Portrait of Emilia Baniewicz
Portrait of Emilia Baniewicz

Portrait of Emilia Baniewicz

Author: Smuglevičius Feliksas, 1824 - 1863

Created, location: 1849, Biržai.

Material/technique: oil on canvas.

Dimensions:  63x50.5 cm.

Felix Antoni Smuglewicz (1824–?) painted mostly landscapes and portraits, but was not the most famous or the most productive of the Smuglewicz family of artists. He did not limit his activities to painting: he took part in the Samogitian cultural movement, and corresponded with Simonas Daukantas, Mikalojus Akelaitis, and other important figures who helped to revive the Lithuanian national identity. In the 1850s he became involved in the activities of the cultural circle led by his brother Franciszek in Courland. He painted a portrait of the landowner Emilia Baniewicz, a relation of the Herbsts, in 1849 on a visit home to Biržai from St Petersburg (he studied at the St Petersburg Academy of Art from 1847 to 1852). Information about the time and the place of the painting of the portrait, as well as the date of the death of the woman depicted (29 September 1855), and where she was buried (the Catholic cemetery in Biržai), is indicated in an inscription on the back of the picture. Such precision in Lithuanian art is very rare.

References: Art Album"More Than Just Beauty. The Image of Woman in the LAWIN collection." Compiled by G. Jankevičiūtė. Vilnius, LAWIN, 2012, P. 32.

FELIKS ANTONI SMUGLEWICZ (1824–after 1863) was the grandson of Filip Smuglewicz, the brother of the famous teacher at the Vilnius School of Art Franciszek Smuglewicz. Feliks’ father Józef was also an artist, and taught painting at several schools in different districts. It is known that Feliks studied at the school of the nobility of the Kaunas district, and in the mid-19th century he studied painting in St Petersburg, but information on his later life is very scarce. Between 1855 and 1859, the artist was a member of a group of Lithuanian enthusiasts in Svirlaukis (in the province of Courland), on an estate rented by the physician Piotr Smuglewicz (the painter’s brother), and had dealings with the historian Simonas Daukantas and the writer Mikalojus Akelaitis. This portrait is interesting not only because it is a rare example of early portraiture by Feliks Antoni Smuglewicz, but it also provides some information about the artist’s life. The inscription on the back of the painting says that it was painted in Biržai in the autumn of 1849. A surviving mid- 19th century painting of the ruins of Biržai Castle by Feliks Antoni Smuglewicz suggests that the artist was close to Jan Tyszkiewicz, the owner of Biržai. Another interesting fact is that the portrait depicts the first wife of the painter Jan Baniewicz (1803–1881), a graduate of the Vilnius School of Art. Baniewicz, who was a close acquaintance of the Tyszkiewicz family, lived in Biržai for several years, serving as a steward on the estate. Emilia Baniewicz died in Biržai in 1855. The portrait shows a gentle and simply dressed woman, well wrapped-up in a shawl. Her open, direct look and her modest pose reveal her dignity and calm.

Reference: "RES PUBLICA" The art collection of the law firm Ellex Valiunas. Compiler R. Jononienė. Vilnius, 2018, P. 124.

Exhibitions:“More Than Just Beauty: The Image of Woman in the LAWIN collection”, 12 October – 11 November 2012, National Gallery of Art; Vilnius  Exhibition of the Fine Arts Collection of Edmundas Armoška "Outcrops of Lithuanian Art 16th–21th Centuries" 2008 July 3 - August 31, Lithuanian Art Museum, Vilnius.

Published: Art Album "More Than Just Beauty. The Image of Woman in the LAWIN collection." Compiled by G. Jankevičiūtė. Vilnius, LAWIN, 2012, P.33 Kat. No. 13, "Outcrops of Lithuanian Art 16th–21th Centuries", Vilnius  Exhibition of the Fine Arts Collection of Edmundas Armoška, Vilnius: Lithuanian Art Museum, 2008 Kat. No. II, 61, P. 104; "RES PUBLICA" The art collection of the law firm Ellex Valiunas. Compiler R. Jononienė. Vilnius, 2018, P. 125, Cat. No. 87, P. 229.