I have always cherished this portrait of a Polish couple that my mother saved. The woman looks so serene and her eyes seem to gaze directly into mine. The man’s face and hands remind me very much of my Polish grandfather, Jozef Mirota. The couple could be posing for a wedding portrait, but nothing is written on the back. We think it is one of our Mirota photographs, and not a Szczerba one, because of the gentleman’s resemblance to our grandfather, but we really don’t know.
Our Mirota clan came from a tiny village in southern Poland called Pławna, in the municipality of Ciężkowice, in the Tarnów District of Małopolska. When my grandfather emigrated in 1906, this area was Galicia, then part of Austria. Pławna is about 87 miles (139 km) from Zakopane, an historic city in the Tatra Mountains. I had thought the imprint meant it was possibly taken on Bizański Street, or maybe the church in Zakopane where this couple married. After doing some research, I now understand it to be a portrait taken by the well-known Krakow photographer, Stanisław Bizański (1846-1890).
One of the websites that helped me in my photography research is the Walery Rzewuski Museum of History of Photography in Cracow, which luckily has an English version. Using the szukaj (search) I found Stanisław Bizański spent considerable time in Zakopane during the 1880s in the Tatra Mountain region, but had his main photography studio in Krakow, with a branch in Krynica. After his death his widow, Maria, ran the branch in Zakopane in 1892. Their son, Wladyslaw, ran the Krakow studio from 1896 – 1900. The photograph imprints usually show which city they were taken in. Here’s another website, fotografia kolekcjonerska, with Stanisław Bizański photographs.
Our photo is pasted on cardboard, and shows much more wear and tear than the other ones from the studio of Stanisław Bizański that I’ve seen. It appears to have been taken in the early 1890s. I would really enjoy hearing from anyone else that has similar Polish photos. As my sister and I do our genealogy research, we always feel blessed that our family saved the beautiful photographs from the old country.