Jan Chrucki

Jan Chrucki (1810–1885) was influenced by German Biedermeier, which was popular in Lithuania and neighbouring countries. When he studied at the Imperial Academy of Art in St Petersburg, he made copies of the 17th-century Dutch stilllifes and landscapes in the Hermitage. He won prizes for his still-lifes while he was still a student: for example, in 1836, he was awarded the Major Silver Medal of the Academy. He completed his studies in 1839, and developed a reputation as a painter of flowers and fruit. A flower and fruit painting class had opened in the Academy in St Petersburg in 1764, together with a class of animal painting in which painters of hunting scenes trained. All this is comprehensively described by the art historian Svetlana Usacheva in her article about Chrucki’s still-lifes (Светлана Усачёва, Жанр плодов и цветов в русском искусстве первой половины ХIX века, Iван Хруцкi: мастацтва ў дыялогу культур, Polotsk, 2010, pp. 40–48).

Chrucki came to Vilnius in 1839 after his father’s death. He became famous here as a portrait painter, although he also painted landscapes and religious themes. In 1844, he acquired the Zakharnichi estate near Polotsk, and designed the interiors and the garden himself. Biedermeier-style houses were a place of peace, wealth and comfort, and Chrucki’s pictures were very suitable for them. This is why he became very popular with art lovers, collectors and critics. Even today, museologists and collectors value his work highly. Most people in Lithuania know Chrucki as the artist who painted the picture of St Casimir that used to hang in the church at Pašušvis, and is now owned by the M.K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum.

Reference: Art Album “Objects on show”. Compiled by G. Jankevičiūtė. Vilnius, ELLEX VALIUNAS, 2017, P.82.