Portraits of Anna Vasa and Ladislaus Sigismund Vasa by Sofonisba Anguissola
In 1594 a marriage project appeared during Anna Vasa's stay in Sweden. The candidate was John George of Brandenburg (1577-1624), the administrator of Strasbourg from 1592 and a grandson of the Brandenburg elector, who was to become the governor of Prussia, a feudal fief of the Crown of Poland.
Negotiations on this marriage were conducted on the Brandenburg side by the Magdeburg chancellor Wilhelm Rudolf von Meckbach and Johann von Löben who both travelled to Kraków, and on the Polish side by royal secretary Jan Skrzetuski, who travelled to Berlin, and Samuel Łaski. The date of the wedding was set for April 10, 1598 in Stockholm and Anna even received a dowry of 100,000 thalers from her brother Sigismund III Vasa, as well as jewelery, horses, furniture and 10,000 guilders as a wedding gift. Anna and her descendants were to be granted the inheritance rights to Sweden.
Death of John George, Elector of Brandenburg on 8 January 1598, death of Sigismund's wife Anna of Austria (1573-1598) on 10 February and the outbreak of the uprising in Sweden made it impossible to conclude the wedding at the planned place and date. When Sigismund's uncle depose him in Sweden, these plans did not materialize.
The portrait of a noblewoman and her husband in costumes from the late 1590s by Sofonisba Anguissola is very similar to other effigies of Anna Vasa. Her costume in Spanish style and pose resemble closely portrait of queen Anna of Austria by Martin Kober, created in 1595 (Bavarian State Painting Collections and Uffizi Gallery in Florence) and portrait of Archduchess Maria Anna of Bavaria (1574-1616) by Joseph Heintz the Elder, created in 1604 (Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna). The man's costume is typical for France and Protestant countries in the late 16th century.
After return to Poland Sigismund made Anna starost of Brodnica on October 2, 1604, after death of Zofia Działyńska née Zamoyska and in December 1605 she attended Sigismund's wedding in Kraków, sitting in the bride's carriage. The negotiations with John George of Brandenburg were finally discontinued in 1609 and on June 3, 1610 he married Eva Christine von Württemberg (1590-1657), while Anna remained unmarried.
The oval portrait in private collection, very similar to Anna's miniature in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, is also stylistically close to Sofonisba as well as a miniature of Prince Ladislaus Sigismund Vasa in the Bavarian State Painting Collections.
Portrait of Princess Anna Vasa (1568-1625) in Spanish costume by Sofonisba Anguissola, ca. 1598, Private collection.
Portraits of Princess Anna Vasa (1568-1625) and John George of Brandenburg (1577-1624) by Sofonisba Anguissola, ca. 1598, Private collection.
Portrait of Princess Anna Vasa (1568-1625), starost of Brodnica by Sofonisba Anguissola, ca. 1605, Private collection.
Miniature of Prince Ladislaus Sigismund Vasa by Sofonisba Anguissola, ca. 1605, Bavarian State Painting Collections.
Adam Jarzębski, styling himself as Musician of His Highness Ladislaus IV and manager of the construction of the royal palace at Ujazdów, in his "Short Description of Warsaw" (The Main Road, or a Short Description of Warsaw) from 1643, dedicated to his benefactor Crown Court Marshall Adam Kazanowski, thoroughly described the residence of this baroque celebrity.
Kazanowski gained prominence as a close friend and companion of crown prince Ladislaus Sigismund Vasa, who was elected monarch of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from 1632 as Ladislaus IV. Together with his brother, Stanisław Kazanowski, Adam was raised with crown prince and accompanied him during his attempt to become a Russian Tsar, in the Khotyn war of 1621 and the 1624 to 1625 European voyage. A breakthrough event for Adam was when his elder brother Stanisław, favourite of crown prince, attacked with syphilis was expelled from the court for promiscuity in 1620. Zygmunt Kazanowski, father of both, had great hopes for the relationship of his older son and young Vasa. Faced with the threat of his imminent death, he persuaded the sick to recommend his younger brother to the prince. Both brothers were accused by Jerzy Ossoliński in his Memoirs of organizing "suspicious" amusements for young prince. When the crown prince became king, Adam was showered with gifts and new official titles.
In 1628, at the age of about 29, Kazanowski decided to get married. He chose Elżbieta Słuszczanka, a daughter of wealthy Castellan of Minsk, Aleksander Słuszko, for the future bride. The marriage meant for him not only a substantial dowry, but also valuable connections in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Aleksander Słuszko dismissed the suitor, justifying the refusal with his daughter's young age, as Elżbieta was then only 9 years old. However, thanks to the intervention of the crown prince, Aleksander Słuszko changed his mind. The wedding took place in the spring of 1633, when Elżbieta has reached the legal age of 14. Adam, who also became the Grand Pantler of the Crown that year, gained 50,000 zlotys of dowry. In addition, the young couple received 20,000 zlotys from the king and the value of the gifts was estimated at 40,000 zlotys.
When crown prince Ladislaus Sigismund became an adolescent, his father Sigismund III Vasa bought him a wooden mansion of Andrzej Bobola at the Cracow Suburb Street in Warsaw. In 1628, shortly after his return from a journey to Western Europe, the prince ordered Constantino Tencalla a court architect to build him a new palace in the Italian style. Four yers later, in 1632, Ladislaus gave the palace to Kazanowski, which caused serious misunderstanding with his father, and a special Parliament committee was appointed to determine the circumstances behind this gesture. In 1637, Kazanowski enlarged the building, holding to Tencalla's original designs. The new structure was a large four-storied palace with a garden, enormous terrace, central courtyard, copper roofs and tower tops decorated with gilded crowns.
629 verses (1025-1654) of Jarzębski's work portray the lavish mannerist and early baroque palace constructed between 1628 and 1643 in the center of informal capital of the Commonwealth:
Large arsenal filled with cannons, muskets, excellent armors, tents and turkish garments, lances and spears arranged on the walls, field guns, matchlocks and a skin of a lioness (1057-1066),
Long gallery filled with paintings on both sides with nudes above the table, portraits of the King Ladislaus IV Vasa and his wife Cecilia Renata of Austria, painted Ad vivium and noble ladies, stone statue of Atlas supporting the armillary sphere on the table in the middle (1095-1108),
Small arbor room adjacent to gallery with a French window, columns, stone floor and a view of the river Vistula (1121-1127),
Dining room with windows on two storeys, a large chandelier with a clock showing hours, a balcony for musicians and Flemish tapestries woven with golden thread (1131-1153), chairs covered with gilded cordovan, plaques with coat of arms of the Lords and Marshals between windows in upper part and landscape paintings and cordovan in lower part, tile stove (1177-1187), window with a wine lift from basement, a large silver wine vessel of 150 litres on wheels in the shape of Bacchus wearing a wreath, sitting on a barrel and holding a goblet, several other barrels half the size of the main and a silver wine fountain in the middle of the room, silver ewers, pitchers and trays (1188-1214), the King and the Queen, envoys of Muscovy, of Emperor, of the King of Spain, of Turkey, of France and of Persia were entertained here (1162-1171),
Vaulted steam baths near the coach house with two chambers, hot stone, heating house, cold and hot water, copper bathtubs and white benches (1255-1272),
Room on upper floor covered with cordovan, with a fireplace, marble portals with gold inscriptions, statues in overdoor (1305-1318) and muskets on the walls (1323),
Rooms with paintings and tapestries: animalistic paintings and still-lifes with vegetables by master painters in the first, next room with staircase, seascapes and paintings of ships, casket regals, a harpsichord, a lute, a violin, cymbals, a viol and a harp and doors hung with portieres (1325-1343), next room with live animals, monkey on a chain, white parrot, singing birds in cages, still life paintings with fruits and wines, tapestries, a fireplace and a marble table (1349-1364),
Lord's bedroom with a table, a painting of Adam and Eve, a bed against tapestries, good paintings, a fireplace and marble floor, a folding bench with wheels (1381-1392), trellis giving to the chapel, altar with gilded grille and a window to the ladies' room (1365-1376),
Lord's study with a mirror, angels' statues holding candles, paintings, tapestries and polished marble floor (1407-1418),
Library with foreign books in different languages, khanjar daggers on the table, daggers set with turquoises, gold bowls and rock crystal vessels (1425-1431),
Lady's rooms, in one of them tortoiseshell caskets, pendant paintings, one with an old man with a sore eye, tapestries and looms (1437-1449), bedroom covered with goldcloth, a draped bed made of a rich fabric, mirror in silver frame above the table, the other in gold plated frame, automaton clock with a man, paintings in ebony frames, marble floor and marble table (1457-1469), a bedroom with a bed of green goldcloth with fringe and a portrait of mother of Her Majesty, Zofia Konstancja Zenowicz, in the next room in the corner of the palace a portrait of father of Her Majesty, Aleksander Słuszka, in his old age above the door, in both rooms marble fireplaces, tables covered with kilims and marble floors (1473-1495),
Treasury on the groundfloor, the first room filled with guns: bird shotguns, Turkish trench guns, carabins, muskets and Italian pistols, laid with gold and silver, tables covered with Persian kilims (1508-1520), treasury room with gilded stuff set with turquoises, eastern backswords, gold sabres, gold and gilded saddles and horse tacks, sable coats, large trays and ewers in boxes and antique treasures, snake skin and a turtle from India (1530-1561),
Belvedere room with grille with a view of a garden (1579-1582), wine basement with barrels of wine, mild, sweet and spicy (1590-1596), and a beer basement (1601), in the room above a workshop of Dutch painters (1603-1608), next a room with silverware (1612), and a room with hunting falcons (1613), marble pantry with venison, partridges (1641-1645) and a room of captive Muslim Tatar servants (1649-1651).
Three years later, in 1646, Jean Le Laboureur, a companion of the French Ambassador Extraordinaire to Poland, Renée du Bec-Crespin, comtesse de Guébriant, visited the palace and described it in his "Account of the voyage of the Queen of Poland", published in Paris in 1647. He devoted five pages of his book to the building:
Five or six large chambers and several smaller rooms, filled with silk and gold oriental fabrics, beds of gold fabric, cabinets of uncommon workmanship, tables with different items of gold, silver, amber and stones (p. 211).
Large room with marble floor, as the rest of the lodgings, with a large wine fountain, made of silver in the middle, large platform above the door for the musicians, table with 80 silver-gilt Italian style tazzas (four rows of twenty each) with dried fruit, large pears in sugar, oranges, lemons, melons (p. 213), buffet with extraordinary gold and silver vessels, including Bacchus "of a natural height" sitting on a silver barrel with gold wheels, rock crystal glasses with silver-gilt mountings, Elżbieta Słuszczanka was dancing here with her brother Bogusław Jerzy Słuszka, Court Treasurer of Lithuania and marquis Gonzaga Myszkowski with his wife (p. 214).
Kazanowski, struck by the sudden invasion of gout, welcomed the guests at the staircase of his palace carried in a litter (p. 210), accompanied by 300 armed guards, more than 50 pages dressed in yellow satin and short jackets of blue satin, his wife and her ladies (p. 211).
In one of the chambers Le Laboureur noted "two extraordinarily small female dwarfs who were standing up like a sentry, to guard two small dogs, who were not less dwarf in their species, for they are the size of a mice, and both were resting in a white basket little larger than the hand, on a pillow of perfumed satin", while the ladies of Elżbieta Słuszczanka had a transsexual man, a woman who behaved like a man, "for their entertainment" (p. 212). In 1643 Kazanowski also arranged a marriage of dwarfs, "an unheard wedding, full of laughter", according to Albrycht Stanisław Radziwiłł.
Following her visit, Kazanowski and his wife, sent to Madame de Guébriant some small amber cabinets and clocks set with diamonds (p. 212).
Little is known about artistic patronage of the Crown Court Marshall. Among confirmed artists at his court was certain Ezechiel Sykora, born in Litomysl in Czechia in 1622, who latinized his family name to Paritius. After Kazanowski's death in 1649 he left Warsaw and went to Silesia. As a żupnik (manager) of the Royal Salt Mines, he commissioned from Gdańsk engraver Willem Hondius in 1645 a series of views of the Wieliczka salt mine.
Kazanowski had also a book of friendship (album amicorum/Stammbuch), wich was in collection of Edward Rastawiecki in Warsaw in 1853. Small oblong book bind in crimson velvet had 125 parchment leaves and majority of contributions from the years of between 1624 and 1625 of his European journey and a few from 1627 to 1644, mainly of ambassadors of the Spanish Empire. During his stay in Brussels in 1624 with the crown prince he received from infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia a gold medallion set with precious stones on a gold chain. It is possible that he intentionally tried to emulate great validos of his time, Duke of Lerma or Count-Duke of Olivares.
Kazanowski died childless in 1649, leaving all his property to his wife Elżbieta. His opulent palace in Warsaw was destroyed during the invasion of the Commonwealth by neighbouring countries, known as the Deluge (1655-1660).
Before the invasion by neighbouring countries, known as the Deluge (1655-1660), Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth ranked among the wealthiest countries in Europe and its monarchs successfully competed with rulers of other nations as patron of arts.
Crown of Sigismund III Vasa
Work in progress.
Bronze busts of Sigismund III Vasa and Constance of Austria
Although the existence of royal busts is purely hypothetical and not confirmed by sources, the fashion for such antique sculptures, stemming from Italy and Imperial court in Prague and Vienna, udoubtedly found its reflection in the cosmopolitan court of the Vasas in Kraków and Warsaw. Bronze cartouche with coat of arms of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from the Wawel Castle, a full plastic bronze cast that preserved to our days and commissioned by Sigismund III in about 1604 to adorn overdoor in the northern wing of the castle leading to the Senators' Staircase, confirms that the Vasa residences were filled with such items.
In 1624, the Bishop of Kraków, Marcin Szyszkowski, who titled himself "the most faithful servant of the House of Austria" and who together with Zygmunt Myszkowski brought the Queen Constance from Graz to Poland, sponsored a new architectural dome canopy over the reliquary of Saint Stanislaus in the Wawel Cathedral in the style of Roman baroque. It is the work of the royal architect Giovanni Battista Trevano, the same who rebuilt the Royal Castle in Warsaw, made of black and rose marble, gilt-bronze and wood, created in the years 1626-1629. Gilt bronze figures of the Evangelists and Patrons Saints of Poland, flanking the cupola over the canopy, were cast by Antonio Lagostini, active in Kraków from around 1624. In the year of completion of this work, the bishop also ordered a tomb monument for himself in the cathedral near the canopy. According to the letter from Marcin Szyszkowski to Andrzej Łukomski, a Canon of the Cracow Cathedral Chapter, of 20 January 1629, this was also commissioned from Trevano and Lagostini. The model for the cast bronze bust should be attributed to the sculptors related to Trevano, Andrea and Antonio Castelli, sculptors from Lugano, active in Kraków from about 1623.
If existed, the royal busts were undoubtedly made in gilded bronze, just as majority of the similar works preserved in many European countries and Bishop Szyszkowski's bust. The material and its frequent military reuse, would also explain why the works have not preserved, as in case of bronze garden statues of Ladislaus IV's garden of the Villa Regia Palace in Warsaw, which are confirmed in sources. The preserved bronze statue of King Sigismund III at the column, so-called Sigismund Column in Warsaw, was also initially gilded.
The reconstruction is based on royal portrait paintings with Spanish composition from the 1610s created by workshop of court painter Jakob Troschel, which were in the collection of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg before World War II. Both effigies, possibly from dowry of Polish-Lithuanian Princess Anna Catherina Constance Vasa, are highly schematical and idealized, hence facial features are based on more realistic effigies of the royal pair created by other court painters.
Gilded bronze bust of King Sigismund III Vasa, mid-1610s to 1631. Hypothetical reconstruction by Marcin Latka ©. All rights reserved.
Gilded bronze bust of Queen Constance of Austria, mid-1610s to 1631. Hypothetical reconstruction by Marcin Latka ©. All rights reserved.
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Heraldic pendant of Anna Catherine Constance Vasa
Princess Anna Catherine Constance Vasa was born in Warsaw on August 7th, 1619. She was the only daughter of Sigismund III Vasa and his second wife Constance of Austria that survied the childhood and the youngest of royal pair's children.
Large Spanish style pendants, like the one described here, become less fashionable with the introduction of the French style in the mid-1630s, that prompted frontal brooches. The creation of the pendant could be then closed in the time span between mid-1620s and 1638 when Anna Catherine Constance came of age and came into possession of counties bestowed to her by the parliament. It was also probably in 1638 that Princess' portrait in red Spanish dress with two gold pendants was created (today in the Imperial castle in Nuremberg).
King Sigismund III, himself a talented goldsmith, possibly stood behind the compex emblematic program of this jewel, although it is also possible that it was created long after his death in 1632. Since 1637, a marriage was suggested between Anne Catherine Constance and Ferdinand Charles, Archduke of Austria, heir of Tyrol and nephew of Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor. Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg, and Gaston, Duke of Orléans (brother of King Louis XIII of France), were also candidates for her hand. A jewel stressing splendid dynastic connections and emphasizing vastness of territories ruled by the family would perfectly fit into the Princess' situation at that time. Several heraldic jewels were featured in the official portraits of Anna Catherine Constance's mother Constance of Austria.
Anna Catherine Constance's father Sigismund III Vasa was elected monarch of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, bi-federation of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch in real union, who was both King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. Since Sigismund's crowning in 1592, Polish Vasas claimed themselves rightful hereditary rulers of Sweden, consequently ignoring Sigismund's dethronement of 1598 by the Swedish parliament.
Anna Catherine Constance finally married Philip William of Neuburg (1615-1690), in Warsaw on 8 June 1642. She brought a considerable dowry in jewels and cash, calculated at a total of 2 million thalers. The inventory of Princess' jewels preserved in the Czartoryski Library in Kraków summarizes their value to 443,289 1/3 hard thalers.
The heraldic pendant is listed 18th in the section Pendants: A diamond pendant with Figures of the late King Sigmunt and Constantia with crowns on their heads, in the middle ruby grain, and beneath white Eagle, at the bottom coat of arms of the Duchy of Lithuania, on the right hand Swedish and on the left hand Austrian; above this ruby grain a yellow Lion with open jaw, in the front two fangs holds Zygmunt and Constantia together, on the sides and on the bottom five carved round hanging diamonds, valued at 2,000 thalers.
It is hard to determine the degree of accuracy of the inventory both in terms of description of items as well as valuation. One "large diamond" in a ring was valued at 30,000 thalers and a ring with "coat of arms of Austria" was valued at only 40 thalers. Also traditionally the Queen was depited to the right and the King to the left, and not like in the description of the pendant, which finds confirmation in Sigismund and Constance's portraiture, as well as location of the royal stalls in the Cathedral of Saint John in Warsaw.
The inventory also includes:
A necklace of 22 parts, among which 11 with a diamond in a middle, 3 square cut, 3 triangle cut, and set with two pearls. Another 11 parts in which a Lion's head in the center having a pearl in its mouth, four diamonds and four pearls set around it. All with a pendant with sixty two cut diamonds, and on top of a Lion's head and six hanging pearls, a gift from the Queen to the Princess, valued at 80,000 thalers;
A pendant in which a Lion with three crowns in the shape of the Swedish coat of arms with twenty-six different diamonds, and three hanging pearls, valued at 150 thalers and
A pendant in which a white Eagle with a large ruby on the chest, three small ruby parts, and three large pearls, valued at 700 thalers.
The inventory also lists A white Eagle, having a coat of arms on his cheast at which two rubies, all set with diamonds, with three hanging pearls, valued at 1,200 thalers, which is most probably identical with "diamond eagle with rubies" of the House of Austria received in 1543 by Elizabeth of Austria (1526-1545) from Emperor Charles V on the occasion of her marriage with Sigismund II Augustus of Poland, and preserved in the treasury of the Munich Residence.
Among renowned jewellers of the Vasas in the first half of the 17th century, that could create the work, were Mikołaj Siedmiradzki (ca. 1550-1630) from Lviv in today's Ukraine, who was in service of Sigismund III since 1604, and who in turn employed in his workshop Mikołaj Pasternakowicz and Zygmunt Frączkiewicz. There were also Jean Barbier from Lorraine, active in Kraków from about 1605, who moved to Gdańsk in 1625 and Beniamin Lanier (d. 1630) from Vitry-le-François in north-eastern France, who was active in Kraków from 1606, both court jewellers of Sigismund III. Jakub Burnett from Edinburgh who settled in Lviv in the first half of the 17th century was employed by Ladislaus IV. Members of the family also commissioned jewels abroad, like Prince John Casimir Vasa who in 1643 paid 9000 florins for jewels to Samuel von Sorgen from Vienna and 189 florins "For diamond heart to Mr Jakub jeweller".
Anna Catherine Constance died childless in Cologne on 8 October 1651 and was buried in the church of the Jesuits in Düsseldorf. It is due to purely heraldic character of the jewel, high value of the material and new fashion for more simple jewels that the pendant was most probably melted down, possibly still in the 17th century.
Excerpt from Inventory of Jewels of Her Highness Duchess of Neuburg, Crown Princess of Poland (Spisanie Kleynotów Xiężney Iey Mości Neyburskiey, Królewney Polskiey) by Royal Chancery in Warsaw, 1645, Czartoryski Library in Kraków. Fragment describing Heraldic pendant of Anna Catherine Constance Vasa.
Heraldic pendant of Anna Catherine Constance Vasa, mid-1620s to 1638. Hypothetical reconstruction by Marcin Latka ©. All rights reserved.
Silver altar of Sigismund III Vasa
Work in progress.
Tapestries with Story of Odysseus
During his stay in Antwerp in 1624, the Crown Prince of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Ladislaus Sigismund Vasa visited Peter Paul Rubens' workshop, admired Jan Brueghel the Elder's paintings and visited the famous art collection of Cornelis van der Geest. He also went to see the tapissierspand (Tapestry house), on the site of the current Bourla Theater, on September 24, 1624. We visited a house, writes Stefan Pac, in his diary where they sell beautiful and precious tapestries that are sent all over the world. A few days later, on October 5, 1624 Gaspard Nagodt, treasurer of the Prince of Poland, signed a contract with a Brussels' weaver Jacob Geubels the Younger for delivery of ten tapestries representing the Story of Odysseus (Ulysses) of six ells height each (Flemish ell was equal to about 70 cm or 27 inches), interwoven with gold and silver thread. The complete set comprised 594 ells and cost 19,008 florins. On October 12, 1624 another contract was signed for a series called "with greenery" i.e. verdure tapestries or "Landscapes and Bocages in fresco", for 9207 florins.
An Antwerp merchant, Jan Bierens, "agent and domestic of His Highness the Serene Prince Wladislaus Sigismundus, Prince of Poland and Sweden", oversaw the weaving of the tapestries of the Story of Odysseus and verdures that Geubels the Younger made in Brussels. A lawsuit brought by Geubels against Jan Bierens in December 1626 for payment, confirms that at least a part of the commissioned tapestries was ready by this date.
Notations in the archives reveal the existence of the prince's agents, such as mentioned Jan Bierens and Georges Deschamps or the Frenchman Mathieu Rouault. They had to satisfy Ladislaus Sigismund's creditors and ensure that everything was executed and sent to Poland.
Probably due to Prince's financial difficulties the whole set not executed till Geubels' death in 1629 and the commission was accomplished by an unknown workshop.
It is uncertain when the Story of Odysseus and verdure tapestries were dispatched from Antwerp and when they arrived in Poland. Ladislaus Sigismund, the newly elected monarch of the Commonwealth as Ladislaus IV, wanted to have them before his coronation on February 6, 1633 in Kraków.
By a notarial deed of January 12, 1632 we learn that Jan Bierens had received three chests containing approximately two hundred and fifty - three silver marcs from the hands of Francesco Gissa and Joannes Curius, one butler and the other secretary of Abbot Mikołaj Wojciech Gniewosz (d. 1654), Ambassador of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Antwerp merchant had given them two thousand three hundred and ten rixdales as a pledge and had promised to send the precious delivery to Gdańsk to the address of Abraham Pels.
In the letter from September 15, 1632 Ladislaus IV asked Christian IV of Denmark to release his tapestries from customs (Rkps Riqsarkivet, Polen A. I, 3).
According to François Mols, a number of tapestry cartoons by Jacob Jordaens with the date 1620 were sold at Antwerp in 1774. It is belived that these tapestries were inspired by knowledge of Primaticcio's lost frescoes of the same subject at Fontainebleau. A document from May 15, 1656 in the archives of Antwerp in which Jacob Geubels, son of Jacob Geubels the Younger, had undertaken to weave, tapestries representing the Story of Ulysses after cartoons by Jordaens, confirms that the series were made to his design.
Lavish tapestries "hang up in foreign style" among "golden Netherlandish arts" are mentioned in Adam Jarzębski's "Short Description of Warsaw" (The Main Road, or a Short Description of Warsaw) from 1643, as adorning Ladislaus IV's Palace Villa Regia in Warsaw (1950-1956).
The series was inherited by Ladislaus' brother John II Casimir, who took them to France after his abdication in 1668 and was sold on auction in Paris in 1673 to the agent of the Charles I Louis, Elector Palatine for 12,000 French pounds (position 728 of the inventory).
Tapestry with Odysseus threatening Circe by workshop of Jacob Geubels II after cartoon by Jacob Jordaens, 1624-1632, with coat of arms of the Crown Prince of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Ladislaus Sigismund Vasa, the mark of the city of Brussels B B, weaver's monogram and signature IACO GEVBELS. Hypothetical reconstruction by Marcin Latka ©. All rights reserved.
On June 17th, 1696 died in the Wilanów Palace in Warsaw after 20 years reign, John III Sobieski, elected monarch of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Shortly after king’s death an inventory of his belongings in the palace was opened. The document contains 122 positions of exquisite silverware, some of which could be created for 20th anniversary of king’s coronation on February 20th, 1696. In the part of royal treasury supervised by burgrave Brochocki, there was "a silver pyramid with 11 baskets made in Augsburg (No. 9.)", "a silver bowl made in Augsburg with a cover with phoenix (No. 4.)", "a three storey fountain with gilded elements made in Augsburg (No. 8.)" and "partially gilded service made in Augsburg with salt cellars, trays, vinegar cruets, bowls and Hercules in the center (No. 7.)". According to inventory the latter service had total weight of 56 grzywnas and 12 łuty, while the Kraków grzywna, used in Poland after 1650 weighed 201.86 g, therefore total weight of the service was approximately 11,304.16 g. Similar vessel from the Green Vault in Dresden (inventory number IV 292), created in 1617 in Nuremberg by Heinrich Mack and Johann Hauer, meaure 75 cm with 4686 g weight.
The inventory also lists some gifts from foreign monarchs including gold bowl offered by Elector of Brandenburg (till 1657 a fief of the Commonwealth as Duke of Prussia) - “gold bowl in the shape of a shell presented by Elector of Brandenburg with his coat of arms” 894 red zlotys worth, inherited by prince Aleksander Benedykt Sobieski.
On March 24th, 1712 arrived to Berlin, a capital of newly created Kingdom of Prussia (earlier Brandenburg), an envoy of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Saxony, count Jacob Heinrich von Flemming. His mission was to negotiate alliance against Sweden (diplomatic credentials for Flemming, Dresden March 17, 1712 [O. S. A. Rep. XI: 247 ii Fe. 55]). Both Prussia and Sweden, growing military powers in the region, pose a significant threat to the Commonwealth. Prussia claimed Courland, a vassal Duchy of the Commonwealth, Varmia and Elbląg, while Swedes were even more perilous for elected successor of John III Sobieski, Augustus II the Saxon, called the Strong, as they supported Stanislaus Leszczyński, a candidate to Commonwealth’s crown and Augustus’ rival. The king was prepared to make far-going territorial concessions to alleviate Prussia and the envoy undoubtedly has not arrived barehanded. It is possible then that Augustus has sent from Warsaw a part or whole silver service made for Sobieski, as a gift.
Table centerpiece with Hercules carrying the terrestrial globe and royal eagle in the Köpenick Palace, a branch of Museum of Decorative Arts in Berlin (inventory number S 559), is probably the largest and the only preserved part of the mentioned service. It measures 80 cm and bears hallmark of the city of Augsburg as well as master mark LB with a star.
Stylistically the work should be attributed to Lorenz II Biller (active between 1678-1726) and dated to 1680s. The work was signed in the center of the celestial globe in Latin: Christoph Schmidt fecit Augustae 1696. Schmidt most probably modified the work by Biller’s workshop, acquired by some important patron that year, John III Sobieski. The statue also bears the date: 17 M 12 [March 1712?] at the bottom of the base on the right, possibly an inventory date. Later the centerpiece was included in the so-called great silver buffet in the Berlin City Castle. Two similar vessels are visible in the drawing from the end of the 18th century, depicting the composition of the silver buffet in about 1763 and are not visible in original composition of the buffet by Johann Friedrich Eosander from 1708. The centerpiece was therefore included in the composition between 1708 and 1763, which makes Polish provenience even more accurate.
Table centerpiece with Hercules carrying the terrestrial globe and royal eagle by Lorenz Biller II and Christoph Schmidt in Augsburg, ca. 1685 and 1696, Museum of Decorative Arts in Berlin.
Fragment of table centerpiece with Hercules carrying the terrestrial globe and royal eagle by Lorenz Biller II and Christoph Schmidt in Augsburg, ca. 1685 and 1696, Museum of Decorative Arts in Berlin.
Banquet given by John III Sobieski to foreign diplomats and Polish dignitaries at Jaworów on 6 July 1684 by Frans Geffels, ca. 1685, National Museum in Wrocław.
Silver buffet in the Berlin City Castle by Martin Engelbrecht, circa 1708, engraving published in Theatrum Europaeum, Volume XVI, 1717, private collection.
See the work in Polish-Lithuanian Treasures.
The Museum of Decorative Arts (Kunstgewerbemuseum) in Berlin prides itself on its collection of over 40 cm high nautilus cup made by the royal goldsmith Andreas I Mackensen (inventory number 1993.63). The cephalopod shell is decorated with a engraved images of insects and bats and mounted in a silver, gilt frame with sea elements - the bowl is supported by Triton, the frame is in the form of sirens and sea waves, and the cover is decorated with a putto gliding on a sea monster. At the base of the cover there is the owner's coat of arms, Aleksander Kęsowski, abbot of the Oliwa Abbey, a six-petal rose and initials A / K / A / O (ALEXANDER / KENSOWSKI / ABBAS / OLIVAE). Kęsowski, born in Kąsów in Kuyavia in 1590, became the abbot in 1641, after the death of Michał Konarski. He was a good manager and founder of many sacred buildings and a hospital of St. Lazarus in Oliwa.
The richness of the Oliwa Abbey during Kęsowski's tenure is evidenced by the account of a gift offered to King John Casimir Vasa and Queen Marie Louise Gonzaga on the occasion of their visit to Gdańsk in 1651. The abbot invited the king to dinner and during this visit he "offered to His Majesty the King the amber clock, very expensive and high, for which he gave in Gdańsk three thousand zlotys [...] to Her Majesty the Queen he offered the amber casket, very beautiful, though small", confirms the royal courtier, Jakub Michałowski, in his diary of the "Prussian Journey". "So we left Oliwa on Wednesday after dinner, accompanied along the way for some time by this abbot [Aleksander Kęsowski], who bid us farewell with good wine with a chalice in his hand" - wrote in his "Diary of travel across Europe" from 1652 Giacomo Fantuzzi, an official of the Apostolic Nunciature in Warsaw, who after seven years in Poland returned to his native Italy via Gdańsk. Earlier on, he noted in his report that here "the dining table is very important and it is very expensive, because in Poland they live sumptuously and they give expensive parties".
The cup was probably made in Gdańsk and could be a gift from the king or, more likely, was ordered by the abbot himself. It is possible to set the date of its creation in the interval between 1643, when Mackensen came from Kraków to Gdańsk, and 1667, the date of Kęsowski's death. At the beginning of the 20th century it was owned by count Friedrich Schaffgotsch in Cieplice, after World War II it belonged to Udo and Mania Bey in Hamburg, and in 1993 it was acquired by the Museum of Decorative Arts from Galerie Neuse in Bremen.
Nautilus cup with coat of arms of abbot Aleksander Kęsowski by Andreas I Mackensen, 1643-1667, Museum of Decorative Arts in Berlin.
Detail of nautilus cup with coat of arms of abbot Aleksander Kęsowski by Andreas I Mackensen, 1643-1667, Museum of Decorative Arts in Berlin.
Detail of nautilus cup with coat of arms of abbot Aleksander Kęsowski by Andreas I Mackensen, 1643-1667, Museum of Decorative Arts in Berlin.
Abbot Aleksander Kęsowski in Paweł Mirowski's "Kazanie na pogrzebie zacnego młodziana Jego Mości Pana Jana Bauzendorffa z Kęsowa Kęsowskiego ..." by Anonymous from Gdańsk, 1656, National Library in Warsaw.
Coat of arms of abbot Aleksander Kęsowski in Stefan Damalewicz's "Roza z opatrznośći Boskiey nową szatą odźiana, abo kazanie przy poświącaniu przewielebnego w Chrystusie Oyca, I. M. X. Alexandra Bucendorfa Kęssowskiego ..." by Cezary Franciszek in Kraków, 1642, National Library in Warsaw.
When in 1598 died queen Anna of Austria, first wife of Sigismund III Vasa, a young a chamberlain of the queen's court and governess to the king's children, Urszula Meyerin, took her position not only in the king's bed but also at the court and in country's politics. This seven-year period between first and second marriage of the king, marked by increasing role of his mistress and "a minister in a skirt" as she was called, is most probably reflected in the reliquary of Saint Ursula in the Diocesan Museum in Płock.
Before 1601 king Sigismund III ordered a goldsmith of Płock, Stanisław Zemelka, to adorn a reliquary bust of his patron Saint Sigismund in the Płock Cathedral with a gold crown from his treasury. Around the same year the king's close ally and protégé, Wojciech Baranowski, Bishop of Płock, commissioned in the workshop of royal goldsmith a silver bust for relics of Saint Ursula from the Płock Cathedral, which was to be transferred to newly established Jesuit Collegium in Pułtusk. Urszula Meyerin, a supporter of Jesuits who corresponded with the Pope and used her influence on the king to appoint her favourites to state positions, deserved the honor to give her effigy to the virgin martyr Ursula, which would be another reason for king's gratitude towards Baranowski. It is also possible that the king, himself a talented goldsmith, participated in execution of this commission, hence the lack of signature on the work.
Silver reliquary of Saint Sigismund with gold Płock Diadem by Anonymous from Kraków (reliquary) and Anonymous from Hungary or Germany (diadem), second quarter of 13th century and 1370, Diocesan Museum in Płock.
Silver reliquary of Saint Ursula in the form of a bust by Stanisław Ditrich, ca. 1600, Diocesan Museum in Płock.
In 1637, when 42-years-old king Ladislaus IV Vasa decided to marry finally, the situation at the court of his mistress Jadwiga Łuszkowska become difficult. It was probably thanks to efforts of king's wife, imperial daughter, Cecilia Renata of Austria, that Jadwiga was married to Jan Wypyski, starost of Merkinė in Lithuania and left the court in Warsaw. Portrait of a lady with forget-me-nots from Warsaw's National Museum, painted around that time in the style of royal painter, Peter Danckerts de Rij, which depicts a lady in the costume of a married woman from Central Europe holding forget-me-nots, symbolizing true love, might be a portrait of Łuszkowska.
Portrait of a lady with forget-me-nots (possibly Jadwiga Wypyska née Łuszkowska) by circle of Peter Danckerts de Rij, ca. 1640, National Museum in Warsaw.
Portrait of Prince Sigismund Casimir Vasa with a page (possibly illegitimate son of Łuszkowska and Ladislaus IV - Ladislaus Constantine Vasa, future Count of Wasenau) by Peter Danckerts de Rij, ca. 1647, National Gallery in Prague.
Around 1659, when the great war, known is Polish history as the Deluge, was coming to the end, it become obvious to everybody that 48-years-old queen Marie Louise Gonzaga would not give a birth to a child, everybody at the court in Warsaw were thinking on possible heir to the throne. Powerful queen gave birth to a son in 1652, but the child died after a month. The old king John Casimir Vasa, former cardinal, who finding himself unsuited to ecclesiastical life, stood in elections for the Polish throne after death of his brother and married his sister-in-law, had however at least one illegitimate child, a daughter Marie Catherine, and possibly a son.
The painting offered by queen Marie Louise to the Church of the Holy Cross in Warsaw in about 1667 and created by court artist around 1659, depicts the eldest son of king’s mistress Katarzyna Franciszka (Catherine Frances) Denhoffowa. 10 years old John Casimir Denhoff as young Jesus, held by childless queen Marie Louise depicted as Virgin Mary, is offering a ring to his mother in the costume of Saint Catherine.
Katarzyna Franciszka Denhoffowa nee von Bessen (or von Bees) from Olesno in Silesia and her younger sister Anna Zuzanna were maids of honor of queen Cecilia Renata and stayed at the court after queen’s death. Denhoffowa become a trusted maid of a new queen and her second husband John Casimir. In 1648, she married a courtier of John Casimir, Teodor Denhoff, and a year later on June 6, 1649 she gave birth to John Casimir Denhoff, future cardinal. Godparents of the young Denhoff were none other than king and queen herself. In 1666 at the age of 17 he was made abbot of Mogiła Abbey and between 1670 and 1674 he studied canon law in Paris under protection of John Casimir Vasa.
Mystical marriage of Saint Catherine by circle of Peter Danckerts de Rij, ca. 1659, National Museum in Warsaw.
Portrait of king John II Casimir Vasa by Daniel Schultz, 1659, Royal Baths Museum in Warsaw.
Portrait of cardinal John Casimir Denhoff by circle of Giovanni Maria Morandi, after 1687, Private collection.
Two marble lions at the main gate of the Drottningholm Palace in Sweden, credited by some sources as possibly taken by the Swedish forces from the Frederiksborg Castle in Denmark, could be rather, beyond any doubt, identifed with four marble lions described by Adam Jarzębski in his "Short Description of Warsaw" from 1643, as adorning the entrance to the Ujazdów Castle in Warsaw - I lwy cztery generalne, Między nimi, naturalne, Właśnie żywe wyrobione, A z marmuru są zrobione; Nie odlewane to rzeczy, Mistrzowską robotą grzeczy (2273-2278).
In the 1630s, before his wedding with Cecilia Renata of Austria, Ladislaus IV Vasa made several commissions for sculptures in Florence, including possibly lions for his palace in Ujazdów. Both material, Italian marble, and a form similar to Medici lions, makes this assumption more probable. Also quarterly divided fields of lions' escutcheons with wiped away crests, suggest an eagle and a knight of Poland-Lithuania, rather than more complex emblems of Christian IV of Denmark.
Marble lion from the Ujazdów Castle by Anonymous from Italy, 1630s, Drottningholm Palace. Photo: Nationalmuseum (CC BY-SA).
Marble lion from the Ujazdów Castle by Anonymous from Italy, 1630s, Drottningholm Palace. Photo: Nationalmuseum (CC BY-SA).
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.
After two centries of domination as the main center of craftmanship of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwath, the country's main port, Gdańsk, began to decline in the beginning of the 18th century. The transfer of royal court from Dresden, into Warsaw during the Seven Years' War in 1756, ended another half-century hegemony of the Saxon capital. Royal court in the capital of the Kingdom of Poland favored greatly developmnent of local workshops. Also many skilled gold- and silversmiths from other locations began to settle in Warsaw. Among the most notable were Antoni Ignacy Mietelski (d. 1737), originally from Warka, who settled in Warsaw in 1717. In 1725, 1733 and 1737 he was the senior of the city's guild of goldsmiths. Mietelski is the author of two silver jugs in similar proportions, one set with coins from around 1720 (Czartoryski Museum) and the other from 1726 made for the city council and adorned with the symbol of Warsaw - a siren (National Museum in Warsaw). The Warsaw's jug signed with monogram AM was commissioned by the mayor of Warsaw, Józef Benedykt Loupia.
The privilage of king Stanislaus Augustus Poniatowski from 1785 and subsequent orders sanctioned Jewish workshops not affiliated with a guild and impose strict rules on marking the objects (grade of silver, mark of the manufacturer and other hallmarks). Among the most notable goldsmiths of that time were Szymon Stanecki, treasurer of the guild from 1785, active till 1810, who signed his works with monogram SS. He is the author of a silver tureen with handles in the form of a ram's heads and a cover topped with an artichoke dated to about 1785 to 1788 (National Museum in Warsaw). Hil Jakubowicz, a Jewish goldsmith from Łask, who was appionted as one of the five state melters in 1788, is an author of an octagonal filgree basket from about 1785 to 1787. Teodor Pawłowicz, mentioned in the Royal priviledge from 1785 as a deputy senior of the guild and active till at least 1789, and Józef Skalski marking his works with monogram IS, active in the end of the 18th century.
Foreigneres are represented by Karl Ludwig from Dresden, mentioned in the books of the Węgrów-Warsaw evangelical parish in 1785 and author of two silver tureens signed with monogram CL. Martin Holck, mentioned in the books of the mentioned parish in 1783 and active till 1794, Josef Götz called Gallus from Moravia, active in Warsaw from about 1773 till the end of the century and J.M. Schwartz who signed his works with monogram I.M.S.
Unidentified by name silversmiths are Monogrammist IGB, possibly from Poznań, active from the 1770s till the end of the century, author of two tureens from the service of Michał Kemblan Chelkowski, chamberlain of king Stanislaus Augustus that can be dated to about 1785 to 1788.,Monogrammist ASW, Monogrammist GSS and Monogrammist AK, all active in Warsaw in the 1780s.
Silver jug with marriage medal of king Ladislaus IV Vasa and Cecilia Renata of Austria by Antoni Ignacy Mietelski, ca. 1720, Czartoryski Museum.
Silver bust of Saint Stanislaus from Gniezno Cathedral by Anonymous from Warsaw, 1726, Museum of the Gniezno Archdiocese.
The richly decorated 17th-century monstrance of Bishop Stanisław Kazimierz Dąmbski's foundation, is used exclusively for displaying the Blessed Sacrament on Good Friday and during the solemn procession of the Resurrection on Holy Saturday. It was created between 1680 and 1699 possibly by a Silesian goldsmith Christian Schrötter in Kamienna Góra. Made in silver and adorned with semi-precious stones, it represents Christ in the form of a Host, accompanied by figures from the Old (Abraham, Melchizedek) and New Testament (Mother of God, St. Joseph, St. Peter). It was bequeathed to the Wawel Cathedral by the founder as an equivalent for the gold chalice and silver sanctuary lamp offered traditionally by the bishops at their inauguration.
Bishop Stanisław Dąmbski's monstrance by Christian Schrötter in Kamienna Góra, 1680-1699, Cathedral Museum at Wawel Hill in Kraków.
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