Painter’s Inspiration (1897). Jacek Malczewski (Polish, 1854-1929). Oil on canvas.
The vision of the eternal muse Polonia appears to the artist. Like a sleepwalker, Polonia presents a disquieting rather than reassuring image, with a tattered army greatcoat falling from her shoulders, a straw crown hanging from her head, and a soap bubble borne carefully before her—the symbols of degradation, betrayal and illusion.