MARIA RITTER (1899 -1976)

The effect of Maria Ritterowna’s work is many hundreds and even thousands of works, due to repeatedly doing the same shot in order to find the most appropriate composition, the best iconographic shot: watercolors, gouaches, graphics, drawings, collages, sculptures, wall paintings. The artist’s painting career has been in the fifties of the twentieth century, when many trends in art; individualized, accentuated creative independence and innovation. Despite his interest in the latest artistic tendencies, Maria Ritter always kept a distance from the avant-garde. In her work from the 1920s, there are clear references to nineteenth-century realism and naturalism, as well as references to the work of academic professors (eg painting „In a cafe” is associated with the painting of Wojciech Weiss). At that time numerous portraits were created, especially many children’s likenesses, probably thanks to the work of Boleslaw Barbacki, master of this art. The work that she painted at that time reflected reality. In the 1930s Maria Ritter’s paintings showed more landscapes – views of Nowy Sącz, Sądecczyzna and Podhale, as well as distant places, painted during the stay at the seaside and during foreign trips. After academic realism, the artist referred to postimpressionism and colorism – earlier gray images became more colorful, thick forms gradually began to give way to more elongated, and the paint surface was divided into segments. Still life was no longer painted with every detail. Objects began to take geometrical forms, became visible divisions and decorations – artist was clearly fascinated by some of the avant-garde achievements seen in Paris. Italian experience, contact with the best works of Renaissance art, had an impact on religious themes. Very often in the sacral paintings of the artist appeared idealization, referring to the early medieval and Byzantine style. This work was a kind of antidote to the works in the 1940s and 50s praising the working class. In addition to the work that follows the demands of socialist realism, Maria Ritter continued to create works in the style developed in the 1930s, adding borrowings from the best designs of ancient art. In the 60s and 70s the most famous paintings of the artist with well-thought-out compositions and colors (eg Amazonka, Harmonista, Arlekin z gitarą, acts, landscapes) were created. These works are characterized by an increasingly limited range of colors, often toned, sometimes monochromatic, and by using simplified forms. Maria Ritter has created large-scale works, especially for her own projects for decor and furnishing of churches (polychrome, altar paintings). At the same time she was also a miniature mistress, painting religious scenes and portraits on small boards. Maria was looking for new painting techniques to diversify the texture of the image and achieve an interesting expression of the work. Apart from sketches and drawings, (the way to quickly quote ideas), the artist also made graphics, collages and sculptures. Not without reason was named a priestess of art from Nowy Sącz.











Author: Maria Marcinowska, Specialist for exhibitions of the Regional Museum in Nowy Sacz

Dates from Maria Ritter’s life

11 X 1899 Maria Ritter was born in Nowy Sącz as the fourth daughter of Felix Ritter and Anna Wiśniewska (later a brother was born).

1919-1920 After finishing school and high school for women in Nowy Sącz for two years she worked as a teacher in Ciechocinek.

1921-1927 Studied in Krakow: philosophy and art history at the Jagiellonian University (two years) and easel painting (Wojciech Weiss),  graphic (Jan Wojnarski), sculpture (Xawerego Dunikowski) and wall technique under the direction of Jan Hoplinski at the Academy of Fine Arts (five years).

1924/1925 During her private trip to France with Boleslaw Barbacki (related with Maria), she studied in Paris with Fernand Léger and Othon Fries. She had contacts with the avant-garde group of Polish scientists at the Cracow Academy of Fine Arts in Paris, run by Jozef Pankiewicz. She copied in the Louvre works of great masters: Rembrandt (Autoportret, Henrikje), Leonarda da Vinci (Saint John the Baptist), Velasquez’a (Infanta Margarita), Watteau (La Finette), and Reynolds (Portrait of the child), learn Dutch, Italian, Spanish, French and English art standards.

1926 She participated in the exhibition „Independent” for young avant-garde individualists in Cracow (first show of the artist’s work).

1927 She became a member of the moderate Cracow „Zwornik” association, which concentrated mainly on post-Impressionist artists (the grouping was active until 1939).

1934 This year she admired works of art and explored the secrets of wall painting in Italy.

The 30s of the 20th century. Renovated, designed and painted polychromes in churches, worked in the team of Józef Dutkiewicz in Dębno Podhalańskie,  made paintings on the walls of temples in Rzeszow and Łańcut and in Paszyn, near Mogilno, region of Nowy Sącz. She designed stations of Way of the Cross in Żegiestowo.

1939-1945 Acting in the conspiracy, spreading illegal newspapers and leaflets. She participated as a representative of the Main Guardian Council in support actions for political prisoners and Poles displaced from the Eastern territories. She worked with the Polish Red Cross and the Social Assistance Committee.

Since 1945, she has taken up social activities for her hometown. She organized the Branch of the Association of Polish Artists and represented the interests of this Association, presented the problems of the region during congresses in Warsaw and Cracow. She negotiated with the Ministry the purchase of works by artists outside of large cities.

1948 She painted polychromes in the interiors of churches in Brzesko and Tuchów.

Since 1949 She was the councilor of the City Council in Nowy Sącz, member of the Education Commission and the Monuments Conservation Commission.

1950 She joined the Polish Committee of Peace Defenders

1955 led the group consisting of: Zbigniew Borowski, Czesław Elster and Ewa Harsdorf, during the restoration and partial reconstruction of the frescoes in the City hall meeting room

1957 Together with colleagues from the ZPAP Branch in Nowy Sacz led to the opening of the Office of Artistic Exhibitions at 34 Jagiellońska Street, personally supervising the renovation of the interiors for exhibition purposes.

With Zbigniew Borowski rescued remnants of polychrome, found in a Jesuit monastery – transferred to gypsum boards rescued fragments were transferred to the museum.

1958 Decorated the walls of the sacristy of St. Margaret church in Nowy Sacz according to her own project created in 1956-57

1959 She made polychrome in the parish church in Witkowice near Kęty

1960 Decorated the church in Jakubkowice

1961 Organized a jubilee, individual exhibition of paintings and sculptures on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of work (exhibited in Nowy Sacz, Cracow, Rzeszow and Zakopane).

She initiated the „Group of Four” with Mieczyslaw Bogaczek, Jan Dzieślewski and Stanisław Szafran (exhibitions of this group took place from 1963 to 1971).

1964 She designed and performed many works for churches in the Tarnowska Diocese, (eg to places like Cikowice and Korzenna), She also made a sculpture of Pietá to the church in Grybów.

1965 Painted two paintings for the altar in the church  (Limanowa): Sacrifice and Coronation and triptych Holy Family to the school chapel. St. Kazimierz in Nowy Sącz with scenes of Annunciation and Sacrifice. For the school chapel in Nowy Sacz, she also made paintings of Saint Kazimierz and Christ the Teacher.

1972/1973 Completed orders for projects and execution station of the Passion in Limanowa and Biesiadki. She also created several versions of the Stations of the Cross to equip churches in Kąclowa and Falkowa.

1973 On request parish priest of Rzepiennik made feretron with the image of St. Francis, Maksymilian Kolbe. She also painted a copy of the altar image of the Transfiguration of the Lord for the church. Saint. Margaret in Nowy Sącz.

1974 After a severe stroke, affected by right-sided paralysis, worried about her inactivity, she sketched, providing these works with the inscription „left hand”.

25 March 1976 Died in Nowy Sącz and was buried in a family tomb in the municipal cemetery.

A biography based on the artist’s diary and the text „Maria Ritter” written by Maria Teresa Malyczak „Gallery of paintings by Maria Ritter and old bourgeois interiors”, Nowy Sącz 1999