Marian Kratochwil, Modern British artist (1906-1997)
Painter and writer, born in Kosow, Poland, whose early training was in the studio of Stainislaw Batowski.
First one-man exhibition in 1936 at Zacheta Gallery in Warsaw, brought him immediate success, the author Zofia Kossak-Szczucka, became a collector, buying the first picture sold at the exhibition.
He read philosophy and history at University Lwow. After active service in World War II he painted in Scotland, then London, chronicling the life of the city, also painting widely in Spain.
As a young impoverished artist he had the good fortune to inherit the estate of the artist Dame Ethel Walker. Dame Ethel in her seventies had met the young artist and had seen the promise in his work and unknown to Kratochwil had made him her beneficiary.
In 1961 he married the artist Kathleen Browne, assisted in the running of her school and late in life published a perceptive monograph on her work.
Like other Polish artists of his generation he made his escape in dangerous circumstances from occupied Europe and rejoined the Polish army in Scotland in 1940. After the Second World War his background and beliefs ruled out a return to his native country, and he arrived in London in 1947, more or less penniless.
Kratochwil began his career as a painstaking observer of the vanishing rural life of eastern Poland, and his drawings of it are of great historical as well as aesthetic interest. He continued this fine graphic tradition with sketches of Scottish weather done in spare moments while in the Polish army, then with scenes of London life in the East End, and after 1956 in Spain.
From 1932 onwards he developed his oils technique, to the point where he could justly represent the Spanish landscape, say, with the ferocious concentration on its rocky structure that David Bomberg evinced in his landscapes of the Ronda district, or again with the celestial vision of El Greco at Toledo, a city he represented in paintings that do no violence to the memory of his great predecessor.
Marian Kratochwil's love affair with Spain, and with Toledo in particular, was fully reciprocated, and it is in the Museo de Santa Cruz in that city that the best collection of his work is now to be found.
In 1970 the National Museums of Warsaw and Krakow aquired a number of paintings for their permanent collections. British Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and several foreign collections hold his work. He shared a retrospective with his wife at Polish Cultural Institute in 1994, showing his drawings of life and places on Poland's pre-war eastern borders.