Ben Uri collection

Actaeon Devoured by his Hounds

Artist information

Name Janina Baranowska (1925-)

Born Grodno, Poland

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Janina Baranowska was born in Grodno, Poland in 1925. In 1940, following the occupation and division of Poland by the Nazis and Soviet Russia, she was arrested and deported to Russia. In 1942 she joined the so-called ‘Anders’ Army (comprising the Polish Armed Forces in the Soviet Union and many refugee civilians), and was evacuated in spring 1942, returning to Poland via the Middle East.

Following Baranowska’s arrival in London in 1946, as David Bomberg’s youngest (and she alleges, his favourite) pupil at Borough Polytechnic, she learned that form and composition should underpin all drawing and painting (Bomberg encouraged his students to turn their works upside down to free them from the constraints of reality). From the 1970s, her earlier expressionism gave way to lighter tones in a tighter format, with a strict geometrical grid often providing an underlying compositional framework. She also designed stained glass windows for Polish churches including St Andrew Bobola in Shepherd’s Bush, a centre for the London Polish catholic community, where General Anders funeral mass was held in May 1970.

Baranowska is a former Board member of the National Society of Painters and Sculptors and the Association of International Arts; Founding Secretary of the Association of Polish Artists in Great Britain (APA) and President (1981-1991); and Director of the POSK Gallery (1965-2007). Her work is held in the National Museum, Warsaw, the Museum of Art, Lodz, and the Archives of Emigration Artists at the University of Torun. She has held solo exhibitions at the Royal Festival Hall, Drian, Grabowski and Bloomsbury Galleries in London, as well as in her native Poland, France and the USA.

Object Details

Date c 1968-9

Object type painting

Medium oil on canvas

Materials and techniques oil (medium) painting (technique) canvas (support)

Unframed 87.2 x 95.2 cm

Framed 91 x 108.5 cm

Acquisition Presented by Monika Bobinska from the collection of her parents, Janusz and Danuta Bobinski, 2018

Accession number 2018-08

Display status not on display

Janina Baranowska’s 'Actaeon Devoured by his Hounds', from the artist's earlier period, is the first work by a Polish refugee artist who arrived in Britain via the so-called ‘Anders’ Army, to enter the Collection. Marked by a rich, deep palette and layered impasto, it echoes the expressionist style of both her first teacher, David Bomberg, at Borough Road in the early 1950s, and fellow pole Marian Bohusz-Szyszko, her subsequent teacher at the University of Stefan Batory in London. It recounts the tale from Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’ of the unfortunate fate of the young hunter Actaeon, a grandson of Cadmus, who, after encountering the chaste Artemis (known to the Romans as Diana, goddess of the hunt), is torn apart by his own hounds.

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