Piotr Kopszak (The National Museum, Warsaw), ‘Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and his French-German-Polish-English interests’

Letters from the Henri Gaudier-Brzeska archive at the University of Essex Albert Sloman Library provide unique evidence of Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and Zofia Brzeska’s very unusual relationship. Gaudier-Brzeska defined himself as “Syn”, the son  of Zofia Brzeska “Matka”, the mother. His craving to defer to the unsuccessful avant-garde writer that she was, reveals something important about her as well. Gaudier-Brzeska, perhaps inspired by Zofia,  was learning Polish with unusual zeal during his London period, read extensively on Polish history and executed works for Polish clients. Polish words appearing in Gaudier-Brzeska letters first, were soon replaced by longer phrases in this language. Her influence on his life seems paramount. Was Zofia Brzeska really the poor Polish teacher from Kraków or was she something more?

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