The soul of Poland

On 21 October 2019, by Anne Doridou-Heim

This large painting by the Polish painter Edward Okun fetched €91,448 to the melody of a Chopin mazurka, setting a world record.

Edward Okun (1872-1945), Chopin Mazurka, 1911, oil on canvas, 50 x 103 cm.
Result: €91,448

The soul of Poland is currently hanging at the Louvre-Lens in an unusual exhibition for France. This retraces a very singular period when painters sought to restore an identity to their country, so long divided between its neighbouring powers ("Pologne 1840-1918. Peindre l'âme d'une nation" ("Poland 1840-1918. Painting a nation's soul"), until 20 January 2020). And what could be more Polish than Frederic Chopin's music? Edward Okun joined the movement with a huge composition entitled Chopin Mazurka, letting his brush run free amid these couples in traditional dress as they whirl round to the sound of a fiddle. The work was totally new at auction, and its creator one of the rarest in the French market: conditions propitious for it to take flight. It duly soared up to €91,448, setting a world record (source: Artnet) rather unexpectedly, as Okun's price index is usually highest in his native land. A fine finale for a painting that dialogues with the history of its country.

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