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Jan Matejko, Self-portrait

Jan Alojzy Matejko (1838-1893) was a Polish painter.[1] He is generally regarded as the greatest one in the 19th century.[1]


Jan Matejko was born in Kraków (Cracow).[2] on 24 June 1838.[1] His father was Czech musician František Xaver Matějka (in Poland Franciszek Ksawery Matejko), a music teacher. His mother was Joanna Karolina Rossberg, who was half-German.[2] He was never good at school.[2] He never learned a foreign language well.[2] However, he showed great artistic talent.[2]

He studied at the School of Fine Arts in Kraków from 1852 to 1858.[2] His professors were Wojciech Korneli Stattler and Władyslaw Łuszczkiewicz.[2] He also studied in Munich and Vienna.[2] Then he returned to Kraków and stayed in the town for the rest of his life.[2] He was the principal of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków.[2] Among his students were Jacek Malczewski, Józef Mehoffer and Stanisław Wyspiański.[1]

Matejko died on 1 November 1893 in Kraków.[1] He is buried at Rakowicki Cemetery in Kraków.[2]


Matejko is famous for his historical paintings.[3] He painted portraits, too, especially those of his children. His best known paintings are Astronomer Copernicus - Conversation with God, Hanging of the Zygmunt bell, Prussian Homage and Battle of Grunwald. He also published a book named Portraits of Polish Kings (1890).[2] Most of these portraits are imaginary, meaning he painted kings and princes who lived many centuries before. There are no earlier pictures of them.

Jan Matejko's Monument in Cracow