Felixs Sypniewski (1830-1902)
Written and researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska

Early on in his career, Felixs Sypniewski did illustrations for books. The work above was part of a Biblical illustration, showing a scene from the Bible. It is referenced as The River Jordan. People are passing by, while others bathe in the river. You can see his earlier F.S. signature on the left. I am not sure what age Felixs was at the time of this illustration, however, it lacks the maturity of his later works.

This battle scene depicts one of the many battles between the Poles and the Ottoman Turks. Note the same F.S. signature on the left.

Felixs Sypniewski (1830-1902) was a Polish artist. His painting, Knights From a Religious Order, an oil on canvas (also called The Teutonic Knights), was lost from the Lublin Museum in Poland (1934-1945) during the occupation when it was inventoried by the Germans and numbered III BR/7.

This painting depicts the Teutonic Knights going home after the Battle of Grunwald in Tannenburg. On the morning of July 15, 1410, the armies of King Wladyslaw Jagiello (1350-1434) of Lithuania were there to turn them back.

Artnet has this oil painting entitled Equestrian Portrait by Felix Sypniewski.
One of Felixs' favorite subjects was horses, and they
are included in most of his paintings and drawings.

France was a place of exile for many Polish after the Third Partition of 1795, since they alone were sympathetic to Poland's plight. Poland ceased to exist as a sovereign nation. In fact, it would take 123 years before Poland was put back on the map. General Jean-Henri Dombrowski (1755-1818) was one of Poland's exiles living in Paris. On October 11, 1796, the "Polish Legion" was founded with Dombrowski and Napoleon Bonaparte's aid. The Poles had their own uniforms and commands were given in Polish, not French. Soon the legion consisted of 1,200 men, and later on Dombrowski gathered 5,000 total men. Napoleon (1769-1821) used the Polish to fight in many areas that caught his attention.

The painting, above, depicts a Lieutenant in the 13th Polish Hussar in full dress. The 10th and 13th units were the most decorated unit in the army. Note the White Eagle on his sabretache (bag)and his saddle pad in Red and white, Poland's colors. The sabretache shown is the type used by an officer. His Shako (hat) is also that of an officer (1806-1814) (Pivka).

I discovered Felix Sypniewski listed on a website produced by Braunschweig University Library. They said that there is more information about Felix in: Pamietnik Towarszystwa Przyjaciol Sztuk Pienknych w Krakowie 1854-1904 by Swieykowski, Emmanuel. -Wyd, 1. - Krakow - 1905. Does anyone have this book? If so could you send me his biographical information in English to add to this site? I will credit your contribution.

In this painting on the left is a Polish Lancer of the Imperial Garde. On the right is the habit of the Grenadier a'cheval. He is dressed in his Sunday best. Felix did not make all the uniforms to true styling it seems. This event falls between the dates of 1804-1814, when this style of uniform was in vogue. This painting by Felix Sypniewski, is a reproduction of his original. The reproduction was bought by Mathias Bersolm of the Society For the Encouragement of the Fine Arts, in Varsovie. The Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts was set up in 1860 and existed until 1939. Its aim was to popularize and promote Polish art (this during the time when Poland was under partitions), to organize educational activities, to help artists, to organize exhibits, to build up the collection of Polish art (purchasing works of art), to give stipends to young artists.

This painting depicts the Polish in a difficult time under Napolean. It depicts some of Poland's National heroes. Prince Joseph (Jozef) Sypniewski is painted within this painting as a theatrical representation of his involvement.

The painting above shows men gathered at their tents during the Battle of Grunwald and Stebark, in Tannenburg, in 1410. This battle marked the victory over the Teutonic Knights, led by Jagiello. Thousands of German Knights and their allies were killed. The Teutonic Knights were greatly humbled and never reached their previous military power afterwards. Peace was later signed at Torun. Lthuania recovered Samogitia, and Poland got Dobrzyn.

2010 will be the 600th anniversary of this battle. Most likely there will be various events planned at this time?

Another painting by Felix Sypniewski. The subject is the arrival of King Henry of Valois at Miedzyrzecz Castle in Wielkopolski in 1574.

Henryk Walezy/Valois (1551-1589)was the son of King Henri II (1519-1559)King of France, and Catherine Medici (1519-1589). His parents married in 1533. Henri paternal grandfather was Francis I, King of France (1494-1547)/ His paternal grandmother was Francis' second wife Eleanor (1498-1558), daughter of Philip I, King of Spain. His maternal grandfather was Lorenzo II, Duke of Urbino.

Henryk Walezy was Poland's first elected King. He was voted into office by the Polish nobles. He was coronated in Krakow, Poland in February 1574. Henri/Henryk returned to France, four months later, and ruled as Henri III. Henri III was assassinated, in 1589, by a monk, during the Catholic-Huguenot Civil War in France.

    Henri/Henryk's siblings were:

  1. Francis II (1544-1560), King of France in 1559
  2. Elizabeth (1545-1568)married Philip II, King of Spain (1527-1598).
  3. Charles II (1543-1608), Duke of Lorraine. Charles married Claudia (1547-1575).
  4. Charles IX (1550-1574) was King of France in 1560. Charles IX married (in 1570) to Elizabeth Hapsburg (1554-1592), the daughter of Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor.
  5. Francis (1555-1584), Duke of Alencon and Anjou.

This drawing was finished sometime in 1877. What is ironic is that this drawing depicts all the fanfare involved in the fact that Henryk Walezy was the first King of Poland to be elected. This fervor soon paled as Henri was king for only four (4) months. Duty called in France, so home he goes when his brother, Charles XI dies (Maclagan, Table 64).

The town of Miedzyrzecz (called Mersritz in German) was first recorded in Polish records in 1005. Miedzyrzecz Castle was built by King Casimir III, the Great (1310-1370). Casimir built many castles during his reign as King of Poland.

Miedzyrzecz was a 14th century castle, it was improved in the 15th century, and twice in the 16th century. By the 18th century, the castle had fallen into ruins, and only part of this castle survives today. The castle was partially restored between 1953 and 1964. Today the castle houses a museum and portrait gallery.

This painting shows two noblemen out riding their horses with their dogs following along.


Maclagen, Michael. Lines of Succession: Heraldry of the Royal Families of Europe. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 2002.

Pivka, Otto von. Napoleon's Polish Troops. Osprey Men-At-Arms Series. Berkshire: Osprey Publishing Ltd., 1974.

\Turnbull, Stephen. Tannenburg 1410: Disaster for the Teutonic Knights. Osprey's Campaign Series. Oxford: Osprey Publishing, Ltd., 2003.

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