The second monographic work from the series devoted to well-known 19th and 20th century Warsaw photographers, after the first part of this series, titled Karol Beyer 1818-1877. In the album devoted to Fajans one may find scenes from the life of 19th century Warsaw – for instance, the opening of the Kierbedz Bridge or the building of a station of the Warsaw-Terespol railway. This publication also contains portraits of well-known figures: Helena Modrzejewska, Henryk Wieniawski, Antoni Odyniec, Józef Ignacy Kraszewski and others.
Maksymilian Fajans was a Vasovian by choice, a Pole and a follower of Judaism. His works include documenting the construction of railway lines in Warsaw. He photographed almost all of the stations in the capitol, especially of the eastern side of the river. He also took pictures of the interior of the city hall when this building was being rebuilt. These photographs were later awarded at the 1873 world exposition in Vienna.
The publication also contains dozens of photographs showing views of Warsaw – for instance the Royal Castle, which in Fajans’ day was the private quarters of the viceroy of the Kingdom of Poland, or the interior of the famous Lourse’s patisserie which was located in the Europejski Hotel. The pictures are accompanied by an essay written by the author, who is a curator of photography at the Warsaw National Museum, and by a calendar of events from the field of photography that occurred in the Kingdom of Poland and across the world. The album was issued thanks to the efforts of the History Meeting House and the Warsaw National Museum. The publication was released in two languages: Polish and English.
In the summer of 1860, Maksymilian Fajans decided to take up a new art – photography. In 1862, this adept of the Warsaw School of Fine Arts, who apart from studying in Warsaw, had also pursued an education in ithography in Paris, founded a professional photographic studio. At the time, photography was the height of fashion, and caused great excitement in artistic circles. The profession of photographer was considered a job offering possibilities for both development and revenue. Fajans, who had achieved a lot in the field of lithography, rightly came to think that a studio that also had photographic capabilities would help his business grow.
Fajans chiefly created portraits. Thanks to him, the features of many people that were important to the culture and the social and political life of his times were recorded and may be seen today. Among those immortalised by him were ordinary citizens and the elite of his times. Therefore, the album had to contain a photograph of Helena Modrzejewska. Shortly after she came to Warsaw in 1868, he photographed the actress in a beautiful gown with a bustle. Bustles were becoming fashionable at that time. The term bustle refers to the pinning up and draping of material in the back of the hips, which was done in order to give the figure an S shape. Modrzejewska often designed her own clothes - she may have even designed this gown.
Among the people portrayed by Maksymilian Fajans were also the heroes of the January Uprising, the members of the National Government: Rafał Krajewski and Roman Żuliński. They were photographed before the outbreak of the rebellion and wherever you encounter their photos, you can be certain those pictures were taken by Fajans. Żuliński worked as a maths teacher and during the January Uprising he acted as the director of the uprising postal service of the National Government. He was arrested by the Russian partition authorities and put on trial. He was executed on the slopes of the Warsaw citadel on the 5th of August 1864. The dictator of the uprising Romuald Traugutt and members of the insurgent National Government were executed together with Żuliński.
Times of national mourning
A portrait of Ludwika and Anna Halpert in black dresses from the times of national mourning, with white collars and cuffs.
A portrait of a woman
In Fajans' time, the technique of making negatives on glass with the so-called wet collodion technique enabled each studio to above all have a unique approach to colour. It is known that 19th century photography wasn’t black and white but sepia-coloured - it used various shades of brown. Fajans’ photographs were unusual in that they were chocolate-coloured.
The Royal Castle in Warsaw
Warsaw, the Royal Castle, the southern wing with the annex near the Grodzka Gate and the Copper-Roof Palace, 1861. In the distance is the Kierbedź Bridge under construction and the Synagogue in Szeroka Street (presently Kłopotowskiego Street) in the district of Praga.
The transportation of a locomotive
A horse team pulling a locomotive, 1862, on Plac Dzieciątka Jezus - the Square of the Child Jesus. In the background is a building that belonged to Karol Fryderyk Minter, the founder of the Factory of Metal Products. To the left is the end of Mazowiecka Street which leads to Świętokrzyska Street. Later, this square was known as Warecki Square and Napoleon’s Square. Presently, it is called the Square of the Insurgents of Warsaw. The buildings in the photograph have since vanished.
Bronzed iron stairs
The bronzed iron stairs of the city hall in Theatre Square, 1870. The edifice of the city hall (the former Jabłonowski palace) was destroyed by a fire started by insurgents in 1863. In 1864-1869, this building was remodelled by the architect Józef Orłowski. The open-work cast-iron constructions were created thanks to a collaboration with the engineer Tadeusz Chrzanowski, who worked on the building of the Kierbedź Bridge. The historical interior wasn’t reconstructed during the rebuilding of the edifice of the city hall which took place in 1995-1997.
Lourse’s patisserie at the Europejski Hotel, 1872. One of the most famous Warsaw confectionery businesses. Lourse’s patisserie was founded by Swiss national Laurenty Lourse in 1821. In 1872 this firm, which at the time was managed by Jakub Zamboni, installed itself in the Europejski Hotel, where the firm endured until 1944.
A station of the Warsaw-St. Petersburg railway
A view from the tracks of the station of the Warsaw-Saint Petersburg railway in the Praga district, 1863. The building of the railway station in Wileńska Street (in front of Zaokopowa Street) was designed by Narcyz Zborzewski. This station was completed in 1892, but, in 1915, the station was destroyed by Russians retreating from Warsaw. The building was later demolished.
Construction of a station of the Warsaw-Terespol railway
The setting of the cornerstone for the station of the Warsaw-Terespol Railway in the Praga district, 20th of May 1866. This picture was taken after 13:00, when the viceroy of the Kingdom of Poland, Count Berg arrived. Among those photographed were: the president of Warsaw, General Major Kalikst Witkowski, the chairman of the Managing Board of the Iron Road Society Leopold Kronenberg, lieutenant colonel of engineering, the acting director Tadeusz Chrzanowski. In the left is a train (with a Brassey locomotive) on which the participants of the event travelled to Miłosna Station.
A station of the Vistula railway
A passenger building at Praga Station. A view from the railway line, 1877. The station was located beyond the Saint Petersburg tollhouses, beyond the Praga cholera cemetery and near to Śliwicki Fort (presently the address of this spot is 5 Jagielońska Street)
Photographers of Warsaw. Maksymilian Fajans 1825–1890 / Fotografowie Warszawy. Maksymilian Fajans 1825–1890
Publishers: the History Meeting House and the Warsaw National Museum, Warsaw 2014
Measurments: 200 x 210 mm
Cover: soft with flaps
Number of pages: 136
Author: Janusz R. Kowalczyk, May 2014
Translated by: Marek Kępa