Marshal Józef Piłsudski with Anna Gąsiorowska
Title: Marshal Józef Piłsudski with Anna Gąsiorowska
Author: Józef Kuczyński (1912-1939)
Taken on: 2 August 1924
Kept at: Walery Rzewuski Museum of History of Photography in Krakow
The black and white photograph is in the shape of a standing rectangle 14.3 cm high by 9 cm wide. There is a white border around the photo and the worn out edges were cut with a notched guillotine. It’s a portrait taken indoors, possibly in a manor house in Goszyce near Miechów.
The portrait is of Marshal Józef Piłsudski with his goddaughter Anna Gąsiorowska, a girl around ten years of age. Both persons are captured in three quarters length, down to the knees. Marshal is sitting to the left with the girl to the right, his left arm embracing the girl around her waist. Anna’s right arm is straight, her hand resting on his left thigh. They are both looking straight into the camera lens, yet seem casually posed, not stiffened by modelling for the photo.
Józef Piłsudski is wearing dark trousers, a dark uniform jacket with a row of large metal buttons, a collar and external pockets on the chest. As he is sitting, the jacket is creased at his waist. Marshal’s hair is cut short, crewcut style, he has bushy eyebrows, a clearly outlined nose under which a long and thick moustache falls downwards. His face is happy, his narrow mouth closed, his forehead high. His head is slightly inclined to his left, his right ear visible. Marshal’s left hand is placed on the girl’s hip, his index finger in a bandage.
The girl is wearing a chequered summer dress with elbow-length sleeves and a low neckline rimmed with a flounce. Anna’s slightly curled and a bit unruly hair reaches below her ears, with a fringe (or bangs) falling to the middle of her forehead. A large, white ribbon sits atop her head.
On Marshal’s right side, a fragment of a teddy bear can be seen, cut off by the edge of the frame. Also partly visible is the back of the armchair, level with his ears.
The background is flat, with no distinct outlines of the room’s furnishings.
In the bottom right corner of the photograph is an embossed oval seal imprint embellished with stylised plant motifs above and below the text that reads “Kuczyński art photography, Krakow, Main Market Square, Spiski Palace”. The cream-coloured reverse features postcard-type print. A narrow vertical line divides the reverse into halves. On the right, almost in the middle, there are two horizontal lines of equal length, under which there are two slightly shorter ones and another one at the bottom edge. In that way, the photograph was given the function of a postal card.
Anna Gąsiorowska (1916-2000) portrayed here was a daughter of General Janusz Gąsiorowski and Zofia Zawisza, many years later a wife of Jerzy Turowicz, chief editor of “Tygodnik Powszechny” weekly magazine. She was a translator of literature from and into French. As reported by Wacław Jędrzejewicz and Janusz Cisek in Kalendarium życia Józefa Piłsudskiego, Marshal was frequently a godfather, and he treated matters related to his godsons seriously. His godsons included Andrzej, son of Józef Beck, the minister of foreign affairs, and Stefan, son of Ignacy Daszyński, the prime minister of the Lublin-formed government in 1918. Legionaries and former brothers in arms often approached him with the request to hold their child for baptism. Initially, Piłsudski consented readily, yet in time he became more selective when choosing his godsons. However, he continued to participate in baptisms or just agreed to have his name entered in baptismal certificates.
The same was true for weddings, to which he used to be invited by his subordinates, asking the commander to be their best man. Marshal Piłsudski served as the best man for General Kazimierz Sosnkowski and others.