Born in 1853, Julian Falat began his artistic career at the Fine Arts Academy in Krakow, and continued his studies at the Kunstakademie in Munich. As a young man, he made the acquaintance of Prince Wilhelm of Prussia while on a bear hunt at the estate of Prince Radziwill at Nieswiez, and through his friendship with the Prince, Falat was invited by Wilhelm II to move to Berlin. For ten years the artist remained in the service of the Kaiser, creating the wonderful animal paintings for which he is most famous.
In 1895, Falat moved back to Krakow, and dedicated himself to painting views of his native city from different vantage points and different times of day. Painted in 1903, City Walls with the Basilica of the Vrigin Mary, Krakow is a wonderful example of this phase of Falat's work. The viewer stands at a point well outside the city walls where the landscape defining the foreground of the picture partially obscures the ancient walls of the city. The architecture of early 20th Century Krakow is expertly rendered, affording the viewer a unique vision of the old city with its distinctive skyline. Executed in neutral tones offset by the greens of the landscape in the foreground, the artist has used color to accentuate the outlines of the buildings of his home.