Photographic voyages of Henryk Poddębski – a historical outline, beginnings of activity (part I) Cover Image
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Misje fotograficzne Henryka Poddębskiego – rys historyczny, początki działalności (część I)
Photographic voyages of Henryk Poddębski – a historical outline, beginnings of activity (part I)

Author(s): Małgorzata Florczak
Subject(s): Photography
Published by: Instytut Sztuki Polskiej Akademii Nauk
Keywords: Henryk Poddębski; photography; Polish photography; vintage photography; history of photography; documentary photography; Polish Sightseeing Society

Summary/Abstract: The introduction presents Polish nongovernmental organisations taking on the responsibility of preserving historical sites that began applying photography in their documentation. These include the Galician Tatras Society (Galicyjskie Towarzystwo Tatrzańskie), established in 1873, known since 1874 as the Tatras Society (Towarzystwo Tatrzańskie), the Group of restaurateurs of Eastern Galicia (Grono Konserwatorów Galicji Wschodniej), based in Lemberg (Pol.: Lwów; now L’viv), the Group of Restaurateurs of Western Galicia (Grono Konserwatorów Galicji Zachodniej) in Cracow (1889), Society for the Protection of Historical Monuments (Towarzystwo Opieki nad Zabytkami Przeszłości - TOnZP) and Polish Country Lovers’ Society (Polskie Towarzystwo Krajoznawcze), set up in 1906. Henryk Poddębski (1890-1945) joined the Polish Sightseeing Society in 1912 and from the very beginning started to photograph (ill. 22). Initially, he took photographs of sites in the vicinity of Warsaw, but he also travelled in other regions (ill. 23-25). In 1914 prior to the outbreak of World War I, Poddębski began taking pictures in Kamieniec Podolski and donated or sold some photographs to TOnZP. During the war, his photographical expeditions were restricted to the capital and its surroundings. When in 1915 Russian troops retreated from Warsaw, the Polskie Towarzystwo Krajoznawcze took over the evacuated residences of the (former) Royal Castle and Łazienki Palace. Poddębski was the only professional to carry out photographic documentation of those buildings, subsequently put on show at the exhibition Royal Residences in Warsaw. In 1920, Poddębski travelled to Noworadomsk, Rawa, Sulejów (ill. 29) and Piotrków. He became acquainted with a famous lover of the country, Mieczysław Orłowicz who moved to Warsaw in order to organise the Tourism Department, which was first subordinated to the Ministry of Public Works and subsequently to the Ministry of Transport. This acquaintance was very useful in the ministry as well as in the Polskie Towarzystwo Krajoznawcze. The magazine Ziemia (‘The Land’), which had been previously dominated by Jan Bułhak, started to publish Poddębski’s photographs. In 1925, he was given a commission by the Ministry of Public Works to take pictures in the region of Volhynia (ill. 30-32). In the same year, the weekly magazine Tygodnik Ilustrowany used his photographs to illustrate a text about this same region. According to the contract made with the Polskie Towarzystwo Krajoznawcze in 1927, the photographer travelled to Vilna region Wileńszczyzna (ill. 35), to Danzig (ill. 36-38) and the Polish-administered parts of Upper Silesia (ill. 39-40). At the end of 1920s a new period in his professional life begun. Poddębski received a further commission from the ministry to take documentary photographs. The effect of this work was one of the biggest and most comprehensive photographical collections that ever existed in inter-war Poland; apart from those of Jan Bułhak.

  • Issue Year: 2008
  • Issue No: 17
  • Page Range: 59-82
  • Page Count: 24
  • Language: Polish