Family of Nicolaus Copernicus as donors by Michel Sittow
In 1484 Michel Sittow (ca. 1469-1525), a painter born in the Hanseatic city of Reval in Livonia (now Tallinn in Estonia) moved to Bruges in the Low Countries, at that time a leading economic center of Europe where painting workshops flourished. It is thought that he worked as an apprentice in the workshop of Hans Memling till 1488 and that he traveled to Italy. When in Bruges Sittow undoubtedly had the opportunity to meet Mikołaj Polak (Claeys Polains), a painter from Poland, who in 1485 was sued by the Bruges Guild of Saint Luke for using inferior Polish lazurite.
From 1492 Sittow worked in Toledo for Queen Isabella I of Castile as a court painter. He left Spain in 1502 and was presumably working in Flanders for Joanna of Castile and her husband Philip the Handsome. Michel probably visited London between 1503-1505, although this trip is not documented. Several portraits of English monarchs attributed to him could also have been made in Flanders on the basis of drawings sent from London. In 1506 the painter returned to Reval, where he joined the local guild of painters in 1507, and married in 1508. In 1514 he was called to Copenhagen to portray Christian II of Denmark. The portrait was intended to be a gift to Christian's fiancée, Isabella of Austria, a granddaughter of Isabella of Castile. From Denmark he traveled to Flanders, where he entered the service of Margaret of Austria, then regent of the Netherlands, and from there to Spain, where he returned to the service of Ferdinand II of Aragon, husband of Queen Isabella. When Ferdinand died in 1516, Sittow continued as court painter for his grandson Charles I, future Emperor Charles V. On an unknown date (between 1516 and 1518) Michel Sittow returned to Reval, where he married Dorothie, daughter of a merchant named Allunsze. In 1523, Sittow held the position of Aldermann (guild leader) and he died of plague in his hometown between December 20, 1525 and January 20, 1526.
It is possible that between 1488-1492 Sittow returned to Tallinn. If he traveled by sea to or from Bruges or Spain, his possible stop was one of the largest seaports on the Baltic Sea - Gdańsk in Polish Prussia, the main port of Poland-Lithuania. If he traveled by land, he undoubtedly traveled through Polish Prussia and one of the biggest cities on the route from Bruges to Livonia - Toruń, where king Jagiello built a castle between 1424 and 1428 (Dybów Castle).
One of the major works from this period in Toruń is a late Gothic painting depicting the Descent from the Cross with donors, today in the Diocesan Museum in Pelplin (tempera on oak panel, 214 x 146 cm, inventory number MDP/32/M, earlier 184984). It was earlier in the Toruń Cathedral and originally, probably, in the demolished church of St. Lawrence in Toruń or as the property of the Brotherhood of Corpus Christi at the Cathedral.
The work was showcased during an international exhibition at the National Museum in Warsaw and the Royal Castle in Warsaw - "Europa Jagellonica 1386-1572" in 2012/2013, devoted to the period in which the "Jagiellonian dynasty was the dominant political and cultural force in this part of Europe". Many authors underline inspirations and influences of Netherlandish painting in this panel, especially by Rogier van der Weyden (after "Sztuka gotycka w Toruniu" by Juliusz Raczkowski, Krzysztof Budzowski, p. 58), the master of Memling, who had served his apprenticeship in his Brussels workshop. The landscape and technique can even bring to mind works by Giovanni Bellini (d. 1516), like Deposition (Gallerie dell'Accademia) and colors the works by Spanish masters of the late 15th century.
It is known that in 1494 a Dutch painter named Johannes of Zeerug stayed at the court of king John I Albert. He could be the possible author of Sacra Conversazione with Saint Barbara and Saint Catherine and donors from Przyczyna Górna, created in 1496 (Archdiocesan Museum in Poznań). This painting was founded to the Parish church in Dębno near Nowe Miasto nad Wartą by Ambroży Pampowski of Poronia coat of arms (ca. 1444-1510), Starost General of Greater Poland, an important official close to the royal court, who was depicted as donor with his first wife Zofia Kot of Doliwa coat of arms (d. 1493). The style of the painting in Pelplin is different and resembles the works attributed to Michel Sittow - Portrait of a man with a pink - Callimachus (Getty Center), Portrait of King Christian II of Denmark (Statens Museum for Kunst), Madonna and Child (Gemäldegalerie in Berlin) and Portrait of Diego de Guevara (National Gallery of Art in Washington). He was also the only known artist of this level from this part of Europe, educated in the Netherlands, to whom the work can be attributed.
The Descent from the Cross in Pelplin was a part of a triptych. However, the two other panels were created much later in different workshops. Basing on style and costumes these two other paintings are attributed to local workshop under Netherlandish and Westphalian influences and dated to around 1500. All three paintings were transferred to the Museum in Pelplin in 1928 and the central panel showing the Christ crowned with thorns was lost during World War II. The left wing representing Flagellation of Christ is now back in the Toruń Cathedral. This painting has almost identical dimensions as the Descent from the Cross (tempera on oak panel, 213 x 147 cm) and one of the soldiers tormenting Jesus has a royal monogram under crown embroidered with pearls on his chest. This intertwined monogram can be read as IARP (Ioannes Albertus Rex Poloniae), i.e. John I Albert, King of Poland from 1492 to his death in 1501. The founder of this painting depicted as kneeling donor in the right corner of the panel was therefore closely connected with the royal court. This man bears a striking resemblance to known likenesses of the most famous man from Toruń - Nicolaus Copernicus (born on 19 February 1473), who was baptized in the Toruń Cathedral. Some authors consider it to be an authentic image of the astronomer (after "Utworzenie Kociewskiego Centrum Kultury", 29.06.2022) founded by him in his lifetime.
If the donor from the Flagellation painting is Copernicus, therefore the donors from the earlier Descent from the Cross should be his parents and siblings. Nicolaus' father, also Nicolaus was a wealthy merchant from Kraków, son of John. He was born around 1420. There is much debate as to whether he was German or Polish, perhaps he was just a typical representative of the Jagiellonian multiculturalism. He moved to Toruń before 1458 and before 1448 he traded in Slovak copper, which was transported by the Vistula to Gdańsk and then exported to other countries. In 1461, he granted a loan to the city of Toruń to fight against the Teutonic Order.
Copernicus the Elder married Barbara Watzenrode, sister of Lucas Watzenrode (1447-1512), Prince-Bishop of Warmia, who studied in Kraków, Cologne and Bologna. The couple had four children, Andreas, Barbara, Catharina and Nicolaus. Copernicus the father died in 1483 and his wife, who died after 1495, founded him a portrait epitaph, known today only from a copy, on which we can see a man with a mustache, with folded hands in prayer, with similar features to his son. This copy was commissioned in about 1618 by astronomer Jan Brożek (Ioannes Broscius) for the Kraków Academy and it was repainted around 1873 (Jagiellonian University Museum, oil on canvas, 60 x 47 cm). The father of astronomer died at the age of about 63, while depicted man in much younger, therefore the original epithaph was probably based on some earlier effigy. The facial features of a man from the Descent from the Cross are very similar. Elongated face with wider cheekbones of the woman from the painting is similar to effigies of Barbara Watzenrode's brother Lucas and her famous son.
As it was said Nicolaus the Elder died in 1483, while Sittow moved to the Netherlands in about 1484. Such a wealthy merchant or his widow could afford to order a painting from the artist, who at that time was possibly in Gdańsk or Toruń or even created in Bruges, when he settled there, and sent to Toruń. The appearance of younger of boys match the age of future astronomer, who was 10 when his father died. Barbara and Nicolaus had two daughters Barbara and Catharine, while on the painting there is only one. The elder Barbara, entered the convent in Chełmno, where she later became an abbess and died in 1517. It is generally believed that it was she who was mentioned in the list of nuns under the year 1450 there (after "Cystersi w społeczeństwie Europy Środkowej" by Andrzej Marek Wyrwa, Józef Dobosz, p. 114 and "Leksykon zakonnic polskich epoki przedrozbiorowej" by Małgorzata Borkowska, p. 287), therefore she "left" her family over 20 years before Nicolaus the astronomer was born.
Apart from costly Polish azurite, painters in Bruges and other locations needed Copernicus' copper, which although is naturally green, "with the addition of ammonia (easily obtained from urine), it turns blue. The color became chemically stable if lime was added, and this chemistry process produced a cheap, bright blue that became an allpurpose paint for walls, wood, and books" (after "All Things Medieval" by Ruth A. Johnston, p. 551). In Gdańsk English and Dutch merchants purchased cenere azzurre, a blue pigment prepared from carbonate of copper (after "Original treatises dating from the XIIth to XVIIIth centuries on the arts of painting in oil ... ", p. cc - cci), similar to that visible in the Descent from the Cross in Pelplin.
Portrait of merchant Nicolaus Copernicus the Elder (d. 1483) and his two sons as donors from the Descent from the Cross by Michel Sittow, ca. 1483-1492, Diocesan Museum in Pelplin.
Portrait of Barbara Watzenrode and her daughter as donors from the Descent from the Cross by Michel Sittow, ca. 1483-1492, Diocesan Museum in Pelplin.
Descent from the Cross with family of Nicolaus Copernicus as donors by Michel Sittow, ca. 1483-1492, Diocesan Museum in Pelplin.
Portraits of Filippo Buonaccorsi, called Callimachus by Michel Sittow and workshop of Giovanni Bellini
"A face brighter than Venus' and the hair of Phoebus Apollo ... [more striking] than the stone polished by Phidias or the paintings of Apelles", this is how Philippus Callimachus Experiens (1437-1496) describes in his poem the beauty of the young clergyman Lucio Fazini Maffei Fosforo (Lucidus Fosforus, d. 1503), who became bishop of Segni near Rome in 1481. He advises elsewhere an elderly man: "Although the reverence of a wrinkled brow with white hair is esteemed ... Quintilius should prefer to be effeminate, so that he might always be ready for the prostitutes and the boys" (after "A Sudden Terror: The Plot to Murder the Pope in Renaissance Rome" by Anthony F. D'Elia, p. 96, 98).
Callimachus, humanist, writer and diplomat, was born Filippo Buonaccorsi de Tebadis Experiens in San Gimignano in Tuscany, in Italy. He moved to Rome in 1462 and he become a member of the Roman Academy of Giulio Pomponio Leto (Julius Pomponius Laetus, 1428-1498), who was later charged with sodomy, conspiracy against Pope Paul II and heresy. Filippo was accused of participating in the assassination attempt on the pope in 1468 and fled through southern Italy (Apulia-Sicily) to Greece (Crete-Cyprus-Chios) and Turkey, and then to Poland (1469/1470). The homo-erotic verses were discovered among his papers, including one dedicated to Fazini.
The punishment for love between two men in Poland-Lithuania was similar as probably in most of the countries of Medieval/Renaissance Europe, nevertheless in Poland-Lithuania, like Rheticus almost a century later, he easly found powerful protectors, who undobtedly perfectly knew about his "inclinations". First he found work with the Bishop of Lviv, Gregory of Sanok (d. 1477), a professor at the Kraków Academy. Later he became tutor to the sons of the King of Poland Casimir IV Jagiellon and carried out various diplomatic missions. In 1474 he was appointed royal secretary, in 1476 he became ambassador to Constantinople and in 1486 he was the king's representative in Venice. With the accession to the throne of his former pupil John Albert, his power and influence reached its maximum.
In his writings, Buonaccorsi advocated the reinforcement of royal power. He also wrote poems and prose in Latin, although he is best known for his biographies of Bishop Zbigniew Oleśnicki, Bishop Gregory of Sanok, and King Ladislaus III Jagiellon.
When in Poland, he also wrote love poems, many of which were addressed to his benefactress in Lviv with the name of Fannia Sventoka (Ad Fanniam Sventokam elegiacon carmen, In coronam sibi per Fanniam datam, In eum qui nive concreta collum Fanniae percusserat, De passere Fanniae, Narratio ad Fanniam de ejus errore, De gremio Fanniae, In picturam Fanniae, In reuma pro Fannia dolente oculos). This name is sometimes considered to be a pseudonym of Anna Ligęzina, daughter of Jan Feliks Tarnowski, or interpreted as Świętochna or Świętoszka (prude in Polish). The word Sventoka is also similar to Polish świntucha (rake, debauchee). Nevertheless, taking into consideration that some gay guys and transvestites like to use female nicknames, we cannot even be sure the "she" was indeed a woman. After the scandal in Rome, the poet had to be careful, fanatics were everywhere. Almost two centries later, in 1647, transgender people were at the court of Crown Court Marshall Adam Kazanowski and Chancellor Jerzy Ossoliński. They were probably also at the royal court earlier.
As a diplomat, Callimachus traveled a lot. His first stay in the royal city of Toruń is confirmed by his letter from this city to the Florentine merchant and banker Tommaso Portinari, dated June 4, 1474, regarding Hans Memling's altar "The Last Judgment", today in Gdańsk. In 1488 he settled for a few months, or maybe even longer, in the residence of bishop Piotr of Bnin, in Wolbórz near Piotrków and Łódź. That same year he went to Turkey and he took with him his young servant or secretary Nicholo (or Nicholaus), whom he calls "Nicholaus, my inmate", possibly Nicolaus Copernicus. Callimachus was on July 3, 1490 in Toruń and he lived there between 1494-1496, although in 1495 he left for Vilnius, Lublin, and finally to Kraków, where he died on September 1, 1496. Shortly before his death, on February 5, 1496, he purchased two houses in Toruń from Henryk Snellenberg, one was adjacent to the house of Lucas Watzenrode the Elder, maternal grandfather of Nicolaus Copernicus (after "Urania nr 1/2014", Janusz Małłek, p. 51-52).
During his extended stay in Venice in 1477 and 1486, Callimachus established relations with the most eminent politicians, scholars and artists, like Gentile Bellini (d. 1507) and his younger brother Giovanni (d. 1516), a highly sought-after portraitist, who most probably created his portrait (after "Studia renesansowe", Volume 1, p. 135).
In Getty Center in Los Angeles there is a "Portrait of a man with a pink", attributed to Michel Sittow (oil on panel, 23.5 cm x 17.4 cm, inventory number 69.PB.9). This painting was before 1938 in different collections in Paris, France and it was formerly attributed to Hans Memling. The man is holding a red carnation, a symbol of pure love (after "Signs & Symbols in Christian Art" by George Ferguson, p. 29). Clear inspiration of Venetian painting is visible in composition, especially by works of Giovanni Bellini (blue background, wooden parapet). The man's black costume, cap and hairstyle are also very Venetian, similar to that visible in Giovanni's self-portrait in the Capitoline Museums in Rome. The self-portrait shows Giovanni as a young man, hence it should be dated to about 1460, as it is generally belived that he was born in about 1430. The costume and apperence of a man from the portrait in Los Angeles also resemble that in bronze epitaph of Filippo Buonaccorsi, called Callimachus, created after 1496 by workshop of Hermann Vischer the Younger in Nuremberg to design by Veit Stoss (Basilica of Holy Trinity in Kraków). An exact copy of the Los Angeles portrait, attributed to Hans Memling or follower, was before World War II in the Czartoryski Museum in Kraków (oil on panel, 24.5 x 19 cm, inventory number V. 192). It was mentioned in a catalogue of the Museum from 1914 by Henryk Ochenkowski (Galerja obrazów: katalog tymczasowy) under the number 110 among other paintings by Italian school and a portrait of a man by school of Giovanni Bellini (oil on panel, 41 x 26.5 cm, item 4). The same catalogue catalogue also lists under number 158 a painting of Madonna and Child sitting before a curtain, which today is attributed to follower of Giovanni Bellini, and dated to about 1480 (Czartoryski Museum, inventory number MNK XII-202).
The same man, although younger, was depicted in a painting attributed to Italian school, sold in Rudolstadt in Germany (oil on panel, 36 x 29 cm, Auktionshaus Wendl, October 29, 2022). His outfit, cap and hairstyle closely resemble those seen on the bronze medal with bust of Giovanni Bellini, created by Vittore Gambello and dated to about 1470/1480. The man stands in front of a curtain, which gives a view of a mountainous landscape. Inscription in English on verso on old adhesive label "The Portrait of Antonio Lanfranco ... at Palermo by J. Bellini", seems unreliable, because Jacopo Bellini, the father of Bellini brothers, died in about 1470 and no such inhabitant of Palermo who might have commissioned his portrait in Venice is mentioned in the sources. The style of this painting is close to workshop of Giovanni Bellini.
It is highly possible that portrait of King John I Albert, Callimachus' pupil, commissioned by Toruń City Council to the Royal Chamber of the City Hall around 1645, which follows the same Venetian/Netherlandish pattern, was based on a lost original by Giovanni Bellini or Michel Sittow, created around 1492.
If the author of inscription in English acquired the painting in Palermo, Sicily, then the mountin depicted in the background could be Mount Etna (Mongibello), an active volcano on the east coast of Sicily between the cities of Messina and Catania. In Quattrocento verse the hellishly boiling Mongibello was symbol of the vain torments of love and the insane fires of passion (after "Strong Words ..." by Lauro Martines, p. 135). The man's costume is also very similar to that seen in the portraits by Antonello da Messina (d. 1479), a painter from Messina, from the 1470s (Louvre Museum, MI 693 and Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, 18 (1964.7)).
"I said: It's a joke, he pretends to love [...] I believe that you burn not only with the dim, weak, gentle flame of love. But as much violent fire Has ever accumulated on earth, So much of it burns in you with all its might, Or how many islands of the Tyrrhenian Sea and Sicily, famous for their volcanoes Exploding fire, brought here From the depths and locked in you" (Dicebam: Iocus est, amare fingit [...] Flammis et placido tepere amore / Credam, sed rapidi quod ignis usquam / In terris fuerat simul cohactum / In te viribus extuare cunctis / Aut incendivomo inclitas camino / Tyreni ac Siculi insulas profundi), writes Callimachus about his torments in his poem "To Gregory of Sanok" (Ad Gregorium Sanoceum, ad eundem) (after "Antologia poezji polsko-łacińskiej: 1470-1543", Antonina Jelicz, Kazimiera Jeżewska, p. 59).
Portrait of Filippo Buonaccorsi, called Callimachus (1437-1496) by workshop of Giovanni Bellini, ca. 1477 or after, Private collection.
Portrait of Filippo Buonaccorsi, called Callimachus (1437-1496) holding a red carnation by Michel Sittow, ca. 1488-1492, Getty Center.
Portrait of Filippo Buonaccorsi, called Callimachus (1437-1496) holding a red carnation by workshop of Michel Sittow, ca. 1488-1492, Czartoryski Museum, lost.
Portrait of John I Albert, King of Poland (1492-1501) in coronation robes by Toruń workshop, ca. 1645, Old Town City Hall in Toruń.
Portrait of Nicolaus Copernicus by circle of Giovanni Bellini
Szto piszesz do nas o tot wschod, kotoryi esmo tam tobe u Wilni s palacu naszoho do sadu urobiti roskazali, comments in Belarusian (Old Ruthenian) the Italian Queen Bona Sforza on the alterations in the renaissance palace loggia in Vilnius, capital of Lithuania, to be made by Italian architect and sculptor Bernardo Zanobi de Gianottis, called Romanus in a letter of August 25, 1539 from Kraków in Poland (after "Królowa Bona ..." by Władysław Pociecha, p. 185). It is a perfect example of Polish-Lithuanian diversity in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Many material traces of this diversity and Polish-Italian connetions were lost. When the monarchs of Poland-Lithuania spoke and maintained chancelleries in different languages since the Middle Ages, the countries that partitioned the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth at the end of the 18th century, during the "Age of Enlightenment", tried to eradicate its culture and languages and all traces of its glorious past. Even today it is sometimes hard to believe that the great European artists and scientists could have had anything to do with poor and devastated Poland. Following Cicero's famous dictum "History is life's teacher" (Historia est magistra vitae) it is worth remembering controversial and painful facts, perhaps thanks to this they will not be repeated.
According to some researchers, it was probably the young Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) who accompanied Filippo Buonaccorsi, called Callimachus, tutor of king's sons and diplomat, on his mission to Turkey in 1488. He also sent him to Venice. Callimachus calls this boy "Nicholaus, my inmate" in a letter of May 15, 1488 from Piotrków to Lactantius Thedaldus (after "Urania nr 1/2014", Janusz Małłek, p. 51). From 1491 to 1494, Copernicus attended the University of Kraków with his brother Andreas and between 1496 and 1503 he studied in Italy, first in Bologna and from 1501 in Padua in the Venetian Republic. According to Jeremi Wasiutyński (1907-2005) it was him who was depicted in a portrait of a young man by Giorgione (Gemäldegalerie in Berlin, inventory number 12A).
Nicolaus also travelled to other cities in Italy and Poland. In 1500 he left Bologna and spent some time in Rome on the occasion of the Holy Year, before returning to Frombork in 1501. He requested permission to extend his studies in Italy and that same year began studying medicine at the University of Padua. At the same time, he continued his law studies. During this time Copernicus was given the office of scholastic of the Church of the Holy Cross in Wrocław in Silesia, which he did not hold personally and he relinquished the sinecure in 1538. Copernicus and his brother Andreas, who had also received a study permit, also temporarily stayed with the curia in Rome as representatives of the Frombork cathedral chapter, it is however unclear whether Nicolaus was ever ordained a priest. Copernicus received his doctorate on May 31, 1503 at the University of Ferrara to become a Doctor of Canon Law (Doctor iuris canonici).
Copernicus never married and is not known to have had children. Anna Schilling, a live-in housekeeper, is sometimes mentioned as his mistress, however, according to Copernicus' letter of December 2, 1538, she was "a related and honest housekeeper", i.e. his niece named Anna von den Schellings née Krüger (after "Anna Schilling nie była kochanką Mikołaja Kopernika" by Krzysztof Mikulski). It was most likely the young astronomer, who between 1492-1501 founded the painting of Flagellation of Christ, today in the Toruń Cathedral, where he was depicted as a kneeling donor. A soldier showing off his tight panties and buttocks just above his head, could be an allusion to his real "preferences". In 1554 Georg Joachim de Porris (1514-1574), also known as Rheticus, Nicolaus Copernicus's sole pupil, who was found guilty in his trial in absentia and consequently exiled from Leipzig for 101 years following the alleged drunken homosexual assault, relocated to Poland, where he continued his work within mathematics and astronomy, further compiling his calculations of trigonomic functions. Nicolaus undoubtedly also knew personally Callimachus, who wrote poetry with homosexual themes.
The astronomer died at age 70 on 24 May 1543 in Frombork. Around 1580 the town physician and humanist, Melchior Pirnesius (1526-1589), who came to Toruń from Kraków founded an epitaph of Copernicus in the Toruń Cathedral. Later a portrait of King John I Albert was added to the epitaph in the form of a semi-circular element crowning it. Copernicus' epitaph in Frombork Cathedral was created in 1735. The earlier from 1580, founded by Bishop Marcin Kromer, was destroyed in 1626 by Swedish soldiers.
People often require written confirmation that a particular painter painted a particular person, but there are many inaccuracies in the documents and, as with many works of art, many documents have been lost or destroyed. Princess Izabela Czartoryska saved many items from the royal collections in keeping with her motto: "The Past to the Future". She founded the museum in Puławy to preserve Polish heritage - Temple of the Sibyl, also known as the Temple of Memory, opened in 1801.
Similar to the 1914 catalogue of the Czartoryski collection by Henryk Ochenkowski, the 1929 catalogue by Stefan Saturnin Komornicki (Muzeum Książąt Czartoryskich w Krakowie) also list two important portrait paintings from the collection, both created in the late 15th century. In this publication they were also reproduced - one is a portrait of Callimachus holding a red carnation, a symbol of pure love, by Michel Sittow (V. 192, lost during World War II), attributed there to Hans Memling (item 67), the other is a portrait of a man by school of Giovanni Bellini (oil on panel, 41 x 26.5 cm, inventory number MNK XII-210), attributed in the 1929 catalogue to Filippo Mazzola (1460-1505), item 50: "School of Cremona; educated on the influences of Giovanni Bellini - Portrait of a young man, bust-length; a dark red cap on chestnut hair; an olive green caftan and a black cloak. Gray-brown background". This attribution was later rejected (after "Malarstwo weneckie ..." by Agnes Czobor, p. 51, and "Wystawa malarstwa Trecenta i Quattrocenta" by Marek Rostworowski, p. 100). All authors, however, emphasize the undeniable influence of Giovanni Bellini.
Two paintings from old Polish collections are attributed to circle or workshop of Giovanni Bellini - The Holy Family (Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist and his parents Elizabeth and Zacharias) from the collection of Stanisław Zawadzki (1743-1806), today in the Saint Catherine of Alexandria church in Rzeczyca and Madonna and Child with Saints and a donor from the Potocki collection in Łańcut Castle, exhibited in 1940 in New York, lost.
The young man is dressed in typical costume known from many Venetian portraits from the turn of the 15th and 16th century. His elongated face with wider cheekbones resemble greatly the features known from the portraits of Copernicus, especially the Gołuchów portrait by Crispin Herrant (inscription in Latin: R · D · NICOLAO COPERNICO), which was most probably commissioned by Jan Dantyszek (1485-1548) in about 1533 (collection of Izabella Działyńska née Czartoryska in the Gołuchów Castle, lost during World War II). A great resemblance to a portrait from the Town Hall in Toruń, created in 1580, can also be indicated, as well as to mentioned effigy as donor from the painting of Flagellation, today in the Toruń Cathedral. This latter painting reveals some similarities with works from Wrocław workshops from the end of the 15th century, notably paintings by Leonhart Hörlen. When he returned to Frombork in 1501 Copernicus possibly travelled via Wrocław and according to Aleksander Birkenmajer, he received the Wrocław sinecure already in 1501 through the intercession of his uncle, Lucas Watzenrode, Bishop of Warmia, who wanted to secure his nephew's Italian studies with the income from this benefice. On this occasion, Copernicus could have ordered a painting from local workshops.
Portrait of Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) by circle of Giovanni Bellini, 1496-1503, Czartoryski Museum.
Portrait of Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) as donor in the scene of Flagellation of Christ by workshop of Toruń or Wrocław, ca. 1501, Toruń Cathedral.
Venetian portraits by Albrecht Dürer and portraits of Bishop Erazm Ciołek and Agnieszka Ciołkowa
In 1923, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna acquired a portrait of a young "Venetian woman" by Albrecht Dürer from the collection of Witold Klemens Wańkowicz (1888-1948) in Warsaw, signed with a monogram and dated '1505'. Earlier it was most probably in the Potocki collection and in second half of the 18th century the portrait was owned by Gottfried Schwartz (1716-1777), Mayor of Gdańsk, then the main port of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. It is possible that the "Venetian woman" arrived to Poland already in the 16th century.
Dürer, famous painter and printmaker, arrived in Venice in the late autumn of 1505. As a son of a goldsmith, also Albrecht or Adalbert, who was born around 1427 in Ajtós, near Gyula in Hungary, he undoubtedly had some links with the Jagiellonian elective monarchies. Elder brother of king Sigismund I, Vladislaus II, ruled in Hungary from 1490.
The reason for the trip to Venice is unknown. Perhaps Dürer wanted not only to make money, but was also going to solve the dispute over reprints and copies of his engravings by the artist Marcantonio Raimondi. He also received a commission from the German merchants based at the Fondaco dei Tedeschi to make a painting for their parish church - the Feast of the Rosary, now in the National Gallery in Prague.
By the beginning of the 16th century, Venice become one of the main printing and publishing centers in Europe. Although the first printing house was probably established in Kraków as early as 1465, in the less densely populated Poland-Lithuania printing was still developing at that time, therefore many important publications were published in Venice. The printing shops there offered better quality and were undoubtedly much more competitive. In 1501 Sebastian Hyber, a citizen of Kraków (impensis Sebastiani Hyber Co[n]civis Kracovie[n]sis), publishes Viaticum Wratislaviense in Venice for the diocese of Wrocław. Four years later, in 1505, the same Hyber, together with Jan Haller from Rothenburg, undertakes to publish a missal for the Wrocław diocese (Missale Wratislavien[se]) in Kraków. The privilege for the sale of the missal granted by John V Thurzo, Bishop of Wrocław (and a son of a Hungarian nobleman), together with his coat of arms and effigy of Saint Stanislaus was included in the missal. In 1505 Haller obtained from the Kraków chapter the privilege for the exclusive sale of breviaries imported from Venice and on September 30, that year, Haller's publishing house was granted a royal privilege for the exclusive printing of state printed matter (after "Drukarze dawnej Polski od XV do XVIII wieku" by Alodia Kawecka-Gryczowa, Volume 1, Issue 1, p. 330). Both Haller and Hyber were undoubtedly interested in the work of a well-known graphic artist active in Venice at the time - Albrecht Dürer.
Jan Haller become a citizen of Kraków in 1491 and married Barbara Kunosch, the daughter of a wealthy Kraków furrier and he made a fortune on trading wine and Hungarian copper. Of Hyber, also Hübner or Hybner, very little is known. Judging by his name, he belonged to the German-speaking community in the capital of Poland. Both undoubtedly traveled frequently to Venice. In the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo, a city once in the Republic of Venice, there is a portrait of a red-headed man by Albrecht Dürer or his workshop, created in about 1505. It was acquired in 1866 from Guglielmo Lochis' collection. The man in the picture is holding arrows and according to the inscription in a golden halo around his head - SANCTVS SEBASTIANVS MARTYR, he was depicted as Saint Sebastian.
Among Venetian artists active at that time in Poland-Lithuania were goldsmith and jeweler of king Alexander Jagiellon (1461-1506), Hieronim Loncza or Leoncza (Hieronimus Leoncza aurifer), confirmed in Kraków in 1504 and in 1505, and his son Angelo. The Venetian glass workshops in Murano were the main suppliers of high-quality glass to the Polish-Lithuanian royal court. A Venetian goblet belonging to Alexander Jagiellon with the heraldic symbols of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, created between 1501-1502, is in the Jagiellonian University Museum in Kraków and Bishop Erazm Ciołek ordered a whole service in Venice for Alexander (after "Z kręgu badań nad związkami polsko-weneckimi w czasach jagiellońskich" by Ewelina Lilia Polańska).
Also other works of art were commissioned in Venice since the Middle Ages. Marble tomb monument of King Ladislaus II Jagiello (Jogaila of Lithuania) in the Wawel Cathedral, carved in about 1421, is attributed to an artist from Northern Italy, and, according to the hypothesis of Juliusz Chrościcki, Venetian painter Jacopo Bellini created around 1444 the design for the tomb of his son Ladislaus of Varna. The royal secretary and tutor to the sons of King Casimir IV Jagiellon, including mentioned Alexander and Sigismund I, Callimachus (Filippo Buonaccorsi, a Venetian after his father), eminently known as a homoerotic poet and a diplomat, is said to have returned from his mission to Venice in 1486 with his portrait probably made by Giovanni Bellini.
In 1505, a young royal scribe Jan Dantyszek (1485-1548) from Gdańsk, who received a scholarship from the king, went to Italy to deepen humanistic studies. Having reached Venice, he boarded a ship and went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land (after "Polacy na morzach i oceanach: Do roku 1795" by Jerzy Pertek, p. 79). That same year also Erazm Ciołek (1474-1522), known as Vitellius, Bishop of Płock, diplomat and patron of arts who amassed a large collection of books, visited Venice on his way to Rome. Some minatures in his beautiful missal (Missale Polonicum), created in about 1515 (National Library of Poland, Rps 3306 III), were inspired by Dürer's engravings.
The popularity of Dürer's prints in Poland-Lithuania is perfectly illustrated by the case of the Prayer Books of Sigismund I the Old and his second wife Bona Sforza by Stanisław Samostrzelnik (British Library and Bodleian Library) in which also many scenes were inspired by his works. Another example is the so-called Trilogy of Piotr Wedelicki in the Museum of the Warsaw Archdiocese, a collection of Dürer's woodcuts: the Apocalypse (1498) - 15 woodcuts, Large Passion (1498-1510) - 11 woodcuts, the life of the Virgin (1501-1511) - 20 woodcuts, created for Piotr Wedelicki (1483-1544) from Oborniki near Poznań, a physician at the court of Sigismund I and Bona Sforza and a rector of the Kraków Academy.
On Ciołek's initiative the Synod of 1506 decided that not only missals and breviaries should be printed, but also synodal statutes and agendas of the Diocese of Płock. It was probably he who commissioned the printing of the Płock Breviary (Breviarium Plocense) in Venice in 1506 (a unique copy from the National Library in Warsaw burned down during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944). In 1520 another Płock Breviary was printed in Venice and almost simultaneously in Kraków a missal for the Płock diocese. After the death of Bishop Ciołek in 1522, his magnificent collection of books, including many incunabula, mainly Venetian, became the property of the Collegiate Church in Pułtusk (after "Miejsce Płocka w kulturze średniowiecznej Polski" by Stefan Krzysztof Kuczyński, p. 25).
One of the most sublime examples of his patronage is the Kraków Pontifical (Pontificale Cracoviense), created between 1506-1518 by anonymous master called the Master of the Bright Mountain Missal (considered sometimes to be Maciej Ryczyński), today in the Czartoryski Library (1212 V Rkps), with the scene of the Crucifixion being particularly beautiful and comparable to the works of Dürer (possibly created by young Samostrzelnik, as stylistically different from the others). Most of the miniatures in the Pontifical depict various activities of the bishop, like pontifical blessing or blessing of the image of the Virgin, the life of the Virgin, and the coronation and enthronement of the king, two, however, are particularly intriguing. One is a visitation of the construction of the church by the founder, the other is portrait-like miniature of Saint Agnes, the only female saint in the Pontifical. If we consider all miniatures as the accurate observation of real people and events from Ciołek's life including Coronation of the King of Poland (Accipe coronam Regni) as depicting the coronation of Alexander Jagiellon in 1501 or Sigismund I in 1507, also these two miniatures are closely related to him. Ciołek was the founder of many new churches, so the visitation of the construction of the church depicts him in princely attire in the company of his courtiers. The woman in guise of Saint Agnes was apparently very close to him, so that he ordered to put her image in the Pontifical. This effigy can be compared to Young woman with unicorn by Raphael (Galleria Borghese in Rome), created in about 1505-1506, and considered to be the effigy of Giulia Farnese (1474-1524), a mistress to Pope Alexander VI. Erazm was in Rome when this painting was created and his mother as well as his relative's wife, both were named Agnieszka, that is Agnes. The woman from the miniature is too young to be his mother and elderly women at the time, especially widows, wore bonnets, so she should be identifed as Agnieszka Ciołkowa née Zasańska (Vitreator), who died in 1518. Agnieszka was a wife of a Kraków burgher, Maciej Ciołek, who made soap. She was a mother of three sons: Erazm Ciołek, born around 1492, abbot of Mogiła Abbey and suffragan of Kraków, Stanisław, canon of Pułtusk and Płock and Jan, a doctor in Kraków. So was Agnieszka a mistress to the Bishop of Płock and her son or sons, were his sons, as was almost customary at the time? While in Rome, Erazm probably had the opportunity to admire the beautiful decorations of the Borgia Apartments, commissioned by Pope Alexander VI, where a fresco in the Hall of the Saints, created by Pinturicchio between 1491-1494, shows the pope's son Cardinal Cesare Borgia (1475-1507) in guise of Roman Emperor Maxentius and his daughter Lucrezia (1480-1519) as Saint Catherine of Alexandria in the scene of Dispute of Saint Catherine.
The young woman from Dürer's painting is dressed in an Italian outfit and her hair is bleached in the Venetian style. She may have been the wife of a wealthy merchant or printer, like Haller or Hyber, or to be a Venetian noblewoman or courtesan who caught the eye of a famous humanist, like Dantyszek or Ciołek, the last option with the rich bishop being the most likely.
Portrait of a young Venetian woman from the Wańkowicz collection by Albrecht Dürer, 1505, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Portrait of a man as Saint Sebastian, possibly Sebastian Hyber from Kraków by Albrecht Dürer or workshop, ca. 1505, Accademia Carrara.
Miniature portrait of Erazm Ciołek (1474-1522), Bishop of Płock in the scene of visitation of the construction of the church from the Kraków Pontifical by Master of the Bright Mountain Missal, 1506-1518, Czartoryski Library.
Miniature portrait of Agnieszka Ciołkowa née Zasańska (d. 1518) as Saint Agnes in the Kraków Pontifical by Master of the Bright Mountain Missal, 1506-1518, Czartoryski Library.
Crucifixion of Christ from Pontifical of Erazm Ciołek by Stanisław Samostrzelnik, 1506-1518, Czartoryski Library.
Medieval treasures from Lublin and Elbląg
Medieval collection of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Berlin holds three important treasures connected with Poland.
When in 1392, the city of Lublin received a trade privilege from king Ladislaus II Jagiello, it developed into a trade centre, handling a large portion of commerce between Poland and Lithuania. Under the rule of the Jagiellon dynasty the Lublin castle enjoyed royal favor and frequent stays by members of the royal family. Two gold brooches in Berlin are tokens of the city’s prosperity thereafter.
The first one with a lady hawking, adorned with enamel, and set with a sapphire and pearls is 7.5 cm in diameter (inventory number F 1364). It came through the Albert Figdor’s collection in Vienna into the possession of the Berlin museum. According to the catalogue of the Figdor’s collection, it was found in the ruins of the Konopnica castle near Lublin. This information is not very accurate, since there was no castle in Konopnica and the only old ruins in the village are those of a church campanile from 1781, although the document from 1428 confirms the existence of the Saint Catherine’s church there. It is possible that the jewel was lost or hidden by its owner in the church. This owner could be certain Jan Chmielowski, tenant of the village of Konopnica, whose bad management led to a peasant revolt between 1615 and 1616 and who died during this time. He is noted for his taste for Eastern garments and as owner of 10 stylish ferezja (overcoat of eastern origin lined with fur) valued from 12 to 30 zlotys. Such coat, as well as another very popular delia, was pinned together or adorned with a clasp or brooch and had decorative fastening by buttons. Around that time Florian Ważyński (d. 1617) had in his ferezja coat “two large pearl buttons” (dwa wielkie perłowe guzy).
The second brooch with a shield bearer is also adorned with enamel and set with gemstones and pearls, a height of 6.5 cm and a width of 4.5 cm (inventory number F 3515). It was discovered as part of a gold hoard in 1836 in Abramowice, now part of Lublin, by men working in the courtyard of a manor house there and was dispersed among them. The owner managed to retrieve a gold brooch, three gold rings, two buckles and some ducats of king Matthias Corvinus. The brooch was sold to Mrs Maria Strojnowska owner of Dominów near Lublin and later acquired by the Berlin museum.
The first mention about the manor house in Abramowice comes from the Liber beneficiorum of Jan Długosz from 1393 and tells about the owner of the knight's farm - Sieciech (Sethegius), and then - Andrzej and Jan Klimuntowski of the Topór coat of arms. At the end of the 15th century, Abramowice belonged to Jan Ossoliński, who pledged his property for 250 Hungarian florins to the Lublin judge Mikołaj Pszonka, one of the founders of the Babin Republic. The current manor was built in 1790 for Ewa née Gałęzowska and her husband Stanisław Kossowski.
A note in Liber colloquiorum from 1447, that Mikołaj Michałowski, castellan of Kraków had moniliorum alias clasp et torqvis alias pendant with pearls (moniliorum alias zaponicze et torqvis alias noszenye de margaritis) of 700 florins worth, and the inventory of the state jewels from July 1607, which lists a clasp with a ruby rose adorned with pearls and other jewels, 9 different diamond clasps with Saint George, one with king David holding Goliath’s head and a clasp with Vulcan made of white enamel sitting on a three-facet cut diamond, confirms the taste for exquisite jewels in Poland from the medieval times.
Stylistically and due to technique of encrusted enamel used to decorate both brooches, they should be attributed to French or Burgundian workshops, although it cannot be excluded that at least one of them was produced locally.
Gold enamelled and gem-set brooch with a lady hawking found in Konopnica near Lublin by Anonymous from Burgundy or Paris, early 15th century, Museum of Decorative Arts in Berlin.
Gold gem-set brooch with a shield bearer found in Abramowice near Lublin by Anonymous, early 15th century, Museum of Decorative Arts in Berlin.
Detail of Annunciation, right outer panel of Crucifixion Triptych of the canon Peter von Wartenberg (Piotr z Sycowa) by Wilhelm Kalteysen, 1468, National Museum in Warsaw.
Brooch from the coronation mantle with a woman giving birth, fragment of tomb monument of King Casimir IV Jagiellon by Veit Stoss and Jörg Huber in Kraków, 1492-1496, Wawel Cathedral.
Detail of portrait of Prince Ladislaus Sigismund Vasa in Polish costume by circle of Peter Paul Rubens, 1620s, Pitti Palace in Florence.
Detail of portrait of Jakub Sobieski by Anonymous, ca. 1643, Lviv National Art Gallery.
The reliquary holding a capsule for the presentation of the relic in its pedestal with Saint George fighting the dragon is one of two similar vessels from Elbląg in Prussia, the city which come under the sovereignty of the Polish crown in 1454. Both containers were created in the third quarter of the 15th century, most probably around the year of 1475. The one in Berlin was found in a niche of the church of Saint George in Elbląg, where it had been walled in 1564 or in about 1520. It was discovered in 1652 and then given to the Epiphany church in Elbląg. In 1773 the superior of this church, Christian Gottlieb Wulff, acquired the reliquary for the sum of 55 thalers. In 1876 it was cleaned and restored by Elbląg’s goldsmith Emil Höpner for the current owner Ferdynand Kamiński, the court councilor of Elbląg. Two years later, in 1878, the vessel was offered by Albert Katz from Zgorzelec to the Berlin museum (inventory number 1878,618). Saint George on a base, holding a Hungarian-Turkish type sword, is 30.5 cm high and weighs 957 g. The second, similar container, today in Hamburg, was commissioned by the St. George’s Brotherhood in Elbląg for this saint's altar in Saint Nicholas church in Elbląg. In the second quarter of the 16th century it was put into storage in the City hall and discovered there in 1773 in the basement. Then sold on auction, it returned to the St. George’s Brotherhood in 1811 where it was kept untill 1945. In 1950 the second reliquary was given by Philipp F. Reemts to the Hamburg Museum of Art and Design (inventory number 1950.31). The Hamburg vessel is larger with 46 cm high and weighs 2370 g and is adorned coral, amethysts and rubies.
Just as later reliquary of Saint George created for the Brotherhood of Blackheads in Riga in 1507, the containers from Elbląg are attributed to the workshop of Bernt Notke in Lübeck or Israhel van Meckenem, whose print from mid-15th century could be a model for Elbląg works, although it cannot be excluded that all of them were created by local workshops.
Silver-gilt St. George's reliquary from Elbląg by Anonymous (Bernt Notke in Lübeck?), ca. 1475, Museum of Decorative Arts in Berlin.
Fragment of silver-gilt St. George's reliquary from Elbląg by Anonymous (Bernt Notke in Lübeck?), ca. 1475, Museum of Decorative Arts in Berlin.
Silver-gilt St. George's reliquary from Elbląg by Anonymous (Bernt Notke in Lübeck?), ca. 1480, Museum of Art and Design in Hamburg.
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Old religious goldsmithery in Poland
Main religious centers of Poland were also main centers for religious craftemanship in the country. Kraków with its status of coronation city and largest city of southern Poland had an adantage over other locations with the largest number of goldsmiths. A diploma issued in 1478 by Jan Rzeszowski, Bishop of Kraków, Jakub Dembiński, castellan and starost of Kraków, Zejfreth, mayor of Kraków, Karniowski and Jan Theschnar, Kraków's concillors to Jan Gloger, son of Mikołaj Gloger, aurifaber (goldsmith) of Kraków, recognizes Jan as a man of good fame and worthy of admission to the guild of goldsmiths. The document confirms that church had a profound influence on development of this craftsmanship in the country.
Reliquary cross of Andrzej Nosek of Rawicz coat of arms, Abbot of the Tyniec Abbey by Anonymous from Kraków, ca. 1480, Cathedral Treasury in Tarnów.
Fragment of gold reliquary for the head of Saint Stanislaus with selling of a village by Marcin Marciniec, 1504, Cathedral Museum at Wawel Hill in Kraków.
Silver crosier of Bishop Andrzej Krzycki by Anonymous from Kraków, 1527-1535, Płock Cathedral.
Portrait of Primate Bernard Maciejowski (1548-1608) by Anonymous from Kraków, ca. 1606, Franciscan Monastery in Kraków. The Primate was depicted holding silver legate's cross against silver altar set commissioned by him before 1601 in Italy and with a 15th century jewelled mitre of cardinal Frederick Jagiellon.
Reliquary of Saint Stanislaus founded by Bishop Marcin Szyszkowski by Anonymous from Poland, ca. 1616-1621, Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi.
Silver altar cross offered by Primate Wacław Leszczyński to the Gniezno Cathedral by Anonymous from Poland, first quarter of the 17th century, Archdiocesan Museum in Gniezno.
Gold chalice founded by Anna Alojza Chodkiewicz by Anonymous from Poland, ca. 1633, Treasury of the Lublin Archcathedral.
Fragment of a monstrance adorned with jewels from private donations by Anonymous from Lublin, ca. 1650, Dominican Monastery in Lublin.
Fragment of monstrance adorned with enamel by Anonymous from Poland, 1670s, Treasury of the Jasna Góra Monastery.
Monstrance with St. Benedict and St. Scholastica from the Tyniec Abbey by Anonymous from Lesser Poland, 1679, Cathedral Treasury in Tarnów.
Ciborium adorned with mother of pearl founded by guardian Stefan Opatkowski by Anonymous from Kraków, 1700, Franciscan Monastery in Kraków.
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The reign of king John Albert was a period of gradual transition from gothic to renaissance art in Poland. Majority of preserved effigies of the king were most probably created posthumously, however the artists who worked for the Wawel Cathedral, beyond any doubt known the king personally.
Among the oldest is a portrait of the king as a donor kneeling before the crucified Christ in a group of sculptures known as the Triptych of John Albert. The triptych was commissioned to the king's funeral chapel and created by Stanisław Stwosz (Stanislaus Stoss) in 1501. This original retable was dismanteled in about 1758 and some elements were reused in a new altar for the Czartoryski Chapel of the Cathedral between 1873 and 1884.
Similar grafic effigy of the king was included in a graduale, a book collecting all the musical items of the Mass, which he founded in 1499 for the Cathedral. John Albert was depicted once again as donor, kneeling before the Apocalyptic Virgin in a miniature by Master Maciej z Drohiczyna (1484-1528).
The last of the effigies, and the most important, is the king's tomb effigy carved in red marble by Jörg Huber. Late gothic image of the king lying in state with all attributes of his power was crowned between 1502 and 1505 with a renaissance arch created by Francesco Fiorentino. The tomb was founded after king's death by his mother Elizabeth of Austria and his youngest brother Sigismund.
Altar from John Albert Chapel now in the Chartoryski Chapel of the Wawel Cathedral with original sculptures from the early 16th century, in the casing from the third quarter of the 19th century by Władysław Brzostowski.
Crucifixion with king John Albert as donor by Stanisław Stwosz, 1501, Chartoryski Chapel of the Wawel Cathedral.
Crucifixion with king John Albert as donor by Stanisław Stwosz, 1501, Chartoryski Chapel of the Wawel Cathedral.
Miniature in graduale of king John Albert by Master Maciej z Drohiczyna, 1499-1501, Archives of the Wawel Metropolitan Chapter in Kraków.
Tombstone of king John Albert by Jörg Huber, ca. 1502, John Albert Chapel of the Wawel Cathedral.
Holy Trinity Triptych
The Holy Trinity Triptych occupying the east wall of the Holy Cross Chapel of the Wawel Cathedral, was most probably created by Kraków's workshop of Jakub of Sącz, also known as the Master of the Holy Trinity Triptych or Master of the Choirs. It was established as a retable for the opposite Chapel of the Holy Trinity, also known as the Chapel of Queen Sophia of Halshany. The Queen, fourth and last wife of Jogaila of Lithuania (Ladislaus II Jagiello), most probably also sponsored the altar for her chapel which was finally accomplished in 1464, although built much earlier (between 1431-1433). The retable has a figure of the Risen Christ with two angels, St. Sophia with her daughters, patron saint of the Queen, and St. Anne at the top. The central group of the Holy Trinity is accompanied with statues of saints Dorothy, Margaret, Catherine and Barbara and two painted wings with choirs of apostles, martyrs, prophets and virgins on inner sides and conversion of St. Paul, vision of St. Eustace, St. George killing the dragon and St. Secundus crossing the river Po in outer sides. In 1616 or before the altar was moved to the current location in the Holy Cross Chapel.
Central part of the Holy Trinity Triptych by workshop of Jakub of Sącz, 1467, Holy Cross Chapel of the Wawel Cathedral in Kraków.
Statue of St. Dorothy from the Holy Trinity Triptych by workshop of Jakub of Sącz, 1467, Holy Cross Chapel of the Wawel Cathedral in Kraków.
Choir of the Holy Virgins from the Holy Trinity Triptych by workshop of Jakub of Sącz, 1467, Holy Cross Chapel of the Wawel Cathedral in Kraków.
St. Secundus crossing the river Po from the Holy Trinity Triptych by workshop of Jakub of Sącz, 1467, Holy Cross Chapel of the Wawel Cathedral in Kraków.
Reliquary cross, so-called smaller, one of the most exquisite examples of Kraków's late gothic goldsmithery, was founded by Cardinal Frederick Jagiellon and executed by Kraków's goldsmith after 1493. The cross, together with so-called bigger cross was ceded to the Gniezno Cathedral in 1503 as a testament bequest of the cardinal, who was a bishop of Kraków and archbishop of Gniezno. During the World War II, it was confiscated by the Nazis and transported to Germany and restituted by the church authorities in 1958.
The piece was adorned with a pelican feeding its young with its own blood, a Christian symbol of selfsacrifice at the top, floral motifs and enammeled coat of arms of the cardinal in lower parts. The cross of gilt silver and enamel, cast, repoussed and engraved and measuring 53.4 × 2.7 × 20.1 cm (21 × 1.1 × 7.9 in) is on display in the Archdiocesan Museum in Gniezno (inventory number 273).
Reliquary cross of Cardinal Frederick Jagiellon by Kraków's goldsmith, after 1493, Archdiocesan Museum in Gniezno.
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