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Topolski, Feliks


TOPOLSKI, FELIKS (1907–1989), pictorial chronicler and muralist. Topolski, the son of Edward Topolski, a well-known actor, was born in Warsaw and studied art at the Warsaw Academy, and also studied at the Officers' School of Artillery. He later traveled in Italy and France, studying the old masters, before he settled in England in 1935. He developed an outstanding reputation as a draughtsman, writer, muralist, and portrait painter, and also worked in the theater. Appointed an official war artist during World War ii, he recorded the British and Allied forces in Russia, the Middle East, the Far East, and Europe. His drawings were used widely in the press and have appeared in a series of books he published on these wartime experiences. Topolski also excelled as a mural painter, for which he received commissions all over the world. His most famous murals are Cavalcade of Commonwealth, 60 × 20 feet, painted in 1951 for the Festival of Britain, and Coronation of Elizabeth ii, 100 × 4 feet, painted between 1958 and 1960 at the request of Prince Philip, which is now in Buckingham Palace, London. Another important commission was for 20 portraits of English writers in 1961, from the University of Texas. Topolski illustrated numerous books, notably the plays of George Bernard Shaw, as well as his own 20 works, including Was Paris Lost (1973). From 1953 he published Topolski's Chronicle, a hand-printed, pictorial broadsheet on current events. In 1969 he made a television film Topolski's Moscow and his environmental painting, Memoir of the Century, in London's South Bank Arts Centre was begun in 1977. He was elected to the Royal Academy in the year of his death. Topolski wrote an autobiography, Fourteen Letters (1988).

[Charles Samuel Spencer]

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