REECA Workshop: Jacek Malczewiski and his Self-Portraits as Jesus Christ and Prophet Ezekiel

Friday, October 20 will be the first fall quarter meeting of the Interdisciplinary Approaches to Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia (REECA) workshop!


October 20, 2017
11am-12:20pm in Foster Hall, Room 103
University of Chicago


The first paper of the quarter is:

“Jacek Malczewski and his Self-Portraits as Jesus Christ and Prophet Ezekiel”

Weronika Malek, MAPH Student (University of Chicago)



This paper analyzes the self-portraits of Jacek Malczewski as Jesus Christ and Prophet Ezekiel in the pre-independence context of the partitions of Poland. These paintings, made between 1908 and 1919, contribute to building national identity, and later celebrate the newly regained independence. Self-portraits are a large part of Malczewski’s oeuvre, but I argue that his self-portraits as religious figures are unique because of they deliberately draw on Polish historical, political and religious context at Malczewski’s time. I trace how the artist referred to the traditions of Western religious painting and self-portraiture, most notably Albrecht Dürer Self Portrait (1500). Entering a dialogue with Western art history, Malczewski attempted to insert Polish art into the canon and increase its visibility. I bring up the context of Polish art scene (including participation of Polish artists in international exhibitions, such as Paris Exposition Universelle and Vienna Secession) and the partitioners’ efforts to undermine Polish sense of national identity (russification, germanization) to demonstrate how the artists felt compelled to include “Polish-ness” in their works as an act of political resistance. Reflecting on the role of nation’s suffering under the partitions and art’s redemptive qualities, Malczewski embraced the notion of the prophetic role of art in shaping Polish national identity.


Tea and snacks will be served. You are welcome to bring your lunch.

The paper is and available here (please read chapters 1 and 3).  Password: reeca17wm
For more information, visit:

Please contact if you have any questions about this workshop or if you believe you may need assistance.