite technique, he left almost 900 plates of different illustrations. His impressive etchings can be found in first editions of such masters of 18'th century literature like Basedow, Goethe Krasinski and in that time most stunning German editions of Rousseau and Shakespeare. Many of his aquafortes were printed in calendars. In years 1796 and 1797 he published two calendars containing scenes from history of Poland and interesting short introduction to history of his native country, probably written by Chodowiecki himself, unluckily only few copies of those calendars have survived till nowadays.
His portrait engravings were based mainly on paintings by his friend, very popular German painter, Anthon Graaf and Chodowiecki's own sketches from the nature.
|Part of Holy Spirit Street in Gdansk where artist's family house, not rebuilt after the war, was located (third from the right).|
Artist's greatest masterpiece will always remain the series of 108 drawings made during his horse trip to Poland and his hometown, Gdansk, in 1773. They are full of personal passion and indescribable atmosphere. Artist did used them as a kind of note of the present moment just like we use photography. He sketched his family house, the simple life and high society of his native city and its neighborhood. He observed variability of Poland in 18th century.
With his diary from this trip, written in French, those drawings are priceless as a source of the iconographic knowledge about 18'th century Poland.
Despite working and living in Prussia, speaking German and French also being married to a French, during whole lifetime Chodowiecki was thinking of himself as a full valued Pole.
In a letter to Jozef Leski astronomer on Cracow's Jagiellonian University he wrote "I make myself an honor - being real Pole despite I laid in Germany"
. Often asked about his nationality Chodowiecki was answering, that"he is an offspring of a great nation, which soon will end its existence"
He used to correspondent in Polish and friend with intellectual elite of Poland. He visited his home country several times.
Daniel Nikolaus (Mikolaj) Chodowiecki died in Berlin on 7'th of February 1801.
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