Alexander Orlowski was born in Warsaw into a well-to-do Polish family; his father had an inn in the small provincial town of Sedlitz. There, the boy met princess Isabella Czartoryskich, who was impressed by the boy’s pictures. She sent Alexander, in 1793, for professional training to the Warsaw studio of J.-P. Norblin and M. Boccarelli, the court painter of the princes of Czartoryskichs.
The early, Warsaw period, of his artistic activity is marked with an interest for the national liberation movement of the Polish people under the leadership of Thaddeus Koœciuszko. In 1794, Orlowski was a volunteer in a partisan group of Koœciuszko. After the defeat of the liberation movement, Orlowski for some time worked with a troupe of traveling actors. In 1802, he moved to Lithuania, and then came to St. Petersburg, where he lived to the end of his life. Under the patronage of prince A. Czartoryskich, he was admitted into the service of the Grand Duke Constantin Pavlovich.
A talented painter, draftsman and graphic artist, Orlowski created a lot of graphic works, pastels, and watercolors of romantic character. In 1809, he was awarded the title of Academician. Genre watercolors depicting working people and scenes from the life of the high society showed us the life of St. Petersburg of the time. Portraiture takes up a big part of his activities. In 1816, Orlowski, one of the first, tried lithography and published several series of lithographic works, which were appreciated by his contemporaries. After 1819 he worked as a graphic artist for the Topographic Department of the Army Headquarters. He traveled much throughout Russia and created many genre and battle pictures, as well as portraits of his contemporaries. In Russia, the painter was called Alexander Osipovich Orlowski.
The painter was a member of a maison loge, forbidden by Alexander I, he was friends with the progressive Russian intellectuals: Ivan Krylov, Alexander Pushkin, Petr Vyasemsky, Denis Davydov, and others.
Orlowski died in St. Petersburg in 1832.
Russian Water-Colour in the Collection of Hermitage, Leningrad. Moscow. Iskusstvo. 1975.