Henryk Siemiradzki (1843-1902)
The Girl or the Vase? 1881, oil on canvas, 99 x 155 cm, private collection

Siemiradzki was a Polish Academic painter particularly known for his depictions of scenes from the ancient Graeco-Roman world and the New Testament. (We can compare these subjects to the favorite topics of Nikolai Nikolaevich Vedeniapin: see Doctor Zhivago p. 10, pp. 42-43.)

Born to a Polish szlachta family of a military physician in the village of Novobelgorod (now Pechenegi) near Kharkov, he studied at Kharkov Gymnasium where he learned painting under a scion of Karl Briullov, D. I. Besperchy. He entered the Physics-Mathematics School of Kharkov University but continued his painting lessons from Bespechy. After graduating from the University with the degree of Kandidat he abandoned his scientific career and moved to Saint Petersburg to study painting at the Imperial Academy of Arts in the years 1864-1870.

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