Michał Walicki (1904–1966)
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Michal Walicki (1904–1966) studied Art History at the University of Warsaw (1924–1929), where he received his doctorate for his dissertation on the murals in the Chapel of the Holy Trinity in the Castle of Lublin (1418), under the guidance of Prof. Zygmunt Batowski. He worked in the Department of Polish Architecture at the Warsaw Technical University, at the Warsaw School of Fine Arts (later the Academy of Fine Arts), at the National Museum, and the Art History Institute of the Warsaw University. In 1933, his earned his habilitation for his thesis on the stylistic development of panel painting in fifteenth–century Poland. During World War II, he participated in the resistance movement; he was arrested (in 1949) and put in prison. After his release (in 1953), he combined work at the Institute of History of Art at the Warsaw University and the State Institute of Art (later the Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Sciences). Michał Walicki’s academic activities encompassed a surprisingly wide spectrum of subjects, though his particular field of interest was painting. He had a ‘positivist’ temperament, concerned with a painstaking search for new works of art and the collecting of material, and above all with cataloguing and sharing the collections. In texts written before the war he built a firm foundation for the study of panel painting in fifteenth–century Poland, although his narrow national perspective is now certainly difficult to accept. After his employment at the National Museum in Warsaw, he changed his profile of research, focusing on modern painting (particularly Dutch), but also on the best understood popularization and education through art. After the war, he initiated and coordinated the work on a series of syntheses, setting new standards of quality in Polish academic studies. He belonged to the narrow circle of great humanists who could write about art with passion, in a manner accessible and understandable to all. He developed his own, easily recognizable style, impressionistic in character, well–suited to aesthetic experiences. As an outstanding university lecturer and museum official, he became one of the founders and most important authorities of the Warsaw school of art history, and as a personality had a profound impact on students and friends led by Jan Białostocki. Above all, he instilled in them a broad outlook on matters of art and the importance of publishing in foreign languages.