The Relationship between Painting and Photography: Ferdynand Ruszczyc and Jan Bułhak

Algė Andriulytė (PDF)

The beginning of pictorial photography by Jan Bułhak (1876–1950) is closely linked to the famous Vilnius artist Ferdynand Ruszczyc (1870–1936). The early originals of photographs by Bułhak were created between 1912 and 1913. The first pictorial attempts of Jan Bułhak can be found in his depiction of landscapes, which was favourable in the Vilnius Region. Bułhak became a good friend of Ruszczyc and found a commonality of spirit that sustained him from the first day they met. One aspect of the commonality pursued by Bułhak is the identity of sight. Bulhak used two tactics to follow the creation of Ruszczyc. First, he photographed specific objects already painted by the artist, mainly the motifs of the Bohdanow Manor. Second, he searched for equivalents of painting compositions in nature. In his landscape photography, Bułhak adopted the sight of Ruszczyc: identical or very similar compositions depict symbolic formations of the elements, massive clouds, earth images and lonely houses, which are placed in the broader context of neo-Romantic iconography. Early pictorial photography was distinguished by its close links with painting. The example of Bułhak shows that this was also characteristic of the spread of Vilnius art in the early twentieth century. In this case, we can see that the aims of painting and photography were identical; only the means of expression differed. The unique collaboration between the two artists revealed new possibilities for the transformation of the image and the interpretation of its symbolic content.

Keywords: pictorial photography, the early twentieth century, Vilnius, landscape, neoromanticism.