Monidlo – tinted photography art perfected

Centralna Biblioteka Rolnicza im. Michała Oczapowskiego


Monidlo – tinted photography art perfected

Monidlo is an ironic term used to describe hand-coloured wedding photograph popular in 20th century Poland. Monidlo was only referred to as “portrait” by those who ordered it from a photographer and decorated their households with it. The photographs were retouched by hand in black and white or colour to complete, improve and beautify the faces of bride and groom. Why the mistrust in pure photographic technique? That’s a question for another time.

Right now while we celebrate the great folkloric festival of All Mazurkas of the World, let’s have a look at the visual art of monidlo-portrait and the extent to which it has been inspired by folk art. I think that impact was huge. For example, can you imagine an Easter egg without colourful decoration? Or a traditional costume which is drab and modest? No, folk art is bustling with colour. Virgin Marys in shrines by the road are painted pink, blue and yellow and the shines themselves are adorned with garlands of flowers for May devotions.

Interior décor in traditional village houses includes colour oil prints of Catholic saints in the middle part of the main room at the top, guarding the people who live there. Hanging a black and white photograph next to them would be out of place. Therefore, it needed to be improved, transformed by an artist’s hand according to the aesthetic principle of the folk art and peasant tastes of country people.

The country house (and urban too) was the first gallery exhibiting tinted photographs. Perfected family portraits came into the rural houses long before black and white or sepia photographs came on display in art galleries and salons. Let’s remember that.

Andrzej Różycki


Łódź, 29.03.2016


Andrzej Różycki – film director, screenwriter, photographer, multimedia artist, and art expert. Graduate and fellow of the film direction department at the Lodz National Film School. He has been associated with the progressive and avant-garde milieus in Lodz (Zero-61Film Form Workshop,  Łódź Kaliska), and is currently a member of the Polish Association of Photography Artists. As a filmmaker he is the author of some fifty films about ethnology, folk art and traditions. He is also a great lover, connoisseur and collector of contemporary folk art., paintings, sculptures and pottery. His art collection is one of the most significant on the national scale.




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