Leon Makielski, Polish-American (1885-1974)
An Impressionist oil on canvas field scene, entitled "Picnic in Autumn", by Polish-American artist Leon Makielski (1885-1974). A classic example of his ‘en plein air’ French composition, this piece is remarkable for the defined brush strokes and the depiction of light in its changing qualities – In this way he accentuates the changing of the seasons. Signed lower left, no visible date. No major signs of age. In period frame, marked “Collection Frame” and stamped “Leon Makielski Collection” verso. Image size is 32” wide and 26” high, overall frame size 36 1/2” wide and 30 ½” high. $2,650.00
Leon A. Makielski was born to Polish immigrants in 1885 in Morris Run, Pennsylvania, and would spend the greater part of his youth in South Bend Indiana. From 1903 until 1909 he studied at the Art Institute of Chicago; it was there that he was the recipient of the “John Quincy Adams Traveling Fellowship” four times consecutively, and, at the age of 23, would go on to become an instructor. In 1909, Makielski traveled to Paris to study at the Académie Julian and Académie Grande Chaumiere.
Makielski gained acceptance and notoriety in the European art community with support from his mentor and patron John Mohler Studebaker, but spent the majority of his life in Michigan. It was through his travels throughout Europe that he found inspiration in the romantic countryside as depicted by the French Impressionists, and became prolific in creating eye-catching landscapes. He was included in the most prestigious exhibitions in 1910 and 1911: Le Salon. He was able to show two paintings both years of the exhibitions, but undoubtedly it was the “Portrait of Penelope Peterson” from Le Salon 1911 that most beautifully captures his talent in portraiture.
Eventually settling in Ann Arbor, Michigan, he began teaching at the University of Michigan in 1915. His prolific portraiture collection would come to include prominent members of the faculty and community, as well as nationally renowned individuals such as Robert Frost and fellow members of the Scarab Club, where he was initiated in 1925.
He continued his teaching career at the University until 1927 when he decided to concentrate solely on painting portraits of notable figures, which would include faculty and administrators of the University of Michigan, prominent professionals and business leaders, as well as state and local politicians.
Upon his death in 1974, approximately 400 works of his personal collection were discovered in his studio by his family.