At the beginning of January 1606 arrived to Kraków Jan Buczynski, secretary of tsar False Dmitry I of Russia, with the mission to acquire jewels for his patron. Several merchants from Kraków and Lviv, as well as jewellers Mikołaj Siedmiradzki and Giovanni Ambrogio Cellari from Milan, encouraged by the prospect of a large gain, embarked on a journey to Moscow.
Princess Anna Vasa (1568-1625) who owned a collection of jewels valued by some at 200,000 thalers, decided also to secretly sell to the tsar a part of it. Stanisław Niemojewski (ca. 1560-1620) of Rola coat of arms, Crown Deputy Master of the Pantry, was appointed to deliver jewels worth of 70,000 zlotys "wrapped in colourful silk" in an iron casked "painted in green". False Dmitry was killed on May 17th, 1606 and it was not as early as 1609 when the collection was returned by the new tsar Vasiliy Ivanovich Shuisky. Among jewels returned was "eagle with two diamond heads with rubies", most probably from princess' collection or pawned with Niemojewski from the State Treasury before 1599.
Such hereldic jewels, either Imperial-Austrian or Polish, were undobtedly in possesion of different queens and princesses of Poland since at least 1543, when Elizabeth of Austria (1526-1545) was presented with a "diamond eagle with rubies" by emperor Charles V on the occasion of her marriage with king Sigismund II Augustus of Poland. Inventory of the jewels of Polish princess Anna Catherine Constance Vasa, daughter of Sigismund III and Constance of Austria, include four pendans and two pair of earrings with eagles, unfailingly three Imperial-Austrian and two Polish: "a pendant with a white, enamelled Eagle, at which seven diamonds, three round pearls and one big hanging ", valued at 120 thalers and "a diamond eagle with a sharply cut diamond in the center, more diamonds around and three hanging pearls".
Anna Vasa, in half a princess of Poland, as a daughter of Catherine Jagiellon and sister of king Sigismund III, was as such entitled to use this emblem. After Sigismund's defeat at the Battle of Stångebro in 1598, she left Sweden to live with him in Poland where she spent the rest of her life.
The miniature portrait of a lady with eagle pendant from Harrach collection in Vienna (Harrach Palace at Freyung Street) previously identified as effigy of Anna of Austria (1573-1598), first wife of king Sigismund III, basing on strong resemblance to portrait of Catherine Jagiellon, if at all connected with Poland, should be rather identified as a portrait of king’s sister Anna Vasa, and not as his wife. The lack of protruding lip, notorious "Habsburg jaw" known from Anna of Austria’s preserved portraits and costume of the sitter, according to Northern fashion and not Spanish of the Imperial court, confirms this hypothesis.
Eagle was a symbol of supreme imperial power, epitomized magnanimity, the Ascension to heaven and regeneration by baptism and was used in jewellery all across Europe at that time. If the pendant is a heraldic symbol than the portrait should be dated to about 1592, when Sigismund was prepared to abandon the Polish throne for Ernest of Austria, who was about to marry princess Anna Vasa (this would also explain how the miniature found its way to Austria) or to 1598, when the princess needed to legitimize herself in her new homeland.
Diamond double-headed eagle of the House of Austria by Anonymous from Milan or Vienna, mid-16th century, Treasury of the Munich Residence. Most probably from dowry of princess Anna Catherine Constance Vasa.
Detail of a portrait of queen Anna of Austria (1573-1598) by Martin Kober, 1595, Bavarian State Painting Collections.
Miniature of princess Catherine Jagiellon (1526-1583) by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Younger, ca. 1553, Czartoryski Museum.
Miniature of a lady with eagle pendant, most probably princess Anna Vasa (1568-1625) by Anonymous, 1590s, Harrach collection in Rohrau Castle (?). Identification by Marcin Latka.
See the work in Polish-Lithuanian Treasures.
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.
Fashion on eastern carpets and rugs has spread with Armenian settlement on Polish soil. The partition of Armenia between the Byzantine Empire and the Seljuk Turks in 1080 resulted in the mass migration of the Armenians from their homeland, including to Ruthenia, where Lviv became their main center. In 1356, King Casimir the Great approved the religious, self-government and judicial separation of the Lviv Armenians, and in 1519 the so-called Armenian Statute, a collection of customary Armenian rights was approved by King Sigismund I.
In 1533 Sigismund I sent Wawrzyniec Spytek Jordan to Turkey with the order to buy 28 carpets "for guests treating", for setting tables and "for side eating" of the King himself, besides 100 pieces of eastern fabrics "for wall covering, with flowers and border in the same color, so that they would not differ". Twenty years later, King Sigismund Augustus ordered the same Wawrzyniec Spytek to buy for himself 132 Persian carpets, some of which were intended to decorate the royal dining room. They were to have yellow flowers and "beautiful borders", the others, with an undefined pattern, were intended for the Wawel Cathedral. On April 20, 1553, he received a list of "measure of carpets ... for the need of His Highness." In 1583, in Kraków, Chancellor Jan Zamoyski bought 24 small red Turkish carpets. Persian (adziamskie) carpets were supplied by the Armenian from Caffa on the Black Sea coast who settled in Zamość, Murat Jakubowicz, who on May 24, 1585 received the royal privilege on the Chancellor's initiative to sell "Turkish" rugs in Poland for the period of 20 years. The Zamoyski Inventory from 1601 mentions the "Persian red carpets from Murat" and the "silk carpet from the Turkish tchaoush Pirali" received as a diplomatic gift.
In the spring of 1601, Sigismund III Vasa, sent Sefer Muratowicz, an Armenian merchant from Warsaw who served as a royal court supplier, to Persia. "There, I ordered the carpets woven with silk and gold to be made for His Highness, and also a tent, swords from Damascus steel et caetera," wrote Muratowicz in his relation. Not only an excellent warrior, but also a talented organizer, Shah Abbas I of Persia raised the weaving industry to the highest degree. Luxury carpets become a frequent diplomatic gift, and the Shah sent legations to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1605, 1612, 1622 and 1627.
In 1603 the Lviv Archbishop, Jan Zamoyski, brought twenty large carpets with Jelita coat of arms from Istanbul for the decoration of the Latin Cathedral in Lviv. In 1612, the young master Pupart donated "a Persian rug, instead of gunblades and gunpowder" to the guild of goldsmiths in Kraków and Bartosz Makuchowicz offered "white Turkish carpet". In the course of three years, between 1612 to 1614, 16 further rugs were given to the guild. The register of movables of Maria Amalia Mohylanka, daughter of Ieremia Movila, Prince of Moldavia and wife of the governor of Bratslav, Stefan Potocki, from 1612 mentions 160 silk Persian carpets "of the most diverse and of the richest eastern work". In the inventory of the Dubno Castle of Prince Janusz Ostrogski from 1616, there are about 150 Persian carpets woven with silk and gold, and the inventory of Madaliński family from Nyzhniv from 1625 mentions "Item carpets: one big and two smaller, three small, two ordinary Turkish, wall hanging varicoloured kilim, red kilim ... "
White and red carpets from Persia were particularly popular. Two Persian red carpets were estimated at 20 zlotys in 1641. Before 1682, the priest from Kodeń, Mikołaj Siestrzewitowski, paid 60 zlotys for two cherry carpets.
According to the order received from the court of King Ladislaus IV in Warsaw, merchant Milkon Hadziejewicz in a letter written in Lviv on October 1, 1641 to Aslangul Haragazovitch, "Armenian and merchant from the city of Anguriey" (Ankara in Turkey) commissioned him to acquire for "Her Highness the Queen", Cecilia Renata, "one rug of eighteen or twenty ells, silk woven with gold or only silk, it should be a Khorasan rug, so good and so large".
According to account by Frenchman Jean Le Laboureur accompanying Queen Marie Louise Gonzaga in her journey to Poland in 1646 on the furnishings of the Warsaw Castle, "furniture is very expensive there, and royal tapestries are the most beautiful not only in Europe, but also in Asia." While Queen Marie Louise Gonzaga herself, writing from Gdańsk to Cardinal Mazarin on February 15, 1646, stated: "You will be surprised sir, that I have never seen in the French crown as beautiful tapestries as here." In the church in Oliwa, according to her account, there were 160 different rugs and tapestries.
The act of compromise from 1650 between Warterysowicz and Seferowicz, the Armenian merchants in Lviv, lists in their warehouse 12 large "gold with silk" and 12 small Persian carpets, valued at 15,000 zlotys. Ożga, starost of Terebovlia and Stryi, owned 288 rugs of different pattern and origin: Persian, floor rugs, kilims, silk with letters, eagles, etc. The will of Stanisław Koniecpolski, castellan of Kraków, in 1682 (not to be confused with the hetman, died in 1646) lists two carpets, woven with gold and silver. In the end of the 17th century in Kraków, the varicoloured kilims were valued at 8 zlotys, white and red 10 zlotys, and floral and ornamental at 15 zlotys. In Warsaw in 1696 Turkish kilim was valued at 12 zlotys, the old one at 4 zlotys. Stall keeper Majowicz purchased a Turkish kilim for 15 zlotys. In Poznań, red kilims costed 6 zlotys each, and ordinary were for 3 zlotys in 1696.
Armenians settled in Poland, not only traded in textiles, but also participated in the production of carpets. In Zamość, Murat Jakubowicz organized the first manufacture of eastern carpets in Poland. The imitation of Persian patterns was continued in the workshop of Manuel from Corfu, called Korfiński in Brody under the patronage of hetman Stanisław Konicepolski. The register of belongings of Aleksandra Wiesiołowska from 1659, lists 24 eastern carpets and "locally produced large carpets modelled on floor rugs 24".
Although traditionally the majority of Persian and Turkish rugs in Poland, or those associated with Poland, are identified as a token of the glorious victory of the Commonwealth, which saved Europe from the Ottoman Empire invasion at the gates of Vienna in 1683, it is more likely that they were acquired in customary trading relations.
When in 1878 at the Paris exhibition, Prince Władysław Czartoryski organized the "Polish Hall", presenting, among others, seven eastern carpets from his collection bearing heraldic emblems, they gained the name "Polish."
Detail of so-called Kraków-Paris carpet by Anonymous from Tebriz, second quarter of the 16th century, Wawel Royal Castle. According to tradition won at Vienna in 1683 by Wawrzyniec Wodzicki.
Detail of rug "with animals" by Herat or Tebriz manufacture, mid-16th century, Czartoryski Museum.
Detail of carpet with hunting scenes by Kashan workshop, before 1602, Residence Museum in Munich. Most probably a gift to Sigismund III Vasa from Abbas I of Persia. From dowry of Anna Catherine Constance Vasa.
Detail of Safavid kilim with the coat of arms of Sigismund III Vasa (Polish Eagle with Vasa sheaf) by Kashan workshop, ca. 1602, Residence Museum in Munich. Commissioned by the King through his agent in Persia, Sefer Muratowicz.
Mechti Kuli Beg, Ambassador of Persia, detail of Entry of the wedding procession of Sigismund III Vasa into Cracow by Balthasar Gebhardt, ca. 1605, Royal Castle in Warsaw.
Portrait of Krzysztof Zbaraski, Master of the Stables of the Crown in delia coat made from Turkish fabric by Anonymous, 1620s, Lviv National Art Gallery. Zbaraski served as Commonwealth's ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1622 to 1624.
Portrait of Shah Abbas flirting with a wine boy and a couplet "May life bring you all you desire of three lips: the lip of your lover, the lip of the stream, and the lip of the cup", miniature by Muhammad Qasim, February 10, 1627, Louvre Museum.
Portrait of Stanisław Tęczyński by Tommaso Dolabella, 1633-1634, National Museum in Warsaw, deposit at the Wawel Royal Castle.
Detail of Ushak carpet with coat of arms of Krzysztof Wiesiołowski by Anonymous from Poland or Turkey, ca. 1635, Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin.
Portrait of a lady (possibly member of the Węsierski family) by Peter Danckerts de Rij, ca. 1640, National Museum in Gdańsk.
Portrait of a man (possibly member of the Węsierski family) by Peter Danckerts de Rij, ca. 1640, National Museum in Gdańsk.
Portrait of a young man with the view of Gdańsk (possibly member of the Węsierski family) by Peter Danckerts de Rij, ca. 1640, National Museum in Gdańsk.
Meletios I Pantogalos, metropolitan of Ephesus, during his visit to Gdańsk by Stephan de Praet and Willem Hondius, 1645, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.
Detail of so-called Czartoryski carpet with emblem of the Myszkowski family of the Jastrzębiec coat of arms by Anonymous from Iran, mid-17th century, Metropolitan Museum of Art. Possibly commissioned by Franciszek Myszkowski, castellan of Belz and marshal of Crown Tribunal in 1668 (identification of the emblem by Marcin Latka).
Lamentation of various people over the dead credit with Armenian merchant in the center by Anonymous from Poland, ca. 1655, Library of the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Polish Academy of Sciences.
Portrait of Maksymilian Franciszek Ossoliński and his sons by Anonymous Painter from Masovia, 1670s, Royal Castle in Warsaw.
Portrait of Zbigniew Ossoliński by Anonymous from Poland, 1675, Royal Castle in Warsaw.
Portrait of Johannes Hevelius by Daniel Schultz, 1677, Gdańsk Library of Polish Academy of Sciences.
Portrait of Kyprian Zochovskyj, Metropolitan of Kiev by Anonymous, ca. 1680, National Arts Museum of the Republic of Belarus.
Detail of vase carpet from the church in Jeziorak by Anonymous from Persia (Kirman), 17th century, Private collection.
Portrait of John III Sobieski with his son Jakub Ludwik by Jan Tricius after Jerzy Siemiginowski-Eleuter, ca. 1690, Palace of Versailles.
Detail of medallion Ushak carpet by Anonymous from Turkey, mid-17th century, Jagiellonian University Museum. Offered by King John III Sobieski to the Kraków Academy.
Maria Josepha of Saxony visited the Jasna Góra Monastery with her sister Maria Anna Sophia on May 23rd, 1744. Daughters of Augustus III of Poland and Saxony offered to the Black Madonna of Częstochowa two gold hearts with their names as votive offering. In 1747 the princess married Louis, Dauphin of France (1729-1765) and some time later, in 1756, through intermediary of Duchess Jabłonowska, she sent to Jasna Góra a votive offering for healing her husband. The oil on canvas painting by anonymous French painter is set in a rich bronze frame, cast, chased and gilded, adorned with rocaille motifs and cartouches with coat of arms of Maria Josepha (Polish-Lituanian Commonweath and Kingdom of France). Inscription on frame informs about the intentions of the Dauphine of France. Both the painting and frame were creted by French workshop. Similar example of craftmanship is a late baroque strongbox with monogram of Augustus II of Poland by Pierre Fromery.
Votive painting of Maria Josepha of Saxony by Anonymous from France, ca. 1753, Treasury of the Jasna Góra Monastery.
Strongbox with monogram of Augustus II the Strong by Pierre Fromery, 1697-1733, Czartoryski Museum.
Who is the mysterious girl dressed in contemporary, although a bit out of fashion at the time of creation, Spanish dress? The portrait is a so-called pendant, one of two paintings hung together with similar or respective topic. In portraiture usually depicting couples, man and wife, mother and daughter, father and son, brother and sister, in opposite poses. Basing on dimensions (134 x 98 cm), style, topic and costume similarity, the portrait of unknown Princess is undoubtedly a pendant to portrait of Prince Sigismund Casimir Vasa preserved in the Austria’s Ambras Castle collection (division of Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, inventory number 8198) and attributed to Dutch painter at the Polish court in Warsaw, Peter Danckerts de Rij. Young prince, about 4 years old, was depicted in a fancy polish costume – green żupan, standing on a loggia (arcaded terrace) of Ladislaus IV’s favourite residence in Warsaw facing Vistula River. Sigismund Casimir was the only son of the King by his first wife Archduchess Cecilia Renata of Austria. The portrait is recorded in the Ambras Castle inventories as far as the year of 1663, hence it could be a gift of the King of Poland to his Austrian cousins. The reason why the portrait of Polish princess does not preserved in the same location might be that she was illegitimate daughter of the King, who could not be introduced to the imperial family. It might have been in the collection of the Polish Vasas till 1673, when John II Casimir’s belongings were put on sale in Paris. Ladislaus’ Queen became pregnant three times during her marriage. Apart from Sigismund Casimir (1 April 1640), she gave birth to a daughter Maria Anna Isabella on 8 January 1642, who died one month later and on 23 March 1644 Cecilia Renata gave birth her third child, a stillborn daughter. She died next day as a consequence of an infection. None of king’s siblings had a child in 1640s, consequently the portrait could not depict a living, legitimate member of the Royal family.
The only confirmed illegitimate child of the King, Władysław Konstanty (Ladislaus Constantine), was born around 1635. Although the male children were frequently depicted in long dresses in baroque era, he was approximately 10 years old at the time when the portrait was executed, hence too old to wear such costume. The features of the sitter are also more feminine and typical for young girls of that time. It is possible then, what was suggested several times, that Ladislaus had a daughter by his mistress Jadwiga Łuszkowska born in about 1640. The portrait can be considered as unprecedented depiction of illegitimate child together with "prince of the blood" in Habsburg circle, and it is a testimony of great affection of the King to his children.
Due to great similarity of contemporary Polish and Hungarian costumes, it is also highly probable that pictures represent not Sigismund Casimir Vasa and his alleged sister but eldest son of Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III and his first wife Maria Anna of Spain - Ferdinand (1633-1654), made king of Bohemia in 1646 and king of Hungary and Croatia in 1647 and his sister Mariana of Austria (1634-1696), future queen of Spain, who were frequently depicted together at that time. The Emperor's son was depicted with similar Hungarian hat and similar dog in 1634 at the age of 1 year.
(1) Portrait of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria (1633-1654) in Hungarian costume by Anonymous, 1630s, Ambras Castle in Innsbruck,
(2) Portrait of Archduchess Mariana of Austria (1634-1696) in Spanish costume by Anonymous, 1630s, Museu Sa Bassa Blanca,
(3-4) Portrait of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria and his sister Mariana of Austria by Anonymous, 1630s, Bavarian State Painting Collections,
(5-6) Portrait of a boy and a girl, most probably Ferdinand of Austria and his sister Mariana of Austria by Frans Luyckx, 1630s, Museo Nacional del Prado,
(7) Detail of portrait of Maria Anna of Spain and her son Ferdinand by Anonymous, 1634, Kunsthistorisches Museum,
(8) Portrait of Pál and Orsolya Esterházy by Anonymous, 1652, Forchtenstein Castle.
In 1622 Constance of Austria, Queen consort of Poland, sent a gift to sons of her younger sister Duchess of Tuscany. The sons of Maria Maddalena of Austria were presented with a set of colourful costumes - żupan dress, delia coat and other necessary utensils of a Polish noble, including pernach mace and zygmuntówka sabre, among others. Their new exotic attires were captured in a series of portraits by Justus Sustermans, at least one of which was sent to Warsaw in gratitude to Queen of Poland.
The portrait in the collection of Flint Institute of Arts (inventory no. 1965.15) depicting Maria Maddalena of Austria with her son Ferdinand in Polish costume is an exact copy of a painting preserved in the Uffizi in Florance (inventory no. 1890, 2246). It was by most accounts in the possession of the Polish Vasas and was transferred by John II Casimir Vasa to France after his abdication in 1668.
Portrait of Maria Maddalena of Austria, Duchess of Tuscany with her son Ferdinando in Polish costume by Justus Sustermans, 1622, Flint Institute of Arts.
Portrait of Leopoldo de' Medici in Polish costume with a pernach mace by Justus Sustermans, 1622, Uffizi Gallery.
Equestrian portrait of Ferdinando de' Medici in Polish costume with a sabre by Justus Sustermans, ca. 1622, Konopiště Castle.
Portrait of dwarf in Polish costume holding a pernach mace and a dog by Anonymous from Florence, 1620s, Uffizi Gallery. Its possible that the dwarf or his costume was a gift from Constance of Austria to her sister Duchess of Tuscany. Identification by Marcin Latka (Artinpl).
In the beginning of the 17th century the medieval abode of the Dukes of Masovia was largely extended to house the parliament of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, offices and court of the Vasas. The Italian architects Giovanni Trevano, Giacomo Rodondo, Paolo de la Corte and Mateo Castello constructed a Mannerist-early Baroque five-sided palace between 1598-1619. In 1621-1627, with the threat of Ottoman invasion, the palace was fortified with a curtain wall from the Vistula according to Italian concept of palazzo in fortezza (meaning in Italian, "a palace in a fortress"). Between 1634 and 1637 a large hall was constructed in upper parts of the southern wing to house opera hall of King Ladislaus IV and in 1637 the staircase tower was largely remodelled (Ladislaus' Tower). In 1643 the Prince-Cardinal Charles Ferdinand Vasa's Palace was erected on the northern bastion of the Castle's curtain wall and in 1644 a new gate (Saint John's Gate) and the Sigismund Column were erected by royal architect Constantino Tencalla in Baroque style.
During the so-called Deluge of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (invasion of allied forces of Sweden from north, Brandenburg from west, Transilvania from south and Muscovy from East), the castle was devastated in three occupations by foreign forces between 1655-1656 (the last was Transilvanian occupation). All valuables, including marble pavements, chimneys and window sills were shipped to Sweden, while the interiors were turned into stables and a hospital.
Exterior and interior
(1) Detail of the Plan of Warsaw in 1656 by Nicolas Pérelle after Erik Dahlbergh, printed in 1696. The fortifications of the Royal Castle in Warsaw were built in the years 1596-1627 giving the structure the more modern appearance according to principles of the Old Italian School (circle of Antonio da Sangallo). They consisted of a 162-metre-long curtain wall flanked by bastions on either side. Two shorter walls connected the bastions with the Castle. The wall rose at least 6.70 metres above the ground level. The fortifications were made of granite rocks, and due to the instability of the terrain, oak piles were also driven into the ground, the basic material for the surface construction was limestone surmounted with bricks. The remnants of the fortifications were absorbed by subsequent buildings in the 18th-century.
(2) Sigismund III Vasa on catafalque by Christian Melich, 1633, Wawel Royal Castle.
(3-4) The Ladislaus Tower of the Castle, 1637.
Tiles from the excavations in the Royal Castle's garden, 1630s:
(5) Tile with eagles from a stove,
(6) Stove tile with a lion or a griffon,
(7) Dutch tile with a soldier.
(1-2) Portrait of Sigismund III Vasa and Constance of Austria by Philipp Holbein II or workshop, ca. 1625, Royal Castle in Warsaw.
(3) Portrait of Philip III of Spain by Andrés López Polanco, ca. 1617, Skokloster Castle, possibly from the collection of Sigismund III Vasa. In 1615 Queen Constance of Austria, Sigismund's second wife, ordered the Commonwealth's ambassador in Spain to ask for the portraits of the members of the Spanish Royal family. Her elder sister Margaret of Austria, was a wife of King Philip III of Spain. Since the new Holy Roman Emperor, Matthias, resided more frequently in Vienna then in Prague from 1612, the portraits of Spanish Habsburgs would be sent to Vienna after this date, consequently it is more probable that the Philip III's portrait was captured by Swedish forces in Warsaw and not in Prague.
(4-5) Portraits of two sisters, daughters of Philip III of Spain and Margaret of Austria: Empress Maria Anna of Spain by Frans Luycx, ca. 1638 and Anne of Austria, Queen of France by Charles Beaubrun, ca. 1645. Both portraits were given to the Visitationist Monastery in Warsaw by John II Casimir Vasa in September 1668 and by most accounts adorned Castle walls.
(6) Portrait of Eleonora Gonzaga (1630-1686) by Frans Luycx, ca. 1651, Nationalmuseum in Stockholm. A portrait of a relative to Queen Marie Louise Gonzaga and a wife of Emperor Ferdinand III, cousin of John II Casimir Vasa was sent to Warsaw and was captured by Swedes in 1655 (from the collection of Gripsholm Castle).
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