Prison reportage from the father of Belarusian and Polis photography.
The National Museum of Poland has received a unique album of previously unknown works by Jan Bulhak.
Unlike many of his works, the photos from the album are not romantic street views of Vilnius where, Warsaw or Krakow, but the episodes of prison life.
The album is dated 1924. It contains 44 photographs. Every shot is signed by Jan Bulhak and has a brief description.
The photos depict the Vilnius Investigatory Military Prison which was situated in a baroque palace in 1921. The prisoners and prison guards were captured during their everyday routine life.
The photos show the gymnastics exercises, kitchen work, carpenter’s and blacksmith’s shops.
The prison library and prison museum also did not escape Jan Bulhak’s camera.
The pictures of hospital rooms and a dentist cabinet, a chapel, theatre and study classes and a barber shop may also be found in the album.
The album is considered to have been commissioned by the military authorities.
The album was the property of a private individual who agreed to sell the unique artifact to the National Museum of Poland. The album was purchased by PKO Bank Polski.
The photographs are the first works by Jan Bulhak depicting the life of penitentiary institutions.
Jan Bulhak is called the father of Belarusian and Polish photography.
He was born on October 6, 1876 in Astashyna (currently Hrodna region, Belarus). Jan Bulhak was a graduate of the Vilnius Gymnasium and Krakow University.
Jan Bulhak became a photographer by chance, when his wife was presented a photocamera. It was the beginning of the career of Belarus’ and Poland’s one of the most noticeable photographers.
Bulhak opened his studio in Vulnius (unfortunately. It was destroyed by fire in 1944) and established photoclubs in Poland and Vilnius.
Bulhak is best known for his landscape photos. Most Bulhak’s works are currently situated in Vilnius and Warsaw, some of them may be found in Minsk.
Jan Bulhak is the author of several books: My Land (1919), Aesthetics of Light (1936), Twenty-Six Years with Ruszczyc (1939).
Land of Childhood (1942, devoted to his birthplace of Navahrudak).