On January 15, 1869, Stanisaw Mateusz Ignacy Wyspiaski was born in Krakow, the old capital of Poland. His father, Franciszek, was a sculptor whose workshop was at the foot of Wawe Castle. There, as a young boy, Wyspiaski had his first exposure to art and to the past of Poland, which could be said to be housed on the hill in Wawe Castle. It is quite clear from one of Wyspiaski’s poems, in which he recalls his father’s atelier, that his visits to his father’s shop left a lasting impression on him. His mother, Maria (neé Rogowska), was from an old Krakow family that strongly supported independence for Poland. She began teaching her son about the past greatness of his country and planted the seeds of Polish nationalism in him at an early age. She died when Wyspiaski was only six years old, and his education continued in the household of his aunt, Joanna Stankiewiczowa.
Wyspiaski attended Saint Anne’s gymnasium from 1879 to 1887. From 1887 to 1890 he was under the guidance of Jan Matejko at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow while studying philosophy at the Jagiellonian University. Between the years of 1889 and 1890, he worked on the decoration of the Mariacki church as an assistant to Jan Matejko. Matejko taught Wyspiaski to be observant and to capture even the minutest details in the representation of a certain event. In Wyspiaski’s masterpiece, The Wedding, characters such as Stanczyk, Wernyhora, and Hetman were taken directly from the...
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