* 1851 Brzostów (Polen)
† 1925 New York
The Polish painter Jan Chelminski was born at Brzostow in 1851. Between 1866 and 1868 he studied art at a drawing school in Warsaw and also took lessons from Juliusz Kossak. He earned his living as retoucher and lithographer before he went to Munich in 1873. From 1873 to 1876 he was enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, where the Hungarians Alexander von Wagner and Alexander Strähuber were among his teachers. Additionally, he educated himself in the studio of Jozef Brandt in 1875, in 1876 he took lessons with the battle scene- and horse painter Franz Adam. From 1874 to 1887 Jan Chelminski was member of the Münchner Kunstverein (Munich Artist Association).
As of 1875 the so-called Brandt-School, a circle of predominantly young Polish artists formed around the Polish painter Jozef Brandt. Apart from Jan Chelminski, Alfred von Wierusz-Kowalski and Franz Roubaud also count among the members. With depictions of historical Cossacks and Tatar warriors, horse markets and hunting scenes they became quite successful. Scenes from Napoleon‘s campaigns were also popular and recurrent motifs. Around 1870 Maksymilian Gierymski revived the historical theme of coursing in Rococo costumes, in the following years Jan Chelminski also adopted this theme.
In 1882 Jan Chelminski traveled to England. As of 1884 he lived in New York, between 1888 and 1899 again in London. In 1889 Jan Chelminski went on a journey to St. Petersburg. As of 1899 the artist was living in Paris for a couple of years. In 1910 Jan Chelminski was one of the founding members of the Polish Literary-Artistic Society in Paris, later he was the society‘s president. In 1915 Jan Chelminski moved to New York again where he died in 1925.