…Here, Wyspainski treats the subject instead as a celebration of new life. At a time when paintings of female nudes were rarely seen in Poland, the unusual intimacy of the bare-breatsted peasant mother nursing her infant is striking, all the more so because the model was the artist's own wife.
[Out Looking in: Early Modern Polish Art, 1890-1918 by Jan Cavanaugh, found at Google Books]
...Wyspiański himself does not express his opinions of his wife directly, he is rather restrained and economical with words describing Teodora Teofila. His letters and his notebook do not contain passionate confessions of love. They only feature mentions of children’s diseases and their mother’s loving care and slightly ironic comments about her resourcefulness and common sense…
He certainly suffered because of his family’s resentment and lack of acceptance for his decisions in the Krakow circles. In his letter dated May 1905, he bitterly explains to Stanisław Lack:
‘[…] Everything is like a ‘social’ comedy because they can not accept the fact that my wife is not from the ‘city folk’, the so-called intelligentsia, and they would give half of their lives for a good scandal, which they desperately look forward to, or a complex intrigue, or any sort of meanness […].’
This simple and uneducated woman took care of his house, financial matters and royalties he was entitled to from the Krakow theatre, raised four children, living in fact in constant poverty. Did she recognize the significance of Wyspiański and his art? Was she aware of the fact that she he lived with a great artist? Or perhaps the most important thing for her was just the family, the children, their health and well-being? In 1908, less than a year after Wyspiański’s passing, Teodora Teofila married Wincenty Waśka, a peasant from Węgrzce, where she lived almost until the the end of her life. She died in 1957. She is buried in the Rakowice cemetery in Krakow.
Ludwik Tomanek remembered the Artist’s wife in the following words: ‘[…] Poor old woman who never understood her husband’s greatness, so she did not even feel overwhelmed … Even so, if she were any other woman, educated and worldly, who knows if Wyspiański would be so happy with her. He needed his Teosia. Teosia did not bring in ideas, only pencils and paper. However, Teosia cooked well, watched over him, dressed and cut her husband’s hair. She herself used the word ‘doll’ to describe him. For her, he was a doll, for us – a cry of the nation’s soul […].’
Could Wyspiański possibly love her?
childrenmother and childwomanpastel on paper