The main part of the modern art collection are the works of art made by Polish artists in France. That kind of collection character was determined by a marvellous gift, which was donated by Franciszek Prochaska (1891-1972) to the Historical Museum in Sanok. The artist, who came from Sanok, after short studies in The Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow under the supervision of Józef Pankiewicz and participation in the First World War in Józef Piłsudski’s legions, moved to France as a military attache in 1920. Józef Pankiewicz had a basic influence on Franciszek Prochaska, when we talk about forming his painting in the convention of painting in which the colour is decisive (the colourists’ painting). Apart from the painting, Prochaska was also interested in graphics, like: woodcut, cooperplate and etching. After the Second World War he opened a small printing house with a handy-fold up type and he published books with a beautiful structure and in small bibliophile editions, which generally were ilustrated by his own graphics. His art room in Rue Campagne Premiere on Montparnasse in Paris was visisted by many artists from the so-called Polish “colony”, which comprises the artists who were permanently connected with France. He was also visited by young people, who had visited the world capital of art. Józef Pankiewicz, Jan Wacław Zawadowski (1891-1982), Ludwik Lille (1897-1957) were the artists who were in the circle of his close friends. Some of the exhibits he gifted to the National Museum in Warsaw, and some of them he donated the Historical Museum in Sanok in 1963.

Franciszek Prochaska, Self-portrait, 30s 20th c. Józef Pankiewicz, Pejzaż z La Ciotat, 1927 r. Wacałw Zawadowski, Pejzaż z górą St Victoire, 1905 r. Tadeusz Makowski, Martwa natura z płaską misą, 1923 r.


Among works of art, which originted at the beginning of the 20th century there is “The landscape from Brittany”, painted in 1907 by Wacław Żaboklicki (1879-1959), the artist who was in touch with Pont-Aven School created by Paul Gauguin. In those days his way of painting was very synthetic and its distinguishing features were gentle transitions of colourful tones and discreet poetics. Two following paintings (bought by museum), painted in the interwar period in Poland, had not been yet in a style elaborated in Pont-Aven. In the Prochaska collection for a while there were two paintings of Władysław Ślewiński – one of the main exponent of “Ecole de Pont-Aven”. In opposition to the synthetic way of Gaugain and “Pont-Aven School” was Józef Pankiewicz’s creation (1866-1940), which was changing from impressionism, through inspirations of Cézanne and painting based more on positive aspects than colouring ones. In the Historical Museum collection there are works, which come from the end of the 1920s and 1930s, when the artist brought closer to Renoir’s and Renaissance masters’ painting. “The landscape from La Ciôtat” was painted during the common location painting of Pankiewicz and Prochaska on the Mediterranean See. In the “View of Florence from Fiesole” we can observe what was most characteristic of the later period of his creation, which means – building the space by gentle gradations to keep almost monochrome, blue key.

After the First World War the artistic life in Paris was mainly concentrated on Montparnasse. Among many famous Polish people connected with this quarter, there was a prominent marchant Leopold Zborowski, the artists’ friend, the protector of Modigliani, Soutin and Utrill. Zborowski was interested also in painters coming from Poland. His death disturbed him in introducing in Paris milieu a young Polish artist with expressionistic verve – Emil Krcha (1894-1972), whose breathtaking landscape of Paris from that period (1930) is in the Historical Museum collection. Among painters known on Montparnasse in the legendary period of this quarter there was Modigliani’s friend – Jan Wacław Zawadowski (1891-1982), also one of Pankiewicz’s student. Zawadowski painted landscapes, still life and acts using very dynamic spots, which gave spatialness to the objects, or in the later period flattening the painting. The basic problems of his creation were colour and light. After Modigliani the artist inherited the art room, then he lived in Provence, more than once painting Cézzann’s theme – St Victoire’s mountain. He was on good terms with Prochaska, until his death in 1972. Zawadowski signed his paintings using the contraction of his surname – “Zawado”. Among Montparnasse bohema there was also an excellent Chilean painter Manuel Ortiz de Zarate, whose two paintings are in the museum collection.

Jan Cybis, Łysica (Biały kościół), 1952 r. Otto Axer, Akt na żółtym tle, 1980 r. Arika Madeyska, Kompozycja, 1998 r.

A famous and ugly art room called Ulem – La Ruche by de Danzig passage was almost a free shelter to the poor artists who came from Eastern European countries. Stanisław Grabowski (1901-1957), the artist associated with avant-garde Polish-French magazine “L’Art Contemporain – Sztuka Współczesna” and the Academy of Amadée Ozenfant and Fernand Léger lived there for a while. S. Grabowski firstly created abstract paintings, then by various formal experiments he was searching for his own means of expression. Later on forlorn and lonely, in the end of his life he got to the poorhouse in Chartres. In many of his paintings with still life encircled by lines “lonely” objects lead their silent dialogue. After the war this art room was inherited by Mieczysław Janikowski (1912-1966), who came from London. This artist in geometrical abstraction reached unique colour, form and sensitivity, as well as interaction of lines creating tenseness or introducing in contemplation by their concentric system.

In the Historical Museum collection there are also paintings of two excellent painters, connected with France, like Olga Boznańska (1865-1940), whose “Portrait of unknown woman” is one of the most beautiful work of art in our collection, and Tadeusz Makowski (1882-1932). “Still life with flat bowl” from Prochaska’s collection painted by Makowski circa 1923 in a great array of brown, is a work from the period when the artist was fascinated by Netherlands painting, especially “Small Dutchmen”, when he had not developed his own style yet. The beautiful oil sketch “Country workshop” with subtle, full of light balance between warm and cool tones comes from his mature period. Among works of graphic artists, who were associated with Paris milieu, there are works of a great loner – Konstanty Brandl (1880-1970), and also a portrait of Helena Rubinstein done by Louis Marcousis (1878-1941). Ludwik Lille (1878-1957), who was a co-founder of Lviv group “Artes” came to Paris before the Second World War. Twelve engravings copied from the artist’s plates published in bibliophile book Franciszek Prochaska, when the artist’d already died. Anonymous people without faces, gesticulating and acting everyday life are often exposed to the strong light or the influence of shadow.

The capist, who came to France in 1924 had also some connections with Prochaska’s art room. Among works of art, which Prochaska gave to our museum, there is a beautiful gouache painted by Hanna Rudzka – Cybisowa (1897-1988) in Paris, and also a drawing of Jan Cybis (1897-1972). This collection increased due to the purchase of another gouache created by Rudzka – Cybisowa, and the post-war landscape of Jan Cybis and almost abstract one produced by Artur Nacht Samborski (1898-1974) and “Still life” of Janusz Strzałecki (1902-1983). In 1966 the Leprette family from Paris donated some paintings of Józef Jarema (1900-1974) , what was very valuabe for the collection connected with capists. There are works which originated after the Second World War, when the artist lived in Rome, and then, since 1951, in Nice. In those days Jarema completely gave up capists’ aesthetic point of view, and he decided on abstract art, radical tearing away from nature. Both geometrical paintings, and the compositions without subject but full of colourful expression, were for him a kind of supplement of philosophical meditations as the emanations of new beings structures.

Apart from Jarema’s works, the Leprettes gifted also works of Maria Sperling (1898-1995), the artist, who had left Poland in the early 1920s and after that lived in Nice and Paris. Her abstract creation was formed under the considerable influence of Jarema’s views and paintings. Among donors there is also one important, but hardly known name – Jan Ekiert (1907-1993). This artist was born in nearby Kombornia and moved to Paris after the war. With his wife, a painter as well, he lived in Montparnasse. Due to the studies in “École d’André Lhote” his painting went through the cubism lesson. With unique sensitivity he assimilated the achievements of French impressionism and postimpressionism to Bannard and Matisse. With captivating landscapes owing to their composition and colouring , Ekiert also painted unusually sensitive and subtle abstract compositions. He gave his and his wife – Eleonora Reinhold-Ekiert (1905-1984) works to the Historical Museum in Sanok. The collection was enriched also with the gifts of professor Krystyna Łady Studnicka, her husband Juliusz Studnicki’s paintings (1906-1998), and also the gifts from artists associated with Rome – Maria Szulczewska de Regibus (1904-1998) and Józef Natanson. In the last few years our collection of modern art was enlarged because of some new works, such as works of Arika Madeyska (1920-2004) who worked in Paris (Arika’s paintings were donated by her daughter Honorata Jonquiére) and works of Edward Baran (born in Lesko in 1934), who also lived and worked in Paris.

The works produced by the artists connected with Sanok occupy the sizeable part of the collection of modern art. Emil Regenbogen (1892 – died during the Second World War), Józef Sitarz (1885-1942), Władysław Lisowski (1884-1970) and the most prominent of them Leon Getz (1896-1971) worked in Sanok before the war. At present a few artists are associated with our town. The scenery of Sanok often appears in drawing and painting of Tadeusz Turkowski (born in 1923), but also in artistic tapestries of his wife Anna Turkowska (born in 1926) and in subtle water-colours paintings of Władysław Szulc (born in 1933). There are also works of Marian Kruczek (1927-1983) who was an indywidual artist and made compositions with various materials. The artists worth mentioning who create in Sanok are Barbara Bandurka, Anna Maria Pilszak, Jerzy Wojtowicz, Artur Olechniewicz. Zdzisław Beksiński’s creation is of great worldwide popularity. The artist was born in Sanok in 1929 and studied architecture in Cracow. He lived and worked in Sanok up to 1977. Firstly he was interested in artistic photography then in drawings, sculptures, abstract painting and finally figurative one. His visional painting soaked with tragedy arouses interest, delights or makes us angry. His painting comes out of subconscious processes and concerns death, suffering, passing of time. Beksiński’s paintings were created by traditional technique, with precise drawing and detail molding. His painting is in some measure out of all modern art trends. On the 21st of February 2005 Zdzisław Beskinski was murdered in his flat in Warsaw. In accordance with his testament the only one inheritor of his works became the Historical Museum in Sanok. The museum inherited a few thousand of his photographs, drawings, computer graphics and paintings. Moreover, in 2008 Hanna Zawa-Cywińska (born 1939) donated to our museum the big collection of her works.

Wiesław Banach

Translated by: Diana Bilińska
Proof reading: Marzena Rachwał-Schabowska

Olga Boznańska, Portret nieznanej kobiety Ortiz de Zarate, Martwa natura Wacław Ĺ»aboklicki, Jesień, 1905 r. Artur Nacht-Samborski, Pejzaż 1955 r.
Hanna Rudzka-Cybisowa, Plac, 1933 r. Janusz Strzałecki, Martwa natura Stanisław Grabowski, Martwa natura Emil Krcha, Ulica w Paryżu
Zbigniew Pronaszko, Wiosna
Józef Klukowski, Akt
Tadeusz Turkowski, W lesie, 1973 r. Izabela Rapf-Sławikowska, Mała baletnica
Jan Ekiert, Kompozycja w żółcieniach Mieczysław Janikowski, Kompozycja Józef Jarema, Arlekin Edward Baran, Kompozycja
Hanna Zawa-Cywińska, Birds III, 1989 r. Juliusz Studnicki, Uczta Zdzisław Beksiński, AE80, 1980 r. Marian Kruczek, Straż nocna



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