Before 1516 the confraternity of Saint Reinhold in Gdańsk commissioned a retable for the Saint Reinhold Chapel of the Saint Mary's Church in the city. The outer wings of the polyptych were painted in the workshop of Joos van Cleve, who depicted himself as Saint Reinhold.
The polyptych was shipped to Gdańsk in 1516 and today is on display in the Gallery of Medieval Art of the National Museum in Warsaw (oak, central panel 194 × 158 cm (76.4 × 62.2 in), each wing 194 × 75 cm (76.4 × 29.5 in)). It is the first confirmed work commissioned by patrons from territories of today's Poland.
The second could be Triptych with the Adoration of the Magi with a monarch in a chain of the Order of the Golden Fleece in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin (oak, central panel 72 × 52 cm (28.3 × 20.5 in), each wing 69 × 22 cm (27.2 × 8.7 in)). It was acquired from the Reimer Collection in Berlin in 1843. Possibly commissioned by Sigismund I of Poland.
The outer parts of the wings were painted en grisaille with effigies of Saints Christopher and Sebastian, which may indicate the donor, his patron saints, however among recipients of the Order of the Golden Fleece between 1451 and 1531 there were no Sebastian and only one Christopher - Christopher, Margrave of Baden-Hachberg (1453-1527). Although the latter was portraited in the similar headdress (crinale), he was not a king to depict himself as one of the Magi, and his facial features are completely different. Also other garments are very close to those from the known effigies of the Polish monarch - eg. Communion of Sigismund I, a leaf from the Prayer Book of Sigismund I the Old by Stanisław Samostrzelnik from 1524 in the British Library. The king of Poland was awarded the Order of the Golden Fleece in 1519 at the age of 52.
The sources on artistic contacts of the Polish court at that time with the Netherlands are very scarce. Among commissions confirmed in preserved inventories and accounts the are the following.
In 1526 queen Bona Sforza commissioned in Antwerp through Seweryn Boner, 16 tapestries "de lana cum figuris et imaginibus" of 200 flemish square inches in its entity. They were transported to Kraków via Frankfurt upon Main, Nuremberg and Wrocław.
In 1533 king Sigismund I commissioned through Boner and Mauritius Hernyck in Antwerp 60 tapestries with coat of arms od Poland, Lithuania and Duchy of Milan among which 20 bigger with green and blue background, 26 tapestries without coat of arms and 6 tapestries with figural scenes. The commission cost was 1170 florins and tapestries were transported to Kraków via Nuremberg, Leipzig and Wrocław.
In 1536 the king acquired 7 paintings in Flanders to adorn the apartments of prince Sigismund Augustus at the Wawel castle for 35 florins ("pro septem imaginibus Flandrensibus pictis").
The subtle marble bust of Queen Barbara Zapolya from Olesko Castle in the style of Netherlandish renaissance was probably part of a larger commission made by Sigismund I around 1520.
The first wooden manor on the site was constructed for Dukes of Masovia in the 15th century. It was later owned from 1516 by Anna Radziwiłł, Duchess regent of Masovia and Queen Bona Sforza after 1546 for whom an Italian style Renaissance garden was created. The new lavish wooden manor in mannerist style was built in 1570s for Anna Jagiellon. It was here that the premiere of blank-verse tragedy The Dismissal of the Greek Envoys by Jan Kochanowski took place on January 12, 1578. Sigismund III Vasa resided in the manor during the summer. Between 1602 and 1603, according to the Royal accounting books, the old manor was renovated and a new wooden house was built nearby. In 1606 the plan of the manor and garden was prepared for the king by Alessandro Albertini.
When in 1619 the king purchased the allotments belonging to Augustinian friars the construction of a new brick palace become possible. The spot for a Royal summer palace was chosen approximately 120 meters north from the original manor. According to the cornerstone founded in 1972 in the foundations of the eastern wing the construction started on September 16, 1624. The structure was designed by Matteo Castelli and Constantino Tencalla and accomplished after king's death by his son Ladislaus IV Vasa. In 1655 during the so-called Deluge of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (invasion of allied forces of Sweden from north, Brandenburg from west, Transilvania from south and Muscovy from East), the castle was devastated and remained practically uninhabited till 1668 when it was given to Teodor Denhoff.
It is a rectangular building with four octagonal towers at the corners, arcaded courtyard and a loggia with a view on Vistula River. Largely destroyed several times it was reconstructed in 1975.
Plan of the manor and garden in Ujazdów near Warsaw in 1606 by Alessandro Albertini, scale from. 1: 800, hand drawn multicolored document, 42 × 56 cm (16.5 × 22 in), signed: Il sito della villa di Jasdovia; Alessandro Albertini, 1606, Archiwum Główne Akt Dawnych w Warszawie, Zb. Kart. 570 – 1
Cornerstone of the Ujazdów Castle, sandstone, 57 × 57 × 10 cm (22.4 × 22.4 × 3.9 in), inscription in Latin: REGIAE AMOENITATI / SACRA / COELO SOLO LVCO LACV COLLE VALLE / LAETA / PALATIA AESTIVA / FELICIB[us]. FVNDAMENTIS AVSPICATVRV[m.] SAXVM / ANNO D[omi]NI MDCXXIV SEPTEMBR[e] / SIGISMVNDO III POLONIAE XXXVII / CO[n]STANCIA ANNO REGE / POSITVM / ANNO D[omi]NI 1624 DIE 7[septem]BRIS (Devoted Royal delight (...) summer palace), Muzeum Zamku i Szpitala Wojskowego na Ujazdowie
In 1622 Constance of Austria, Queen consort of Poland, sent a gift to sons of her younger sister Duchess of Tuscany. The sons of Maria Maddalena of Austria were presented with a set of colourful costumes - żupan dress, delia coat and other necessary utensils of a Polish noble, including pernach mace and zygmuntówka sabre among others. Their new exotic attires were captured in a series of portraits by Justus Sustermans, at least one of which was sent to Warsaw in gratitude to Queen of Poland.
The portrait in the collection of Flint Institute of Arts (inventory no. 1965.15) depicting Maria Maddalena of Austria with her son Ferdinand in Polish costume is an exact copy of a painting preserved in the Uffizi in Florance (inventory no. 1890, 2246). It was by most accounts in the possession of the Polish Vasas and was transferred by John II Casimir Vasa to France after his abdication in 1668.
Detail of portrait of Maria Maddalena of Austria duchess of Tuscany with her son Ferdinand in Polish costume by Justus Sustermans, 1622, Flint Institute of Arts (inventory no. 1965.15).
Portrait of Leopoldo de' Medici in Polish costume with a pernach mace by Justus Sustermans, 1622, Galleria degli Uffizi, (inventory no. 1890 Nr.3660).
Equestrian portrait of Ferdinando de' Medici in Polish costume with a sabre by Justus Sustermans, ca. 1622, Konopiště Castle.
In the beginning of the 17th century the medieval abode of the Dukes of Masovia was largely extended to house the parliament of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, offices and court of the Vasas. The Italian architects Giovanni Trevano, Giacomo Rodondo, Paolo de la Corte and Mateo Castello constructed a Mannerist-early Baroque five-sided shape palace between 1598-1619. In 1621-1627, with the threat of Ottoman invasion, the palace was fortified with a curtain wall from the Vistula according to Italian concept of palazzo in fortezza. Between 1634 and 1637 a large hall was constructed in upper parts of the southern wing to house opera hall of King Ladislaus IV and in 1637 the staircase tower was largely remodelled (Ladislaus' Tower). In 1643 the Prince-Cardinal Charles Ferdinand Vasa's Palace was erected on the northern bastion of the Castle's curtain wall and in 1644 a new gate (Saint John's Gate) and the Sigismund Column were erected by royal architect Constantino Tencalla in Baroque style.
During the so-called Deluge of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (invasion of allied forces of Sweden from north, Brandenburg from west, Transilvania from south and Muscovy from East), the castle was devastated in three occupations by foreign forces between 1655-1656 (the last was Transilvanian occupation). All valuables, including marble pavements, chimneys and window sills were shipped to Sweden, while the interiors were turned into stables and a hospital.
Detail of the Plan of Warsaw in 1656 by Nicolas Pérelle after Erik Dahlbergh, printed in 1696. The fortifications of the Royal Castle in Warsaw were built in the years 1596-1627 giving the structure the more modern appearance according to principles of the Old Italian School (circle of Antonio da Sangallo). They consisted of a 162-metre-long curtain wall flanked by bastions on either side. Two shorter walls connected the bastions with the Castle. The wall rose at least 6.70 metres above the ground level. The fortifications were made of granite rocks, and due to the instability of the terrain, oak piles were also driven into the ground, the basic material for the surface construction was limestone surmounted with bricks. The remnants of the fortifications were absorbed by subsequent buildings in the 18th-century.
2. Old Town Hall at the Main Market Square
3. Saint John's Cathedral
4. Royal Castle
5. Courtyard before the castle with Baroque Saint John's Gate
6. Sigismund Column
7. Medieval Cracow's Gate
Ladislaus' Tower of the Castle, 1637.
Dutch tile with a soldier, 1630s, from the excavations in the Castle's garden.
Stove tile with a lion or a griffon, 17th century, from the excavations in the Castle's garden.
Tile with eagles from a stove, 17th century, from the excavations in the Castle's garden.
Sigismund III Vasa on catafalque by Christian Melich, 1633, Wawel Royal Castle.
Portrait of Archduchess Maria Anna of Bavaria (1551-1608) in mourning by Ottavio Zanuoli, ca. 1600, National Museum in Szczecin. Possibly from the collection of Sigismund III; mother of two wives of Sigismund III Vasa had a great influence at the court in Warsaw.
Portrait of bearded female court dwarf Helena Antonia Galeckha of Liège by Anonymous from Wrocław, ca. 1621, National Museum in Wrocław. Helena Antonia came to Poland in 1605 as a maid of honour of Queen Constance of Austria.
Hunting set of eviscerating instruments of Sigismund III Vasa made of iron and stag's horn by Anonymous from Poland or Germany, 1621, National Museum in Warsaw. Maker's mark in the form of three towers. Adorned with crowned cartouche with arms of Poland, Lithuania, Sweden, Gotland and the Vasas and a hunting scene - stag brought to bay by hounds; in compartments three small knives.
Polish hussar saddle by Anonymous from Poland, before 1600, Kremlin Museum, from the collection of Sigismund III Vasa.
Kalkan shield of Sigismund III Vasa by Anonymous from Persia or Turkey, end of the 16th century, Wawel Royal Castle.
Silverware of Sigismund III Vasa in archaeological cabinet in Kraków, published in Tygodnik ilustrowany, 1877, No. 64.
Ship-shaped table decoration with the Colossus of Rhodes of Sigismund III Vasa by Georgius Sporboth, 1580s, Kremlin Museum.
Ewer from a hand wash set of John Casimir Vasa by David Schwestermüller, ca. 1640, Kremlin Museum.
Silver vessel in the form of a camel by Salomon von der Rennen, Gdańsk, 1642-1644, Kremlin Museum. Presented by the Commonwealth's ambassador Adam Kisel to Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich in 1647. Possibly a royal commission that adorned Castle's interiors.
Crystal bowl by Anonymous from Western Europe (Milan?), beginning of the 17th century, Kremlin Museum. Presented by King Ladislaus IV Vasa to Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich in 1645.
Salt cellar of Sigismund III Vasa by Anonymous from Poland, 1610s, Treasury of the Munich Residence.
Ciborium made by Sigismund III Vasa, before 1623, destroyed during World War II.
Filigree tray by Anonymous from Poland, ca. 1620, Schatzkammer der Residenz München, from dowry of Anna Catherine Constance Vasa.
Amber platter by Anonymous from Königsberg, 1620s, Kremlin Museum. Presented by the Commonwealth's ambassador Józef Gabriel Stepkowski to Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich in 1645. Possibly a royal commission that adorned Castle's interiors. Among gifts from King Ladislaus IV Vasa in 1645 there were also:
- a chess table with a set of chess pieces,
- a very large platter in silver frame,
- several magnificent cups,
- a coffer,
- a small chest of drawers with numerous amber souvenirs in it,
- a crucifixion scene in amber.
Amber candlesticks decorated with ivory by Anonymous from Gdańsk or Königsberg, mid 17th century, Kremlin Museum. Possibly a royal commission that adorned Castle's interiors and was presented to the Tsar of Russia.
Cover of a book with supralibros of Bishop Charles Ferdinand Vasa, 1630s, Polish Library in Paris.
Casket regal, a small portable organ, by Anonymous from Poland, ca. 1640, Royal Castle in Warsaw, from the court of Ladislaus IV Vasa.
Button of Sigismund III Vasa and parts from the so-called "Vasa chain" by Anonymous from Poland, before 1632, Jasna Góra Treasury.
Enamelled gold medal in filigree frame of Ladislaus IV Vasa by Anonymous from Poland, ca. 1636, Kunsthistorisches Museum.
Portrait of Queen Cecilia Renata of Austria, first wife of Ladislaus IV Vasa by Peter Danckerts de Rij, ca. 1643, Pushkin Museum in Moscow. The painting initially adorned the Marble Room at the Royal Castle in Warsaw.
Portrait of Queen Marie Louise Gonzaga, second wife of Ladislaus IV Vasa by Anonymous painter after Justus van Egmont, between 1646-1650, Grazie di Curtatone (Mn), Santuario della B. V. delle Grazie, Sagrestia Nuova.
Miniature of Queen Marie Louise Gonzaga by Jean Petitot, before 1650, Ham House, Surrey.
Reconstruction of the Opera Hall of Ladislaus IV Vasa at the Royal Castle in Warsaw. Double-storied and over 50m long room was constructed before 1637 and finally destroyed by Russian troops in 1707.
1. Great Staircase
2. Vestibule before the Senate Chamber
3. Senate Vestibule
5. Audience space
Design for a coffered ceiling for the Royal Castle or Villa Regia Palace in Warsaw by Giovanni Battista Gisleni, 1637/1643, Dresden State Art Collections.
Ebony cabinet with Roman gods and personifications of the Four Seasons by David Altenstetter, ca. 1600-1610, Visitationist Monastery in Warsaw, one of a pair commissioned by Sigismund III Vasa.
Ebony cabinet with Roman gods and personifications of the Four Seasons by Georg Jungmair, ca. 1600-1610, Visitationist Monastery in Warsaw, one of a pair commissioned by Sigismund III Vasa.
Personification of summer from the ebony cabinet with Roman gods and personifications of the Four Seasons by Georg Jungmair, ca. 1600-1610, Visitationist Monastery in Warsaw, one of a pair commissioned by Sigismund III Vasa.
Reliquary of Saint Victoria by Jeremias Flicker II, ca. 1620, Visitationist Monastery in Warsaw, commissioned by Sigismund III Vasa.
Fragment of tin-silver sarcophagus of Sigismund III Vasa with the king at Smolensk in 1610 by Michael Fros in Wrasaw and Anonymous from Gdańsk, 1632, Wawel Cathedral.
Silver plaque with the Washing of the Feet (upper part) and the Last Supper (lower part) by Matthias Walbaum, circa 1623-1625, Vilnius Cathedral, turned to serve as a tabernacle door before 1712. Possibly one of a series of silver plaques commissioned in Augsburg by Sigismund III Vasa. Current location, Vilnius Cathedral, close to the former Ducal Palace, makes it even more probable. Very similar plaques by Walbaum are in the Visitationist Church in Warsaw (Altar of Marie Louise Gonzaga, turned into a tabernacle) and in the Diocesan Museum in Płock (Portable altar of Constance of Austria).
Silver plaque with Adoration of the Magi in mannerist frame by Matthias Walbaum, 1615-1620, Museum of Gniezno Archdiocese. Most probably a part of Sigismund III's commission, which was later granted to bishop Jan Różycki, secretary of both Ladislus IV and John II Casimir, who in turn offered the work to Gniezno Cathedral.
Ebony altar adorned with silver plaques with the scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary by Hans Jakob I Bacchmann, 1624, Jasna Góra Treasury. Most probably commissioned by Sigismund III Vasa.
Gold statuette of Saint John the Evangelist by Anonymous from Augsburg, 1610s, Cathedral Treasury in Wrocław. King Sigismund III had 12 statues of the apostles of pure gold on an ebony base and a statue of the Saviour, the Virgin Mary, and that of holy martyr Sigismund, all of pure gold. The statuette of Saint John the Evangelist was donated by Sigismund's son, Charles Ferdinand Vasa, to the Wrocław Cathedral.
Reliquary for a piece of wood from the Holy Cross with imperial double-headed eagle and figures of St. Ladislaus and St. Cecilia by Hornus Reutel, 1637, Treasury of the Dominican Monastery in Kraków, wedding gift to Ladislaus IV and Cecilia Renata of Austria from Rafał Mikołaj Korsak, Uniate Metropolitan Archbishop of Kiev.
Silver-gilt ciborium founded by Queen Constance of Austria by Anonymous from Poland, ca. 1629, Corpus Christi Church in Tuchola.
Chasuble according to tradition donated by Queen Cecilia Renata between 1642 and 1644, fabric from Italy first half of the 16th century, Jasna Góra Treasury.
Portrait of Philip III of Spain by Andrés López Polanco, ca. 1617, Skoklosters slott, possibly from the collection of Sigismund III Vasa. In 1615 Queen Constance of Austria, Sigismund's second wife, ordered the Commonwealth's ambassador in Spain to ask for the portraits of the members of the Spanish Royal family. Her elder sister Margaret of Austria, was a wife of King Philip III of Spain. Since the new Holy Roman Emperor, Matthias, resided more frequently in Vienna then in Prague from 1612, the portraits of Spanish Habsburgs would be sent to Vienna after this date, consequently it is more probable that the Philip III's portrait was captured by Swedish forces in Warsaw and not in Prague.
Portraits of two sisters, daughters of Philip III of Spain and Margaret of Austria: Empress Maria Anna of Spain by Frans Luycx, ca. 1638 and Anne of Austria, Queen of France by Charles Beaubrun, ca. 1645. Both portraits were given to the Visitationist Monastery in Warsaw by John II Casimir Vasa in September 1668 and by most accounts adorned Castle walls.
Portrait of Eleonora Gonzaga (1630-1686) by Frans Luycx, ca. 1651, Nationalmuseum in Stockholm. A portrait of a relative to Queen Marie Louise Gonzaga and a wife of Emperor Ferdinand III, cousin of John II Casimir Vasa was sent to Warsaw and was captured by Swedes in 1655 (from the collection of Gripsholm Castle).
The sculpture ranks as one of the most significant examples of this type. It depicts the standing Virgin tenderly holding the infant Christ. The feminine beauty of Mary is allusion to her spiritual beauty, while the apple given to the Child is allusion to Mary as incarnation of the new Eve and Christ's sacrifice. With humble consent to the Incarnation she has redeem disobedience of Eve and Original Sin. Stylistic nature indicate Prague during the reign of King Wenceslas IV (1378-1419) as the most probale place of origin.
polychromy on gaize, c. 1390, 113 × 47.5 × 32 cm (44.5 × 18.7 × 12.6 in), inventory number Śr.8, on permanent display in the Gallery of Medieval Art, Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie (MNW)
The painting reflects the impressions from a journey to Italy and to North Africa which took place in the 1930s. The Meeting is the result of Cybis's enchantment of indigenous people of Africa. Glistening of their smooth skin is contrasted with rough walls of homes resulting in certain realism. Cybis sympathetically details the lines of their faces and marks the scars of the girl's face.
The whole scene is possibly an allusion to the story of the Meeting at the Golden Gate, a depiction of the parents of the Virgin Mary, Joachim and Anne rejoicing after a long period of separation. Following this interpretation we can find a reference to one of the most famous illustrations of the scene by Giotto di Bondone (created between 1304 and 1306), strikingly similar in color palette and technique of portraying three dimensional world.
The scene is clearly divided into woman's and man's sphere emphasized by selected colors. The woman with typical feminine features of a Fulani woman is dressed in pink, while a man in a conical herdsman hat is less visible on the left and taken from the profile.
Apart from obvious inspiration by medieval Italian fresco painting, we can find some reference to the traditional African art. The men’s hat in the form of the "Mount of the world", one of the main features of the painting, was additionally emphasized in bas relief. A red handprint to the left, just as Prehistoric red ochre hand tagging, is a preliterate symbol of human presence and territory marking. Red, a primal color of emotion and attraction, symbolizes the rites of passage such as puberty or marriage. The woman have prominent facial scarification in form of scars on her nose, cheeks and forehead. Mud houses and an archway in the background are typical for North – Western Africa.
The artist, whose work was largely influenced by the art of the German New Objectivity, introduced in this composition textural effects imitating the quality of depicted material like gilding and polished surface of the sky at sunset, another reference to the Gothic painting, relief elements, glued fabric scraps and mixture of sand and plaster as a window frame.
collage on plywood, 1931, 58.5 × 73.2 cm (23 × 28.8 in), inventory number MPW 1389, on permanent display in the Gallery of 20th century art, Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie (MNW)
On the occasion of 150th anniversary of Olga Boznańska's birth on 15 April 2015, the National Museum in Krakow and the National Museum in Warsaw organized and exhibition devoted to her work and life.
Olga Boznańska is considered as one of the most distinguished painters of the Young Poland movement, active in Munich and Paris. She was born in 1865 in Kraków and died in 1940 in Paris. Her artistic formation was influenced by sophisticated art of James McNeill Whistler, and artists placed on the border between realism and impressionism, Edouard Manet and Wilhelm Leibl. During the Munich period she created large, full-length portraits inspired by Velázquez.
The subject-based arrangement of the exhibition include portraiture, images of children, motherhood, urban landscapes, atelier interiors and still-life. It was supplemented with works by artist who influenced and inspired her.
Olga Boznańska (1865-1940), Girl Lost in Thought, 1889, private collection
Olga Boznańska (1865-1940), Portrait of a Young Woman with a Red Parasol, 1888, private collection
Marie Bracquemond (1840-1916), Three Ladies with Parasol, c. 1880, Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Olga Boznańska (1865-1940), View from the Kraków Studio, c. 1914, National Museum in Warsaw
Olga Boznańska (1865-1940), The Cathedral in Pisa, c. 1905, National Museum in Warsaw
Olga Boznańska (1865-1940), Self-portrait, 1893, National Museum in Warsaw
Olga Boznańska (1865-1940), Portrait of a Young Woman, 1890s, private collection
Eugeniusz Zak (1884-1926), Portrait of the Artist's Mother, 1905, private collection deposited to National Museum in Kraków
Olga Boznańska (1865-1940), Nasturtiums (Composition with Nasturtiums), c. 1906, National Museum in Krakow
Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904), Roses in a Flat vase, 1882, Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Józef Czajkowski (1872-1947), Flowers in a Vase, c. 1900, National Museum in Warsaw
Palette of Olga Boznańska, National Museum in Kraków
During the renovation in the second half of the 17th century the palace was adorned in late baroque style. With a certain level of probability the frescoes can be attributed to Tylman Gamerski or his circle, due to similarity to some other works. Although predominantly known as an architect, Gamerski was also a good painter, educated in his native Low Countries and in Venice. Approximately 30% of original decoration was restored after the war.
Initially the room served as a bedchamber for master of the house. The walls were covered with frescoes depicting ancient ruins (colonnades, fountains, gates, arcades, vases) and a wooden panneling to the one sixth of its hight, which was replaced with copies of Dutch tiles after the war.
The style of decoration referring to the work of Claude Lorrain was completed with floral and mythological stuccoes in overdoor and above fireplace.
The room was originally an antechamber of Kazimierz Ludwik Bieliński. The preserved frescoes were created during second reconstruction of the palace in the second half of the 17th and are attributed to Tylman Gamerski. Approximately 75% of the original decoration preserved.
Among elements depicted are two and three masthead boats moored in the port or entering the port, small boats filled with people, lighthouses and the rocky coast. The lower parts of the walls were covered with Dutch tiles.
As in the other rooms the decoration included rich stuccos in the form of oval cartouches in overdoor, adorned with shells, acanthus twigs and grass blades. The cartouches were filled with images in sepia (only one of them preserved).
The chimney with phoenix born from ashes, that once adorned the rooms of Ludwika Maria Bielińska, was moved to the staircase. The original decoration of wife's rooms did not preserved.
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