On his deathbed

On his deathbed (Orda)


Chopin on his deathbed

Napoleon Orda, pencil drawing, 1849, 166 x 200.

Collection: Muzeum Fryderyka Chopina, Warsaw [M/114].


After the defeat of the November Rising, in 1833 the Polish graphic artist, pianist and amateur composer Napoleon Orda (1807–1883) settled in Paris, where, besides completing studies in art (sculpture and painting), he also had music lessons with Chopin, who befriended him, corresponded with him and gave him dedicated copies of first editions of his works. Orda attended social gatherings in the apartments of Chopin, the Platers and the Czartoryskis, where many Polish emigrants would come together. In 1838, he published in Paris an album of works by Polish composers, with all the profits going to assist his impoverished fellow Poles in exile. Encouraged by Chopin, he published in Paris, and later in Warsaw, many of his own compositions (polonaises, waltzes, lullabies, solo songs). He made his name primarily as an artist, with his watercolours and drawings. In the years 1873–1883, he published in Warsaw, at his own expense, an album of historical views of Poland, containing 260 items, including Żelazowa Wola. The largest collection of drawings and watercolours by Napoleon Orda is held in the Muzeum Narodowe in Cracow.