THE INDIVIDUAL IN THE FACE OF HISTORY: PORTRA1T
OF GENERAL HENRYK DEMBIŃSKI BY HENRYK RODAKOWSKI
The aim of the analysis of Henryk Rodakowskim Portrait of General Henryk Dembiński
(1852) is to capture the origin of the work in the light of its visual structure. To do this,
one first has to conduct a thorough visual analysis of the form of the painting and reveal,
in as complex a manner as is allowed by the discourse of writing, what the work reveals by
itself. An analysis embarking on this task constitutes Part Two of the text, titled The Por-
trait and the Viewer.
Part One, Dembiński and the Iconographic Tradition, is a discussion with the hitherto
proposed interpretations of the origin of the painting under scrutiny; interpretations
which only take into consideration seąuences of motifs, in particular those of “the children
of Saturn”, Melancholia, and “the commander of a defeated army”. The polemic with such
criticism of the work is based on demonstrating the visual difference between examples of
this tradition and The Portrait of Dembiński.
Part Three, The Indiuidual in the Face of History, scrutinises the relations The Por-
trait of Dembiński forms with other works in respect of the similarity of their visual struc-
ture. An analysis of this similarity makes it possible to see dialogue between the paintings
in ąuestion, dialogue whose main theme is the individual’s entanglement in history. In the
light of this dialogue history is understood as, on the one hand, discourse on the progres-
sive development of history generating national ideologies, and on the other hand, history
of works of art, which are able to direct the individual towards transcendence and thus to
transcend their own Unitę, historical dimension.
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