The family was very important to Jan Szczepkowski. His attachment is especially visible in the relationship with his mother Józefa Szczepkowska from the Kuczyńscy (1840-1891, daughter of Jan and Maria from the Katańscy). The artist's mother died in 1891, when the future sculptor was only 13 years old. Szczepkowski mentioned her and her family at the very beginning of his memories contained in a book “Convex and concave”. He mentions that he truly adored her. She was brought up in Lwów during the January Uprising in 1863. As a 13-year-old girl, she was working for an insurgent organization that hid and looked after the insurgents. Jan Kuczyński, artist’s grandfather, was a famous lutenist at the time, as well as an acoustician educated in Italy. He owned the village of Hołosko near Lwów and several tenement houses in the city, so he was quite wealthy.

  Szczepkowski owes his prematurely deceased mother whom he has become. The artist's father wished Szczepkowski to receive a strictly technical education, but at the urging of his mother he allowed him to learn to draw and sculpture. The artist's departure to the School of Wood Industry in Zakopane is associated with another difficult life period of the artist, which he remembered painfully at the end of his life in the memoirs “Convex and Concave” compiled by Katarzyna Chrudzimska-Uhera. He mentions that leaving his family was an extremely difficult experience, especially saying goodbye to his mother, as if he had known he was not going to see her ever again.

  Jan Szczepkowski's father, Alojzy Szczepkowski (1839-1916, son of Józef and Maria from the Ruczka family) was an official of the C.K. Iron Railways. Alojzy Szczepkowski, had two more sons with Józefa: Kazimierz (1874-1945) and Michał (1885-1976).

  In the family of Jan Szczepkowski, the artistic abilities appeared very frequently. It can be very well observed in the family branch of Michał Szczepkowski. After marrying Helena Recht (1893-1955), he had two children: Irena (1921-1971) and Andrzej (1923-1997). Andrzej Szczepkowski was a famous Polish actor, like his daughter Joanna Szczepkowska (born 1953). She had two daughters with Mirosław Konarowski: Maria and Hanna who also became actresses. In addition, Joanna’s mother Roma Parandowska (1927-2007) was a daughter of the author of Mythology and twice nominated for the Nobel Prize of Literature Jan Parandowski (1895-1978), which means that Andrzej was his son-in-law.

Maria i Jan w 1917 r.

Jan Szczepkowski z żoną Marią przed lotem do Gdyni, 1937

  Jan Szczepkowski got married on 18 May 1913 to Maria Morozowicz (1885-1968). The wedding took place in the Bernardine church in Cracow. The witnesses at the wedding were the sculptor Xawery Dunikowski and the lawyer Albin Chęcińśki. Maria Morozowicz was an actress and writer. After graduating from N. Porazińska’s finishing school in Warsaw, she became an auditor at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow. It was there that she met and later married Jan. Before meeting him, she was growing as a successful actress. From 1902 she performed in the group of the Stage Lovers in the Elizeum hall at Karowa Street in Warsaw. She played in the Summer Theater, the Novelties Theater and the Polish Theater in Vilnius. Back then, she was active in the artistic and literary group “Banda” and debuted with her poetry in the publishing house “Żurawce”. She left the stage in 1913, when she devoted herself to a literary career after her marriage. She made one of the few exceptions when she returned to the stage of the Summer Theater in Milanówek with the premiere of the play New Woman (1929), which she directed and where she played the main role.

  In 1914, her farce “Tutor” won the second prize in the competition organized by the Modern Theater in Warsaw. When she moved to Milanówek after World War I, in the villa Waleria she wrote her most famous stage works. She was also the author of various movie scripts. In Warsaw in 1968, her memories contained in a book “Z lotu ptaka” got published.

Waleria wraz z córką Marią w ogrodzie

Waleria w oczekiwaniu na pociąg na przystanku kolejowym w Milanówku

  Maria was born in an artistic family. Her parents Waleria from the Kotowicz family (1862-1931, the daughter of Ksawery and Róża) and Rufin Morozowicz (1848-1931, son of Rufin and Katarzyna) all became stage artists. They got married in 1885, which was Rufins second marriage. From his first relationship with actress Rozalia Kozakowska (1851-1883) he had two children, who also became actors: Karolina (1867-1952) and Leopold (1876-1945).

  Waleria Morozowicz, from the Kotowicz family, was a mother-in-law of Jan Szczepkowski and an artist gifted with the highest female vocals: soprano coloratura. After marrying Rufin, she indulges herself in housekeeping and just “kept her husband’s side” as it was expected of women back then. When one of her children Jerzy had died from scarlet fever, she fell ill with eczema. Shortly following her recovery she took up an actual job in husband’s company. Despite his many ideas Rufin didn’t have any luck in business. One of his start-ups which was winemaking caused him to fall into debt. Only Waleria’s enterprise and strong character helped them build their fortune accumulated in their property in Błoń and two houses in Milanówek with vast gardens. She convinced her husband to open a perfume company and a shop. Of course, she was the head of the whole project, though her husband was the one branding it, thanks to his chemist profession.

Rufin Morozowicz

Rufin Morozowicz w scenicznej kreacji

  Father-in-law of Szczepkowski Rufin Morozowicz was a truly fascinating character. After graduating from Barszczewski’s, school he got into the chemical department of Warsaw General School. At some point, he left Warsaw to join an acting team on a trip to Płock, where he began his acting career. Later on, he stayed in Cracow and played comedy roles and sang in operas. He was also the director of his own theater, Morozowicz-Krotke, which he managed after his return to Warsaw. He mainly focused on comedies, but later on he gradually switched to Warsaw operetta as an actor and director. In 1890, he was offered guest appearances at the Imperial Theaters in St. Petersburg. Despite the promise of high earnings, he did not take the offer. There was also an incident considering his resignation from the position of the director of the operetta. When he got offended by actress Adolfina Zimajer, he submitted his resignation. The actress accused him of preferring production of wine to working as a director. The accusation was true, because after a visit to Vienna, where he was at the world premiere of Sydney Jones' Geisha operetta he was directing, he came up with the idea of producing his own wine from grapes imported from Crimea. However, the idea turned out to be a flop, leaving him in the debt of 100,000 rubles which he was repaying almost to the end of his life. Not discouraged by the failure, a few years later in the attic of the building at Czerniakowska Street in Warsaw he began to paint theater decorations for provincial theaters.

  He finally succeeded in opening a chemical laboratory and a store in partnership with Brandl. Thanks to Rufin’s wife Waleria, the enterprise started to bring income. It was enough for him to start the restoration process of the Waleria Villa. He was an architectural supervisor and an investor. The building was erected in 1910 and became a safe haven for the Morozowicz family. It survived in its original two-story form until 1915. The last floor burned down at that time due to the explosion of a shrapnel. The reconstruction in 1920 was again undertaken by Rufin Morozowicz, but this time building a one-story construction.

  Rufin Morozowicz died on 14 April 1931 in Milanówek. His wife Waleria died on 21 August 1931 also in Milanówek. They got buried together in the family tomb on the Powązki Cemetery. Their house was inherited by their daughter Maria, and after her death, “Waleria'' became the property of her daughter Hanna Mickiewicz from the family of Szczepkowscy (1915-2006).

Maria wraz z córeczką Hanią

Hanna i Adam Mickiewiczowie

  Hanna was born in Cracow, when Jan Szczepkowski was transferred to the reserve because he got wounded. After her Matura exam (Finals), she joined the Urban School of Decorative Arts and Painting conducted by her father. She was already talented in ceramics. During the occupation period, she studied medicine for two years.

  After the outbreak of the second world war she joined the underground and began her work as a liaison for special tasks. She was under the command of Major Marian Drobik alias “Woodpecker” who was a deputy and later the chief of the Second Main Command Troop of the Union of Armed Struggle (later called Home Army). In the late 1942 she was moved to work at the Industrial Studies Office of the Second Main Command of Home Army which her husband Adam Rymwid Mickiewicz (1905-1986) alias “Konrad” has been the chief of since October 1942.

  Adam Rymwid Mickiewicz's distant ancestor was the Polish national bard Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855). Adam Rymwid's great-grandfather, Aleksander Julian Rymwid-Mickiewicz (1801-1871) was the brother of the national poet of Poland, Lithuania and Belarus. An interesting fact is that the first husband of the grandmother on the side of Adam Rymwid Mickiewicz's father, Antonina from the Kościuszko family(1830-1906), was the dictator of the January Uprising, Romuald Traugutt. The name Kościuszko is also not a coincidence, as Antonina was the granddaughter of Tadeusz Kościuszko's brother.

  Adam Rymwid Mickiewicz and his Industrial Studies Office was preparing monthly reports based upon information collected from undercover agents from all over the Europe. Subsequently, the reports were sent to London, where they reached the Command-in-chief Staff. They mainly concerned Nazi’s (German Reich) arms industry. Among them, we can find one of the most important achievements of Polish intelligence agency: discovering the production of German V1 and V2 type missiles. Thanks to that information allies were able to bomb the Experimental Center in Peenemuende in 1943 and suppress Hitler’s plan on destroying England.

  After the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising, Hanna Mickiewiczowa joined sanitary service.

  Years following the end of World War II were a difficult period in the couple’s life. On the night of November 29-30 1950, Adam was arrested and was not let free until May 1953. The prosecutor who accused Mickiewicz was Helena Wolińska. In 1998, the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Poland sent a request to the British authorities for the extradition of Wolińska, accusing her of illegal deprivation of liberty in the years 1950–1953 of 24 soldiers of the Home Army, including Gen. Brig. August Emil Fieldorf alias “Nil”. On November 21, 1950, she issued a detention order for Fieldorf and supervised an investigation against him, which resulted in the execution of the “Nil”.

  During Adam Mickiewicz’s stay in prison, he fell ill and wasn’t getting any better even after getting released. Hanna Mickiewicz was carrying microfilms containing reports in a specially sewn belt during the search of the Security Service and decided to reveal them in November 1991. For many years Hanna has participated in Home Army’s operations and was a long-time member of the Social Committee of the Warsaw District Union. A few weeks before her death, she was awarded the Officer's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta. She received many more commendations, among them the Bronze Cross of Merit with Swords or the Home Army Cross. For many years, she cooperated with the Milanówek Enthusiasts Society in promoting knowledge about the difficult town’s history of Nazi occupation, Warsaw Uprising and Industrial Studies Office activity.

  Since 1978, she has been running a private museum of Jan Szczepkowski in the Waleria Villa. In 2007 the building and its impressive collection of Szczepkowski's artwork was purchased by town’s authorities. The rest of his art pieces remain in the foundation managed by Ewa Mickiewicz (artist’s granddaughter), which was established to protect and promote the artistic work of Jan Szczepkowski and the literary work of Maria Szczepkowska.

Information sources:

Bartoszek Monika, Jan Szczepkowski, Centrum Rzeźby Polskiej w Orońsku, Orońsko, 2014

Chrudzimska – Uhera Katarzyna, JAN SZCZEPKOWSKI, ŻYCIE I TWÓRCZOŚĆ, Urząd Miejski w Milanówku, 2008 r.

Chrudzimska-Uhera Katarzyna, Małżeństwo z rozsądku? : czyli o artystycznych dylematach i kompromisach w czasach władzy ludowej, w oparciu o działalność społeczną, wypowiedzi i projekty rzeźbiarskie Jana Szczepkowskiego z lat 1945-1964, Saeculum Christianum : pismo historyczne

Chrudzimska-Uhera Katarzyna, O rzeźbiarzu (nieco) zapomnianym, Niepodległość i Pamięć 17/1 (31), 257-271, 2010

Chrudzimska-Uhera Katarzyna, Prof. Jan Szczepkowski i jego dzieło (1878-1964), Milanówek Miejsce Magiczne pod red. Andrzeja Pettyna, Towarzystwo Miłośników Milanówka, 2005

Koszuta Mariusz, Spacer z Walerią po letnisku Milanówek, Wydawnictwo Impress, Warszawa 2010 r.

Morozowicz – Szczepkowska Maria, Z lotu ptaka, Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, Warszawa, 1968

Szczepkowski Jan, Wypukłe i wklęsłe. Wspomnienia, Wstęp, opracowanie i komentarz Katarzyna Chrudzimska - Uhera, Urząd Miasta Milanówka, Milanówek, 2010,788.html,news,752.html#_ftn2

Chwila odpoczynku. Waleria i Rufin razem z córką Marią

Jan Szczepkowski z żoną Marią oraz jej matką Walerią

Rodzinna scena. Małżeństwo Szczepkowskich i Waleria Morozowicz.

Waleria Morozowicz na tle willi Ewarystówka

Maria Morozowicz w trakcie teatralnej kreacji

Maria Morozowicz (siedzi pierwsza z lewej) w towarzystwie środowiska artystycznego WIlna przełomu XIX i XX wieku.

Maria Morozowicz

Jan Szczepkowski na tle Świątynia Hery w Agrigento na Sycylii, 1937r.

Maria Szczepkowska na wakacjach we Włoszech w 1937 r. Na odwrocie opis 'Rzym Colloseum'

Maria Szczepkowska na tle panoramy Taorminy, Sycylia, 1937 r.

Wakacje na Sycyli w 1937 r. Z tyłu zdjęcia opis Nasz niedoszły domek w Taorminie na Sycylii

Maria Szczepkowska na tle Świątyni Zgody w Agrigento na Sycylii, 1937 r.

Jubileusz pięćdziesięciolecia pracy scenicznej Rufina Morozowicza. Teatr Nowości, 12 marca 1925 r.

Rufin Morozowicz w otoczeniu ogrodu

Rufin Morozowicz w scenicznej kreacji

Rufin Morozowicz w scenicznej kreacji

Zaświadczenie o przyznaniu Krzyża Srebrnego Orderu Virtuti Militari dla Adama Mickiewcza

Róża Kotowicz, matka Walerii

Jerzy Morozowicz, zmarły przedwcześnie syn Rufina i Walerii

Rufin Morozowicz w trakcie spaceru po Letnisku Milanówek

Laboratorium firmy Perfection w podwórzu po lewo

Maria Morozowiczówna po skończeniu pensji

Nad morzem w Jastarnii. Od lewej Maria Skoczylas, Monika Żeromska, Hanna Szczepkowska

Rufin Morozowicz jako Menelaus w Pięnej Helenie Offenbacha