Majority of confirmed effigies of the Last Polish-Lithuanian Jagiellons are official, popular portraits pertaining to northern school of painting. Just as today in some countries, in the 16th century the people wanted to have a portrait of their monarch at home. Such effigies were frequently idealized, simplified and inscribed in Latin, which was an official language, apart from Ruthenian and Polish, of the multicultural country. They provided the official titulature (Rex, Regina), coat of arms and even age (ætatis suæ). Private and paintings dedicated to upper class were less so direct. Painters were operating with a complex set of symbols, which were clear then, however are not so obvious today.
In 1565 Flavio Ruggieri from Bologna, who accompanied Giovanni Francesco Commendone, a legate of Pope Pius IV in Poland, described the country in the manuscript preserved in the Vatican Library (Ex codice Vatic. inter Ottobon. 3175, Nr. 36):
"Poland is quite well inhabited, especially Masovia, in other parts there are also dense towns and villages, but all wooden, counting up to 90,000 of them in total, one half of which belongs to the king, the other half to the nobility and clergy, the inhabitants apart from the nobility are a half and a quarter million, that is, two and a half million peasants and a million townspeople.
Even the craftsmen speak Latin, and it is not difficult to learn this language, because in every city, in almost every village there is a public school. They take over the customs and language of foreign nations with unspeakable ease, and of all transalpine countries, they learn the customs and the Italian language the most, which is very much used and liked by them as well as the Italian costume, namely at court. The national costume is almost the same as the Hungarian, but they like to dress up differently, they change robes often, they even change up several times a day. Since Queen Bona of the House of Sforza, the mother of the present king, introduced the language, clothes and many other Italian customs, some lords began to build in the cities of Lesser Poland and Masovia. The nobility is very rich.
Only townspeople, Jews, Armenians, and foreigners, Germans and Italians trade. The nobility only sells their own grain, which is the country's greatest wealth. Floated into the Vistula by the rivers flowing into it, it goes along the Vistula to Gdańsk, where it is deposited in intentionally built granaries in a separate part of the city, where the guard does not allow anyone to enter at night. Polish grain feeds almost all of King Philip's Netherlands, even Portuguese and other countries' ships come to Gdańsk for Polish grain, where you will sometimes see 400 and 500 of them, not without surprise. The Lithuanian grain goes along the Neman to the Baltic Sea.
Apart from grain, Poland supplies other countries with flax, hemp, beef hides, honey, wax, tar, potash, amber, wood for shipbuilding, wool, cattle, horses, sheep, beer and some dyer's herb. From other countries they imports costly blue silks, cloth, linen, rugs, carpets, from the east precious stones and jewels, from Moscow, sables, lynxes, bears, ermines and other furs that are absent in Poland, or not as much as their inhabitants need to protect them from cold or for glamor.
The king deliberate on all important matters with the senate, although he has a firm voice, the nobility, as it has been said, has so tightened his power that he has little left over it."
Portrait of Royal jeweller Giovanni Jacopo Caraglio aged 47 receiving a medallion from the Polish Royal Eagle with monogram of King Sigismund Augustus (SA) on his chest by Paris Bordone, 1547-1553, Wawel Royal Castle.
Art collection of Prince Ladislaus Sigismund Vasa, attributed to Étienne de La Hire, 1626, Royal Castle in Warsaw.
Portraits of Simonetta Vespucci, Beatrice d'Aragona and Barbara Zapolya as Venus and as Madonna
Around 850 the church of Santa Maria Nova (New St Mary), was built on the ruins of the Temple of Venus and Roma between the eastern edge of the Forum Romanum and the Colosseum in Rome. The temple was dedicated to the goddesses Venus Felix (Venus the Bringer of Good Fortune) and Roma Aeterna (Eternal Rome) and thought to have been the largest temple in Ancient Rome. Virgin Mary was from now on to be venerated in ancient site dedicated to the ancestor of the Roman people, as mother of Aeneas, the founder of Rome. Julius Caesar claimed Venus as his ancestor, dictator Sulla and Pompey as their protectress, she was the goddess of love, beauty, desire, sex, fertility, prosperity, and victory.
In April 1469, at age of sixteen, a Genoese noblewoman Simonetta Cattaneo (1453-1476), married in Genoa in the presence of the Doge and all the city's aristocracy Marco Vespucci from the Republic of Florence, a distant cousin of the navigator Amerigo Vespucci.
After the wedding, the couple settled in Florence. Simonetta quickly became popular at the Florentine court, and attracted the interest of the Medici brothers, Lorenzo and Giuliano. When in 1475 Giuliano won a jousting tournament after bearing a banner upon which was a picture of Simonetta as a helmeted Pallas Athene, painted by Sandro Botticelli, beneath which was the French inscription La Sans Pareille, meaning "The Unparalleled One", and he nominated Simonetta as "The Queen of Beauty" at that event, her reputation as an exceptional beauty further increased.
She died just one year later on the night of 26/27 April 1476. On the day of her funeral she was carried through Florence in an uncovered coffin dressed in white for the people to admire her one last time and there may have existed a posthumous cult about her in Florence. She become a model for different artists and Botticelli frequently depicted her as Venus and the Virigin, the most important deities of the Renaissance, both of which had pearls and roses as their symbol.
If the greatest contemporary celebrity lend her appearance to goddess of love and the Virgin, it is more than obvious that other wealthy ladies wanted to be represented similarly.
On 22 December 1476 Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary, Bohemia and Croatia married other Renaissance beauty Beatrice d'Aragona of Naples, a relative of Bona Sforza, Queen of Poland (Bona's grandfather Alfonso II of Naples was Beatrice's brother). Matthias was fascinated by his young, intelligent and well-educated wife. Her marble bust created by Francesco Laurana in the 1470s (The Frick Collection in New York) is inscribed DIVA BEATRIX ARAGONIA (Divine Beatrice of Aragon) to further enhance her remote and ethereal beauty. Numerous Italians followed Beatrice to Hungary, among them Bernardo Vespucci, brother to Amerigo, after whom America was named (after Catherine Fletcher's "The Beauty and the Terror: The Italian Renaissance and the Rise of the West", 2020, p. 36).
Corvinus commissioned works of art in Florence and the painters Filippino Lippi, Attavante degli Attavanti and Andrea Mantegna worked for him. He also recived works of art from his friend Lorenzo de' Medici, like metal reliefs of the heads of Alexander the Great and Darius by Andrea da Verrocchio, as Vasari cites.
It is highly possible that Venus by Sandro Botticelli or workshop in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin was also sent from Florence to Matthias Corvinus or brought by Beatrice to Hungary.
After Corvinus' death, Beatrice married in 1491 her second husband, Vladislaus II, son of Casimir IV, King of Poland and elder brother of Sigismund I.
Two paintings of Madonna and Child from the 1490s by Perugino, a painter who between 1486 and 1499 worked mostly in Florence, in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna (from old imperial collection) and in the Städel Museum (acquired in 1832) depict the same woman as the Virgin. Both effigies are very similar to Beatrice's bust by Francesco Laurana.
The painting in the Städel Museum was most probably copied or re-created basing on the same set of study drawings by other artists, including young Lucas Cranach the Elder. One version, attributed to Timoteo Viti, was offered to the Collegiate Church in Opatów in 1515 by Krzysztof Szydłowiecki, who was initially Treasurer and Marshal of the Court of Prince Sigismund since 1505, and from 1515 Great Chancellor of the Crown. He was a friend of king Sigismund and frequently travelled to Hungary and Austria. Other two versions by Lucas Cranach the Elder are in private collections.
The same woman was also depicted as Venus Pudica in a painting attributed to Lorenzo Costa in the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest. It was purchased by the Budapest Museum in Brescia in 1895 from Achille Glisenti, an Italian painter who also worked in Germany.
Between 1498-1501 and 1502-1506 the fifth of six sons of Polish King Casimir IV Jagiellon, Prince Sigismund frequently travelled to Buda, to live at the illustrous court of his elder brother King Vladislaus II. On his way there his stop was Trenčín Castle, owned by Stephen Zapolya, Palatine of the Kingdom of Hungary. Stephen was married to Polish princess Hedwig of Cieszyn of the Piast dynasty and also owned 72 other castles and towns, and drew income from Transylvanian mines. He and his family was also a frequent guest at the royal court in Buda.
At the Piotrków Sejm of 1509 the lords of the Kingdom insisted on Sigismund, who was elected king in 1506, to get married and give the Crown and Lithuania a legitimate male heir. In 1509 the youngest daughter of Zapolya, Barbara, reached the age of 14 and Lucas Cranach, then Court painter to the Duke of Saxony, was despatched by the Duke to Nuremberg for the purpose of taking charge of the picture painted by Albrecht Dürer, son of a Hungarian goldsmith, for the Duke. That same year Cranach created two paintings showing a woman as Venus and as the Virgin.
The painting of Venus and Cupid, signed with initials LC and dated 1509 on the cartellino positioned against a dark background was acquired by Empress Catherine II of Russia in 1769 with the collection of Count Heinrich von Brühl in Dresden. Its prior history is unknown, therefore it cannot be excluded that Count Brühl, a Polish-Saxon statesman at the court of Saxony and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, purchased it in Poland. The painting is inspired by Botticelli and Lorenzo Costa's Venuses.
The second painting, very similar to effigies of Beatrice of Naples as Madonna, shows a woman against the landscape which is very similar to topography of the Trenčín Castle, where Barbara Zapolya spent her childhood and where she met Sigismund. She offeres the Child a bunch of grapes a Christian symbol of the redemptive sacrifice, but also a popular Renaissance symbol for fertility borrowed from the Roman god of the grape-harvest and fertility, Bacchus. Both women resemble greatly Barbara Zapolya from her portrait with B&S monogram.
Portrait of Simonetta Vespucci as Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist and an angel by Sandro Botticelli, 1470s, National Museum in Warsaw.
Portrait of Simonetta Vespucci as Madonna and Child with angels by Sandro Botticelli, 1470s, Wawel Royal Castle in Kraków.
The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli, 1484-1485, Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
Portrait of Simonetta Vespucci as Venus by Sandro Botticelli or workshop, fourth quarter of the 15th century, Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.
Venus by Sandro Botticelli or workshop, fourth quarter of the 15th century, Sabauda Gallery in Turin.
Portrait of Beatrice of Naples as Venus by Lorenzo Costa, fourth quarter of the 15th century, Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest.
Portrait of Beatrice of Naples as Madonna and Child with Saints by Perugino, 1490s, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Portrait of Beatrice of Naples as Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist by Perugino, 1490s, Städel Museum in Frankfurt am Main.
Portrait of Beatrice of Naples as Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist by Timoteo Viti or Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1490s, St. Martin's Collegiate Church in Opatów.
Portrait of Beatrice of Naples as Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1490s, Private collection.
Portrait of Barbara Zapolya as Venus and Cupid by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1509, The State Hermitage Museum.
Portrait of Barbara Zapolya as Madonna and Child with a bunch of grapes by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1509-1510, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid.
Portrait of Barbara Zapolya as Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist by Lucas Cranach the Elder
"In the Christian world well through the Renaissance, males were associated with the head (and therefore with thinking, reason, and self-control) and females with the body (and therefore with senses, physicality, and the passions)" (Gail P. Streete's "The Salome Project: Salome and Her Afterlives", 2018, p. 41).
During Renaissance Salome became an erotic symbol of daring, uncontrollable female lust, dangerous female seductiveness, woman's evil nature, the power of female perversity, but also a symbol of beauty and complexity. One of the oldest representations of Dance of Salome is a fresco in the Prato Cathedral, created between 1452 and 1465 by Filippo Lippi, who also created some paintings for Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary.
In April 1511, Sigismund informed his brother, King Vladislaus, that she wants to marry a Hungarian noblewoman. He chose Barbara Zapolya. The marriage treaty was signed on 2 December 1511 and Barbara's dowry was fixed at 100,000 red złotys. Barbara was praised for her virtues, Marcin Bielski wrote of her devotion to God and obedience to husband, kindheartedness and generosity.
The painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder in Lisbon depict her as Salome wearing a fur-trimmed coat and a fur hat. It was offered to the Museum of Ancient Art in Lisbon by Luis Augusto Ferreira de Almeida, 1st Count of Carvalhido. It is possible that the painting was sent to Portugal in the 16th century by the Polish-Lithuanian court. In 1516 Jan Amor Tarnowski, who was educated at the court of the Jagiellonian monarchs, and two other Polish lords were knighted in the church of St. John in Lisbon by King Manuel I. More than one decade later, in 1529 and again in 1531 arrived to Poland-Lithuania Damião de Góis, who was entrusted by King John III of Portugal with a mission to negotiate the marriage of Princess Hedwig Jagiellon, a daughter of Barbara Zapolya, with king's brother.
Portrait of Barbara Zapolya as Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1510-1515, National Museum of Ancient Art in Lisbon.
Portrait of Barbara Zapolya by Lucas Cranach the Elder
In 1535 a lavish wedding ceremony was held at the Wawel Castle in Kraków. Hedwig, the only daughter of Sigismund I the Old and his first wife Barbara Zapolya was married to Joachim II Hector, Elector of Brandenburg.
The bride received a big dowry, including a casket, now in The State Hermitage Museum, commissioned by Sigismund I in 1533 and adorned with jewels from the Jagiellon collection, made of 6.6 kg of silver and 700 grams of gold, adorned with 800 pearls, 370 rubies, 300 diamonds and other gems, including one jewel in the shape of letter S. The same monogram is visible on the sleeves of Hedwig's dress in her portrait by Hans Krell from about 1537. A ring with letter S is on the Sigismund I's tomb monument in the Wawel Cathedral and he also minted coins with it. Hedwig undoubtedly took also with her to Berlin a portrait of her mother.
The portrait of a woman with necklace and belt with B&S monogram, dated by the experts to about 1512, which was in the Imperial collection in Berlin before World War II, now in private collection, is sometimes identified as Barbara Jagiellon, Duchess of Saxony and Barbara Zapolya's sister-in-law.
The necklace and belt in form of chains with initials is clearly an allusion to great affection, thus the letters must be initals of the woman and her husband. If the painting would be an effigy of Barbara Jagiellon, the initials would be B and G or G and B for Barbara and her husband George (Georgius, Georg), Duke of Saxony. The monogram must be then of Barbara Zápolya and Sigismund I, Hedwig's parents, therefore the portrait is the effigy of her mother.
Portrait of Barbara Zapolya (1495-1515), Queen of Poland with necklace and belt with B&S (Barbara et Sigismundus) monogram by Lucas Cranach the Elder or workshop, ca. 1512, Private collection.
Portrait of Bona Sforza by Venetian painter
"As for beauty, it is in no way different from the portrait that Mr. Chryzostom brought, her hair is lovely light blonde, when (oddly enough) her eyelashes and eyebrows are completely black, eyes rather angelic than human, forehead radiant and serene, nose straight without any hump or curvature", described Bona Sforza d'Aragona on 21 December 1517 in his letter to King Sigismund I, Stanisław Ostroróg, castellan of Kalisz.
Already in 1517 the royal banker and main supplier of Sigismund, Jan Boner, was ordered to bring from Venice satin in three colors: crimson, white and black, red velvet and brocade and to purchase a ring with a large diamond in Kraków or Venice for 200 or 300 red zlotys for the king's wedding.
The effigies of the Queen from 1520s and 1530s confirms her particular liking for different types of hairnets, most probably to expose her beautiful hair, while chasubles she founded, possibly made from her dresses (in Kraków and Łódź), confirms that similar fabrics and embroideries to these visible in the portrait were in her possession.
The arch, dress, hairnet and hair style in the effigy of Queen Bona published in Kraków in 1521, are astonishingly alike. The printmaker was undoubtedly basing on Queen's painted portrait, possiby another version of the painting in London. The rabbit hunt on her bodice is an allusion to Queen's fertility and ability to produce male heirs to over 50 years old Sigismund.
Portrait of Bona Sforza d'Aragona (1494-1557), Queen of Poland against the backdrop of an arch by Venetian painter, possibly Francesco Bissolo, ca. 1520, National Gallery in London.
Portraits of Dukes of Masovia Stanislaus and Janusz III by Giovanni Cariani and Bernardino Licinio
"They both surpassed many kings by their household, world elegance and war gear, and were also worthy of their famous ancestors", wrote in his work Topographia siue Masoviæ descriptio, published in Warsaw in 1634 Andrzej Święcicki, a notary of the Nur region, about Stanislaus and Janusz III, Dukes of Masovia.
On 28 October 1503 died Konrad III the Red, Duke of Masovia. He was succeeded by his two minor sons jointly under the regency of their mother Anna (1476-1522), an ambitious member of the Lithuanian Radziwill family. Apart from Stanislaus (1501-1524) and Janusz III (1502-1526), she was the mother of two daughters Sophia (1497/1498-1543) and Anna (ca. 1498-1557).
Anna's firm hand displeased the nobles. She was the regent of Masovia until 1518, when, as a result of a rebellion of the nobility, ignited by her former lover Mrokowski, she was forced to cede power to her grown-up sons. Despite the formal transfer of power, Anna retained real power until her death in 1522. In 1516 the Duchess asked the Emperor to support her daughter's candidacy as a wife for the Polish king Sigismund I, he however decided to marry Bona Sforza. In 1518 she and her children attended the wedding ceremony of Sigismund I with Bona in Kraków.
The old Duchess was known for her lavish lifestyle and her inclination towards men. She had an affair with Jan Mrokowski, whom she promoted to the position of the Archdeacon of Warsaw in 1508 and later with Andrzej Zaliwski, who was made castellan of Wizna (the third most important office in the principality). She also cared for the sexual education of her sons having made available to them at one point in their adolescence 8 of her court ladies, among which was the daughter of the Płock voivode, Katarzyna Radziejowska, who was later accused of poisoning the dukes.
Their love of drink and women and their dissolute lifestyle most likely contributed to the premature death of both dukes. Stanislaus died on August 8, 1524 in Warsaw and Janusz III during the night of 9 to 10 March 1526. They were buried in the Saint John's Cathedral in Warsaw. Their sister Anna founded a tomb monument, the earliest example of a Renaissance sculpture in Masovia, created by Italian sculptor around 1526, most probably Bernardino Zanobi de Gianotis, called Romanus, from Florence or Rome, who was active in Poland since 1517. The slab, made of "royal" red Hungarian marble, preserved the destruction of the temple during the World War II and depict the dukes together, embraced. Both dukes were shown together in all known, before this article, effigies - created in the 17th century after original from about 1510s (in the State Hermitage Museum and the Royal Castle in Warsaw).
Upon death of young princes their Duchy was annexed by Sigismund I while Bona Sforza was frequently accused of poisoning Stanislaus and his brother.
According to anatomical and anthropological studies of skeletons of both dukes, published in 1955, Janusz III (skeleton 1) was subnordic and approximately 176.4 cm high and Stanislaus (skeleton 2) nordic type with "reddish hair" and approximately 183 cm high. The specialist examinations did not reveal any traces of poison. Both princes were buried in costumes made of Venetian silk - fragment of fabric with medallions from Janusz III's coffin and fragment of damask fabric with a crown motif from Stanislaus' coffin. The coffins were probably covered with a silk fabric with eagles, a tree of life and a stylized flower-shaped crown (now in Museum of Warsaw), created in Lucca in the end of the 15th century.
Apart from trade, significant contacts between Masovia and Venice date back to the Middle Ages. In 1226 Konrad I, Duke of Masovia and Kuyavia, having difficulty with constant raids over his territory and willing to become the High Duke of Poland, invited the religious military order of the Teutonic Knights to pacify his most dangerous neighbours and safeguard his territory. This decision had later much worse consequences for the entire Polish state. In 1309 the knights moved their headquarters from Venice to Malbork (Marienburg).
Double portrait known as Bellini brothers is reported in French royal collection since at least 1683 (Louvre, inventory number 107: manner of Giovanni Bellini). It is now atributed to Giovanni Cariani and the costumes are typical to about 1520, threfore this cannot be the Bellinis, who died in 1507 (Gentile) and in 1516 (Giovanni). Edgar Degas, beliving that this is the effigy of the famous Venetians, created a copy of this portrait.
This portrait is known from several versions, some of which are attributed to Vittore di Matteo, called Vittore Belliniano, son of Matteo, a pupil of Gentile Bellini. In the version in the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, which was in the Solly collection in London until 1821, the men changed places. Another, with the same composition as the Louvre painting, was cut in half (one was in the Hermitage before 1937). Both paintings are now in private collections. These portraits perfectly match known iconography of both dukes of Masovia, as well as examination of their remains.
The man with "reddish hair" was also depicted in another painting, also from the Solly collection, in the National Gallery in London (bequeathed by Miss Sarah Solly, 1879). It is painted in the style of Andrea Previtali, an Italian painter also active in Venice. The "subnordic" man was depicted in several portraits by Bernardino Licinio, like the effigy holding a book in the Royal Palace of Turin (from the old collection of the dukes of Savoy), a portrait holding his fur coat, which was in the Manfrin Gallery in Venice before 1851, now in private collection, another portrait holding gloves in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna (from the collection of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm in Brussels), and another against a landscape and holding a cane, in private collection.
In almost all described portraits the sitters are depicted in rich furs, including lynx, which were very expensive and of which Poland and Masovia were leading exporters at that time.
Distinctive protruding lower lip (prognathism), so-called Habsburg lip, or Habsburg or Austrian jaw, inherited trait which was present and clearly evident in the Habsburg family, was allegedly introduced into the family by Cymburgis of Masovia (1394/1397-1429), Duchess of Austria from 1412 until 1424. In his "Anatomy of Melancholy" (1621) Robert Burton, an English writer, uses it as an example of hereditary transmission (after Manfred Draudt's "Between Topographical Fact and Cliché: Vienna and Austria in Shakespeare and other English Renaissance Writing"). Protruding lower jaw is visible in all portraits by Cariani and Licinio. Also virtual reconstruction of faces of both dukes, shows the "Habsburg lip".
Portrait of Stanislaus (1501-1524) and Janusz III (1502-1526), Dukes of Masovia by Giovanni Cariani, ca. 1520, Louvre Museum.
Portrait of Stanislaus (1501-1524) and Janusz III (1502-1526), Dukes of Masovia by Edgar Degas after original by Giovanni Cariani, 1858-1860, Saltwood Castle.
Portrait of Stanislaus (1501-1524) and Janusz III (1502-1526), Dukes of Masovia by Giovanni Cariani, ca. 1520, Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.
Portrait of Stanislaus (1501-1524), Duke of Masovia by Giovanni Cariani, ca. 1520, Private collection.
Portrait of Stanislaus (1501-1524), Duke of Masovia by Italian painter, most probably Andrea Previtali, ca. 1518, National Gallery in London.
Portrait of Janusz III (1502-1526), Duke of Masovia by Giovanni Cariani, ca. 1520, Private collection.
Portrait of Janusz III (1502-1526), Duke of Masovia holding a book by Bernardino Licinio, ca. 1518-1524, Royal Palace of Turin.
Portrait of Janusz III (1502-1526), Duke of Masovia by Bernardino Licinio, ca. 1518-1524, Private collection.
Portrait of Janusz III (1502-1526), Duke of Masovia holding gloves by Bernardino Licinio, ca. 1524-1526, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Portrait of Janusz III (1502-1526), Duke of Masovia holding a cane by Bernardino Licinio, ca. 1524-1526, Private collection.
Portrait of Beatrice Zurla, chamberlain of Bona Sforza by Bernardo Licinio
Bona Sforza arrived to Poland in 1518 with a retinue of thirteen noble Italian ladies, among which the most important was Beatrice Zurla. She came from a Neapolitan noble family and become a chamberlain of queen's court. Beatrice and other Ifigenia of unknown family name were paid 100 florins annually and their presence in Poland is confirmed until 1521, but they probably stayed for much longer. The poet and secretary of queen Bona, Andrzej Krzycki, allegedly called Beatrice "the scare of black and white angels".
Very less is known about her later life and close family. She was probably married or widowed as some sources called her a matron (matrona) (after "Działalność Włochów w Polsce w I połowie XVI wieku: na dworze królewskim, w dyplomacji i hierarchii kościelnej", p. 29), i.e. married woman in Roman society. Her great attachment to Bona was most probably a reason why she decided to leave her family. In 1520 a certain nobleman Leonardo Zurla, possibly Beatrice's brother or husband, built himself a magnificent palace in Crema, a city in Lombardy near Cremona, which from 1449 was part of the Venetian Republic and earlier belonged to the Duchy of Milan. In 1523 he wa sent to Venice with two other speakers, to greet the new Doge Andrea Gritti.
The portrait attributed to Bernardo Licinio in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich from about 1520, shows a Mediterranean-looking woman. The bodice of her rich gown is embroidered with a motif of vining plant, a symbol of attachment, and she holds her hand on her right breast. It is a reference to Amazons a Scythian race of female warriors, a close - knit sisterhood that valued friendship, courage, and loyalty and who supposedly, according to Hellanicus of Lesbos, removed their right breast to improve their bow strength (FGrHist 4 F 107). It is therefore a symbol of attachment to another, very important woman. The book in her left hand, as not identifiable, could be a reference to the sitter's first name and the most famous literary Beatrice, Dante's muse, Beatrice Portinari.
It is also possible that crimson color of her robe of Venetian fabric has symbolic meaning. By the mid-16th century Poland was the main exporter of Polish cochineal used to produce a crimson dye, it soon become a national symbol as majority of Polish nobility was dressed in crimson. Another symbol of her new homeland was White Eagle, just as in her bonnet. She is therefore dressed like today's Polish flag.
The painting was transferred in 1804 to Munich from the Neuburg Castle in Neuburg an der Donau.
On 8 June 1642 a great-granddaughter of Bona, princess Anna Catherine Constance Vasa, starost of Brodnica, married in Warsaw Philip William, heir of the Count Palatine of Neuburg. She brought a considerable dowry in jewels, estimated in 1645 at the astronomical amount of 443,289 minted thalers, and cash, calculated at a total of 2 million thalers.
By the late 16th and early 17th century, such cabinet paintings, as the portrait in Munich, of not necessarily related people, become highly praised objects in princely and royal collections in Europe and their Kunstkammer (art cabinets).
An avid collector of such items was Anna Catherine Constance's cousin Archduke Leopold Wilhelm, who had her portrait by Frans Luycx, and who accompanied her during her visit to her Austrian relatives and spa town of Baden-Baden from August and October 1639.
It is highly probable that the portrait of the chamberlain of Queen Bona was on one of 70 wagons, that transported Anna Catherine Constance's enormous dowry to Neuburg.
Portrait of Beatrice Zurla, chamberlain of Bona Sforza, Queen of Poland by Bernardo Licinio, ca. 1520, Alte Pinakothek in Munich.
Portrait of royal astrologer Luca Gaurico by Giovanni Cariani
Apart from noble ladies also some scientists arrived to Poland with Bona Sforza or for her wedding in April 1518. Among them were Celio Calcagnini (1479-1541) from Ferrara, who after his sojourn at the Polish court formulated a theory on the motions of the earth similar to that proposed by Nicolaus Copernicus, and Luca Gaurico (1475-1558), known as Lucas Gauricus, an astrologer and astronomer, born in the Kingdom of Naples. It is unknown when he left Kraków, but according to some theories he was to decide about th date and artistic program of the Sigismund Chapel at the Wawel Cathedral - "Year 1519. His Highness, king Sigismund of Poland, on May 17, on Tuesday after St. Sophia [...] at 11 o'clock, began the construction of the royal chapel in the cathedral church by Italian bricklayers", according to entry in the "Świętokrzyski Yearbook".
Considered as one of the most renowned and dependable fortune-tellers, Gaurico later served as an astrologer to Pope Paul III and Catherine de' Medici, Queen of France. In the 1520s he revised some books published in Venice, like De rebus coelestibus aureum opusculum (1526) or the first Latin translation from the Greek of Ptolemy's Almagest (1528), which constituted the basis of astronomical knowledge in Europe and in the Islamic world.
The portrait by Giovanni Cariani in Gemäldegalerie in Berlin (Inv. 2201), created in about 1520, shows a man holding an armillary sphere with signs of the zodiac, against the landscape with hills (possibly Euganean Hills, from Greek Eugenes - well-born), and the bird flying through a gap in the stone wall toward the light of knowledge. He is holding a Greek/Byzantine manuscript (after Georgios Boudali's "The Codex and Crafts in Late Antiquity").
The inscription on the parapet in Greek and Latin is unclear and was probably understandable only to a person who commissioned or received the painting. Greek Σ ΣΕΠΙΓΙΝΟΜΕΝΟΙΣ (S Descendants) and a date in Latin AN XI VIII (Year 11 8). The year 1518, when Gaurico arrived to Poland, was the 11th year of reign of Sigismund I the Old, crowned 24 January 1507, and in August 1518 Ottoman forces besieged Belgrade, which was then under the rule of the Kingdom of Hungary. Louis II, king of Hungary was Sigismund's nephew. Turkish forces finally captured the city on 28 August 1521 and continued to march towards the heart of Hungary. Greek Σ is therefore monogram of Σιγισμούνδος - Sigismund for whom the painting was created. It is highly probale that Gaurico predicted in 1518 the Turkish invasion and the fall of the Jagiellonian Empire in Central Europe.
Provenance of the painting is unknown, it is possible that it was transferred to Berlin with dowry of Hedwig Jagiellon, Electress of Brandenburg or it was taken from Poland during the Deluge (1655-1660), as such "ancient" cabinet paintings become very popular in the 17th century cabinets of art (Kunstkammer).
Portrait of royal astrologer Luca Gaurico (1475-1558) by Giovanni Cariani, ca. 1520, Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.
Portraits of Magdalena Bonerówna and Nicolaus II Radziwill by Giovanni Cariani
On 11 August 1527 lady-in-waiting of Queen Bona Magdalena Bonerówna (1505-1530) married in Kraków Stanislaus Radziwill (ca. 1500-1531), a son of Nicolaus II Radziwill (1470-1521), nicknamed Amor Poloniae, a magnate and statesman of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Their wedding took place in the chambers of the royal Wawel Castle, many eminent people participated in it, and the king himself mediated in a property settlement.
Magdalena, the youngest daughter of Kraków merchant Jakob Andreas Boner (1454-1517) and his wife Barbara Lechner, brought Stanislaus a huge dowry of 12,000 ducats, which is almost three times more than the magnate daughters used to receive at that time.
Jakob Andreas was brother of Johann (Hans) Boner (1462-1523), a merchant from Landau in der Pfalz, who in 1483 emigrated to Kraków. He made a great fortune in paper mills and as tradesman dealing with spices, metals, timbers, livestock, etc. He become king's banker and main purveyor to the royal court. Jakob Andreas ran family business in Nuremberg and in Wrocław and in 1512 he settled in Kraków, where he bought from his brother a house in the Main Square. His daughter Magdalena become a court lady of the Queen around 1524 or possibly earlier.
A painting by Giovanni Cariani from the Wawel Royal Castle in Kraków, depict a blond lady in a dress from the 1520s. The painting was transferred to Wawel collection in 1931 from Stanisław Niedzielski's collection in Śledziejowice near Wieliczka. Earlier, it was in the collection of Wenzel Anton, Prince of Kaunitz-Rietberg, Austrian State Chancellor who contributed to the partitions of Poland. His collection was sold at an auction in Vienna in 1820 by his heirs. The same woman in similar costume was depicted as Saint Mary Magdalene in another painting by Cariani showing Sacra Conversazione with Madonna and Child, Mary Magdalene and Saint Jerome from the same period.
Mary Magdalene is a patron of women's preaching, moral rebirth and of sinful women and Saint Jerome, who encouraged the Roman women who followed him to study and identified how a woman devoted to Jesus should live her life, was a saint of particular importance to women during Renaissance.
In the National Art Museum of Belarus in Minsk, there is another portrait from the same period, painted in Cariani's style, from the Radziwill collection. Basing on 17th and 18th century paintings and engravings it is identified as effigy of Nicolaus I Radziwill (ca. 1440-1509) or Petras Mantigirdaitis (d. 1459). However a drawing from the State Hermitage Museum, created in mid-17th century or earlier (ОР-45835) bears the inscription Nicolaus II Radziwill. It is therefore a portrait of Nicolaus I's son and Magdalena Bonerówna's father-in-law who was a voivode of Vilnius from 1507 and the Grand Chancellor of Lithuania from 1510. On 25 February 1518 he received, as the first member of the family, the princely title (Reichsfürst) from the emperor Maximilian I.
Portrait of Magdalena Bonerówna (1505-1530) in white by Giovanni Cariani, 1520-1527, Wawel Royal Castle in Kraków.
Sacra Conversazione with a portrait of Magdalena Bonerówna as Mary Magdalene by Giovanni Cariani, 1520-1527, Private collection.
Portrait of Prince Nicolaus II Radziwill (1470-1521) by Giovanni Cariani, ca. 1520, National Art Museum of Belarus in Minsk.
Portrait of Stanisław Łaski by Hans Suess von Kulmbach
The portrait of a young blond man by Hans Suess von Kulmbach (interlaced monogram HK) in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin, was acquired before 1918 from Richard von Kaufmann collection in Berlin. According to inscription the man was 29 in 1520 (ETAS 29 / ANNO 1520), exactly as Stanisław Łaski (1491-1550), also known as Stanislaus a Lasco or Stanislaus von Strickenhoff, a Polish publicist, orator, military theorist, traveler and diplomat.
Stanisław was a nephew of Archbishop of Gniezno Jan Łaski (1456-1531) and brother of famous figure of the Polish Reformation and royal secretary, Jan Łaski (1499-1560). From 1516 to 1518 he studied at the Sorbonne University in Paris with his brothers. He most probably returned to Poland in 1518, the same year Queen Bona arrived to Poland and Hans Suess von Kulmbach returned to Nuremberg after four years spent in Kraków, where he painted a large series of important panels for the church of St. Mary, other religious paintings and portraits of the royal family, of which only the effigy of king Sigismund I the Old preserved in Poland (Gołuchów Castle).
Around 1520 Łaski made a pilgrimage to Palestine, where he received the title of Knight of Jerusalem. On the way he visited the Balkans, North Africa and Sicily. In 1524 he visited Erasmus of Rotterdam. In the same year he entered the service of Francis I, King of France and in 1525 he took part in the battle of Pavia. It was most probably during his pilgrimage in 1520 that he could arrive to Nuremberg and commission his portrait by Suess.
Portrait of Stanisław Łaski (1491-1550) aged 29 by Hans Suess von Kulmbach, 1520, Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.
Sacra Conversazione with Bona Sforza and her son as Madonna and Child by Francesco Bissolo
On 1 August 1520 the queen Bona Maria Sforza (she was baptized with the names of her grandmother, Bona Maria of Savoy) gave birth to the long-awaited heir of Sigismund I, Sigismund Augustus. On this occasion the king ordered to struck a special medal dedicated to "the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of God for the felicitous birth of his son Sigismund" (according to abbreviated inscription: B[EATAE] V[IRGINI] D[EI] P[ARENTI] P[ROPTER] F[ELICEM] N[ATIVITATEM] S[IGISMVNDI] INFANS SVI) and showing the scene of Annunciation to the Virgin, to emphasize queen's role as the Mother of Kings (after Mieczysław Morka's "The Beginnings of Medallic Art in Poland during the Times of Zygmunt I and Bona Sforza", 2008, p. 65).
The effigy of the blond Virgin Mary in the painting by Francesco Bissolo in the National Museum in Warsaw, bears a great resemblance to other effigies of Bona. This painting was transferred to the Museum from the Potocki collection in their Italian style palace in Krzeszowice near Kraków, nationalized after the World War II. It's earlier history is unknown, it is highly probable though, that it was acquired by the Potockis in Poland.
The scene shows the Virgin and Infant Jesus, the King of kings, the mystical spouse of Jesus, Saint Catherine, whose patronage extends to children and their nurses, Saint Peter holding in his hand the silver key of royal power and Saint John the Baptist, who was sent out by God to announce that the King is coming.
As the Polish throne was elective and not hereditary, the concept was undoubtedly to strengthen the rights to the crown for the new born child.
Sacra Conversazione with Bona Sforza and her son as Madonna and Child by Francesco Bissolo, 1520-1525, National Museum in Warsaw.
Sacra Conversazione with portraits of Sigismund I and Bona Sforza by Bonifacio Veronese
Sigismund I, the fifth son of King Casimir IV Jagiellon and Elizabeth of Austria (1436-1505), received the name of his maternal great grandfather, Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund of Luxembourg, King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia. Saint Sigismund, his patron saint, was King of the Burgundians and patron of monarchs. When father of Sigismund of Luxembourg, Charles IV, transferred Saint Sigismund's relics to Prague in 1366, he become a patron saint of the Kingdom of Bohemia. In 1166, bishop Werner Roch brought to Płock from Aachen a particle of the skull of Saint Sigismund and king Casimir III the Great commissioned a reliquary in 1370 from Kraków goldsmiths (Diocesan Museum in Płock), later adorned with the 13th century "Piast diadem".
The king was represented as a kneeling donor in several miniatures in his Prayer Book, created by Stanisław Samostrzelnik in 1524 (British Library) and as one of the Magi in the Adoration of the Magi by Joos van Cleve, created between 1520-1534 (Gemäldegalerie in Berlin). In such form, however this time more like Saint Sigismund, he is depicted in the painting by Bonifacio Veronese (born Bonifacio de' Pitati). His effigy is very similar to the painting by Titian in Vienna and by Joos van Cleve in Berlin, but he is much younger. A rich crown is placed beside him and he is accompanied by his favourite little dog. The landscape behind him is very Netherlandish in style, it is therefore possible that it was commissioned together with the painting by Joos van Cleve, as a part of international propaganda of the Jagiellonian state. The king is receiving or giving the globe to the Infant Jesus. He was elected, but was anointed and crowned before the Lord in the Wawel Cathedral, therefore his power comes from the God. The Infant might also represent his newly born son Sigismund Augustus.
Queen Bona is shown as Saint Elizabeth, a cousin of Mary and mother of Saint John the Baptist. As a patron Saint of pregnant women, of her mother Isabella of Aragon, Duchess of Milan, and of her distant relative, powerful Queen Isabella I of Castile (Isabel, from medieval Spanish form of Elisabeth), she was of particular importance for the young queen of Poland. Saint Elizabeth conceived and gave birth to John in her advanced age, therefore the painter depicted her older, the effigy, however, is still very similar to the portrait of "Duchess Sforza" by Titian and her portrait as Virigin Mary by Francesco Bissolo in Warsaw. The scene of Visitation of Elizabeth by Mary is one of the most important in her Prayer Book created by Stanisław Samostrzelnik between 1527-1528, adorned with her coat of arms and showing her as the Virgin (Bodleian Library). The Church has added Saint Elizabeth's words to the Virgin "Blessed is the fruit of thy womb" to the Angelical Salutation.
The painting is in the Medici collection in Florence since the early 18th century (Palatine Gallery) and it was previously attributed to Palma il Vecchio. In private collection in Rome there is a copy of this painting, painted in the style of Bernardino Licinio.
Sacra Conversazione with portraits of Sigismund I and Bona Sforza by Bonifacio Veronese, ca. 1520, Pitti Palace in Florence.
Sacra Conversazione with portraits of Sigismund I and Bona Sforza by workshop of Bernardino Licinio, ca. 1520, Private collection.
Adoration of the Magi with a portrait of king Sigismund I the Old by Joos van Cleve, ca. 1520-1534, Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.
Portrait of Bona Sforza and her son as Venus and Cupid by Lucas Cranach the Elder
In 1655 the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, created in 1569 with support of the last male Jagiellon and Bona's son, Sigismund Augustus, was invaded by neighbouring countries from north, south, east and west - the Deluge (1655-1660). Royal and magnate residencies in Warsaw, Kraków, Grodno and Vilnius and other locations were ransacted and burned which resulted in the loss of works by Cranach, his son and his workshop and a loss of memory of the royal effigies and their patronage.
The effigies of unknown monarchs were destroyed, but erotic paintings were undeniably interesting to simple soldiers.
The portrait in Stockholm bears a great resemblance to other effigies of Bona. It is dated by experts to 1520-1525 and Sweden was one of the invaders in 1655, however we can only assume that it was taken from Poland. It's also very similar in form and face features to the Wilanów painting, showing Bona holding a bouquet of forget-me-nots.
The eroticism was very important for the queen. In her portrait by Venetian painter from about 1520 she is shown with a rabbit hunt on her bodice, a clear allusion to her fertility. The subject of Nude Venus was frequent in Italian painting of the renaissance (Botticelli, Giorgione) and the Stockholm painting counts among the oldest by Cranach, so was Bona the first to introduce the subject to Cranach, thus creating a new fashion?
It is an erotic, private painting, hence we cannot search any reference to her status as the queen, it's the resemblance that counts.
After the birth of his son in 1520, Sigismund I was frequently absent, occupied with war with Muscovy (1512-1522) on north-eastern border, leaving his wife in Kraków in southern Poland. A small painting, this one is 90 x 49.5 cm (35.4 x 19.4 in), would be a good reminder of his wife's affection.
Portrait of Bona Sforza and her son as Venus and Cupid by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1521, Nationalmuseum in Stockholm.
Portrait of Bona Sforza and her son as Madonna and Child by Lucas Cranach the Elder
In 1623 hetman Marcin Kazanowski (1563-1636) founded a church for the Carmelites in Bołszowce (today Bilshivtsi in Ukraine). He most probably ordered a painter in Warsaw or Kraków to copy some painting from his own or royal collection to the main altar of the new church. The painting, now in Gdańsk, is astonishingly similar to the Madonna and Child under an apple tree by Lucas Cranach the Elder in The State Hermitage Museum.
The latter painting was acquired by Nicholas I, Emperor of Russia and King of Poland in 1843, hence possibly from a collecion in Poland. The effigy of Mary (Maria) bears a great resemblance to the effigies of Bona Sforza. Bona Maria Sforza was baptized with the names of her grandmother, Bona Maria of Savoy. In Poland the name Maria was at that time reserved solely to the Virigin Mary, hence she could not use it. She could however allow herself to be depicted as the Virigin, according the Italian custom, in her Prayer Book and private paintings.
In antiquity goddesses of victory commonly were depicted standing upon royal apples. Christians adapted the symbol by setting a cross above the ball to signify the world dominated by Christianity. Thereafter the "imperial apple" became an important emblem of the royal power invested in the monarch - orb (after Encyclopaedia Britannica).
Finally the topography and the castle in the background are very similar to these visible in a print published in 1544 in Cosmographie Universalis and showing Wawel Royal Castle in Kraków.
Portrait of Bona Sforza and her son as Madonna and Child under an apple tree by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1521-1525, The State Hermitage Museum.
Portrait of Sigismund Augustus as a child
The fact that the portait exist in at least four different versions and in different locations: one was acquired in Rome in 1839, one is in Gorhambury House in England since at least 18th century, the other two in the US were acquired from different European collections, indicate that depicted child was an important person, a heir to the throne of a major European country. "No detail of good Renaissance painting was without an intended symbolic meaning", also the gesture. The child is pictured holding an apple (an age old symbol of the fruit of knowledge and emblem of royal power - an orb) in his right hand (field of action), whilst holding his left hand over his heart (charitable and useful) (after "Dedication to the Light" by Peter Dawkins).
The costume is similar to the garments visible in the portraits of sons of Francis I of France from the early 1520s, however the hand gesture and facial features are astonishingly similar to these visible in a print published in Kraków in 1521 and showing one year old Sigismund Augustus. The boy's appearance (blond hair, dark eyes, a bit retracted jaw) are also similar to these known from the effigies of Sigismund Augustus' mother - Bona Sforza.
Sigismund Augustus has dark hair in his portraits. Hair color in children tends to darken with advancing age so was the famous light blond of Bona and her daughters another trick of poisonous Sforzas? The Experimenti compiled by Bona's aunt Caterina Sforza, Countess of Forli is a compilation of recipes for "curing headache, fever, syphilis, and epilepsy; lightening the hair or improving the skin; treating infertility, making poisons and panaceas; and producing alchemical gems and gold" (after "Becoming a Blond in Renaissance Italy" by Janet Stephens).
According to experts the portraits were created by different Venetian and German workshops, this is another indicator that they were commissioned by multicultural Jagiellonian court.
Portrait of Sigismund Augustus (1520-1572) as a child holding an apple by German or Venetian painter, ca. 1521, The Clark Art Institute.
Portraits of Anna of Masovia by Bernardino Licinio and Lucas Cranach the Elder
"Stanislaus and Janusz, sons of Konrad, Duke of Masovia, from the ancient Polish kings, the last male offspring of Masovian princes, ruling happily for 600 years. The young men both excelled with good honesty and innocence, with the power of a premature and unfortunate destiny in short intervals, with great sorrow of their subjects, died: Stanislaus, in the year of salvation, 1524, at the age of 24, and Janusz in 1526, at the age of 24; after the death of which the inheritance and reign over the entire Masovia passed to the king of Poland, Anna, the princess, adorned with virginity and unparalleled honesty, made her brothers with bitter tears [this monument]", reads the incription in Latin on the tombstone plaque of the last Dukes of Masovia (destroyed during World War II).
Venetian painting workshops during Renaissance had a great advantage over German or Netherlandish. Painters gradually modified the technique, which allowed them to create paintings much faster and they used canvas, so they could create in a much larger format. The canvas was also far less heavy than wood and one man could transport several paintings to different locations. Many of these paintings remained in artists' ateliers in Venice as a modello or a ricordo. The women in two portraits by Bernardino Licinio resemble greatly the "Masovian brothers".
Anna of Masovia was born in about 1498 as the second daughter of Duke Konrad III the Red and Anna Radzwill. She had an elder sister Sophia. In 1518 Casimir, Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach shattered a lance in her honor during the great jousting tournament organized to celebrate the wedding of Sigismund and Bona Sforza. Two years later, on 17 September 1520 in Warsaw, her sister Sophia was married by proxy to Stephen VII Bathory, Palatine of Hungary, and on 17 January 1521 she left for Hungary with her entourage. On the night of March 14-15, 1522, Duchess Anna Radziwill died in Liw. She was buried in St. Anne's Church in Warsaw. Her daughter Anna was from now on, at the age of about 24, the eldest member of the family in Masovia.
The portrait by Licinio in the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest depict a young woman in a simple white shirt, black coat of Venetian satin lined with fur and a cap of black brocaded damask. She holds an open book on a marble block with a date 1522 (MDXXII) and a solitary oak leaf. Oak was a symbol of power, authority and victory in the Roman times. "In moralizations the oak represented patience, strength of faith, and the virtue of Christian endurance in the face of adversity. As such, it was depicted as the attribute of Job and martyred saints in Renaissance art" (after Simona Cohen, "Animals as Disguised Symbols in Renaissance Art", 2008, p. 86). The provenance of the painting in Hungary is not known, threfore it is highly possible that Anna of Masovia sent to her sister Sophia her portrait in mourning for the death of their mother.
In 1525, Albert of Prussia asked for Anna's hand in marriage. His dynastic endeavors as well as plans to marry Anna to his brother William of Brandenburg, were stopped by the firm policy of Bona Sforza. Soon after, Queen Bona, not wanting to exacerbate internal conflicts, resigned from marring her, despite the insistence of the Masovian nobles, to her son Sigismund Augustus. The facial features of two women in paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder entitled Portrait of a courtly lady, in private collection, and Venus and Cupid, in Compton Verney, are very much alike. It is also the same woman as in the portraits by Licinio, her facial features, protruding lower lip and expression are identical. The painting in Compton Verney bears a date 1525 (indistinct), a date when it was proposed to marry Anna with a nephew of King of Poland, newly created Duke of Prussia (after secularisation of the Monastic state of the Teutonic Knights), who was painted by Lucas Cranach the Elder several times (e.g. portrait in the Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, dated 1528). The woman in the effigy of a courtly lady in wide red hat decorated with plumes from about 1530 was most probably hoding a flower in her left hand, just as Queen Bona in her portrait by Cranach in the Wilanów Palace. The painter possibly forgot to add it or changed the concept, which might indicate that the painting was one of a series dedicated to possible suitors. In 1536 Anna finally married Stanisław Odrowąż, voivode of Podole, who already in 1530 was planning to marry her.
In March 1526, almost two years after Stanislaus, died Janusz III, the last male member of the Masovian Piasts. In his last will from 4 March 1526 he left majority of his belongings in money, jewels, precious stones, pearls, gold, silver and movable goods to his sister Anna, and some garments to his courtiers, like a robe and a bonnet lined with sables to Piotr Kopytowski, castellan of Warsaw or a silk robe to Wawrzyniec Prażmowski, castellan of Czersk.
The organisation of funeral was postponed, to await the arrival of King Sigismund. Sudden death of both young dukes, in a short time, sparked the suspicion that their deaths were not natural. The main suspect was Katarzyna Radziejowska, who after being seduced and abandoned by both princes, was believed to have poisoned the dukes and their mother Anna Radziwill. The woman and her supposed accomplice Kliczewska confessed to the gradual poisoning of the duke and both were sentenced to endure the horrible death.
The rush to execute the sentence raised even more suspicion that, in fact, the real instigator of the crime was Queen Bona. The logical explanation was related to the queen's ambitious plans for Masovia, which she wanted for her son Sigismund Augustus. The contemporary chronicler, however, Bernard Wapowski, citing a scene he witnessed himself denies these allegations: "When the young duke, warmed by the example of a few similar revellers, ordered to pour wine in his throat, as a result of which in two weeks he bid farewell to the world". Despite this, rumors spread and more and more people began to accuse the Polish queen.
A group of nobles associated with the Masovian court, opposing the incorporation of the Duchy into the Crown, proclaimed Anna as a duchess. Soon after, however, the Ducal Council concluded a compromise with the Polish king as the incorporation was beneficial for them. Anna had to accept the salary from Sigismund I, lands near Goszczyn and Liw and the "Small Manor" (Curia Minor) at the Royal Castle in Warsaw as her residence, until she got married.
The king set up a special commission to deal with the matter of the death of the dukes. On February 9, 1528, he issued an edict in which he stated that the princes "weren't victims of a human hand, but was the will of the Almighty Lord that caused their deaths".
The portrait by Bernardino Licinio in the Castello Sforzesco in Milan, shows the same woman as in the portrait in Budapest holding a portrait of a man, very similar to the portrait by Licinio depicting a man holding a cane (Janusz III). She is dressed in black and the bodice of her rich dress is embroidered with a motif of dogs, a symbol of loyalty and fidelity. The landscape in the background with a castle is very similar to the castle in Płock, the ancient capital of Masovia (till 1262), the de facto capital of Poland between 1079 to 1138 and a seat of one of the oldest dioceses in Poland, established in 1075. Between 1504-1522, the Bishop of Płock was Erazm Ciołek (1474-1522) a diplomat, writer and patron of the artists, who travelled to Rome, studied in Bologna with Filippo Beroaldo and negotiatied the marriage of Sigismund I with Bona Sforza. He was followed in 1522 by Rafał Leszczyński (1480-1527), educated in Padua and the secretary of Prince Sigismund during his reign in the Duchy of Głogów and after his death by Andrzej Krzycki (1482-1537), secretary of Queen Bona, patron of arts and a poet writing in Latin, who was studying in Bologna under prominent humanists. In this painting Anna wanted to express that she would not renounce Masovia.
Portrait of Anna of Masovia (ca. 1498-1557) holding a book by Bernardino Licinio, 1522, Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest.
Portrait of Anna of Masovia (ca. 1498-1557) as Venus and Cupid by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1525, Compton Verney.
Portrait of Anna of Masovia (ca. 1498-1557) holding a portrait of her brother Janusz III by Bernardino Licinio, 1526-1528, Castello Sforzesco in Milan.
Portrait of Anna of Masovia (ca. 1498-1557) in a hat decorated with plumes by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1530, Private collection.
Portrait of Jakub Uchański by circle of Hans Asper
The portrait of an unknown man from the 1520s can also be assigned to the circle of renaissance court of the Jagiellons. It is an effigy of man aged 22 transferred to the National Museum in Warsaw from the Krasiński collection in Warsaw. According to the inscription in Latin it was created in 1524 (ANNO • DOMINI • MD • XXIIII / • ANNOS • NATVS • XXII • IAR / • RB • / • IW •), the man was therefore born in 1502, just as Jakub Uchański (1502-1581).
Uchański was educated at the collegiate school in Krasnystaw. Then he was employed at the court of the Lublin voivode and starosta of Krasnystaw, Andrzej Tęczyński, becoming one of the administrators of the voivode's vast estates. Tęczyński recommened him to the Crown referendary and the future bishop of Poznań, Sebastian Branicki.
He was later a secretary and administrator of Queen Bona's estate and Interrex (regent) during royal elections. Despite the fact that in 1534, he was ordained a priest, he secretly favored the Reformation, loosening the dependence of the Catholic Church in Poland on Rome and even supporting the concept of a national church. As a canon he secretly attended, together with Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski to theological disputes in the dissenting spirit of Queen Bona's confessor Francesco Lismanini (Franciszek Lismanin), a Greek born in Corfu.
The Warsaw portrait is very similar in style to effigies created by Swiss painter Hans Asper, a pupil of Hans Leu the Younger in Zurich, especially to the portrait of a leader of the Reformation in Switzerland, Huldrych Zwingli (1484-1531) from 1531 in the Kunstmuseum Winterthur. Even the artist's signature is painted in similar style, however the letters does not match. According to convention the portrait in Warsaw is signed with monogram IW or VIV. This Monogrammist IW, could be other pupil of Leu, who left the country for Poland during the episodes of iconoclasm in Zurich between September and November 1523, instigated by the inflammatory preaching of Zwingli, which led, among others, to the destruction of a large part of works by his master. Another possible explanation is that the painting was created by Asper, the monogram is a part of undetermined titulature of Uchański (Iacobus de Vchanie ...) and the artist intentionally used crimson background to designate a foreigner, a Pole (Polish cochineal).
Portrait of Jakub Uchański (1502-1581) aged 22 by circle of Hans Asper, 1524, National Museum in Warsaw.
Portraits of Stanisław Oleśnicki and Bernard Wapowski by Bernardino Licinio
In 1516, together with Bernard Wapowski, Jan Dantyszek, Andrzej Krzycki and Stanisław Tarło, who all studied at the Kraków Academy, Stanisław Oleśnicki (1469-1539) of Dębno coat of arms, become a secretary of king Sigismund I.
He was the son of Feliks Jan Oleśnicki and Katarzyna Gruszczyńska and the nephew of the Zbigniew Oleśnicki (1430-1493), bishop of Gniezno and primate of Poland. From 1492 he was a canon of Gniezno, a canon of Sandomierz from 1517, a canon of Kraków from 1519, a cantor of Gniezno from 1520 and a deputy of the king to the sejmik of the Kraków voivodeship in Proszowice in 1518 and in 1523. He also acted as secretary to Queen Bona Sforza.
A signed portrait by Bernardino Licinio (P · LYCINII·) in the York Art Gallery shows a clergyman holding a half open missal with both hands. According to inscription in Latin (M·D·XXIIII·ANNO · AETATIS · LV·) the man was 55 in 1524, exactly as Stanisław Oleśnicki, born in 1469. The same man was also depicted in the painting by Licinio in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin, most probably acquired in 1815 from the Giustiniani collection in Rome.
In the private collection there is a portrait of an astronomer from the same period, attributed to Giovanni Cariani, although stylistically also very close to Licinio. He is holding astronomical rings consisting of three brass rings that swiveled inside each other and engraved with hours of the day, compass directions, and other measurments. It was an instrument used by astronomers, navigators, and surveyors (after Ann Heinrichs' "Gerardus Mercator: Father of Modern Mapmaking", 2007, p. 44).
Bernard Wapowski (ca. 1475-1535), called Vapovius, considered to be the "Father of Polish Cartography", who together with Oleśnicki become royal secretary in 1516, studied with Copernicus in Kraków, before leaving to Italy, where he studied in Bologna beteen 1503-1505 and then left for Rome. He returned to Poland in 1515, when he was about 40. He become cantor and canon of Kraków in 1523. Three years later in 1526 he assisted his life-long friend Copernicus, "with whom he wrote about the motion of eight sphere" (motu octavae sphaerae), in mapping the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The same year he created and published in Kraków his most notable map, the first large-scale (1:1,260,000) map of Poland.
Portrait of Stanisław Oleśnicki (1469-1539), cantor of Gniezno by Bernardino Licinio, 1524, York Art Gallery.
Portrait of Stanisław Oleśnicki (1469-1539), cantor of Gniezno by Bernardino Licinio, ca. 1524, Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.
Portrait of an astronomer, most probably Bernard Wapowski (ca. 1475-1535), called Vapovius by Bernardino Licinio, ca. 1520, Private collection.
Portrait of Queen Bona Sforza as Mary Magdalene by Lucas Cranach the Elder
On 11 February 1524 died in Bari Isabella of Aragon, Duchess of Milan, mother of Bona Sforza d'Aragona, who after the collapse of the Sforzas in Milan and her family in Naples, was granted the title of suo jure Duchess of Bari and Princess of Rossano. The duchies that Bona inherited from her mother were involved in the struggle between French and Spanish forces of the Habsburgs for control of Italy. When Emperor Charles V re-conquered Milan from the French in 1521, Francesco II Sforza, member of a rival branch of the family, was appointed its duke.
Fearing the growing influence of the Habsburgs, Bona strove to tighten cooperation with France. In July 1524 Hieronim Łaski signed a treaty with France in Paris on behalf of Sigismund I, which reversed the Polish alliance with the Habsburgs agreed at the Vienna Congress of 1515. It was agreed that Henry, the younger son of the French king Francis I or the Scottish king James, will marry one of the daughters of Sigismund I, Hedwig or Isabella, and that Sigismund Augustus will marry a daughter of Francis I.
Determined to regain Lombardy, Francis I, unsuccessful competitor of Charles V for the imperial dignity, invaded the region in mid-October 1524. He was, however, defeated and taken prisoner at Pavia on 25 February 1525, guaranteeing Spanish control of Italy. This battle changed dramatically the situation for Bona. The marriage plans with the French court had been cancelled and Bona had to accept the engagement of her only son with Elizabeth of Austria, daughter of younger brother of Charles V, Ferdinand and his wife Anna Jagellonica.
The triumphant Emperor was reluctant to acknowledge Bona's rights to her mother's succession. Diplomatic efforts of the Polish court were finally successful and on 24 June 1525 Ludovico Alifio, Bona's court chancellor, finally took on her behalf the inherited Italian possessions.
The painting by Cranach from 1525 in Cologne, an imperial city, whose Archbishop was one of the electors of the Holy Roman Empire and the chief officiant during the coronation ceremony of the Emperor, shows Bona as a sinful woman, Mary Magdalene, from whom Jesus had cast out demons and who then became an important follower and interlocutor of Jesus (Luke 8:2). She is depicted with a vessel of ointment, in reference to the Anointing of Jesus, and her hair covered with translucent penitential veil. The forest is symbolic for the religious suffering of the penitent, while deer is a symbol of Christ. Saints Eustace and Hubert converted to Christianity by seeing a stag with a cross.
Finally the landscape to right is very similar to the view of Mola (now Mola di Bari), a Venetian city close to Bari, with Castel Novo, an Aragonese castle, which remained loyal to Naples, published by Georg Braun & Frans Hogenberg in 1582. The view to the left can be compared with the topography of Rossano, a town built on a large rock.
Portrait of Queen Bona Sforza (1494-1557) as Mary Magdalene by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1525, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum.
Miniature portrait of Queen Bona Sforza (1494-1557) by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1525, Private collection.
Portraits of Hedwig Jagiellon and her stepmother Bona Sforza against the idealized view of Kraków by Lucas Cranach the Elder
1526 was a very important year for the Jagiellons. In January the main port of the Kingdom, Gdańsk, and other cities of Royal Prussia revolted againt the Crown. On March the Duchy of Masovia had fallen to the Crown after the heirless death of the last male member of the Masovian Piasts, Janusz III (Bona was accused of poisoning the duke).
On May 22, 1526 Bernardino de Muro and Andrea Melogesio, on behalf of the inhabitants of Rossano, swore an oath of allegiance to Bona Sforza and Sigismund the Old in the Wawel Cathedral, so-called "Italian Homage".
And finally in August the Ottoman Empire invaded Hungary and Sigismund I's nephew, Louis II, King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia was killed in the battle of Mohács.
The portraits of ladies from the Coburg Fortress dated by experts to about 1526 and from The State Hermitage, dated 1526 on the windowsill, are very similar to miniatures of Hedwig and her stepmother Bona from the same period. Face features and costumes are almost identical.
The topography in the landscapes, althought idealized nd viewed through the lens of artistry of Cranach, match perfectly the capital of the Kingdom - Kraków (Cracow). In the portrait of Hedwig we can see the Wawel Royal Castle and Vistula river towards Tyniec Abbey in the south, as in a print published in 1544 in Cosmographia Universalis, and in the portrait of Bona we can distinguish the Wawel Hill with Sandomierz Tower towards Zwierzyniec Monastery in the north.
Portrait of Crown Princess Hedwig Jagiellon (1513-1573) against the idealized view of Kraków by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1526, Veste Coburg.
Portrait of Queen Bona Sforza (1494-1557) against the idealized view of Kraków by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1526, The State Hermitage Museum.
Portrait of Queen Bona Sforza (1494-1557) by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1526, Schloss Fasanerie in Eichenzell.
Portrait of Queen Bona Sforza (1494-1557) by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1526, sold at Hôtel Drouot in Paris on 30 October 1942, lost.
Sigismund I and Katarzyna Telniczanka as David and Bathsheba by Lucas Cranach the Elder
According to the Bible, king David, whilst walking on the palace roof, accidentally espies the beautiful Bathsheba, the wife of a loyal soldier in his army, bathing. He desired her and made her pregnant.
Most probably in about 1498, when Crown Prince Sigismund (1467-1548) was made Duke of Głogów by his brother Vladislaus II of Bohemia and Hungary, he met a Moravian or Silesian lady Katarzyna Telniczanka (ca. 1480-1528). She become his mistress and bore him three children: Jan (1499-1538), Regina (ca. 1500-1526) and Katarzyna (ca. 1503-1548).
In 1509, when already King of Poland, Sigismund decided to marry. That same year Katarzyna was married to Sigismund's friend, Andrzej Kościelecki, who was made Grand Crown Treasurer in reward. The only child born of this union, Beata (1515-1576), later a court lady of queen Bona, was reputed to be the child of the king as well.
Kościelecki died on 6 September 1515 in Kraków, Sigismund's first wife Barbara Zapolya passed that same year on 2 October 1515 and almost three years later, on 15 April 1518, he married Bona. During this period Katarzyna was undoubtedly close to Sigismund and her daughters were raised with his only legitimate daughter at that time, Hedwig Jagiellon (1513-1573), who in 1535 moved to Berlin as the new Electress of Brandenburg, taking a large dowry and many family souvenirs with her.
The small painting by Cranach from 1526, acquired in 1890 by Gemäldegalerie from Frau Medizinalrat Klaatsch in Berlin, shows a courtly scene with Bathsheba bathing her feet in the river. The main character however is not Bathsheba, nor the King David standing on a high terrace to the left. It's a lady standing in the right foreground, who most probably commissioned the painting. Her effigy and costume is astonishingly similar to the portrait of queen Bona holding a bouquet of forget-me-nots created the same year. She is holding Bathsheba's shoes, a clrear sign of approval for the royal mistress Telniczanka, a life-long companion of her husband, who was depicted as Bathsheba.
We could also distinguish two of Telniczanka's daughters to the left, most probably Katarzyna, who according to some sources was married the same year to George III, count of Montfort, and Regina, who died in Kraków on 20 May 1526. There's also king Sigismund as biblical king David - the king was depicted as king Solomon, David's son, in the marble tondo in his funerary chapel at the Wawel Cathedral and possibly also as king David (or king's banker Jan Boner). Beside him there's his son Jan, who was his secretary from 1518 and in 1526 it was planned to make him a Duke of Masovia and marry him to the Princess Anna of Masovia.
This miniature could be considered as a proof ordered by Bona to be sent to the king, busy with state affairs in the north of Poland, that two of his women live in peace and harmony in Kraków in southern Poland.
The same woman, Bathsheba - Telniczanka, was also depicted in the small painting which was before World War II in the Branicki Palace in Warsaw, converted into the British Embassy in 1919. It is considered to be lost, however according to Friedländer, Rosenberg 1979, No. 247 it is in a private collection in New York. The work shows Venus with Cupid stealing honey, which has been interpreted as an allegory of the pleasure and pains of love. Fragment of Latin inscription reads: And so do we seek transitory and dangerous pleasures / That are mixed with sadness and bring us pain (SIC ETIAM NOBIS BREVIS ET PERITVRA VOLVPTAS / QUAM PETIMVS TRISTI MIXTA DOLORE NOCET).
The effigy of unknown lady from the National Gallery in London created around the year 1525, matches perfectly the portrait of the eldest daughter of Telniczanka, Regina Szafraniec, in the Berlin painting. On October 20, 1518 in the Wawel Cathedral, she married the starost of Chęciny and a royal secretary, Hieronim Szafraniec. The letter M on her bodice is a reference to her patron saint, Maria Regina Caeli, Latin 'Mary, Queen of Heaven', as the name Mary (Maria) was at that time in Poland reserved solely to the Virgin.
Portrait of a young woman with an apple, a symbol of the bride in ancient Greek thought, from about 1525, also lost during World War II (other version in Toulouse), is very similar to the effigy of one of the daughters of Telniczanka in the Berlin painting. It is undoubtedly Katarzyna, countess of Montfort.
Sigismund I and Katarzyna Telniczanka as David and Bathsheba by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1526, Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.
Katarzyna Telniczanka as Venus with Cupid stealing honey by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1526-1528, Branicki Palace in Warsaw, lost during World War II.
Portrait of Regina Szafraniec (ca. 1500-1526), natural daughter of king Sigismund I by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1525-1526, National Gallery in London.
Portrait of Katarzyna, countess of Montfort (ca. 1503-1548), natural daughter of king Sigismund I by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1525-1526, Puttkamer Palace in Trzebielino, lost during World War II.
Bust-length portrait of Katarzyna, countess of Montfort (ca. 1503-1548), natural daughter of king Sigismund I by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1525-1526, Fondation Bemberg in Toulouse.
Portrait of Bona Sforza holding myosotis by Lucas Cranach the Elder
In February 1526 the king Sigismund I went from Kraków in southern Poland to Pomerania in the north to take an active stand against the revolted Gdańsk and other cities of Royal Prussia. He then proceeded to Masovia, which had fallen to the Crown after the heirless death of the last princes of the house of Piast. He returned to the capital on 23 September 1526. He was absent for almost a year leaving his pregnant second wife Bona Sforza in Kraków (on 1 November 1526 she gave birth to her daughter Catherine Jagiellon).
The portrait of a woman by Lucas Cranach the Elder dated 1526 and coming from the old collection of the royal Wilanów Palace (most probably acquired before 1743), bears a great resemblance to the effigies of Bona Sforza. It is of small dimensions (34.9 x 23.8 cm or 13.7 x 9.3 in), a good item to be taken on a journey or to be sent to someone with a love letter.
The woman is holding a bouquet of myosotis, colloquially denominated forget-me-nots, a symbol of true love and fidelity and holding her left hand on her belly.
Portrait of Bona Sforza holding myosotis (forget-me-nots) by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1526, Wilanów Palace in Warsaw.
Portrait of Hedwig Jagiellon hodling an apple by Lucas Cranach the Elder and workshop
In 1527 just 14 years old Crown Princess Hedwig Jagiellon (1513-1573), the only daughter of king Sigismund I the Old and his first wife Barbara Zapolya, was one of the most ardently desired brides in Europe.
Among numberless suitors for her hand were sons of the Brandenburg elector and Stanislaus, Duke of Mazovia in 1523, Frederick Gonzaga, proposed by Pope Clement VII and James V, King of Scotland proposed by Francis I, King of France in 1524, Janusz III, Duke of Masovia, Frederic Gonzaga (again) and Francis II Sforza, Duke of Milan in 1525, Gustav I Vasa, King of Sweden and Francis I, King of France proposed by her uncle Jan Zápolya, King of Hungary in 1526, Louis X, Duke of Bavaria in 1527 and in 1528 and Luis of Portugal, Duke of Beja in 1529 etc.
The portrait of a lady hodling an apple from the Prague Castle Picture Gallery by Lucas Cranach the Elder and workshop from 1527 bears a strong resemblance to the portrait of Hedwig portrayed in her wedding dress with monogram S of her father by Hans Krell in about 1537, and a portrait of her mother by Cranach.
It also very similar in composition and format to the portrait of her stepmother Bona Sforza holding forget-me-nots dated 1526 (Wilanów Palace), therefore both portraits might be commissioned in the Cranach's workshop at the same time. She is holding an apple, a longstanding symbol of kingship and royalty - the royal orb, and a strong symbol of the bride in ancient Greek thought (Sappho, Plutarch).
Portrait of Crown Princess Hedwig Jagiellon (1513-1573) hodling an apple by Lucas Cranach the Elder and workshop, 1527, Prague Castle Picture Gallery.
Portrait of royal courtier Stanisław Bojanowski by Bernardino Licinio
A Renaissance painter, Bernardino Licinio, was most probably born in Poscante north of Bergamo and close to Milan in about 1489. His family was well established at Murano and at Venice by the end of the fifteenth century and he was first recorded as a painter there in 1511.
The portrait by Licinio in the Pushkin Museum, shows a young, twenty-one year old Stanisław Bojanowski (1507-1555), a nobleman and influencial courtier who become a secretary of king Sigismund Augustus in 1543. He is depicted in red żupan (from Arabic dіubbah or giubbone, giuppone, giubba in Italian) of Venetian silk and wearing a fur coat, holding one hand on his belt and the other on a volume of Petrarch's poetry (F PETRARCHA).
The painting was purchased by the Museum in 1964 from the collection of Anatol Zhukov in Moscow, who acquired it in 1938. It's earlier history is unknown, therefore it cannot be excluded that it was acquired in Poland.
Bojanowski was an educated man, lover of Italian poetry, he possibly, as many Poles, studied in Padua and/or Bologna, when he could order his portrait in nearby Venice, or like his royal patrons he sent a drawing with his effigy to Licinio. He reportedly was the author of the lost book of "bad novels", as it was expressed in the Acts of the Babin Republic.
Apart from the age (ANNO AETATIS SVE. XXI) also the date of the portrait is mentioned, 1528 (MD. XXVIII), a date when Baldassare Castiglione's "Book of the Courtier" (Il Cortegiano) was first published in Venice.
Shrewd and witty Bojanowski, a model of a typical Renaissance nobleman, become a leading figure of Łukasz Górnicki's "Polish Courtier" (Dworzanin polski), a paraphrase of the Castiglione's Il Cortegiano, published in Kraków in 1566. It is very probable that Bojanowski purchased a volume of the first edition of Castiglione's oeuvre.
He is buried in the Holy Trinity Church in Kraków, where his epitaph of sandtone and red marble, most probably created by workshop of Venetian trained sculptor, Giovanni Maria Mosca called Padovano (who created tomb monuments of two wives of Sigismund Augustus), bears the following inscription in Latin: Stanislaus Bojanowski ex majori Polonia, Patriis bonis contentus esse nolens aulam, et ejus promissa secutus, anno domini 1555 Cracoviæ mortuus antequam vivere didicisset ætatis 47 (Stanislaus Bojanowski of Greater Poland, unwilling to be content with his country's court, and following his promises, he died in Kraków in the year of our lord 1555, before he had learned how to live, at the age of 47).
Portrait of royal courtier Stanisław Bojanowski (1507-1555) by Bernardino Licinio, 1528, The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow.
Portraits of Duchess Anna of Cieszyn by Lucas Cranach the Elder
On 1 December 1518 Princess Anna of Brandenburg-Ansbach (1487-1539), third daughter of Sophia Jagiellon, Margravine of Brandenburg-Ansbach and a cousin of Louis II, King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia, married Prince Wenceslaus of Cieszyn, of the Piast dynasty. Earlier that year her uncle, Sigismund I, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania married Bona Sforza.
Wenceslaus was made co-ruler of his father in 1518 as Wenceslaus II and a Duke of Cieszyn (Teschen), one of Silesian duchies, created in 1290 during the feudal division of Poland. The Duchy was a fiefdom of the Bohemian kings since 1327 and was incorporated into the Lands of the Bohemian Crown in 1348. Anna bore him a son, who died shortly after birth, and two daughters, Ludmila and Sophie. The second son of Wenceslaus - Wenceslaus III Adam was born after his father's death on November 17, 1524. The old Duke Casimir II, who outlived his two sons, died on 13 December 1528. Since the time of his birth, as his only heir, Wenceslaus III Adam was placed under the guardianship of his grandfather, who had him engaged to Mary of Pernštejn (1524-1566) when he was just one-year-old.
In his will, the Duke left his Duchy to his grandson under the regency of his mother Anna of Brandenburg-Ansbach and the Bohemian magnate John IV of Pernštejn (1487-1548), called "The Rich". The young duke was sent to be educated at the imperial court in Vienna.
After death of Louis II during the Battle of Mohács in 1526, the Habsburgs took the western part of divided Hungary and Bohemia. Both Hungary and Bohemia were elective monarchies and the main goal of the new ruler, Ferdinand I, was to establish a hereditary Habsburg succession and strengthen his power in territories previously ruled by the Jagiellons, also in Silesian duchies.
A painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder or workshop in Kassel shows a woman in allegorical guise of biblical heroine Judith, who cleverly defeated an enemy who has been feigning friendship. Her hat, instead of a brooch, is adorned with a gold coin, so-called Joachim thaler minted in Kingdom of Bohemia from 1519 until 1528. The crowned Bohemian lion with title of king Louis, LVDOVICUS PRIM[us]: [D] GRACIA: R[ex]: BO[hemiae]: is clearly visible. The new coins minted by Ferdinand I in 1528 shows his personal coat of arms on reverse and his effigy on horseback, amidst a group of subjects paying homage to him on obverse.
In the backgound of the painting there is a distant town of Bethulia, however the castle on the top of a fantastic hill is very similar to the shape of the Cieszyn Castle, visible in a drawing from 1645.
The same woman is also depicted as Lucretia, the Roman heroine and a victim of the tyrant's abuse, whose suicide ignited the political revolution, in the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm (most probably taken from Prague by the Swedish army). It is dated 1528 and the castle atop the fantastic rock is similar to Fryštát Castle used by the Dukes of Cieszyn as their second seat. The castle was built in 1288 and reconstructed in the first half of the 15th century by Duchess Euphemia of Masovia. In 1528 John IV of Pernštejn, who was made governor of Moravia by Ferdinand I in 1526, relocated the ducal court to Fryštát Castle.
The widowed Duchess Anna, beyond doubt, opposed all these actions against her power and commissioned some paintings, to express her dissatisfaction. Famous Lucas Cranach, the court painter of her aunt Barbara Jagiellon, Duchess of nearby Saxony, which also opposed the Habsburgs, was the obvious choice.
Portrait of Anna of Brandenburg-Ansbach (1487-1539), Duchess of Cieszyn as Judith with the head of Holofernes by Lucas Cranach the Elder or workshop, 1526-1531, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Kassel.
Portrait of Anna of Brandenburg-Ansbach (1487-1539), Duchess of Cieszyn as Lucretia by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1528, Nationalmuseum in Stockholm.
Portrait of Bona Sforza as Judith with the Head of Holofernes by Lucas Cranach the Elder
In 1530 Bona Maria Sforza has won an important battle. In 1527, as a result of a fall from a horse, the queen prematurely gave birth to her second son, Albert, who died at birth. After this event, the she could not have any more children. That same year she was depicted as the Virigin Mary, according the Italian custom, in her Prayer Book, created by Stanisław Samostrzelnik, exposing her beautiful hair before ladies dressed in German style and loosely based on German graphics.
Polish throne was elective and German Hohenzollerns (who took over Prussia) and Habsburgs (who took from Jagiellons Bohemian and Hungarian crown) were relatives of her son with rights to the crown. To secure the throne to him she came up with an idea of unprecedented election vivente rege (the election of a successor during the lifetime of the king). Despite huge opposition from Polish-Lithuanian lords the ten-year-old Sigismund Augustus was first made Grand Duke of Lithuania and then crowned King of Poland on 20 February 1530.
At that time it become fashionable at the court of her sister-in-law Barbara Jagiellon in nearby Saxony to be depicted in the guise of Judith. The biblical heroine, clever and cunning, who having seduced and then beheaded Assyrian general who besieged her city with his own sword, was a perfect prefiguration of a typical Sforza. The subject, well known to Italian art, was not so explored in the Northern art before Cranach, so was Bona the first to introduce it to the German painter? The painting is in Imperial collection since at least 1610, so does she personally sent it to the Habsburgs as a sign of her victory?
Portrait of Bona Sforza d'Aragona (1494-1557), Queen of Poland as Judith with the Head of Holofernes by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1530, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Portrait of Bona Sforza (1494-1557) as Judith with the Head of Holofernes by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1530, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart.
Portrait of Sigismund Augustus as a child by Lucas Cranach the Elder
The portrait of a boy from the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, dated in lower left corner 1529, can be consequently identified as Bona's son. Sigismund Augustus, was elevated to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania on 18 October 1529 and on 18 December 1529 the Diet in Piotrków proclaimed him the king of Poland.
He was crowned the next year in the similar garments to these visible in the portrait. The inventory of the State Treasury from 1555 mentions: "tibalia (stockings), dalmatics, gloves and a small sword" and the inventory of 1599 mentions: "a velvet dress with gold stripes, in which the late King Augustus was crowned". Only his shoes on a platform covered with red velvet preserved, today at the Wawel Castle.
The boy wears a jewelled wreath with a feather, which traditionally marks an engagement. In 1527 Sigismund I agreed to marry his son with his cousin who was only eight months old, Elizabeth of Austria (1526-1545), and proposed an engagement after the archduchess turned seven.
Portrait of Sigismund Augustus (1520-1572) as a child in a red tunic by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1529, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum.
Portraits of Hedwig Jagiellon and Anna Jagellonica by Lucas Cranach the Elder
Despite numerous suitors for her hand, the Crown Princess Hedwig Jagiellon remained unmarried at the age of 17. In 1529, Krzysztof Szydłowiecki and Jan Tarnowski proposed to Damião de Góis, envoy of John III, king of Portugal, to marry Hedwig to king's brother Infante Louis of Portugal, Duke of Beja. At the same time negotiations were carried to marry her to Louis X, Duke of Bavaria and Habsburgs, on April 18, 1531 proposed Frederick, brother of Louis V, Count Palatine of the Rhine.
To attract suitable marriage proposal, Hedwig's father continued to amass a considerable dowry for her. He commissioned the most luxurious items in Poland and abroad, like the casket, created by Jacob Baur and Peter Flötner in Nuremberg in 1533, adorned with jewels from Jagiellon collection (Hermitage Museum). He also charged his banker Seweryn Boner with the acquisition in Venice of some lengths of silk, several hundred ells of satin, five cloth of gold bales, thirty bales of fine Swabian and Flemish linen as well as pearls for 1,000 florins. In her letter of 19 April 1535 the Princess asked her father for a larger amount of cloth of gold.
The marriage was a political contract, and Princess' role was to seal the alliance between countries by producing offspring. Thanks to this she could also have some power in her new country and Hedwig's stepmother, Bona Sforza, knew perfectly about it. It was she who probably took care of providing some erotic items in Hedwig's dowry.
In 1534 it was finally decided, in secret from Bona, who was unfavorable to the Hohenzollerns, that Hedwig will marry Joachim II Hector, Elector of Brandenburg and the marriage contract was signed on 21 March 1535. Sigismund commissioned some portraits of Hedwig from court painter Antonius (most probably Antoni of Wrocław), which were sent to Joachim.
The groom arrived to Kraków with a retinue of 1000 courtiers and 856 horses and Sigismund's nephew Albert, Duke of Prussia with his wife Dorothea of Denmark and 400 people. Apart from 32,000 red zlotys in cash Hedwig also received from her father robes, silverware, "other indispensable utensils", money for personal use, as well as a rich bed with canopy (canopia alias namiothy), which she took with her to Berlin.
A large painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder from about 1530 in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin, which was transferred from the Royal Prussian Castles in 1829/1830, shows Hedwig as Venus and Cupid. This erotic painting was undeniably part of her dowry.
A portrait from the same collection, which depicts Hedwig as Judith with the Head of Holofernes and dated 1531, was acquired from Suermondt collection in Aachen. As the portraits of her stepmother, it most probably also has a political meaning, or the Princess just wanted to be depicted as her beautiful stepmother.
Aachen was an Imperial City, where coronations of emperors were held till 1562 and in 1815, control of the town was passed to the Kingdom of Prussia. Already in 1523 Joachim I Nestor, Elector of Brandenburg wanted Hedwig's hand for one of his sons. It is possible that her portrait as Judith was sent to the Hohenzollerns or to the Habsburgs already in 1531 to underline that the Jagiellons would not permit them to take their crown.
A similar painting to that of Hedwig's, depicting Venus with Cupid stealing honey by Lucas Cranach the Elder and dated 1531, is in the Borghese Gallery in Rome. It was aquired in 1611 and bears the same inscription as effigy of Katarzyna Telniczanka as Venus. The woman has features of Hedwig's cousin Anna Jagellonica (1503-1547), Queen of Germany, Bohemia, and Hungary. Anna was a daughter of Vladislaus II, King of Bohemia, Hungary and Croatia, elder brother of Sigismund I, and his third wife, Anne of Foix-Candale. On 26 May 1521 she married Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, grandson of Emperor Maximilan I, who was elevated to the title King of the Romans by his brother Emperor Charles V in 1531.
On her golden hairnet embroidered with pearls there is a monogram W.A.F.I. or W.A.F. which can be interpreted as Wladislaus et Anna (parents), Ferdinandus I (husband), Wladislaus et Anna Filia (daughter of Vladislaus and Anne) or Wladislaus et Anna de Fuxio (Vladislaus and Anne of Foix). Similar monogram of her parents WA is visible on a golden pendant at her hat in her portrait at the age of 16 by Hans Maler, created in 1520 (private collection).
Portrait of Crown Princess Hedwig Jagiellon (1513-1573) as Venus and Cupid by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1530, Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.
Portrait of Crown Princess Hedwig Jagiellon (1513-1573) as Judith with the Head of Holofernes by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1531, Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.
Portrait of Queen Anna Jagellonica (1503-1547) as Venus with Cupid stealing honey by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1531, Borghese Gallery in Rome.
Portraits of Beata Kościelecka by Lucas Cranach the Elder and Bernardino Licinio
"0 Beata, adorned so rich in rare charms, You have a virtuous and honest speech, The worthy and unworthy of you still adore you, The gray-haired, though prudent, they go crazy for you" (O Beata decorata rara forma, moribus / O honesta ac modesta vultu, verbis, gestibus! / Digni simul et indigni te semper suspiciunt / Et grandaevi ac prudentes propter te desipiunt), wrote in his panegyric modeled on the hymn in honor of the Virgin Mary, entitled Prosa de Beata Kościelecka virgine in gynaeceo Bonae reginae Poloniae (On Beata Kościelecka a maiden in the household of Bona, Queen of Poland, II, XLVII), Andrzej Krzycki (1482-1537), Bishop of Płock and secretary of Queen Bona.
In 1509 when king Sigismund I was obliged to marry by the Piotrków Diet, his mistress Katarzyna Telniczanka was married to his associate Andrzej Kościelecki. The king secured her in the form of an annual salary and made Kościelecki Grand Treasurer of the Crown and starost of Oświęcim. Kościelecki, who was Polish-Lithuanian envoy in Buda between 1501-1503, was a talented and dedicated manager of royal treasury. When in 1510 a huge fire broke out in royal salt mines in Wieliczka, he and Seweryn Bethman descent into the shaft to put out the fire.
Marriage with king's mistress caused a great indignation of Kościelecki's relatives, who were leaving the Senate when the treasurer appeared there.
Kościelecki died in Kraków on 6 September 1515 and on 2 October 1515, after a long illness, died Queen Barbara Zapolya, first wife of Sigismund. When just few weeks after Kościelecki's death Telniczanka gave birth to her daughter Beata, meaning "blessed" (between 6 September and 20 October), everybody at the court gossiped that her real father was Sigismund.
Beata was raised in the royal court together with other children of the king. In 1528 when Beata was 13, Anna, Zuzanna and Katarzyna three daughters of Regina Szafraniec, eldest daughter of Telniczanka, brought a claim against Beata before the royal court concerning a house in Kraków bought by Telniczanka after 1509, a carriage, four horses and a toque embroidered with large pearls valued at 600 zlotys. Two years later Kościelecki's testament was brought before the royal court by Andrzej Tęczyński, voivode of Kraków in a dispute with Kościelecka.
The painting of Venus with Cupid stealing honey by Lucas Cranach the Elder from the National Gallery of Denmark (transferred in 1759 to the Danish royal collection from the Gottorp Castle) is very similar in composition to the portrait of Katarzyna Telniczanka as Venus from the Branicki Palace in Warsaw, lost during World War II. Also the woman depicted is very much alike. It bears the date 1530 on a stone in lower right corner of the painting. As Telniczanka died in 1528, it cannot be her. The same woman is also in the two other paintings by Cranach. One similar to other portraits of Telniczanka's daughters from the 1520s is in the Finnish National Gallery in Helsinki (acquired in 1851 from the collection of future Tsar Alexander II). According to sources it is dated 1525, however the date is today almost invisible and could be also 1527 when Beata reached her legal age of 12 and could be married. The other, in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium (donated in 1928 by Leon Cassel), also of Venus and Cupid, is dated 1531 on the tree trunk. It is very similar to portrait of Princess Hedwig Jagiellon (1513-1573) and Queen Anna Jagellonica (1503-1547) as Venus from the same period. The woman is also depiced in the portrait by Bernardino Licinio from 1532 in private collection, signed and dated by the artist on a postument (M·DXXXII B·LVCINII· OPVS). She is holding gloves and keeping her hand on a postument. This portrait is very similar to the effigy of royal mistress Diana di Cordona by Licinio in Dresden. It is almost like a pendant, their poses and costumes are identical. The woman's headdress or a toque, called balzo, embroidered with gold is adorned with flowers very similar to clematis Beata.
From the 1530s noble ladies throughout Poland, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine wanted to be depicted in the pose of a Roman lady or a courtesan from the Flavian period in their tomb monuments (e.g. monument to Barbara Tarnowska née Tęczyńska by Giovanni Maria Padovano from about 1536 in the Tarnów Cathedral), a pose similar to that known from the Venus of Urbino (portrait of Princess Isabella Jagiellon). In their portrait paintings, all wanted to be a goddess of love.
Portrait of Beata Kościelecka by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1527, Finnish National Gallery in Helsinki.
Portrait of Beata Kościelecka as Venus with Cupid stealing honey by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1530, National Gallery of Denmark.
Portrait of Beata Kościelecka as Venus with Cupid stealing honey by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1531, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium.
Portrait of Beata Kościelecka by Bernardino Licinio, 1532, Private collection.
Portraits of Bona Sforza by Bernardino Licinio
Bona's tutor Crisostomo Colonna (1460-1528), a member of the Pontano Academy, a poet from the Petrarch school, taught her Latin, history, theology, law, geography, botany, philosophy and mathematics. She in turn, who was considered a lover of Virgil and Petrarch, was the first teacher of her son Sigismund Augustus, born in 1520, hence the book.
Two leopards on her bodice, denoted as symbols of strength, intelligence, bravery, justice, and valor, holding stylized S, is clearly an allusion to her family name: Sforza (from sforzare, to force), a nickname given to Muzio Attendolo in the 1380s for his strength and determination and his abilities to suddenly reverse the fortunes of battles.
The whole pattern can be compared with that visible on a fountain in the Dukes' Courtyard of the Castello Sforzesco in Milan from the late 15th century.
Portrait of Bona Sforza d'Aragona (1494-1557), Queen of Poland holding a book by Bernardino Licinio, 1530s, Private collection.
Portrait of Bona Sforza d'Aragona (1494-1557), Queen of Poland holding a book by Bernardino Licinio, 1530s, Government Art Collection, UK.
Portraits of Bona Sforza by Giovanni Cariani
From 1524, after death of her mother, Bona was also Duchess of Bari and Rossano by her own right. Throughout her life she dressed in Italian style and purchased in Italy pearl embroidered velvets, thin Florentine cloths, intricate Venetian chains and ornaments. She also received garments from Italian Princes, like in 1523, when Isabella d'Este (1474-1539), Marchioness of Mantua and a leader of fashion at that time, sent to Bona silk and golden caps in return for sable skins. Two years later, the Marchioness also sent six caps and four pairs of fashionable stockings. In a letter from Kraków of July 20, 1527 Bona expressed her gratitude to Isabella's daughter Eleonora Gonzaga, Duchess of Urbino for beautiful caps she has sent her.
In May 1543 during entry to Kraków for coronation of Elizabeth of Austria (1526-1545), the lords and knights of the Kingdom were dressed in all sorts of costumes: Polish, German, Italian, French, Hungarian, Turkish, Tatar, Spanish, Muscovy, Cossack and Venetian. The young king Sigismund Augustus was dressed in German style, probably as a courtesy for Elizabeth. Bona started to wear her distinctive outfit of a widowed elder lady most probably around 1548, after death of Sigismund I, a medal from 1546 shows her with a large décolletage.
Before 1862 in the Sibyl's Temple at Pulawy, which memorialized Polish history and culture, there was a "fan of Queen Bona" and inventory of Bona's belongings in Bari includes a wonderful chronometer hidden inside a fan made of bird feathers and set with jewels.
Portrait of Bona Sforza d'Aragona (1494-1557), Queen of Poland holding a fan by Giovanni Cariani, 1530s, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Portrait of Bona Sforza d'Aragona (1494-1557), Queen of Poland in a striped dress by Giovanni Cariani, 1530s, Musée Jacquemart-André.
Portraits of Stanisław Lubomirski and Laura Effrem by Bernardino Licinio and Giovanni Cariani
"For Peace and Freedom. Old masters: a collection of Polish-owned works of art, arranged by the European Art Galleries, Inc., to help to maintain the exhibit of Poland at the World's Fair, New York, 1940." This is the title of official catalogue of 77 paintings, mostly from the Łańcut Castle, displayed in the Polish Pavilion during the New York World's Fair opened on 30 April 1939. On 1 September and 17 September 1939, the Second Polish Republic was again invaded and partitioned by its neighbours. World War II begun and paintings never returned to Łańcut.
Among them were a portrait of a green-eyed nobleman attributed to Lorenzo Lotto and a portrait of a lady attributed to Paris Bordone, both holding gloves. The portraits, now in private collections, have similar dimensions (99.4 x 74.9 cm / 88 x 74.5 cm) and compostion, they are almost like pendants. The woman is now holding a little dog and the effigy of a man bears inscription DOMINICHO / RADISE, which was not visible before. It was most probably added after 1940 to make him close to the Radise family living in New York since about 1920, as no Dominicho or Domenico Radise is reported in sources. Both paintings are stilistically close to Giovanni Cariani, also known as Giovanni Busi or Il Cariani.
The woman was also depicted in two other paintings from the same period, one attributed to Palma Vecchio in Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden and the other, most probably a modello or a ricordo to previous, attributed to circle of Bernardino Licinio in private collection. The painting in Dresden, entitled Resting Venus, was most probably acquired for the collection of Augustus II, King of Poland.
According to a bill of the picture, it was bought through the dealers Lorenzo Rossi and Andreas Philipp Kindermann in 1728 in Venice for 2000 Taleri, however since the painting is also described in inventory from 1722 it could be that it was confused with another painting of Venus attributed to Sassoferrato. The frame is adorned with king's monogram AR (Augustus Rex) and the Eagle of Poland. It cannot be excluded that it was offered to the king during his visit to the Łańcut castle in 1704 or later by members of the Lubomirski family. The version attributed to Licinio comes from the Heinemann Gallery in Munich.
Renaissance-baroque Łańcut Castle was built between 1629-1641 as palazzo in fortezza (fortress palace) for Stanisław Lubomirski (1583-1649), voivode of the Kraków by Italian architect Matteo Trapola on the site of previous, most probably wooden castle of the Pilecki family. Stanisław's grandfather was another Stanisław (d. 1585), son of Feliks Lubomirski, owner of the Sławkowice and Zabłocie estates.
In May 1537 he married a Queen's lady-in-waiting Laura Effrem (Laura de Effremis), coming from an old family noble from Bari, related to the Carducci, Dottula, Alifio, Piscicelli and Arcamone families, belonging to the immediate circle of Isabella of Aragon, Duchess of Milan and her daughter Bona. Laura received from the queen a dowry of 1,200 zlotys and jewels worth 350 zlotys, as well as twenty cubits of damask.
According to letter of Queen's secretary Stanisław Górski to a poet Klemens Janicki dated 10 June 1538 in Kraków "Italian Laura, who had married Stanisław Lubomirski a year ago, having come here at the Queen's request after Easter, in the house where the maids and matrons are staying, gave birth to a son." The son died in infancy, Laura most probably died four years later in 1542 and Stanisław married Barbara Hruszowska with whom he had three children.
The portraits could also depict Piotr V Kmita Sobieński (1477-1553), Grand Marshal of the Crown and one of the most trusted followers of Queen Bona, and his first wife Anna Górka (d. 1537). They married in about 1519 and around that time he rebult in renaissance style his castle in Wiśnicz, near Kraków, which was later reconstructed by Trapola between 1615-1621 for the same Stanisław Lubomirski who built the castle in Łańcut.
Portrait of a noblewoman with pearls in her hair, most probably Laura Effrem by Bernardino Licinio, 1530s, Private collection.
Portrait of a noblewoman, most probably Laura Effrem, as Resting Venus by Bernardino Licinio, 1530s, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden.
Portrait of a noblewoman from the Łańcut Castle, most probably Laura Effrem by Giovanni Cariani, 1530s, Private collection.
Portrait of a nobleman from the Łańcut Castle, most probably Stanisław Lubomirski (d. 1585) by Giovanni Cariani, 1530s, Private collection.
Portraits of Sigismund Augustus as a boy by circle of Titian
Hereditary and absolute monarchs of Europe had no interest whatever in preserving the memory of elective rulers of Poland-Lithuania, especially after decline of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth as a leading European power following the destructive Deluge (1655-1660) and its dissolution following the partitions in the late 18th century. That is why the identity of the Jagiellons, Vasas and even of king Wiśniowiecki or members of the Sobieski family in their portraits sent to European courts was lost in oblivion.
In 1529, through the intercession of queen Bona, a courtier with a stormy and dissolute life, Giovanni Silvio de Mathio (Joannes Silvius Amatus) from Palermo, called Siculus was appointed the tutor of nine years old Sigismund Augustus. He also obtained the Vitebsk parish and the Vilnius canon with Bona's support. Siculus was a doctor of both laws and lecturer of Greek at the Kraków Academy. He died at 90 years of age in about 1537.
Siculus left Padua, under the rule of the Republic of Venice, for Vienna in 1497 and Kraków in about 1500. When in Poland, he frequently ordered copies of Greek texts from Aldo Manuzio (Aldus Manutius) in Venice. The first edition of the controversial work by Philostratus "Life of Apollonius of Tyana", printed in Venice between 1501 and 1504 by Manuzio, was in a private library of king Sigismund Augustus, now in Saint Petersburg (after Alodia Kawecka-Gryczowa, Biblioteka ostatniego Jagiellona, 1988, pp. 291-292). It tells the story of the first century philosopher and magician and concerns pagan magic and secret sciences.
As an ardent follower of Neoplatonic ideas at the Sigismund's court and opponent of Erasmus of Rotterdam, Siculus spread rumors in Kraków that Erasmus had been put under a church curse.
Platonism affirms the existence of abstract objects that the physical world is not as real or true as timeless, absolute, unchangeable ideas, as in a quote from Plato's Timaeus, which reads "this world is indeed a living being endowed with soul and intelligence." For Plato, the term ''Anima Mundi'' meant ''the animating principle of matter.''
The painting from the collection of Cardinal Mazarin, possibly originally from the French royal collection, recorded in the inventory of 1661 as a work of Titian (no. 912), shows a little boy and his tutor holding hands on a globe with figures which looks like floating souls and similar to the print Integra naturae speculum artisque imago, published in Robert Fludd's Utriusque cosmi maioris scilicet ... from 1617-1618.
The portrait of a boy in costume and, more northern, hairstyle, typical for 1530s is mentioned for the first time in 1646 by Balthasar de Monconys as placed in the Tribuna of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, where the most important antiquities and paintings from the Medici collection were displayed, and with attribution to Titian. the boy's features are very similar to those on a series of portraits from about 1521 showing Sigismund Augustus as a child, while the costume to the medal by Giovanni Padovano from 1532.
Both paintings were undoubtedly commissioned by queen Bona to be sent to major European courts.
Portrait of Sigismund Augustus as a boy with his tutor Giovanni Silvio de Mathio by circle of Titian, ca. 1529, Louvre Museum.
Portrait of Sigismund Augustus as a boy by circle of Titian, ca. 1532, Uffizi Gallery.
Portraits of Sigismund I the Old and Bona Sforza by Titian
In 1808 Lucien Bonaparte (1775-1840), younger brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, acquired the "Portrait of the Duchess Sforza" along with 26 other paintings from the Riccardi collection in Florence. This painting was sold in London on May 1816. Also the inventory of the collection in Palazzo Medici-Riccardi in Florence from the end of the 17th century lists the painting as Titian in the quarta stanza (fourth room) and as Ritratto d'una Duchessa Sforza (Portrait of a Duchess Sforza, Carte Riccardi, Archivio di Stato, Florence, fil. 267, c. 256 r.). The 15th century Palazzo Medici-Riccardi remained the principal residence of the Medici family until 1540 when Cosimo I moved his principal residence to the Palazzo Vecchio.
The woman is dressed in a fashionable, damask, fur-lined gown and green cap, called a balzo embroidered with gold, typical for the 1530s fashion in Italy. She wears the heavy gold paternoster girdle and a long string of pearls, which were very costly.
This cannot be Christina of Denmark, who in 1534 at the age of 12 became Duchess of Milan as a wife Francesco II Sforza, as her face features do not match the painting by Titian, the sitter is older and Christina was not a Sforza. The sitter's face is very similar to other known effigies of Bona Sforza, Queen of Poland, Grand Duchess of Lithuania and also Duchess of Bari and Rossano by her own right, Duchess Sforza.
A portrait of an old man in a dark tunic by Titian in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna has identical dimensions as portrait of Duchess Sforza - 88 x 75 cm (34.6 x 29.5 in) / 88.9 x 75.5 cm (35 x 29.7 in) and similar composition, just as later portraits of Sigismund II Augustus and his third wife Catherine of Austria. Both are painted on canvas.
The man holds his left hand on a band of the coat, showing two rings that certify the high social status. The portrait was in the collection of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria in Brussels and was included in the Theatrum pictorium (Theatre of Painting), a catalog of 243 Italian paintings in the Archduke's collection, under number 57, one number after portrait of Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski by Bernardino Licinio (56). Both portraits entered therefore the Archduke's collection at the same time.
David Teniers the Younger copied the portrait in the 1650s. This miniature, painted on panel, is in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The sitter's face is very similar to other known effigies of King Sigismund I the Old from the 1530s.
Portrait of King Sigismund I the Old by Titian, 1532-1538, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Portrait of Queen Bona Sforza by Titian, 1532-1538, Private collection.
Portrait of King Sigismund I the Old by David Teniers the Younger after Titian, 1650s, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Portrait of King Sigismund I the Old from the Theatrum Pictorium (57) by Jan van Troyen after Titian, 1660, Princely Court Library Waldeck.
Portraits of Diana di Cordona by Bernardino Licinio and Lucas Cranach the Elder
The portrait of an Italian lady in crimson robe by Bernardino Licinio was first recorded in the inventory of Dresden collection in 1722. It is highly probable, that just as other paintings from the royal collection it was taken from Warsaw in 1720 by Augustus II the Strong. It shows a woman in her thirties wearing an elaborate costume of a noble. Her bonnet is embroidered with gold thread and adorned with flowers of gold and enamel or precious stones. The pattern on the bonnet is very much like a gentian, called Diana (Gentiana Diana), which owes its name to Roman goddess of the hunt, the wilderness, childbirth and the Moon. Diana was also one of the goddesses of night, therefore dark blue was her color. The pattern with some violet flowers and three main plants is also very similar to flowering cardoon (cardo in Italian and Spanish), exactly as in the coat of arms of the Sicilian noble family of Spanish-Catalan origin, Cardona. The motif is threfore a reference to sitter's name Diana de Cardona, better known under Italianized version of her name Diana di Cordona.
The portrait is signed and dated (M.DXXXIII / B. LYCINII. P) on the niche behind the figure and in an underlying layer of paint (P [or B]. LICINI. F [or P] / MDXXX [?]), both partly obliterated.
In 1533 Sigismund I ordered his banker, Seweryn Boner, to order in Bruges for himself and his wife Bona 60 tapestries with the coats of arms of Poland, Milan and Lithuania, 26 pieces without coats of arms and 6 very expensive "figural" tapestries. It is highly possible that around that time some paintings and portraits were also commissioned.
Also in the same year Queen Bona wanted to change her hereditary Rossano principality into the estate of Pietro Antonio Sanseverino, Prince of Bisignano. As a daughter of Gian Galeazzo Sforza, Duke of Milan her Italian inheritance was very important to Bona. After an accident in 1527 she could not have more children, so she put all her faith in her only son, Sigismund Augustus, who rechaed legal age of 14 years old in 1534, for continuation of the dynasty. To facilitate his entry into adulthood, she agreed or possibly even arranged his affair with her lady-in-waiting Diana di Cordona, who was just five years younger than Bona (born in 1494).
Raised by Countess Ribaldi in Rome, Diana had an abundant life and allegedly infected Sigismund Augustus with syphilis. When the young king married in 1543, she most probably left for her native Sicily.
The same woman as in the Dresden portrait by Licinio was also depicted in the painting from the same pariod by Lucas Cranach the Elder in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid. It was acquired in Berlin in 1918 from the collection of the painter Wilhelm Trübner. It's earlier history is unknown. It is possible that it was taken from Poland during the Deluge - "the elector [of Brandenburg] himself took to Prussia as a spoil, the most valuable paintings and silverware of the royal table", wrote Wawrzyniec Jan Rudawski about the looting of royal residencies in Warsaw in 1656.
The painting shows Diana the Huntress as the nymph of the Sacred Spring, whose posture recalls Giorgione's and Titian's Venuses, a clear inspiration by Venetian painting. The inscription in Latin, which reads: FONTIS NYMPHA SACRI SOM: / NVM NE RVMPE QVIESCO (I am the Nymph of the Sacred Spring: Do not disturb my sleep. I am resting.), indicate that the client who ordered the painting was not speaking German, therefore could be either Queen Bona or Diana herself.
Egeria, the nymph of a sacred spring, celebrated at sacred groves close to Rome, was a form of Diana. In the grove at Nemi, near Rome there was a spring, sacred to Diana. She was believed to bless men and women with offspring and to assist mothers in childbirth. Two partridges in the painting is a symbol of sexual desire as according to Aelian (Claudius Aelianus) partridges have no control over it (after Steven D. Smith's "Man and Animal in Severan Rome: The Literary Imagination of Claudius Aelianus", p. 183).
Portrait of Diana di Cordona, mistress of king Sigismund Augustus by Bernardino Licinio, 1530s, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden.
Diana di Cordona, mistress of king Sigismund Augustus as Diana the Huntress-Egeria by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1530s, Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum in Madrid.
Portraits of Sigismund Augustus and Sigismund the Old by Christoph Amberger
On 10-11 November 1530 a marriage treaty on behalf of ten-year-old king Sigismund II Augustus and his four-year-old cousin Elizabeth of Austria (1526-1545), eldest daughter of Anna Jagellonica, Queen of Bohemia and Hungary, was signed in Poznań. On this occasion Elizabeth's father Ferdinand I, commissioned a series of portraits of his daughter and her three-year-old brother Maximilian from his court painter Jacob Seisenegger (Mauritshuis, Bayerisches Nationalmuseum). Everybody in Europe should know who will be the future Queen of Poland and Grand Duchess of Lithuania and who will be the future King of Bohemia and Hungary, despite the fact that the crowns of these countries were elective. Around 1533, when Sigismund Augustus was approaching the legal age of marriage (14), and his mother Bona wanted to break off the engagement or postpone the marriage, he most probably ordered an armour for the young king of Poland, created by Jörg Seusenhofer (Wawel Royal Castle). Its breastplate and sleeves proudly display the monogram formed by interweaving capital letters "E" and "S" (Elisabetha et Sigismundus). In 1537 Seisenegger created another portrait of eleven-year-old Archduchess Elizabeth and of her brother Maximilian.
The king of Poland undeniably received a portrait of his fiancée, and she received his portrait. The portrait attributed to Christoph Amberger in the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna was acquired in the 18th century by Joseph Wenzel I, Prince of Liechtenstein. It shows a young man in a costume and hairstyle from the 1530s, similar to that visible in portraits of Archduke Maximilian by Seisenegger, bronze medal with a bust of Sigismund Augustus by Giovanni Maria Mosca, created in 1532, and anonymous print from 1569 after original effigy from about 1540. The collar of his shirt is embroidered with gold thread with depiction of the dextrarum iunctio (hand in hand), highly popular in Roman art. In the Roman world marriage was considered a dextrarum iunctio, a joining of hands and "the right hand was sacred to Fides, the deity of fidelity. The clasping of the right hand was a solemn gesture of mutual fidelity and loyalty" (after Stephen D. Ricks "Dexiosis and Dextrarum Iunctio: The Sacred Handclasp in the Classical and Early Christian World", 2006, p. 432). It was a popular motif in engagement rings. Some gold rings with this symbol preserved in Poland (Wawel - third quarter of the 16th century, Konin - 1604).
Face features of the young man bears strong resemblance to other portraits of Sigismund Augustus, especially his portrait by Jan van Calcar in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
"He is of medium height, gaunt, with black hair and a stringy beard, dark - complexioned and and does not seem to be very strong, but rather feeble, and therefore he could not stand great hardships and exertion and often suffers from podagra. [...] In his youth he liked to dress richly, he wore Hungarian and Italian robes of various colors, today he always wears a long robe and does not use any other color except black", described the aging king few years before his death the Papal Nuncio Giulio Ruggieri in 1568. Being involved in many affairs and holding a large number of mistresses, historians agree that the king contracted the "Italian disease", as the French called syphilis.
Two years earlier, in 1565, another Ruggieri, Flavio from Bologna, reported about Polish women that "adding charms by artificial means or dyeing their hair is a great disgrace to them". Sigismund's mother Bona Sforza was described as a lovely bright blonde with black eyelashes and eyebrows. Her court as Duchess of Bari and Rossano by her own right was on the other hand full of peoples of dark complexion and of Mediterranean descent. The word for a woman in Old Polish is białogłowa, literally meaning "white head", which most probably refers to fair hair of young women (after Łukasz Gołębiowski's "Lud polski, jego zwyczaje, zabobony", published in 1830, p. 112) or a white cap.
It is possible that later in his life Sigismund was darkening his hair to look more masculine and less "feeble", while his mother and sisters were lightening the hair to look more like a "white head", his hair darkened with age, he inherited a hair anomaly from his mother, painters used cheaper dark pigments to create copies, portraits and sitters' appearance was intentionally adapted to recipients - more northern look and costume for northern Princes, more southern look and costume for southern Princes, as a part of diplomacy, or painters received just a general drawing with sitter's appearance and adjusted the details (eye and hair color) to how they imagined the sitter.
Christoph Amberger, primarily a portrait painter, was active in Augsburg, a Free Imperial City. A portrait of Emperor Charles V, brother of Ferdinand I, from 1532 in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin is attributed to Amberger. In Poland there is a portrait of an old man from Leon Piniński's collection, also attributed to Amberger, which was bequeathed in 1931 to the Wawel Royal Castle in Kraków. Before World War II in the royal Wilanów Palace in Warsaw, there was another portrait attributed to Amberger. It was identified as effigy of Charles the Bold (1433-1477), Duke of Burgundy due to some resemblance to his portraits and the collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece, that was established in 1430 by his father Philip the Good. The man's costume however does not match the fashion of the second half of the 15th century, it is more similar to that visible in portrait by Amberger in the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna, described above. Both men are also similar.
On March 7, 1519 in Barcelona, at the Chapter of the Order of the Golden Fleece, Emperor Charles V, granted Sigismund I the order along with the king of Denmark Christian II. The face features of a man from Wilanów portrait resemble greatly other effigies of king Sigismund I identifed by me, Marcin Latka, e.g. portrait by Titian in Vienna and effigy by Joos van Cleve in Berlin.
Portrait of king Sigismund II Augustus by Christoph Amberger, ca. 1534, Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna.
Portrait of king Sigismund I the Old by Christoph Amberger, 1530s, Wilanów Palace in Warsaw, lost during World War II.
Portraits of Sigismund I the Old by Jan van Calcar
The portrait of an old man in a fur coat by Jan van Calcar from private collection is very similar to the effigies of king Sigismund I the Old published in Marcin Kromer's "De origine et rebus gestis Polonorum" from 1555 and Marcin Bielski's "Chronicle of Poland" from 1597. It bears a mysterious and ambiguous inscription in Latin: ANNO SALVTIS 1534 27 / ANNA AETATIS VERO MEAE / 40 (year of salvation 1534 27 / in the actual year of my age / 40) which, however, fit perfectly the events in Sigismund's life around the year of 1534. That year Sigismund was celebrating 27th anniversary of his coronation (24 January 1507) and his wife Bona Sforza her 40th birthday (2 February 1494), so the portrait could be a gift from her to please 67 years old Sigismund.
The portrait of a 70 years old man (inscription ANNO ATAT. SVAE * LXX * on the base of the column) with a dog attributed to Venetian school, stylistically is very similar to the previous one. Also the depicted man is undeniably the same, just much older, or more realistic. The difference in details, like eye color might be beacuse the portraits were not taken from nature or the one with darker eyes is a copy of some other effigy. Hedwig Jagiellon, Sigismund's eldest daughter, has bright eyes in her portrait by Hans Krell from about 1537 and dark in other. The compostion is close to known portraits by Calcar, who entered Titian's Venetian studio in 1536.
The king's particular liking for little doggies is confirmed by sources. When he was over thirty years old and staying at the Hungarian court of his brother in Buda from 3 October 1498 until the end of 1501, together with his courtiers, armed post, servants and his then life companion, Katarzyna Telniczanka, his favorite animal was a lap dog called Whitey (Bielik). The dog was the subject of his special care and he liked him so much that Whitey accompanied the prince during his stays in the bathhouse, and was even washed with soaps bought especially for him.
Portrait of king Sigismund I the Old in a fur coat by Jan van Calcar, 1534, Private collection.
Portrait of king Sigismund I the Old aged 70 with his dog by Jan van Calcar, 1537, Private collection.
King Sigismund I, his wife and his four daughters as Hercules and Omphale by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder
Sigismund I the Old was frequently compared to the mythological hero Hercules, it was a standard during renaissance. In 1537 the king was celebrating 20th anniversary of his coronation (24 January 1507) and 70th anniversary of his birth (1 January 1467).
The composition of a painting from the Mielżyński collection, now in the National Museum in Poznań, astonishingly match the composition of the Jagiellon family around 1537. It is a workshop copy, most probably a copy of a copy, hence resemblance might be not so evident. Cranach workshop was famous for its "mass production" of quality paintings. The study for a portrait, a drawing with all details of the sitter's costume meticulously described, was prepared by some court painter or a Cranach's pupil sent to the patron. Just as in case of preparatory drawings to portraits of Margaret of Pomerania (1518-1569) and Anna of Brunswick-Lüneburg (1502-1568), Duchess of Pomerania, relatives of Sigismund through his sister Anna Jagiellon, Duchess of Pomerania (1476-1503), such drawings were sent from Poland to facilitate the work on commission.
In this courtly scene showing Hercules, who was sold to the court of Queen Omphale where he had to remain as a slave for three years, we could distinguish the 70 years old king Sigismund (1467-1548), his 43 years old second wife Bona Sforza (1494-1557), and his four daughters: 18 years old Isabella (1519-1559), 15 years old Sophia (1522-1575), 14 years old Anna (1523-1596) and 11 years old Catherine (1526-1583).
King Sigismund I, his wife and his four daughters as Hercules and Omphale by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1537, National Museum in Poznań.
Portraits of Bona Sforza by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder
In a letter of 29 June 1538 in response to accusations that his second wife Bona appropriated the robes of his first wife Barbara Zapolya, the king Sigismund I testified that the Queen arrived to Poland with so many garments, clothes and ornaments that it would be enough for a few queens.
The Queen's passion for fabrics revived crafts and trade. Under her patronage, attempts were made to establish Italian-style silk weaving mills, as evidenced by entries in the accounts of the royal court (after Ksawery Piwocki's "Tkanina polska", 1959, p. 14). In December 1527 Federico II Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua sent a large shipment of costly materials, including gold cloth, silk and satin fabrics commissioned by Bona, to her Venetian agent Gian Giacomo de Dugnano. Trade took Venetian merchants all over the Mediterranean and as far as China, a fact that affected not only the city's economic prosperity but its cultural identity, making 15th century Venice one of the most culturally diverse cities in Europe (after Carol M. Richardson's "Locating Renaissance Art", 2007, p. 211). So was "Guanyin look" of Bona and her step-daughter in some paintings by Cranach inspired by Chinese art?
Bona's taste for German garments and embroideries is confirmed by employment at her court of German embroiderers. Jan Holfelder from Nuremberg became her court embroiderer in about 1525 and Sebald Linck from Nuremberg or Silesia was mentioned in the accounts in the years 1537-1579.
Portrait of Bona Sforza d'Aragona (1494-1557), Queen of Poland by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1530s, Villa del Poggio Imperiale.
Portrait of Bona Sforza d'Aragona (1494-1557), Queen of Poland holding a flower by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1530s, Arp Museum Rolandseck.
Portraits of daughters of Bona Sforza by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder
Around the year of 1537 three of four daughters of Sigismund I and Bona Sforza reached puberty age (twelve for brides) and their marriage become a principal concern for the queen.
All three, Isabella, Sophia, Anna, apart from the youngest 11 years old Catherine, were depicted with their hair covered with a snood in the painting from the Mielżyński collection showing the daughters and the wife of Sigismund I in 1537.
The portraits of three unkown ladies from the late 1530s, created by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, surprisingly fit the Mielżyński painting and effigies of daughters of Bona by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Younger from the 1550s. They were probably part of a series of copies commissioned to be sent to relatives and potential suitors.
The garments are more German in style, however Italian influences with low-cut bodices are visible. In 1537 the royal tailor was Francesco Nardocci (Nardozzi) from Naples. Also the fabrics are Italian, Venetian sumptuous silk satins and velvets. During the Prussian Homage in 1525 the royal family was dressed in clothes made of rich Venetian fabrics acquired by Jan Boner in Venice (Acta Tomiciana, vol. IV).
Before the advent of cheaper Mexican cochineal in the 1540s, Polish cochineal (Porphyrophora polonica) from which the natural dye carmine is derived, colloquially known as "Saint John's blood", and widely traded in Europe during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, was utilized in Venice to dye fabrics. Polish merchants were present in Venice since at least 1348 and the first permanent dipomatic agent of Poland-Lithuania in Venice between 1535-1543 was Lodovico Alifio, head of the chancellery of queen Bona.
The royal embroiderer Sebald Linck from Nuremberg, active at the court from 1537, also worked for the Princesses, like in 1545 when he redo the collars offered by Primate Piotr Gamrat to Sophia, Anna and Catherine and embroidered their dresses with pearls.
The painting featuring Herodias in the Speed Art Museum in Louisville is similar to portrait of princess Sophia Jagiellon. Also her face features match perfectly her portraits in Spanish costume. The inscription identifying the sitter as mother of Salome was most probably added in the 17th or 18th century. The portrait, originally displaying also the decapitated head of John the Baptist, was cut later and lower part was sold separately.
A radiograph of the portrait in the Winnipeg Art Gallery, depicting Anna, reveals that her right arm originally featured a decapitated head on an oval platter. The composition was altered during its production. All of Bona's daughters were therefore to be depicted in the popular guise of the legendary biblical and mythological femmes fatales such as Salome, Judith, Delilah or Lucretia. The painting by Lucas Cranach the Younger in the Güstrow Palace (Staatliches Museum Schwerin), very similar to the Winnipeg portrait, shows Anna Jagiellon as Judith with the Head of Holofernes.
Portrait of Crown Princess of Poland-Lithuania Isabella Jagiellon (1519-1559) by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1537, Private collection.
Portrait of Crown Princess of Poland-Lithuania Sophia Jagiellon (1522-1575) by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1537, Private collection.
Portrait of Crown Princess of Poland-Lithuania Sophia Jagiellon (1522-1575) as Herodias by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, after 1537, Speed Art Museum in Louisville.
Portrait of Crown Princess of Poland-Lithuania Anna Jagiellon (1523-1596) by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1537, Winnipeg Art Gallery.
Portrait of Anna Jagiellon (1523-1596) as Judith with the Head of Holofernes by Lucas Cranach the Younger, after 1537, Güstrow Palace.
Portraits of Isabella Jagiellon by Lucas Cranach the Elder and workshop
The plan to wed Isabella Jagiellon, the eldest daughter of Sigismund I the Old and his second wife Bona Sforza, to John Zapolya, Voivode of Transylvania and King of Hungary emerged around 1531.
A portrait of a young woman by Lucas Cranach the Elder from the National Gallery of Denmark, bears a great resemblance to other effigies of Isabella. It can be therefore dated to about 1532, as the medal with Princess' bust by Giovanni Maria Mosca.
A woman in an image of Venus in the Hallwyl Museum is Stockholm also bears a strong resemblance to effigies of Isabella Jagiellon. The woman has even the same necklace as that visible in Isabella's portrait in a green dress by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder (Private collection). The painting was therefore part of her dowry which she took with her to Hungary and brought back to Poland, when she returned in September 1551.
The painting was originally part of the larger composition depicting Venus and Cupid, similar to the portrait of Isabella's stepsister Hedwig Jagiellon, daughter of Barbara Zapolya, in Gemäldegalerie in Berlin. It was most probably cut by more prudish subsequent owners.
Before acquisition in 1915, the painting was in the Edsberg Castle north of Stockholm, which was once owned by Gabriel Oxenstierna (1619-1673), highly valued by the Brigand of Europe, as he was called by Stefan Czarniecki, king Charles X Gustav of Sweden.
Isabella died just three years after her return to Transylvania on 15 September 1559, at the age of 40, allegedly as a result of a poorly performed abortion, a child of her lover Stanisław Nieżowski.
Portrait of Crown Princess of Poland-Lithuania Isabella Jagiellon (1519-1559) by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1532, Statens Museum for Kunst.
Portrait of Crown Princess of Poland-Lithuania Isabella Jagiellon (1519-1559) as Venus by Lucas Cranach the Elder and workshop, ca. 1537, Hallwyl Museum is Stockholm.
Allegorical portrait of Bona Sforza as Lucretia by workshop Lucas Cranach the Elder
"Bona loved power and did not like to share it with anyone, not even her own son - as evidenced by her reluctance to handing over Lithuania to him. For this reason, even earlier, in 1538, she prevented the functioning of the institution of four resident senators alongside Sigismund Augustus, created during the Diet of that year" (after Maria Bogucka's "Bona Sforza", 1989, p. 224).
The 1537 anti-royalist and anti-absolutist rebellion (rokosz) of the Polish nobility, ridiculed by the nickname of the Chicken War, criticized the role of queen Bona, whom they accused for the "bad upbringing" of young Sigismund Augustus, centralizing policies and seeking to increase her power in the state. As a result the 1538 Diet declared elections vivente rege, that Bona forced, illegal in the Polish kingdom and insisted that all estates had the right to be present at such events in the future.
That same year it was also agreed that the only son of Bona will marry archduchess Elizabeth of Austria (1526-1545), which Bona "a great enemy of the king of Rome" Ferdinand I, her father, strongly oposed.
So does she commissioned a painting to express her dissatisfaction?
The painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder, dated 1538, from the old collection of the Royal Wilanów Palace in Warsaw (recorded in 1743) can be considered as such. It shows Lucretia, a noblewoman in ancient Rome, whose suicide led to the political rebellion against the established power.
Allegorical portrait of Bona Sforza as Lucretia by workshop Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1538, Wilanów Palace in Warsaw.
Portrait of king Sigismund I by circle of Lucas Cranach the Elder
In 1538 Sigismund I and his second wife Bona Sforza were celebrating 20 years of their fruitful marriage which produced a heir to the throne and four daughters, one of which was about to become the Queen of Hungary and large festivities were held at the Wawel Castle.
The portrait of a man in the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1538, date top center: MDXXXVII(I), is very similar to the effigy of King Sigismund I from Aleksander Gwagnin's "Sarmatiae Europae descriptio", published in Kraków in 1578 and other portraits of the king.
Christian II of Denmark (in the Museum der bildenden Künste) and Elector Frederick III of Saxony (in the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia) are depiced in very similar black caps with earflaps, costumes and beards in their portraits by Cranach and his workshop from the 1520s. Therefore the painting could be a copy of a portrait from the 1520s.
The initals on a signet ring displaying a coat of arms are illisible and unidentifiable as of today, however they are very similar to these visible on signet seal of Sigismund I with monogram SDS (Sigillum Domini Sigimundi) in the State Archives in Gdańsk and in Poznań.
Finally the age of the sitter (?) on the painting is also illisible and identifed as xlv, so could it be XX, as 20th anniversary or LXXI, as age of Sigismund in 1538 and commissioned by the king or his wife on this occasion as one from a series commemorating it? "If the present work had a female pendant, which is quite possible, the orange as a symbol of fertility would have been especially appropriate" (after The Met Catalogue Entry).
Portrait of king Sigismund I by circle of Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1538, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Portraits of Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski by Lucas Cranach the Elder and Bernardino Licinio
Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski was born on 20 September 1503 in Wolbórz in central Poland. He studied in Kraków between 1517 and 1519. He was ordained a vicar in about 1522 and worked in the office of Jan Łaski the Elder, Primate of Poland.
At the turn of 1531/32 he went to Germany, probably on the mission entrusted to him by Łaski, and he enrolled in the University of Wittenberg. The letter of recommendation from Łaski enabled him to live in Philip Melanchthon's house. Acquaintance with the prince of German humanists turned into friendship over time and he also met Martin Luther and other Protestant reformers. The leading painter in the city, who also held the office of mayor, was Lucas Cranach the Elder.
Frycz was a diplomatic agent and he often traveled between Wittenberg and Nuremberg and to Poland. He probably left Wittenberg in mid-1535, when a great plague broke out in the city. In November 1536 Modrzewski was sent by Jan Łaski to Basel to take over Erasmus of Rotterdam's great library, purchased by Łaski during the lifetime of the great humanist. Then he went briefly to Paris, Nuremberg, Strasbourg and Kraków and at the beginning of February 1537 he was in Schmalkalden as an observer on a congress of Protestant princes.
On May 1, 1537 he took part in the talks in Leipzig on dogmatic issues with Jan Łaski the Younger and Melanchthon and after the conference he stayed longer in Nuremberg to learn German. At the beginning of 1538, he was at the fairs in Frankfurt am Main. Most probably through Wittenberg, he returned to Poland. Later, in 1547 he became a secretary of king Sigismund II Augustus.
During his studies and travels in Germany he undeniably dressed as other students and Protestant reformers, however as a nobleman of Jastrzębiec coat of arms and hereditary mayor of Wolbórz, he could allow himself a more extravagant attire, like Cardinal Albert of Brandenburg.
A portrait of a man who was 35 in 1538 (ANNODO: M.D.XXXVIII / AETATI SVAEXXXV / 1538) from private collection, can be therefore considered as effigy of Frycz Modrzewski. From the 18th century to before 1918 it was in the Benedictine Abbey in Lambach, near Linz in Austria. Its prior history is unknown.
In October 1567 Queen Catherine of Austria, third wife of Sigismund Augustus, settled in the castle in nearby Linz with her servants and all the goods she has accumulated during her 14-year stay in Poland. Although Catholic, the Queen was known for generally favorable views on Protestantism. Andrzej Dudycz (András Dudith de Horahovicza), bishop of Knin in Croatia and Imperial envoy who agitated for her stay in Poland, soon after his arrival to Poland in 1565 joined the Protestant church of Polish Brethren and married a Polish woman.
The Queen studied the Bible and other theological works and supported nearby monasteries. She died childless in Linz on 28 February 1572 and donated most of her property to charity.
The same man was depicted in a portrait of a man with beret in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, painted in style of Bernardino Licinio. It is dated similarly as the painting by Cranach: 1538 + NATVS +ANNOS + 35 +. The portrait was in the collection of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria in Brussels and was included in the Theatrum pictorium (Theatre of Painting), a catalog of 243 Italian paintings in the Archduke's collection, under number 56.
Portrait of Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski (1503-1572), called "the Father of Polish democratic thought", aged 35 by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1538, Private collection.
Portrait of Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski (1503-1572), called "the Father of Polish democratic thought", aged 35 by Bernardino Licinio, 1538, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Portrait of Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski (1503-1572), called "the Father of Polish democratic thought" from the Theatrum Pictorium (56) by Lucas Vorsterman II after Bernardino Licinio, 1660, Princely Court Library Waldeck.
Portrait of Princess Isabella Jagiellon nude (Venus of Urbino) by Titian
Who would not like to marry a goddess? A beautiful, educated and wealthy daughter of a king? But she had an important flaw, she was from a distant country with elective monarchy, where parliament decided everything. Her husband will have no right to the crown, his children would need to stand in election, he woud have no title, he could even not be sure that her family will stay in power. She was finally not a niece of an Emperor, hence she cannot bring valuable connections and prestige. This was a hudge disadvantage to all hereditary princes of Europe. This was the case of Isabella Jagiellon, the eldest daughter of Sigismund I and Bona Sforza. She was born in Kraków on 18 January 1519 and named after her grandmother, Isabella of Aragon, Duchess of Milan and Duchess of Bari.
Together with her brother, Isabella received a good education, including from humanist Johannes Honter, and she could speak four languages: Polish, Latin, German, and Italian. Her mother willing to reclaim the inheritance of Isabella of Aragon pursued a French and an Italian marriage for her daughter. She hoped that King of France would install his son Henry and Isabella in the Duchy of Milan. Isabella, being the eldest granddaughter of the rightful Duke of Milan after her mother, would strengthen the French claims to the Duchy. These plans were abandoned after Battle of Pavia on February 25, 1525. Then Isabella's grandmother wanted to marry her granddaughter for one of her late husband's cousins Francesco II Sforza, Duke of Milan, however Sigismund I opposed as Francesco's hold of the title was tenuous. In 1530 Bona proposed Federico Gonzaga, a son of her friend Isabella d'Este, and sent her envoy Giovanni Valentino (de Valentinis) to Mantua. Bona's daughter was 11 and the potential groom 30 years old. Federico, however, who was made Duke of Mantua by Emperor, pushed for marriage with Maria Paleologa and after her death with her sister Margaret Paleologa, as she brought March of Montferrat as her inheritance and claimes to the title of Emperor of Constantinople. Then Valentino corresponded (25 November 1534) about Isabella's marriage with Ercole II d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, the eldest son of Alfonso I d'Este and Lucrezia Borgia, another friend of Bona. In 1535 Habsburgs proposed Ludovico, eldest son of Charles III, Duke of Savoy. The marriage was negotiated by Bona's secretary, Ludovico Monti and the envoy of King Ferdinand of Austria, Baron Herberstein, but Ludovico died in 1536.
Between 1527-1529 and 1533-1536 Isabella lived in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In his texts entitled De Europa written in the 1440s Enea Silvio Bartolomeo Piccolomini, future Pope Pius II, reported about women in Lithuania, that: "Married noble ladies have lovers in public, with the permission of husbands, whom they call assistants of marriage" (Matronc nobiles, publice concubinos habent, permittentibus viris, quos matrimonii adiutores vocant). These assistants, whose number depended on the position and financial situation of the husband, who were fed at his expense, replaced him by old custom in his marital duties if he had neglected them due to illness, prolonged absence or any other cause. The husbands were not allowed to have lovers and marriages were easy to dissolve by mutual consent (Solvuntur tamen facile matrimonia, mutuo consensu). Such habits terrified all male readers throughout Europe.
On November 12, 1537 Mikołaj Nipszyc wrote to Albert, Duke of Prussia about "the secret women's practice, which you could get over with, if the princess Isabella was rendered a good favor in this way". He was probably referring to marriage of Isabella with elected King of Hungary, John Zapolya, secretly planned by Bona. But he could also refer to a painting.
Everything in Titian's painting known as Venus of Urbino emphasize the qualities of a bride depicted. She is beatiful, young, healthy and fertile. She is loyal and faithful and a sleeping dog symbolize devotion, faithfulness and fidelity. She is loving and passionate and red roses in her hand symbolize this. She is also wealthy, her servants are searching the coffers of her dowry for a suitable dress. Sumptuous wall hangings are undeniably allso part of her dowry and a pot of myrtle, used in marriage ceremonies, suggest that she is available for marriage. Her face resemble greatly other effigies of Isabella Jagiellon.
The painting is identifiable with certainty at the Villa del Poggio Imperiale in 1654-1655. In Villa del Poggio Imperiale, there is a portrait of Isabella's mother by Lucas Cranach from the same period and in Poland preserved one of the oldest copies of Venus of Urbino (Museum of Art in Łódź).
Similar pose is visible in monument to Barbara Tarnowska née Tęczyńska (d. 1521) by Giovanni Maria Padovano in the Tarnów Cathedral from about 1536 and monument to Urszula Leżeńska by Jan Michałowicz of Urzędów in the Church in Brzeziny, created between 1563-1568.
Portrait of Princess Isabella Jagiellon (1519-1559) nude (Venus of Urbino) by Titian, 1534-1538, Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
Portrait of Princess Isabella Jagiellon (1519-1559) nude (Venus of Urbino) by follower of Titian, after 1534, Museum of Art in Łódź.
Portraits of Isabella Jagiellon by follower of Titian
In a letter of 31 August 1538, Bona Sforza, Isabella's mother says about two portraits of her daughter Isabella, one in half and second full lenth by a court painter of Jan Dantyszek, prince-bishop of Warmia, possibly a painter from a German school of painting. However it cannot be excluded that Dantyszek, a diplomat in service of Sigismund I, who frequently travelled to Venice and Italy, had at his court a painter from Titian's workshop. In the letter Bona also complain that the features of her daughter in the portrait are not very accurate, it it highly probable that she commissioned a better effigy in Titian's workshop herself.
On 15 January 1539, five hundred Hungarian knights arrived to Kraków. The marriage contract with the dowry of 32,000 ducats in cash plus property worth another 6,000 ducats was probably signed between 28 January and 2 February. After the ceremony, Isabella departed towards Hungary.
The features in the portrait by circle of Titian are identical with known effigies of Isabella. The portrait of a lady holding a zibellino from the Contini Bonacossi collection, as portraits of Sigismund II Augustus and his third wife by Tintoretto, and attributed to school of Agnolo Bronzino is very similar to the later portrait of Isabella by circle of Titian. However, at first sight, the resemblance is not so apparent, so was it the painting mentioned by Bona in her letter or a copy of it sent to the Medicis?
The portrait which was before 1853 in the Hungarian National Museum, known from a lithograph and identified as an effigy of Mary of Anjou (1371-1395), Queen of Hungary, pictured a woman in almost identical costume, sitting in the 16th century Savonarola chair and holding a fan. It was most probably an original portrait of Isabella by Titian, commissioned by her mother.
Portrait of Isabella Jagiellon (1519-1559), Queen of Hungary with her dog by follower of Titian, 1538-1540, Private collection.
Portrait of Isabella Jagiellon (1519-1559), Queen of Hungary holding a zibellino by Italian painter, 1538-1540, Samek Art Museum.
Portrait of Isabella Jagiellon (1519-1559) holding a fan, 1853 lithograph after lost original by Titian or workshop from about 1539, Private collection.
Portrait of Isabella Jagiellon (1519-1559) holding a fan, 18th century after lost original by Titian or workshop from about 1539, Private collection.
Portrait of royal courtier Jan Krzysztoporski by Bernardino Licinio
The interpretation of classical architecture by Venetian architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580), known as Palladianism, revived by early 18th century British architects, become the dominant architectural style until the end of the century. The work of the architect and his effigies become highly demanded goods.
That is why an owner of a portrait of an unkown nobleman by Bernardino Licinio, possibly a painter, decided to turn it into a portrait of the famous architect. He added an inscription in Latin (ANDREAS. PALADIO. A.) and a set-square and a compass in sitter's right hand to make his "forgery" even more probable. The portrait, today in Kensington Palace, was acquired in 1762 by king George III from Joseph Smith, British Consul in Venice.
Wooden attributes of a simple architect contrast sharply with opulent costume of the sitter, crimson doublet of Venetian silk, gold rings with precious stones and a coat lined with expensive Eastern fur. Also the man depicted is more Eastern type than an Italian. Such expensive, usually metal instrument, as compass is clearly exposed in the portraits of architects by Lorenzo Lotto, while in Licinio's portrait is barely visible. The little finger is a proof that the attributes were added later, as its appearance is anatomically impossible to hold a set-square and a compass.
According to original inscription (ANNOR. XXIII. M.DXLI) the sitter was 23 in 1541, exactly as Jan Krzysztoporski (1518-1585), a nobleman of Nowina coat of arms from central Poland.
Between 1537-1539 he studied in Lutheran Wittenberg, under the direction of Philip Melanchthon, recommended to him by "the father of Polish democracy" Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski. Then he went for further studies to Padua (entred as loannes Christophorinus), where on May 4, 1540, he was elected a counselor of the Polish nation. In January 1541, he welcomed in Treviso, close to Venice, the Chancellor Jan Ocieski (1501-1563) on his way to Rome. After returning to Poland, he was admitted to the royal court on 2 July 1545 and in 1551 he was made the royal secretary. He was an envoy of king Sigismund Augustus to Pope Julius III in 1551, to Joachim II Hector, Elector of Brandenburg in 1552 and to Isabella Jagiellon, Queen of Hungary in 1553.
As a follower of Calvinism, he founded a congregation of this religion in his estate in Bogdanów, near Piotrków Trybunalski. He also had a large library in his brick fortified manor in Wola Krzysztoporska, which he built, destroyed during subsequent wars.
Portrait of royal courtier Jan Krzysztoporski (1518-1585) by Bernardino Licinio, 1541, Kensington Palace.
Portrait of Barbara Radziwill, Elizabeth of Austria and Sigismund Augustus as Flora, Juno and Jupiter by Paris Bordone
Ovid in Fasti V relates the story of Juno, queen of the gods, who annoyed with her husband Jupiter for producing Minerva from his own head by the stroke of Vulcan's axe, complained to Flora, goddess of fertility and blossoming plants. Flora, gave her secretly a flower, by only touching which women immediately became mothers. It was by this means that Juno gave birth to the god Mars. The Renaissance represented Flora under two aspects, Flora Primavera, embodiment of genuine marital love, and Flora Meretrix, prostitute and courtesan whom Hercules won for a night in a wager.
Because Hercules' mother was mortal, Jupiter put him to the breast of his wife, knowing that Hercules would acquire immortality through her milk and according to the myth the droplets of milk crystallized to form the Milky Way. As Juno Lucina (Juno the light-bringer) she watched over pregnancy, childbirth, and mothers and as Juno Regina (Juno the Queen) she was the patron goddess of Rome and the Roman Empire.
In the painting by Paris Bordone in the Hermitage Museum, Flora receives flowers and herbs from Cupid, the god of desire and erotic love and son of Mars and Venus. Cupid is also crowning the head of Juno with a wreath. The queen of the gods is taking the herbs from the hand of Flora, hoping she was unnoticed by her husband Jupiter Dolichenus, the "oriental" king of the gods holding an axe, who stands behind her.
The message of the painting is clear, thanks to the mistress the queen is fertile. The protagonists are therfore "oriental" king Sigismund Augustus as Jupiter, his first wife queen Elizabeth of Austria, daughter of King of the Romans as Juno, and Sigismund Augustus' mistress Barbara Radziwill as Flora.
Portrait of Barbara Radziwill, Elizabeth of Austria and Sigismund Augustus as Flora, Juno and Jupiter by Paris Bordone, 1543-1551, The State Hermitage Museum.
Portrait of Barbara Radziwill in a blue dress, known as La Bella by Titian
In May 1543 22-year-old king Sigismund Augustus married his 16-year-old cousin Elizabeth of Austria. During the entry into Kraków for her coronation, the lords and knights of the Kingdom were dressed in all sorts of costumes including Italian, French and Venetian. The young Queen died just two years later failing to produce an heir to the throne. Sigismund Augustus commissioned for her a magnificent marble tomb monument from Paduan sculptor trainded in Venice, Giovanni Maria Mosca called Padovano. The king was hoping that his mistress, Barbara Radziwill, whom he intended to marry, would give him a child.
Portrait of a lady in a blue dress by Titian, known as La Bella is very similar to effigies of Barbara Radziwill, especially her portrait in Washington. The gold buckles on her dress in the form of decorative bows, although painted less diligently, are almost identical. Her garments are epitome of the 16th century luxury - a dress of Venetian velvet dyed with costly indigo blue, embroidered with gold thread and lined with sables, of which Poland-Lithuania was one of the leading exporters at that time. She holds her thick gold chain and pointing at weasel pelt, a zibellino, also known as flea-fur or fur tippet, on her hand, a popular accessory for brides as a talisman for fertility.
Contemporary bestiaries indicate that the female weasel conceived through the ear and gave birth through the mouth. "This 'miraculous' method of conception was thought to parallel the Annunciation of Christ, who was conceived when God's angel whispered into the ear of the Virgin Mary" (after "Sexy weasels in Renaissance art" by Chelsea Nichols). Inclusion of the zibellino represents the hope that the woman would be blessed with good fertility and bore many healthy children to her husband. This symbolism excludes the possibility that the portrait represents a Venetian courtesan ("woman wearing the blue dress"), secretly painted by Titian for Francesco Maria I della Rovere, Duke of Urbino, who was already married and had three daughters and two sons, in about 1535.
As early as 1545 Pope Paul III wanted to marry his granddaughter Vittoria Farnese to widowed Sigismund Augustus, whom however wed in secret his mistress sometime between 1545 and 1547 (according to some sources they were married since 25 November 1545). Vittoria finally married on 29 June 1547, Guidobaldo II della Rovere, Duke of Urbino (son of Francesco Maria), who at this time was in the service of the Republic of Venice. It is highly probable that the Duke or Vittoria received a portrait of the royal mistress, which was later transferred to Florence.
A copy of the portrait by Titan's workshop, most probably by Lambert Sustris, painted with cheaper pigments without highly expensive ultramarine, is a proof that as in case of portraits of Empress Isabella of Portugal the sitter was not in the painter's atelier and the portrait was one of a series. There were also mistakes and inadequacies, her gold buckles were repleaced with simple red ribbons. Comparison with portraits of Empress Isabella confirms that Titian loved proportions and classical beauty. Just by making the eyes slightly bigger and more visible and harmonizing their features, he achieved what his clients expected of him, to be beautiful in their portraits, close to the gods from their Greek and Roman statues, it was renaissance.
The miniature by unknown miniaturist Krause, probably an amateur, from the late 18th or early 19th century in the Royal Castle in Warsaw, indicate that a version of the painting was also in Poland, possibly in the collection of king Stanislaus Augustus Poniatowski.
From 1545 the young king Sigismund Augustus spared no money for his mistress. Jewish and Florentine merchants Abraham Czech, Symon Lippi and Kasper Gucci (or Guzzi) were delivering to the royal court enormous quantities of expensive fabrics and furs. Between 1544-1546, the young king emloyed many new jewelers at his court in Kraków and Vilnius, like Antonio Gatti from Venice, Vincenzo Palumbo (Vincentius Palumba), Bartolo Battista, Italian Christophorus, Giovanni Evangelista from Florence, Hannus (Hans) Gunthe, German Erazm Prettner and Hannus Czigan, Franciszek and Stanisław Merlicz, Stanisław Wojt - Gostyński, Marcin Sibenburg from Transilvania, etc. Not to mention Giovanni Jacopo Caraglio, who in about 1550 created a cameo with Barbara's divinely beautiful profile. In just one year, 1545, the king bought as many as 15 gold rings with precious stones from Vilnius and Kraków goldsmiths.
According to sources Barbara was a beauty, hence the title in Italian, La Bella, is fully deserved. "The composition of her body and face made her so beautiful that people out of jealousy disparaged her innocence", she was "gloriously wonderful, like a second Helen [Helen of Troy]" as was written in a panegyric, she had white alabaster skin, "sweet eyes, gentleness of speech, slowness of movements".
Portrait of Barbara Radziwill in a blue dress, known as La Bella by Titian, 1545-1547, Pitti Palace in Florence.
Portrait of Barbara Radziwill, known as La Bella by workshop of Titian, most probably by Lambert Sustris, 1545-1547, Private collection.
Portrait of Barbara Radziwill in French costume
On 15 June 1545 died Elizabeth of Austria, first wife of Sigismund II Augustus, who continued his affair with his mistress Barbara Radziwill, whom he met in 1543. Already in September 1546 rumors were circulating in Kraków that Sigismund was going to marry "a private woman of the worst opinion". To prevent this and to strengthen the pro-Turkish alliance (the eldest daughter of Bona, Isabella Jagiellon, was established by Sultan Suleiman as a regent of Hungary on behalf of her infant son), it was decided to marry Sigismund to Anna d'Este (1531-1607), daughter of the Duke of Ferrara and related to the French ruling house.
The miniature of a lady in Italian costume, said to be Bona Sforza d'Aragona from the 1540s, which was in the Czartoryski collection, cannot depict Bona as the woman is much younger and features are different, it is very similar though to effigies of Barbara Radziwill. The features of this lady, on the other hand, are very similar to these visible in a portrait of a lady holding a chalice and a book in the National Museum in Warsaw, once in the collection of art dealer Victor Modrzewski in Amsterdam, therefore most probably originating from some magnate collection in Poland.
The latter painting is attributed to circle of Master of the Female Half-Lengths, a Flemish or French court master painter who frequently depicted ladies in guise of their patron saints and who also worked for other European courts (e.g. portrait of Isabella of Portugal in Lisbon). The woman is dressed according to French fashion, very similar to the outfit in the portrait of Catherine de' Medici, Queen of France from about 1547 in the Uffizi (Inv. 1890: inv. 2448). She is holding a prayer book and a chalice, an attribute of Saint Barbara, who was considered to provide protection against sudden and violent death (the scene on the chalice shows a man killing other man) and patron saint of pregnant women (together with Saint Margaret of Antioch).
Both paintings are most probably workshop copies from a larger commission of state portraits, but the resemblance is still visible.
Portrait of Barbara Radziwill in French costume by circle of Master of the Female Half-Lengths, ca. 1546-1547, National Museum in Warsaw.
Miniature of Barbara Radziwill by circle of Jan van Calcar, ca. 1546-1547, Czartoryski Museum (?), published in Aleksander Przeździecki's "Jagiellonki polskie" (1868).
Miniature of Bona Sforza d'Aragona by Jan van Calcar, ca. 1546, Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
Portraits of pregnant Barbara Radziwill
In a letter of 26 November 1547, Stanisław Andrejewicz Dowojno (d. 1566) reported to king Sigismund Augustus about miscarriage of Barbara Radziwill, whom he wed secretly sometime in 1547. Having a large number of mistresses before, during and after being married, the king remained childless. At some time the parliament was willing to legitimize and acknowledge as his successor any male heir who might be born to him.
The portrait of a lady with a servant by Jan van Calcar from the collection of Prince Leon Sapieha, sold in 1904 in Paris, was said to depict pregnant Barbara Radziwill (possibly lost during World War II). It shows a woman in red dress in Italian style with emerald pendant on her chest accompanied by a midwife. The bill of a royal embroiderer, who charged the treasury for "a robe of red velvet" that he embroidered in 1549 for Queen Barbara with pearls and gold thread for 100 florins, confirms that similar dresses were in her possesion.
The portrait by Calcar is very similar in comosition to the portrait known as effigy of Sidonia von Borcke (Sidonia the Sorceress) (1548-1620) and attributed to workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder. This portrait was before World War II in the Von Borcke Palace in Starogard (destroyed), owned by a wealthy Pomeranian family of Slavic origin, along the effigy of Sophia Jagiellon (1522-1575) and her husband. The sitter costume is in German style and similar to costume of Sigismund Augustus' relative Anna of Brunswick-Lüneburg (1502-1568) (as a wife of Barnim XI of Pomerania) from about 1545 or a portrait of Agnes von Hayn from 1543, both by Cranach or his workshop, hence it cannot be Sidonia, who was born in 1548.
The woman in the painting is holding a chalice, an allusion to her patron, Saint Barbara, as in a triptych by Cranach from 1506 in Dresden (the hand is almost identical). Both paintings, by Calcar and by workshop of Cranach, were undoubtedly then a part of Jagiellonian propaganda to legitimize the royal mistress as the Queen of Poland.
Portrait of pregnant Barbara Radziwill with a midwife by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1546-1547, Von Borcke Palace in Starogard, most probably destroyed during World War II.
Portrait of pregnant Barbara Radziwill with a midwife by Jan van Calcar or circle, 1546-1547, collection of Prince Leon Sapieha, sold in 1904 in Paris, possibly lost during World War II.
Portrait of Barbara Radziwill by Moretto da Brescia or Jan van Calcar
The portrait of unkown lady in white by Moretto da Brescia, a painter from the Republic of Venice who may have apprenticed with Titian, can be compared with a portrait by Jan Stephan van Calcar, a pupil of Titian, from the Sapieha collection in Paris. The latter painting, most probably lost during World War II, was said to depict pregnant second wife of Sigismund Augustus, Barbara Radziwill. Both face features as well as costume style and details are very much alike. The sitter's dress in Moretto's painting is also very similar to that visible in a miniature of a lady with a pearl necklace, wich can be identified as effigy of Bona Sforza d'Aragona, Queen of Poland, from the second half of the 1540s.
The bill of a royal embroiderer of Sigismund Augustus, who charged the treasury for "a robe of white tabinet" that he embroidered in 1549 for Queen Barbara "with a wide row of goldcloth and green velvet" for 15 florins, confirms that similar dresses were in her possesion. The Queen's taylor was an Italian Francesco, who was admitted to her service in Vilnius on 2 May 1548 with annual salary of gr. 30 fl. 30. In May 1543 during entry to Kraków for coronation of Elizabeth of Austria, the lords and knights of the Kingdom were dressed in all sorts of costumes, including Italian, French and Spanish, while the young king Sigismund Augustus was dressed in German style, probably as a courtesy for Elizabeth. The inventory of dowry of Sigismund Augustus' sister Catherine Jagiellon from 1562 includes 13 French and Spanish robes.
Portrait of Barbara Radziwill (1520/23-1551) in white by Moretto da Brescia or Jan van Calcar, ca. 1546-1548, National Gallery of Art, Washington.
Portraits of Sigismund II Augustus by Jan van Calcar or Moretto da Brescia
Sometime in 1547, in spite of his mother's disapproval and nobility's animosity, Sigismund Augustus, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania secretly wed his mistress Barbara Radziwill, a Lithuanian noblewoman whom he met in 1543.
The portrait attributed to Jan van Calcar shows a young man (Sigismund Augustus was 26 in 1546) against ancient buildings similar to a reconstruction of the Mausoleum of Emperor Augustus in Rome published in 1575 (the king born on 1 August was named after the first Roman Emperor Gaius Octavius Augustus) and the king's castrum doloris in Rome in 1572 or obelisk visible in the portrait of royal jeweller Giovanni Jacopo Caraglio from about 1553.
The presumed author Jan van Calcar, a pupil of Titian in Venice, moved to Naples in about 1543, where he died before 1550. Sigismund's mother Bona Sforza was a granddaughter of Alfonso II, King of Naples and from 1524 she was a Duchess of nearby Bari and Rossano.
According to the accounts of Sigismund Augustus by a courtier Stanisław Wlossek from 1545 to 1548, the king had "robes lined with lynx, short Italian", robes of black velvet and stockings of "black ermestno silk", black suede shoes, etc. The register of his clothes from 1572 includes Italian, German and Persian robes valued at 5351 zlotys.
The portrait could be a pendant to a portrait of Barbara Radziwill in similar dimensions attributed to Moretto da Brescia, which could also be attributed to Calcar, just as previously the portrait of the man described here was attributed to Moretto da Brescia, and inversely.
The man is holding in his right hand a red carnation flower, a symbol of passion, love, affection and betrothal.
The same sitter is also depicted in the portrait in Vienna, signed by Calcar (. eapolis f. / Stephanus / Calcarius), and in the painting attributed to Francesco Salviati, who stayed for a brief time in Venice, in the Mint Museum.
Portrait of Sigismund II Augustus (1520-1572) by Jan van Calcar or Moretto da Brescia, ca. 1546-1548, Private collection.
Portrait of Sigismund II Augustus (1520-1572) with gloves by Jan van Calcar, 1540s, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Portrait of Sigismund II Augustus (1520-1572) with gloves, attributed to Francesco Salviati, 1540s, Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte.
Portraits of Barbara Radziwill and Sigismund Augustus by circle of Titian
In the 18th century, with the growing popularity of the story of Mary, Queen of Scots, the portrait of an unknown lady, so-called Carleton Portrait in Chatsworth House, was identified as her effigy due to great similarity with a print by Hieronymus Cock from about 1556 and history of the Chatsworth House. Numerous prints and copies of this portrait were made. Today, however, researchers reject this identification.
The style of the painting is close to the circle of Titian and Venetian portrait painting as well as composition with a chair (Savonarola chair), a window and rich fabrics, Venetian velvet and gold cloth. The costume however, a mixture of French, Italian, Spanish and German patterns from the 1540s is not typical for Venice. Also the sitter is not a typical, a bit plump "Venetian beauty".
In 1572 the royal embroiderer charged the royal treasury for dresses he embroidered for Queen Barbara in 1549 including one, the most expensive, for which he charged 100 florins: "I embroidered a robe of red velvet, bodice, sleeves and three rows at the bottom with pearls and gold". Similar puffed sleeves at the shoulders are visible in portraits of Barbara by Moretto da Brescia (Washington), Jan van Calcar (Paris, lost) and by circle of Lucas Cranach the Younger (Kraków).
In February 1548 a long battle begun to recognize Barbara as Sigismund Augustus' wife and crown her as Queen of Poland. Almost since her wedding in 1547 Barbara's health began to decline. Sigismund Augustus personally tended to his sick wife. He also possibly seek a help from the only possible ally - Edward VI of England, a boy king, who like Sigismund was crowned at the age of 10 and a son of Henry VIII, who broke with the Catholic Church to marry his mistress Anne Boleyn. In 1545 to cure his first wife Elizabeth of Austria from epilepsy, Sigismund wanted to obtain a coronation ring of the English king, that supposedly was to be an effective antidote.
In 1549 arrived to London Jan Łaski (John à Lasco), a Polish Calvinist reformer, secretary of king Sigismund I and a friend of the Radziwlls (Barbara's brother converted to Calvinism in 1564) to became Superintendent of the Strangers' Church. He undoubtedly mediate with the king of England in personal affairs of Sigismund Augustus and possilby brought to England a portrait of his wife.
The octagonal tower in the portrait is very similar to the main landmark of the 16th century Vilnius, the medieval Cathedral Bell Tower, rebuilt in Renaissance style during the reign of Sigismund Augustus after 1544 (and later due to fires and invasions) and close to Barbara's residence, Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania.
The woman is holding two roses, white and red - "white roses became symbols of purity, red roses of redeeming blood, and both colors, together with the green of their leaves, also represented the three cardinal virtues faith, hope, and love" (after Colum Hourihane's "The Routledge Companion to Medieval Iconography", 2016, p. 459).
The portrait of a man sitting by a window with "a Northern town beyond" is very similar to other effigies of Sigismund Augustus, while the landscape behind him is almost identical with that visible in the Carleton portrait. It is almost like if the king was sitting in the same chair in the room at the Vilnius Castle beside his beloved wife.
The portrait of a general by Titian in Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Kassel is identifed by Iryna Lavrovskaya as the effigy of influential cousin of Barbara Radziwill, Nicholas "The Black" Radziwill (Heritage, N. 2, 1993. pp. 82-84).
Portrait of Barbara Radziwill (1520/23-1551) by circle of Titian, ca. 1549, Chatsworth House.
Portrait of Sigismund II Augustus (1520-1572) by circle of Titian, ca. 1547-1549, Private collection.
Portrait of Nicholas "The Black" Radziwill (1515-1565) by Titian, 1550-1552, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Kassel.
Portraits of Barbara Radziwill by Flemish painters
The effigy, previously identified as Anne de Pisseleu, Duchesse d'Etampes (modern scholars today reject this identification), is very similar in facial features and costume style to the Carleton Portrait at Chatsworth and to the portrait of Barbara Radziwill by Moretto da Brescia in Washington. It is known only through 19th century copies, as original from about 1550 (or 1549) from the French royal collection, most probably by a Flemish painter, is considered to be lost.
Anne de Pisseleu, was a chief mistress of Francis I, king of France and a staunch Calvinist, who counseled Francis on toleration for Huguenots. Even after her deposition, following Francis' death in March 1547, she was one of the most influential and wealthy Protestants in France. It cannot be excluded, that Sigismund Augustus and the Radziwills approached her with their cause - coronation of Barbara as a queen and her recognition internationally, and that the copy of effigy of Barbara offered to her was after the French Revolution mistaken for her portrait.
Around the year of 1548 or 1549, Sigismund Augustus commissioned in the Spanish Netherlands (Flanders) the first set of new tapestries for his residences (known as Jagiellonian tapestries or Wawel Arrasses). It is highly probable that as earlier his father in 1536, he also ordered some paintings there.
Also the details of sitter's garments find its confirmation in the bill of the royal embroiderer who charged the royal treasury for garments he embroidered for Queen Barbara in 1549: "I embroidered a red velvet beret with pearls; I earned from it fl. 6".
The portrait of a lady in Spanish-like costume, said to be Anne Boleyn from the Musée Condé and created in about 1550, is astonishingly similar to the series of portraits of Sigismund Augustus' eldest unmarried sister at that time, Sophia Jagiellon. It's almost like a pendant to Sophia's portrait, the costume is very similar and the portraits were undoubtedly created in the same workshop. It's largely idealized, like some portraits of Margaret of Parma after original by Antonio Moro, nevertheless the resemblance to Barbara's appearance is strong. Through his mother, Bona Sforza d'Aragona, Barbara's husband had claims to Kingdom of Naples and Duchy of Milan, both part of the Spanish Empire.
Likewise the previous portrait, black robes are also included in the same bill of the royal embroiderer for 1549: "a robe of black teletta, I embroidered a bodice and sleeves with pearls; I earned from this robe fl. 40." or "I embroidered a robe of black velvet, two pearl rows at the bottom; I earned from it fl. 60."
The portrait of a mysterious lady from the Picker Art Gallery in Hamilton was undobtedly painted by some Netherlandish master and is very close to a bit caricatural style of Joos van Cleve and his son Cornelis (e.g. portraits of Henry VIII of England). The woman however wears an Italian costume from the 1540s, similar to portrait of a lady with a book of music from the Getty Center. The jewel on her necklace has also adequate symbolic meaning, ruby is a symbol of both royalty and love, sapphire a symbol of purity and the Kingdom of God and a pearl was a symbol of fidelity.
Aprat from resemblance to other portraits of Barbara, whose husband was very fond of Italian fashion, and her taylor was an Italian, this is another indicator that this is also her portrait.
Portrait of Barbara Radziwill in a pearl beret, 1849 engraving after lost original by Flemish painter from about 1549, Private collection.
Portrait of Barbara Radziwill in a pearl beret, 19th century after lost original by Flemish painter from about 1549, Victoria and Albert Museum.
Portrait of Barbara Radziwill in Spanish costume by Flemish painter, ca. 1550, Musée Condé.
Portrait of Barbara Radziwill in Italian costume by Flemish painter, possibly Cornelis van Cleve, 1545-1550, Picker Art Gallery in Hamilton.
Portrait of Queen Bona Sforza by Lucas Cranach the Younger
Portrait of an old woman by Lucas Cranach the Younger from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston bears strong similarity with contemporary effigies of Bona Sforza, Queen of Poland. The Queen started to wear her distinctive outfit of a widowed elder lady in about 1548, after death of Sigismund I.
As for eye color and features the comparison with portraits of Emperor Charles V, her portraits by Bernardino Licinio and her daughter, proofs that different workshops differently interprated royal effigies and as natural ultramarine (deep blue color) was an expensive pigment in the 16th century, cheaper pigments were used to make a copy (eye color).
In a letter of 31 August 1538, Bona Sforza says about two portraits of her daughter Isabella, and complain that her features in the portrait that she has are not very accurate.
Portrait of Queen Bona Sforza by Lucas Cranach the Younger, 1549, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Portrait of Sigismund Augustus with a construction of a bridge in Warsaw by Tintoretto
"Sigismund Augustus built a wooden bridge over the Vistula River, 1150 feet long, which was almost unmatched in terms of both length and magnificence in the whole of Europe, causing universal admiration", states Georg Braun, in his work Theatri praecipuarum totius mundi urbium (Review of major cities around the world) published in Cologne in 1617.
In 1549, to facilitate communication with Grand Duchy of Lithuania, where Barbara resided, Sigismund Augustus decided to finance the construction of a permanent bridge in Warsaw. In 1549 he bought from Stanisław Jeżowski, a land writer from Warsaw, the hereditary privilege of transport across the Vistula River, giving him in return "two villages, a mill and a half of a second mill, 40 forest voloks and 200 florins."
The portrait of a man with a "Northern landscape" beyond showing a construction of a wooden bridge in The National Gallery of Art in Washington, created by Jacopo Tintoretto, is very similar to other effigies of Sigismund Augustus. It was purchased in 1839 in Bologna by William Buchanan.
The city of Bologna was famous for its university, architects and engineers, like Giacomo da Vignola (1507-1573), who began his career as an architect there and where in 1548 he built three locks or Sebastiano Serlio (1475-1554), an outstanding architect and theoretician of architecture, born in Bologna. In 1547 Queen Bona, wanted to involve Serlio, married to her lady-in-waiting Francesca Palladia, at her court. Since Serlio had already a position in France, he offered Bona his students. In a letter to Ercole d'Este, Bona asked for a builder who could build anything and in 1549 the Queen settled in Warsaw.
From 1548 the court physician of the king was Piotr from Poznań, who received his doctorate in Bologna and in 1549, a Spaniard educated in Bologna, Pedro Ruiz de Moros (Piotr Roizjusz), became a courtier of Sigismund Augustus and a court legal advisor (iuris consultus), thanks to recommendation of his colleague from the studies in Bologna, royal secretary Marcin Kromer.
From 4 June to 24 September 1547, master carpenter Maciej, called Mathias Molendinator, with his helpers, led the construction of a wooden bridge on brick supports covered with a shingle roof, which led through Vilnia River in Vilnius from the royal palace to the royal stables.
It is uncertain if the construction was actually started in 1549 or the portrait was only one of a series of materials intended for propaganda purposes, confirming the creativity and innovation of the Jagiellonian state. It is possible that due to the problems to find a suitable engeneer to help with the costruction of the largest bridge of the 16th century Europe, that the project was postponed. Only after 19 years, on 25 June 1568, ten years after the start of the regular Polish post (Kraków - Venice), the tapping of the first pile was initiated. The bridge was opened to public on 5 April 1573, a few months after the death of its founder, accomplished by his sister Anna Jagiellon, who also built the Bridge Tower in 1582 to protect the construction.
The 500 meters long bridge was the first permanent crossing over the Vistula River in Warsaw, the longest wooden crossing in Europe at that time and a technical novelty. It was made of oak wood and iron and equipped with a suspension system. The bridge was costructed by "Erasmus Cziotko, fabrikator pontis Varszoviensis" (Erazm z Zakroczymia), who according to some researchers was an Italian and his real name was Giotto, a surname carried by a family of Florentine builders.
Portrait of Sigismund Augustus with a construction of a bridge in Warsaw by Tintoretto, ca. 1549, National Gallery of Art, Washington.
Portrait of Sigismund Augustus by Tintoretto or workshop, 1540s, Private collection.
Portraits of Sigismund Augustus in armour and in a black hat by Tintoretto
In the beginnig of 1549 Barbara Radziwill arrived from Vilnius via royal Radom (September 1548) to Nowy Korczyn near Kraków for her coronation and ceremonial entry into the city as the new queen. Eight times a year, large grain fairs were held in the city of Nowy Korczyn. The grain purchased there was floated down the Vistula to Gdańsk in large barges, similar to galleys, as visible in the View of Warsaw from about 1625. The lords of the Kingdom arrived to greet Barbara in Korczyn and on 12 February 1549 she embarked on a journey to the capital.
The river journey from or to Korczyn would be the easiest, however the sources does not confirm it. The accounts from 1535 inform nevertheless about boats owned by Sigismund I and his son Sigismund Augustus. The statue on the ship, visible in the painting, is clearly Saint Chrisopher a patron saint of travelers, hence it is not likely a battleship.
The effigy is in Vienna and Austrian Habsburgs were Sigismund Augustus' relatives through Anna Jagellonica, two of his wives were her daughters and portraits were often commissioned to be sent to distant relatives.
The portrait which could be dated to 1550, although idealized, bears a resemblance to other effigies of the king by Tintoretto and has an inscription ANOR XXX (year 30) on the base of the column. Sigismund Augustus reached his 30th year of age on 1 August 1550 and his beloved wife was crowned on 7 December 1550.
Finally his mother was described as a lovely light blonde, "when (oddly enough) her eyelashes and eyebrows are completely black", so was the anomaly in hair color inherited from her?
The same sitter was also depicted wearing a black hat in a portrait from private collection by Tintoretto and a workshop copy of it in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rouen.
Portrait of Sigismund II Augustus (1520-1572) with a royal galley by Tintoretto, ca. 1550, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Portrait of Sigismund II Augustus (1520-1572) in armour by circle of Tintoretto, ca. 1550, Private collection.
Portrait of Sigismund Augustus in a black hat by Tintoretto, 1545-1550, Private collection.
Sigismund Augustus and Barbara Radziwill as Jupiter and Io by Paris Bordone
In Ovid's "Metamorphoses" Jupiter, King of the Gods noticed Io, a mortal woman and a priestess of his wife Juno, Queen of the Gods. He lusted after her and seduced her. The painting by Paris Bordone in Gothenburg shows the moment when the god discovers that his jealous wife is approaching and he raises his green cloak to hide his mistress. The myth fits perfectly the story of romance of Sigismund Augustus and his mistress Barbara Radziwill, a Lithuanian noblewoman whom he met in 1543, when he was married to Elizabeth of Austria (1526-1545), and whom he secretly married despite the disapproval of his mother, the powerful Queen Bona.
According to Vasari, Bordone created two versions of the composition. One for Cardinal Jean de Lorraine (1498-1550) in 1538, when he went to the court of Francis I of France at Fontainebleau, and the other "Jupiter and a nymph" for the King of Poland. Researchers pointed out that stylistically the canvas should be dated to the 1550s, therefore it cannot be the painting created for Cardinal de Lorraine.
The painting was allegedly brought to Sweden by Louis Masreliez (1748-1810), a French painter, hence it cannot be excluded that it was taken to France by John Casimir Vasa, great-grandson of Bona, after his abdiction in 1668, that Masreliez acquired in Italy a copy of painting prepared for the Polish king, possibly a modello or a ricordo, or that it was captured by the Swedish army during the Deluge (1655-1660) and purchased by Masreliez in Sweden.
The effigy of Io is not so "statuesque" as other effigies of the goddesses by Bordone, could be a courtesan, but could also be the royal mistress and can be compared with effigies of Barbara, while Jupiter with these of Sigismund Augustus. The painting should be then considered as a part of Jagiellonian propaganda to legitimize the royal mistress as the Queen of Poland.
Sigismund Augustus and Barbara Radziwill as Jupiter and Io by Paris Bordone, 1550s, Gothenburg Museum of Art.
Sigismund Augustus in guise of Christ as The Light of the World by Paris Bordone
The particluar taste of queen Bona for paintings in guise of the Virgin Mary and her son as Jesus, biblical figures and saints is confirmed by her effigies by Francesco Bissolo and Lucas Cranach. Such portraits were popular throughout Europe since the Middle Ages.
Examples include the effigy of Agnès Sorel, mistress of King Charles VII of France, as Madonna Lactans by Jean Fouquet from the 1450s, Giulia Farnese, mistress of Pope Alexander VI as the Virgin Mary ("la signora Giulia Farnese nel volto d'una Nostra Donna" according to Vasari) and his daughter Lucrezia Borgia as Saint Catherine by Pinturicchio from the 1490s, Mary of Burgundy in the guise of Mary Magdalene created in about 1500, Francis I of France as Saint John the Baptist by Jean Clouet from about 1518, Catherine of Austria, Queen of Portugal as Saint Catherine by Domingo Carvalho from about 1530, Albrecht Dürer's self-portraits as the Saviour or Leonardo's Salvator Mundi, possibly a self-portrait or effigies of his lover Salaì as Saint John the Baptist and numerous other.
Marble tondos decorating Sigismund's Chapel at the Wawel Cathedral, created by Bartolommeo Berrecci between 1519-1533 as a funerary chapel for the last members of the Jagiellonian Dynasty, shows king Sigismund I the Old as biblical king Solomon and king David (or his banker Jan Boner).
The print published in Nicolas Gueudeville's "Le grand theatre historique, ou nouvelle histoire universelle" in Leiden in 1703, after original drawing from 1548, depict king Sigismund I the Old on his deathbed giving a blessing to his sucessor Sigismund Augustus having long hair.
In February 1556, Bona departed Poland to her native Italy trough Venice with treasures she had accumulated over 38 years loaded on 12 wagons, drawn by six horses. She udoubtedly took with her some religious paintings, portraits of members of the royal family and of her beloved son Augustus. She settled in Bari near Naples, inherited from her mother, where she arrived on 13 May 1556.
Bona died just one year later on 19 November 1557, at the age of 63. She was poisoned by her courtier Gian Lorenzo Pappacoda, who falsified her last will and stole her treasures.
The paining showing Christ as The Light of the World in the the National Gallery in London (a copy in the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo) bears a strong resemblance to known effigies of Sigismund Augustus. It was given to the National Gallery in 1901 by the heirs of the surgeon, who in turn was offered the painting by a member of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, formed when the Kingdom of Sicily merged with the Kingdom of Naples in 1816, in thanks for his kindness to a Sicilian lady in 1819.
According to museum description "paintings of this type were kept in houses, especially in bedrooms", so has Bona had it at her deathbed in Bari?
Sigismund Augustus in guise of Christ as The Light of the World by Paris Bordone, 1548-1550, National Gallery, London.
Portraits of Sophia Jagiellon in Spanish costume
Daughters of Bona Sforza d'Aragona, Queen of Poland, Grand Duchess of Lithuania and Duchess of Bari and Rossano by her own right were descendants of Alfonso V, King of Aragon, Sicily and Naples.
The portrait of a blond lady in Spanish costume from the 1550s which exists in a number of copies, although idealized, bears a strong resemblance to the portrait of Sophia in French/German costume in Kassel by circle of Titian and her miniature in German/Polish dress by Cranach.
At least two paintings are preserved in Poland (one in Kraków acquired by Izabela Czartoryska in Edinburgh as a portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots, the other in Warsaw from the Radziwill collection) and one of inferior quality, most probably lost during World War II, was traditionally identified as Sophia.
After marriage of Isabella Jagiellon in 1539, Sophia was the eldest daughter of Bona still unmarried. Three of Bona's younger daughters dressed identically, as evidenced by their miniatures by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Younger from about 1553 and inventory of dowry of the youngest Catherine includes many Spanish garments, like a black velvet coat with "53 Spanish buckles of 270 thalers worth", "buckles on (thirteen) French and Spanish robes", or "a robe of black velvet at the throat in Spanish style" with 198 buckles, etc. The fashion was udobtedly used in complex Jagiellonian politics and the portraits could be commissioned in the Spanish Netherlands and Italy.
A portrait from the private collection in Sweden, possibly taken from Poland-Lithuania during the Deluge (1655-1660), and created by the same workshop, showns Sophia in similar Spanish/French costume.
Portrait of Sophia Jagiellon (1522-1575) in Spanish costume by Flemish painter, 1550-1556, Czartoryski Museum in Kraków.
Portrait of Sophia Jagiellon (1522-1575) in Spanish/French costume by Flemish painter, 1550-1556, Private collection.
Portrait of Sophia Jagiellon by circle of Titian
The portrait of Sophia Jagiellon (1522-1575), Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneburg from the Von Borcke Palace in Starogard, which was lost during World War II, was most probably the only signed effigy showing her features the most accurately. It bears a strong resemblance to the features of a lady by a Venetian painter from the circle of Titian in Kassel.
The portrait in Kassel is tentatively identifed as effigy of Sophia's cousin Archduchess Eleanor of Austria (1534-1594), Duchess of Mantua (daughter of Anna Jagellonica, Queen of Germany, Bohemia, and Hungary), and a wife of Guglielmo Gonzaga, due to great similarity of garments and location, the Gonzagas of Mantua frequently commissioned their effigies in nearby Venice. However the face lacks an important feature, the notorious habsburg lip, allegedly stemming from Cymburgis of Masovia, a hallmark of prestige in the 16th century and inherited by Eleanor from her father, the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I. The sitter's costume and features are very similar to these visible in a miniature showing Sophia's mother Bona Sforza (in the Czartoryski Museum in Kraków), who visited Venice in 1556, the year of Sophia's marriage with the 66-year-old Duke Henry V of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. It is highly possible that the painting was commissioned in Venice by Sophia's brother, king Sigismund II Augustus or her mother.
In the same collection in Kassel, there are also two other portraits from the same period by Venetian painters, which are linked to Jagiellons, a portrait of Sophia's sister Anna Jagiellon (1523-1596) and a portrait of a general, which according to Iryna Lavrovskaya, could be an effigy of influential cousin of Barbara Radziwill (second wife of Sophia's brother), Nicholas "The Black" Radziwill (Heritage, N. 2, 1993. pp. 82-84).
Portrait of Sophia Jagiellon (1522-1575) in a black dress by circle of Titian, ca. 1553-1565, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Kassel.
Portrait of Sophia Jagiellon (1522-1575) in black dress by circle of Titian, most probably Lambert Sustris, ca. 1553-1565, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.
Portraits of Sigismund Augustus and his third wife by Tintoretto
After Sigismund I's marriage to Bona Sforza in 1518, the presence of Italian artists in Poland-Lithuania gradually increased.
In 1547 a painter Pietro Veneziano (Petrus Venetus), most probably in Kraków, created a painting to the main altar of the Wawel Cathedral. Ten years later, on March 10, 1557 in Vilnius, King Sigismund Augustus issues a passport to the Venetian painter Giovanni del Monte to go to Italy, and according to Vasari, Paris Bordone has "sent to the King of Poland a painting which was held very beautiful, in which was Jupiter and a nymph" (Mandò al Re di Polonia un quadro che fu tenuto cosa bellissima, nel quale era Giove con una ninfa). The latter also created an allegorical portrait of royal jeweller Giovanni Jacopo Caraglio, receiving medallion with king's effigy as a proof of his nobilitation and royal patronage of Sigismund Augustus.
Contacts with the Venetian milieu of Titian have very probably further intensified when in 1553 Sigismund Augustus married his cousin Catherine of Austria, widowed Duchess of Mantua as a wife of Francesco III Gonzaga.
Poland and Lithuania at that time were considered as one on the largest exporters of pelts of various animals: "the total number of hides exported from Poland in the second half of the 16th century amounted to about 150,000" (Acta Poloniae Historica, 1968, Volumes 18 - 20, p. 203). A companion to a portrait of Sigismund in a fur coat is a portrait of his third wife Catherine of Austria (1533-1572) with a globe and a compass, with similar dimensions (109 × 91 cm / 110 × 83 cm), now in Belgrade, both from Contini Bonacossi collection. Catherine's interest in cartography is confirmed by support to cartographer Stanisław Pachołowiecki, who was in her service between 1563-1566.
In 1565 Flavio Ruggieri described the king: "He is 45 years old, of fairly good height, mediocre, great sweetness of character, more inclined to peace than war, speaks Italian by the memory of his mother, he loves horses and he has more than three thousand of them in his stable, he likes jewels of which he has more than a million red zlotys worth, he dresses simply, although he has rich robes, namely furs of great value".
Portrait of king Sigismund II Augustus wearing a black fur trimmed coat by Tintoretto, 1550s, Private collection.
Portrait of king Sigismund II Augustus (1520-1572) by Tintoretto, 1550s, Private collection.
Portrait of king Sigismund II Augustus (1520-1572) in a fur coat by Tintoretto, ca. 1565, Uffizi Gallery.
Portrait of queen Catherine of Austria (1533-1572) with a globe and a compass by Tintoretto or Titian, ca. 1565, National Museum of Serbia in Belgrade.
Portaits of Sigismund Augustus, Catherine of Austria and court dwarf Estanislao by Venetian painters
In 1553 Sigismund II Augustus decided to marry for the third time with a widowed Duchess of Mantua and his cousin Catherine of Austria. The wedding celebrations lasted 10 days and Catherine brought as a dowry 100,000 florins as well as 500 grzywnas of silver, 48 expensive dresses, and about 800 jewels. Somewhat distant marriage continued for a few years and Catherine became close with two yet-unmarried sisters of Sigismund, Anna and Catherine Jagiellon.
The royal court travelled frequently from Kraków through Warsaw to Vilnius. In October 1558 the queen became seriously ill. Sigismund was convinced that it was epilepsy, the same disease that tormented his first wife and Catherine's sister. For this reason, the marriage has become even more distant and the king sought to obtain annulment. It was a matter of international importance, Catherine's father Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor ruled vast territories to the west and south of Poland-Lithuania and assisted Tsar Ivan the Terrible in expanding his empire on eastern border of Sigismund's realm, while Catherine's cousin King Philip II of Spain was the most powerful man in Europe, ruler of half the known world from whom Sigismund was claiming the inheritance of his mother Bona. The queen become attached to her new homeland and her family used their influence to not allow the divorce. The arch-Catholic king of Spain undeniably received portraits of the couple.
The portrait of a lady in a dress of green damask attributed to Titian from the Spanish royal collection is very similar to Catherine's portrait by the same painter in the Voigtsberg Castle and to her portrait in Belgrade. It is recorded in the inventory of the Buen Retiro Palace in Madrid of 1794 as a companion to a portrait of a soldier, now attributed to Giovanni Battista Moroni, a painter trained under Moretto da Brescia and Titian: "No. 383. Another [painting] by Titian: Portrait of a Madam: a yard and a quarter long and a yard wide, companion to 402. gilt frame" (Otra [pintura] de Tiziano: Retrato de una madama: de vara y quarta de largo y una de ancho, compañera del 402. marco dorado) and "No. 402. Another [painting] by Titian: half-length portrait of a man, a yard and a half high and a yard wide, with gilt frame" (Otra [pintura] de Tiziano: retrato de medio cuerpo de un hombre, de vara y media de alto y vara de ancho, con marco dorado). The effigy of "a soldier" bears great resemblance to portraits of the king and his costume is in similar style to that visible in a miniature by Cranach the Younger in the Czartoryski Museum.
Both paintings have similar dimensions (119 x 91 cm / 117 x 92 cm) and matching compostion, just as portraits of Pietro Maria Rossi, Count of San Secondo and his wife Camilla Gonzaga by Parmigianino in the same collection (Prado Museum), with the wife's portrait painted with "cheaper", simple dark background. The portraits of Sigismund and Catherine from Contini Bonacossi collection, although very similar, differ slightly in style, one is closer to Tintoretto, the other to Titian, therefore it cannot be excluded that just as in case of Sigismund's famous Flemish tapestries his large commission for a series of portraits was realized by different cooperating workshops from the Venetian Republic.
Sigismund Augustus reunited with his wife in October 1562 at the wedding of Catherine Jagiellon in Vilnius. The king's sisters and his wife dressed similarly and similar Venetian style dress to that visible in the portrait of queen Catherine is included in the inventory of Catherine Jagiellon's dowry: "Damask (4 pieces). A long green damask robe, on it the embroidery of gold cloth with red silk, wide at the bottom, covered with patterned green velvet, trimmed with gold lace on it with green silk. The bodice and sleeves along embroidered with the same embroidery."
Sigismund Augustus had his ambassadors in Spain, Wojciech Kryski, between 1559 and 1562 and Piotr Wolski in 1561. He sent letters to the king of Spain and to his secretary Gonzalo Pérez (like on 1 January 1561, Estado, leg. 650, f. 178). He also had his informal envoys in Spain, dwarves Domingo de Polonia el Mico, who appears in the house of Don Carlos between 1559 and 1565, and Estanislao (Stanisław, d. 1579), who was at the court of Philip II between 1553 and 1562, and whom Covarrubias cited as "smooth and well proportioned in all his limbs" and other sources described as a skillful, well educated and sensible person (after Carl Justi's "Velázquez y su siglo", p. 621). Estanislao is recorded back in Poland between 1563-1571. Apart from being a skilled huntsman he was also most probably a skilled diplomat, just as Jan Krasowski, called Domino, a Polish dwarf of Catherine de' Medici, Queen of France or Dorothea Ostrelska, also known as Dosieczka, female dwarf of Sigismund's sister Catherine Jagiellon, queen of Sweden.
In 1563 the king of Spain placed two portraits of Estanislao, one showing him in Polish costume of crimson damask, both by Titian, among the portraits of the royal family in his palace El Pardo in Madrid (included in the inventory of the palace of 1614 -1617, number 1060 and 1070). It is also very probable that the king of Poland had his portrait. The portrait of unknown dwarf in Kassel attributed to Anthonis Mor, although stylistically also close to Venetian school, seems to fit perfectly. In the same collection in Kassel there are also other portraits linked to Jagiellons. A pensive monkey in this painting is clearly more a symbol connected to deep knowledge and intelligence than joyfulness.
A drawing by Federico Zuccaro (Zuccari) in Cerralbo Museum in Madrid shows a monarch receiving an emissary with a cardinal and figures in Polish costumes. The effigy of the monarch is similar to portrait of King Sigismund II Augustus in coronation robes from the thesis of Gabriel Kilian Ligęza (1628) and other effigies of the king. In the National Gallery of Ireland, there is another drawing by Zuccaro, showing king's mother Bona Sforza. Between 1563 and 1565, the painter was active in Venice with the Grimani family of Santa Maria Formosa. It is highly probable that he was also employed on some large order from the king of Poland.
Portrait of king Sigismund Augustus in crimson costume by Giovanni Battista Moroni or circle of Titian, possibly Sofonisba Anguissola, ca. 1560, Prado Museum in Madrid.
Portrait of queen Catherine of Austria in a dress of green damask by Giovanni Battista Moroni or circle of Titian, possibly Sofonisba Anguissola, ca. 1560, Prado Museum in Madrid.
Portrait of court dwarf Estanislao (Stanisław, d. 1579) by Anthonis Mor or circle of Titian, ca. 1560, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Kassel.
Sigismund II Augustus receiving an emissary, with a cardinal and figures in Polish costumes by Federico Zuccaro, 1563-1565, Cerralbo Museum in Madrid.
Bona Sforza, Queen of Poland by Federico Zuccaro, 1563-1565, National Gallery of Ireland.
Portraits of Anna Jagiellon, Catherine Jagiellon and Catherine of Austria as Venus by Titian
In 1558 died Mary Tudor and Philip II of Spain, ruler of the half of the known world was widowed again. He decided to marry. The future wife should be fertile and bear him many healthy sons, as his only son Don Carlos was showings signs of mental instability. At the same time the contacts of the Polish court with Spain increased. It is possible that Sigismund Augustus proposed his two unmarried sisters Anna and Catherine and sent to Spain their portraits. The match with the king of Spain, apart from great prestige, would also allow Sigismund to claim the heritage of his mother and the Neapolitan sums.
In January 1558, the councilor of the king of Spain, Alonso Sánchez took possession of the goods of the late Queen of Poland Bona in the name of the Spanish Crown and sequestered everything that was in the castle in Bari. Wojciech Kryski was sent to Madrid to appeal to Philip II about Bona's inheritance. Instructions for Kryski (January 16, 1558) and a letter from Sigismund Augustus to Philip (April 17, 1558) were dated from Vilnius.
A letter of Pietro Aretino to Alessandro Pesenti of Verona, musician at the royal court, dated 17 July 1539, is the earliest witness to Giovanni Jacopo Caraglio's presence in Poland. Pesenti had been the organist to Cardinal Ippolito d'Este before becoming a royal musician at the Polish court on 20 August 1521. He was Bona's favourite organist and Caraglio created a medal with his profile on obverse and muscial instruments on reverse (Münzkabinett in Berlin).
There were also other eminent Italian muscicians in royal capella, like Giovanni Balli, known in Poland as Dziano or Dzianoballi, who in the 1560s was paid 25 florins quaterly and many others.
Among the lute players, the favourite of the king Sigismund II Augustus was Walenty Bakwark or Greff Bakffark (1515-1576), born in Transylvania who entered his service on 12 June 1549 in Kraków. He recieved many gifts from the king and his salary increased from 150 florins in 1558 to 175 florins in 1564. In 1559 he acquired a house in Vilnius and he travelled to Gdańsk, Augsburg, Lyon, Rome and Venice. From 1552 the court organist of the king was Marcin Andreopolita of Jędrzejów and Mikołaj of Chrzanów (d. 1562), an organist and composer.
Most probably before his arrival to Poland Caraglio created numerous erotic prints, including sets of Loves of the Gods, which also contain very explicit scenes. One depicting Venus and Cupid (Di Venere et amore) is signed by him (Rijksmuseum Amsterdam). In April 1552, he made a brief return trip to Italy.
On October 18, 1558 in Warsaw, Sigismund Augustus issued a privilege to Prospero Provano (or Prosper Provana, d. 1584), a Piedmontese merchant, to arrange permanent post Kraków - Venice via Vienna (Ordinatio postae Cracowia Venetias et super eandem generosus Prosper Provana praeficitur). The company was subsidized by the king and Prospero was paid 1,500 thalers a year by the royal treasury. The post was to transport luggage and people.
Two paintings by Titian from the Spanish royal collection and one from the Medici collection in Florence by workshop of Titian shows Venus, goddess of love. They were created at the same time and they are almost identical, the protagonists however are different. In Prado versions the musician is interrupted in the act of making music by the sight of a nude beauty. He directs his eyes to her womb. In Uffizi version a musician is replaced with a partridge, a symbol of sexual desire. As in Venus of Urbino, all alludes to the qualities of a bride and the purpose of the painting. A dog is a symbol of fidelity, donkeys refer to eternal love, a stag is the attribute of the huntress Diana, a virgin goddess and protector of childbirth and a peacock, sacred animal of Juno, queen of the gods, sitting on a fountain refer to fecundity. A statue of satyr on the fountain is a symbol of the sexuality and voluptuous love. A pair of embraced lovers are heading towards the setting sun.
Paintings from Gemäldegalerie in Berlin, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Fitzwilliam Museum are similar, but the women are married. The musician directs his eyes to breasts of the goddess, a symbol of maternity, or her head crowned with a wreath. Her womb is covered and in Berlin painting the goddess is departing (carriage in the background). The lanscape with stags and dancing satires in paintings of crowned Venus allude to fecundity.
Despite the divine beauty of two sisters of king of Poland, Anna and Catherine Jagiellon, Philip decided for more favorable match with neighbouring France and married Elizabeth of France, who was engaged with his son. The younger Catherine married Duke of Finland in 1562 and departed to Finland. The painting in Gemäldegalerie in Berlin was acquired in 1918 from private collection in Vienna and the painting in Fitzwilliam Museum was in the Imperial collection in Prague by 1621, therefore both were sent to Habsburgs.
The painting in the Metropolitan Museum of Art was described in great detail in a 1724 inventory of the Pio di Savoia collection in Rome. Cardinal Rodolfo Pio da Carpi, humanist and patron of the arts, was the favorite candidate of Philip II of Spain in the Conclave of 1559. Catherine of Austria, willing to save her marriage and give the heir to Sigismund Augustus, most probably sent her portait to Rome to get a blessing, just as her mother Anna Jagellonica in about 1531 (Borghese Gallery).
The effigy of Saint Catherine of Alexandria by Titian from about 1560 in the Prado Museum is very similar to other effigies of Queen Catherine and her portraits as Venus. The slashed wheel and the sword allude to the martyrdom of the saint and difficult marital situation of the Queen. Her royal status was appropriate for a foundation such as Royal Monastery of El Escorial (recorded as far as 1593). Despite her efforts she did not managed to save her marriage.
The painting of Venus in Berlin was acquired in 1918, the year when Poland regained its independance after 123 years, eliminated by neighbouring countries. Blond goddeses of European culture were rulers of the country that should not exist (in the opinion of countries that partitioned the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth), something totally inimaginable and inacceptable to many people back then.
Portrait of Princess Anna Jagiellon (1523-1596) as Venus with the organ player by Titian, ca. 1558, Prado Museum in Madrid.
Portrait of Princess Catherine Jagiellon (1526-1583) as Venus with the organ player by Titian, ca. 1558, Prado Museum in Madrid.
Portrait of Princess Catherine Jagiellon (1526-1583) as Venus with a partridge (Venere della pernice) by workshop of Titian, ca. 1558, Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
Portrait of Princess Catherine Jagiellon (1526-1583) as Venus with the organ player by Titian, ca. 1562, Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.
Portrait of Queen Catherine of Austria (1533-1572) as Venus with the lute player by Titian, 1558-1565, Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.
Portrait of Queen Catherine of Austria (1533-1572) as Venus with the lute player by Titian, 1558-1565, Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Portrait of Queen Catherine of Austria (1533-1572) as Saint Catherine by Titian, 1558-1565, Prado Museum in Madrid.
Portrait of Catherine Jagiellon in red by Giovanni Battista Moroni
A young woman in the portrait of a lady, known as La Dama in Rosso (Lady in Red) by Giovanni Battista Moroni in the National Gallery in London, bears great resemblance to Catherine Jagiellon's miniature in German costume by Lucas Cranach the Younger and her portraits by Titian and his workshop.
The identification as a portrait of poetess Lucia Albani Avogadro (1534-1568) is manly based on engraved effigy of Lucia in profile, with generic resemblance, by Giovanni Fortunato Lolmo created between 1575 and 1588, therefore almost ten years after her death, and inventory of Scipione Avogadro's collection in Brescia, which describes "two portraits by Moretto [da Brescia], one of the count Faustino, standing, the other of the countess Lucia, his wife" (Due ritratti del Moretto, uno del conte Faustino in piedi, altro della contessa Lucia sua moglie).
The painting was purchased from Signor Giuseppe Baslini at Milan in 1876 with other portraits from Fenaroli Avogadro collection, most probably from their villa in Rezzato, near Brescia. Its previous history is unknown, it is threfore possible that it was acquired when their villa was extened in the 18th century or that Filippo Avogadro, who greeted Queen Bona in Treviso in 1556, wanted to have a portrait of her beautiful daughter.
The sitter is pointing to a simple fan of straw worked with silk, the main accessory as in the portrait by Titian in Dresden. The fan was regarded as a status symbol in ancient Rome and developed as a means of protecting the holy vessels from pollution caused by flies and other insects in the Christian Church (flabellum), thus becoming a symbol of chastity. In Venice and Padua a fan was carried by betrothed or married women.
Its specific octagonal shape might be a reference to renewal and transition as eight was the number of Resurrection (after George Ferguso's "Signs & Symbols in Christian Art", 1961, p. 154), can then be interpreted as readiness to change marital status. In 1560, at the age of 34, Catherine was still unmarried and did not want be betrothed to a tirant, Tsar Ivan IV, who invaded Livonia committing horrible atrocities. This portrait would be a good information that she prefers an Italian suitor. It was commissioned around the same time as portraits of Catherine's brother and his wife by Moroni, Titian or Sofonisba Anguissola (Prado Museum).
Portrait of Catherine Jagiellon (1526-1583) in red by Giovanni Battista Moroni or Sofonisba Anguissola, 1556-1560, National Gallery in London.
Portraits of Catherine Jagiellon by circle of Titian
In the 16th century fashion was an instrument of politics and princesses of Poland-Lithuania had in their coffers Spanish, French and German robes. The inventory of dowry of Catherine Jagiellon (1526-1583), Duchess of Finland includes many items similar to these visible in the portraits identified as portraits of the Duchess of Urbino:
- "Necklaces with precious stones, 17 pieces (the most expensive 16,800 thalers)",
- "Pearl caps (13 pieces). From 40 thaler. to 335",
- "Buckles on (thirteen) French and Spanish robes",
- 17 velvet, long underneath garments, including one crimson with 72 French buckles, and "longitudinal pontałs [jewels and ornaments sewn onto the dress, imitating embroidery] with blocks with the same white and brown-red enamel is pair 146",
- 6 satin underneath garments, one robe of white satin embroidered with gold and silver with 76 buckles, and a robe of brown-red satin embroidered along the length with gold thread.
The famous pendant of Catherine with her monogram C with which she was buried, was not detailed in the inventory and a similar pearl snood net was depicted on the cameo of Catherine's mother Bona Sforza and on the portrait of a daughter of Ferdinand I of Austria, most probably one of the wives of Sigismund Augustus, in the National Gallery of Ireland. Numerous jewels and a bunch of roses allude to the purity and qualities of a bride. The necklace is a jewel in which three different stones are set, each with its own precise meaning: the emerald indicates chastity, the ruby indicates charity, the sapphire indicates purity and the big pearl is finally a symbol of marriage fidelity.
The monogram on French-style (?) buckles visible in the portrait, could be interpreted as interlaced CC, just as in monogram of Catherine de' Medici, Queen of France. The identification as portrait of Giulia da Varano (1523-1547) is mainly based on inventory of the Ducal Palace of Pesaro from about 1624, which says about the portrait of the Duchess in ebony frames with her coat of arms and interlaced monogram G.G. of Giulia and her husband.
Portrait of Catherine Jagiellon (1526-1583) by Venetian school, 1550s, Bardini Museum in Florence.
Portrait of Catherine Jagiellon (1526-1583) in a pearl snood net by circle of Titian, ca. 1560, Private collection.
Portrait of Catherine Jagiellon (1526-1583) as a bride by circle of Titian, before 1562, Pitti Palace in Florence.
Portrait of Catherine Jagiellon in white by Titian
In the first half of the 18th century, a Swedish painter Georg Engelhard Schröder, created copies of two portraits of Venetian ladies by Titian. These two portraits, in Gripsholm Castle near Stockholm, are undeniably a pair, pendants showing two members of the same family, sisters. They are the only two copies of Titian by Schröder in this collection, they have almost identical dimensions (99 x 80 cm / 100 x 81 cm), composition, the two women are similar and the paintings have even similar inventory number (NMGrh 187, NMGrh 186), a proof that they were always together. The woman holding a cross and a book is Anna Jagiellon, as in the painting by circle of Titian in Kassel, the other must be then her younger sister Catherine Jagiellon, Duchess of Finland from 1562 and later Queen of Sweden.
After 1715 the Gripsholm Castle was abandoned by the royal court and between 1720 and 1770, it was used as a county jail. In 1724 Schröder was made the court painter of Frederick I of Sweden, who highly valued him. It is very probable that the king ordered the painter to copy two old, damaged portraits of unknown ladies from Gripsholm, which were then thrown away, replaced with copies by Schröder.
The portrait of a second lady, in white dress and holding a fan, considered to be Titian's mistress, his daughter as a bride or a Venetian courtesan, is known from several copies. The best known is that in Dresden (without a pattern on sitter's dress, which a pupil of Titian most probably forgot or didin't managed to add), acquired in 1746 from the collection of the d'Este family, which were friends and allies of "a Milanese princess", Bona Sforza, Catherine's mother. The other, now lost, was copied by Peter Paul Rubens, most probably during his stay in Mantua between 1600-1608, tohether with a portrait of Isabella d'Este, also by Titian and also considered to be lost (both in Vienna) and another recorded by Anton van Dyck in his Italian sketchbook (British Museum) from the 1620s.
In case of a copy by Rubens, it's also highly probable that Catherine's son, Sigismund III Vasa, who ordered paintings and portraits from the Flemish painter, also commissioned a copy of a portrait of his mother in about 1628.
The dress, as that visible in the portraits, is described among the dresses of the Duchess of Finland in the inventory of her dowry from 1562: "Satin (6 pieces). Satin white robe; on it four embroidered rows at the bottom made of woven gold thread with silver; the bodice and sleeves are also embroidered in a similar manner; buckles on them with red enamel 76".
Even without Titian's idealization, Catherine, just as her mother, was considered a beautiful woman, which, unfortunately, is less visible in her portraits in German costume by Cranach the Younger. The Russian envoy reported to Tsar Ivan the Terrible in 1560 that Catherine was beautiful, but that she was crying (after Eva Mattssons' "Furstinnan : en biografi om drottning Katarina Jagellonica", 2018), unwilling to marry a man famous of his violence and cruelty.
The painting in Dresden, and its copies, was most probably commissioned by Sigismund Augustus or Anna Jagiellon and sent to the Italian friends.
In 1563, King Eric XIV of Sweden imprisoned his brother John and his consort Catherine Jagiellon in the Gripsholm Castle. Few years later Catherine granted authority to her sister Anna to fight for the Italian inheritance of Queen Bona.
Another version of this portrait by circle of Titian, most probably from the collection of Sophia Jagiellon (1522-1575), Duchess of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel is also in Kassel not far from Brunswick. The three sisters Sophia, Anna and Catherine are therefore reunited in their portraits by circle of Titian in Kassel.
In the Uffizi Gallery in Florence there is also a miniature by an Italian painter, possibly Sofonisba Anguissola, showing the same blond woman in a costume similar to that visible in portraits of Catherine Stenbock, Dowager Queen of Sweden from the 1560s. It depicts Catherine Jagiellon during the time of imprisonment in Gripsholm Castle between 1563 and 1567.
Portrait of Catherine Jagiellon, Duchess of Finland in white by Titian, ca. 1562, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden.
Portrait of Catherine Jagiellon, Duchess of Finland in white by circle of Titian, ca. 1562, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Kassel.
Portrait of Catherine Jagiellon, Duchess of Finland in white by Peter Paul Rubens after lost original by Titian, ca. 1600-1608 or 1628, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Portrait of Catherine Jagiellon, Duchess of Finland holding a rose by Flemish painter after Titian, after 1562, Canterbury Museums and Galleries.
Miniature portrait of Catherine Jagiellon, Duchess of Finland by Italian painter, possibly Sofonisba Anguissola, 1563-1567, Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
Portrait of Anna Jagiellon holding a zibellino by Tintoretto
In 1562 on the occasion of the wedding of her younger sister Catherine in Vilnius, Anna ordered for herself three gowns: "one robe of red taffeta, and two hazuka dresses of red velvet" all sewn with pearls. The sisters dressed identically, as evidenced by their miniatures by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Younger from about 1553. Inventory of Catherine's dowry includes many items similar to these visible on the portrait of a lady holding a zibellino by Tintoretto from about 1565:
- a golden belt set with rubies, sapphires and pearls valued at 1,700 thalers,
- "a black sable stitched together from two, his head and four feet are golden, set with precious stones" of 1,400 thalers worth,
- a chain of large round, oriental pearls of 1,000 thalers worth,
- a neacklace of round, oriental pearls of 985 thalers worth,
- velvet long, crimson robe with three rows of pearl edgings with 72 French-style enameled buckles,
- velvet crimson hazuka dress lined with sables,
- four velvet outer garments for summer,
- eleven white linen shirts with gold sleeves,
and even "one large yellow Turkish rug for the table".
In September 1565 arrived to Cracow count Clemente Pietra to announce the marriage of Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany with a cousin of Sigismund Augustus and Anna, Joanna of Austria (a sister of Sigismund Augustus' first and third wife) and to ask for the hand of Anna for 16 years old Ferdinando, brother of Duke Francesco.
It is highly probable that on this occasion the king commissioned in the workshop of Tintoretto in Venice a portrait of himself, his wife and his 42 years old sister, created just as earlier effigies of the Jagiellons by medalier van Herwijck or painter Cranach the Younger, basing on drawings or miniatures sent from Poland.
Portrait of Anna Jagiellon (1523-1596) when Crown Princess of Poland-Lithuania holding a zibellino by Tintoretto, ca. 1565, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Portrait of Jan Amor Tarnowski or Sigismund the Old by Tintoretto
The portrait is astonishingly similar in features, pose and and style of armour to the well known effigy of Jan Amor Tarnowski commissioned by king Stanislaus Augustus Poniatowski in about 1781 for his gallery of effigies of Famous Poles at the Royal Castle in Warsaw. The portrait, just as the rest, was undoubtedly based on some original portrait still preserved in the royal collection.
During the Great Northern War, royal residencies of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, a Venetian style republic of nobles created in 1569 with support of the last male Jagiellon, Sigismund Augustus, were ransacted and burned again by different invaders in 1702 and 1707. That is why some effigy of Sigismund Augustus, survived in the royal collection in about 1768, was confused with the effigy of the progenitor of the Polish-Lithuanian dynasty - Ladislaus Jagiello in the cycle of Polish Kings in the Marble Room at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, commissioned by Poniatowski. It cannot be excluded also that a portrait of Sigismund I the Old, Sigismund Augustus' father, was confused with that of Tarnowski.
Jan Amor Tarnowski (1488-1561) was a renowned military commander, military theoretician, and statesman, who in 1518 became a knight of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and was accoladed by King Manuel I in Lisbon as a knight of Portugal.
The portrait bears finally some ressemblance to effigies of Jan Amor and his son on his monumental tomb in the Tarnów Cathedral, created between 1561 and 1573 by Venetian trained sculptor Giovanni Maria Mosca called Padovano, who also created tomb monuments of two wives of Sigismund Augustus.
Portrait of a man in armour holding a baton, most probably Jan Amor Tarnowski or Sigismund the Old by Jacopo Tintoretto, 1560-1575, Prado Museum in Madrid.
Portrait of a man in armour with a crimson tunic, holding a baton, most probably Jan Amor Tarnowski or Sigismund the Old by circle of Jacopo Tintoretto, 1560-1575, Private collection.
Portrait of Jan Kochanowski by Giovanni Battista Moroni
Almost all old churches in former territories of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth have at least one good quality tomb monument in Italian style with effigy of deceased, but portrait paintings are very rare. Wars and invasions impoverished the nation and majority of non-religious paintings that preserved in the country, were sold by the owners.
The exact date of birth of Jan Kochanowski is unknown, however according to inscription on poet's epitaph in the church in Zwoleń near Radom, he died on August 22, 1584 at the age of 54 (Obiit anno 1584 die 22 Augusti. Aetatis 54), therefore he was born in 1530. He started his education at the Artium Faculty of the Kraków Academy in 1544. Presumably in June 1549, he left the Academy and, perhaps, went to Wrocław, where he stayed until the end of 1549. Between 1551-1552 he stayed in Królewiec (Königsberg), the capital of Polish Prussia (fiefdom under the Polish crown). From Królewiec, he left for Padua in 1552, where he studied until 1555. Kochanowski was elected a counselor of the Polish nation at the University of Padua (presumably from June to August 2, 1554). He returned to Poland in 1555 and after several months in Królewiec and Radom, he left for Italy at the end of the summer of 1556, presumably to repair his health. He was back in Poland between 1557 and 1558 and in spring that year he left for Italy for the third time. At the end of 1558, Kochanowski went to France, and in May 1559, he finally returned to Poland.
In mid-1563, Jan entered the service of Deputy Chancellor Piotr Myszkowski, thanks to which he become the royal secretary of king Sigismund Augustus, before February 1564, the office he held untill his death. In 1564, he helped his friend Andrzej Patrycy Nidecki (Andreas Patricius Nidecicus), also secretary at the traveling court and chancellery of Sigismund Augustus (Kraków - Warsaw - Vilnius). Nidecki was preparing the second fundamental edition of Cicero's "Fragments" for printing. It was published in Venice in 1565 by the printer Giordano Ziletti (Andr. Patricii Striceconis Ad Tomos IIII Fragmentorvm M. Tvllii Ciceronis ex officina Stellae Iordani Zileti), who also published many other Polish-Lithuanian authors. In October 1565 another royal secretary and Kochanowski's friend, Piotr Kłoczowski (or Kłoczewski), left for Ferrara as king's envoy to attend the wedding of Alfonso II d'Este with Sigismund Augustus' cousin Archduchess Barbara of Austria. Kłoczowski, who apparently accompanied him during his first trip to Italy, offered him a new journey: "Piotr, I don't want to take you to Italy a second time. You will get there alone: it's time for me to deal with myself. If I am to become a priest, or better a courtier, If I will live at the court or in my land", wrote the poet (Xięga IV, XII.).
Jan Kochanowski, considered one of the greatest Polish poets, died in Lublin. His nephews Krzysztof (d. 1616) and Jerzy (d. 1633), founded him a marble epitaph in the family chapel in Zwoleń, created in Kraków in about 1610 by workshop of Giovanni Lucano Reitino di Lugano and transported to Zwoleń.
The portrait of a man holding a letter by Giovanni Battista Moroni in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam can be compared with poet's posthumous effigy in Zwoleń. It bears the inscription in Latin and artist's signature at the bottom of the letter: AEt. Suae. XXXV. Miii MDLXV. Giu. Bat.a Moroni (Age 35. 1565. Giovanni Battista Moroni), which match perfectly the age of Kochanowski in 1565.
Portrait of Jan Kochanowski (1530-1584) aged 35 holding a letter by Giovanni Battista Moroni, 1565, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.
Portrait of Wawrzyniec Goślicki by Giovanni Battista Moroni
On January 3, 1567 Wawrzyniec Grzymała Goślicki (Laurentius Grimaldius Goslicius) obtained the degree of Doctor Utruisque Juris (doctor of both laws - civil and church law) at the University of Bologna.
Goślicki was born near Płock in Masovia and after studying at Kraków's Academy he left for Italy after 1562. During his studies in Padua, in 1564, he published the Latin poem De victoria Sigismundi Augusti, which he dedicated to the victory of king Sigismund II Augustus over tsar Ivan IV the Terrible in the war of 1560. After receiving his doctorate in Bologna he visited Rome, and then Naples together with his friends. On the way back, Goślicki stopped in Rome for a while. In 1568, during his stay in Venice, he published his best-known work, De optimo senatore, also dedicated to king Sigismund Augustus. The book printed by Giordano Ziletti was later translated into English with the titles of The Counselor and The Accomplished Senator. After his return to Poland in 1569, he entered the king's service as the royal secretary. He later decided to become a priest and he was elevated to the episcopal dignity in 1577. In 1586 he was made bishop of Kamieniec Podolski and according to a document issued by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese entitled Propositio cosistorialis, he was 48 in 1586, therefore he was born in 1538.
Wawrzyniec Goślicki died on October 31, 1607 in Ciążeń near Poznań as the Bishop of Poznań (from 1601) and was buried in the city's cathedral. According to his last will his tomb monument was to be modeled on the monument to his predecessor Bishop Adam Konarski, the work of Girolamo Canavesi, a sculptor from Milan, who had his workshop in Kraków. Goślicki's monument created in Kraków, most probably by workshop of Giovanni Lucano Reitino di Lugano, as Konarski's monument, was transported to Poznań after 1607.
The effigy of a young man by Giovanni Battista Moroni in Accademia Carrara in Bergamo is very similar to Goślicki's features in his statue in Poznań. According to inscription in Latin (ANNO . AETATIS . XXIX . / M . D . LXVII) the man was 29 in 1567, exactly as Goślicki when he earned his degree at Carolus Sigonius in Bologna.
Portrait of Wawrzyniec Goślicki (1538-1607) aged 29 by Giovanni Battista Moroni, 1567, Accademia Carrara in Bergamo.
Portraits of Sigismund Augustus with his maritime fleet and at the old age by Tintoretto
In 1655 the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, a wealthy Venetian style republic of nobles created in 1569 with support of the last male Jagiellon, Sigismund Augustus was invaded by neighbouring countries from north, south, east and west - the Deluge (1655-1660). Royal and magnate residencies in Warsaw, Kraków, Grodno and Vilnius and other locations were ransacted and burned which resulted in the loss of works by the greatest Venetian painters, like Paris Bordone, Tintoretto or Palma Giovane and a loss of memory of the royal effigies and their patronage.
The portrait of a "Venetian admiral" in armour from the 1570s, acquired by the National Museum in Warsaw in 1936 from the Popławski collection bears a great resemblance to the effigies of the king from the last years of his life.
According to "Universae historiae sui temporis libri XXX" (editio aucta 1581, p. 516), originally published in Venice in 1572, the king was about to set up an enormous fleet against Denmark, consisting of galleys with three, five and more rows on the Venetian model in order to protect "Sarmatia". In the spring of 1570 he entrusted the Maritime Commission with the construction of the first ship for the Polish-Lithuanian maritime fleet, while bringing in specialists Domenico Zaviazelo (Dominicus Sabioncellus) and Giacomo de Salvadore from Venice.
Shortly before turning 50 in 1570, the king's health rapidly declined. Antonio Maria Graziani recalls that Sigismund was unable to keep standing without a cane when greeting Venetian Cardinal Giovanni Francesco Commendone in November 1571 who was sent by Pope Pius V to join Venice, Papal States and Spain in the interest of a crusade against the Ottoman Empire.
Portrait of king Sigismund II Augustus (1520-1572) in armour with his maritime fleet by Tintoretto, ca. 1570, National Museum in Warsaw.
Portrait of king Sigismund II Augustus (1520-1572) in crimson żupan by Tintoretto, ca. 1570, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Portrait of king Sigismund II Augustus (1520-1572) in a hat by Tintoretto, ca. 1572, Private collection.
Portrait of Infanta Juana de Austria with court dwarf Ana de Polonia by Sofonisba Anguissola
"We have a great joy with them (...) each day this gift becomes more pleasant to us, for which we also offer our grateful appreciation to Vostrae Serenitati" wrote emperor Charles V on May 11, 1544 to Queen Bona Sforza, who sent him two dwarfs raised at her court, Kornel and Katarzyna.
Dwarfs were present at the Polish court since the Middle Ages, however it was during the reign of Sigismund I and Bona that their presence was significantly strengthened. As servants of Osiris and their association with other Egyptian gods of fertility and creation, like Bes, Hathor, Ptah, dwarfs were also symbols of fertility, revival and abundance in Ancient Roman World and one fresco from Pompeii near Naples is a very special example of it (after "The meaning of Dwarfs in Nilotic scenes" in: "Nile into Tiber: Egypt in the Roman World", Paul G.P. Meyboom and Miguel John Versluys, 2007, p. 205). To secure the endurance of the dynasty in the times when child mortality was very high, fertility was very important to Bona, granddaughter of Alfonso II, King of Naples.
There were Spanish dwarfs at the Polish court, like Sebastian Guzman, who was paid 100 florins, a cubit of Lyonian cloth and damask and Polish monarchs sent their dwarfs to Spain, like Domingo de Polonia el Mico, who appears in the house of Don Carlos between 1559-1565. The presence of Polish dwarfs was also significant at the French court. In 1556 Sigismund Augustus sent to Catherine de Medicis, Queen of France two dwarfs, called grand Pollacre and le petit nain Pollacre and in 1579 a dwarf Majoski (or Majosky) was even studying at her cost.
A lot of female dwarfs were at the court of the Jagiellons, like a certain Maryna, an old dwarf of Queen Bona, who was paid salary by king Stephen Bathory or Jagnieszka (Agnieszka), female dwarf of Princess Sophia Jagiellon, who was her secretary. Queen Barbara Radziwill, had at her court a dwarf Okula (or Okuliński) and she received two female dwarfs from the wife of voivode of Novogrudok.
After her mother left for her native Italy, when all her sisters were married and her brother was occupied with affairs of state and his mistresses, Anna Jagiellon spent time on embroidery, raising her foster children and dwarfs.
A portrait showing a little girl hiding under protective arm of a woman by Sofonisba Anguissola in Boston, due to appearance of her ruff can be dated to the late 1560s or early 1570s. The woman is Infanta Doña Juana de Austria (Joan of Austria), widowed Princess of Portugal, sister of king Philip II of Spain, ruler of one half of the world and mother of king Sebastian of Portugal, ruler of the second half of the world (according to Treaty of Tordesillas, 1494), sister of Holy Roman Empress Maria of Austria, as well as Archduchess of Austria, princess of Burgundy, a friend of Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), one of the most influential religious orders of the Catholic Reformation, and whose confessor was her cousin Francis Borgia, third Superior General of the Jesuits. She was the most influential and powerful woman in Europe.
The portrait which is said to depict Catherine Stenbock (1535-1621), Queen of Sweden from the Stenbock Palace in Kolga (Kolk) in Estonia, now in private collection, is de facto a copy or a version of Juana de Austria's portrait by Alonso Sánchez Coello from 1557 (Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna), most probably created by Sofonisba in about 1560. Kolga Palace was once owned by Swedish soldier Gustaf Otto Stenbock (1614-1685), who during the invasion of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was promoted to field marshal. The painting, once sent to Sigismund Augustus or his sister Anna by Juana, was therefore taken from one of the royal residences during the Deluge (1655-1660) and this unknown lady was later identified as a Queen of Sweden from the Stenbock family.
The portrait in Boston is also very similar to the portrait in the Basque Museum in Bayonne by workshop of Sofonisba or Juan Pantoja de la Cruz. It depicts Isabel de Francia (Elisabeth of Valois, 1545-1568), Queen of Spain, daughter of Catherine de Medicis and third wife of Philip II, with a little girl, which could be her French female dwarf Doña Luisa. It was a portrait of Queen Isabel that Sofonisba sent to the Pope Pius IV in 1561: "I heard from the most reverend Nuncio of your Holiness, that you desired a portrait, from my hands, of her Majesty the Queen, my mistress", according to Sofonisba's letter dated Madrid, September 16, 1561 and "We have received the portrait of the most serene Queen of Spain, our dearest daughter, that you have sent us" according to Pope's letter dated Rome, October 15, 1561.
The girl in Boston portrait is holding in her hand three roses. The association of the rose with love is too common to require elaboration, it was the flower of Venus, goddess of love in ancient Rome. Three flowers symbolize also Christian teological virtues, faith, hope and love, with love pointed as "the greatest of these" by Paul the Apostle (1 Corinthians 13).
She is therefore a foreigner at the Spanish court and the painting is a message: I am safe, I have a powerful protector, do not worry about me, I love you, I remember about you and I miss you. It is a message to someone very important to the girl, but also important to Juana. We can assume with a high degree of probability that it is a message to the girl's foster mother Anna Jagiellon, who to strengthen her chances to the crown after death of her brother, assumed the unprecedented but politically important Spanish title of Infanta: Anna Infans Poloniae (Anna, Infanta of Poland, e.g her letter to cardinal Stanisław Hozjusz, from Łomża, 16 November 1572).
In the 16th century Spanish portraiture even members of the same family were rarely depicted together. Suffocating court etiquette made exception only to dwarfs and court jesters, like in the portrait of infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia with a female dwarf Magdalena Ruiz by Alonso Sánchez Coello from about 1585 (Prado Museum) or in the portrait of pregnant youger sister of Anna of Austria (1573-1598), Queen of Poland - Margaret, Queen of Spain with a female dwarf Doña Sofía (her name might indicate Eastern origin) from about 1601 by Juan Pantoja de la Cruz or Bartolomé González (Kunsthistorisches Museum).
Blood connections and family ties were very important to Spanish Habsburgs, Ana de Austria (Anna of Austria, 1549-1580), fourth wife of Philip II, was his niece (her mother Maria was his sister and her father was his cousin).
Spanish sources mentions that in 1578 died Doña Ana de Polonia, court dwarf of Queen Ana de Austria (after "Ana de Austria (1549-1580) y su coleccion artistica", in: "Portuguese Studies Review", Almudena Perez de Tudela, 2007, p. 199), most probably the same mentioned in 1578 in Cuentas de Mercaderes (Merchant Accounts), M. 4, granting her a skirt and other clothing. If this girl is the same with that in the portrait of Juana, and after death of Juana in 1573 she joned the court of a foreign queen who arrived to Spain in autumn of 1570, this lovely green-eyed girl was probably someone more than an agreeable court dwarf.
Her name might indicate, apart from the country of her origin, also her family, like Doña Juana de Austria (Joan of Austria, Joan from the House of Austria, the Habsburgs), who was born in Madrid and never visited Austria, hence Doña Ana de Polonia (Anna of Poland, Anna from the House of Poland, the Jagiellons). So was this girl an illegitimate daughter of Sigismund Augustus, who after death of Barbara in 1551 was desperate to have a child or his sister Anna, a vigorous (gagliarda di cervello) spinster? Such a bold hypothesis cannot be excluded due to its nature that rather should be concealed and kept secret, and lack of sources (in Poland apart from paintings, also many archives were destroyed during wars).
The preserved sources, especially from the last years of reign of Sigismund Augustus are controversial. Imperial envoy, Johannes Cyrus, Abbot of the Premonstratensian monastery in Wrocław, in a letter form 3 March 1571 states that "The king would even marry a beggar, if she only gave him a son" and Świętosław Orzelski, Sejm deputy and Lutheran activist, in his diary that "in the same castle [Royal Castle in Warsaw], where Infanta Anna lived, Zuzanna was lying in one bed, Giżanka in the second, third at Mniszek's, the fourth in the room of the royal chamberlain Kniaźnik, fifth at Jaszowski's" about "the falcons" (Zuzanna Orłowska, Anna Zajączkowska and Barbara Giżanka among others), mistresses of the king. He also allegedly had illegitimate daughters with them. Maybe a research in Spanish archives will allow to confirm or exclude the hypothesis that Ana de Polonia was a daughter of Sigismund or of his sister Anna and was sent to distant Spain.
The painting was purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner in 1897 from the collection of Marchese Fabrizio Paolucci di Calboli in Forli. Its earlier history is unknown. It was most probably aquired in Poland by cardinal Camillo Paolucci, born in Forli, who was a papal nuncio in Poland between 1727-1738. Also earlier provenance is possible through cardinal Alessandro Riario Sforza, a distant relative of Anna from the branch of the family who were lords of Forli and Imola, who was named papal legate in Spain in 1580, just two years after death of Ana de Polonia, and who could acquire a copy of painting made for Queen of Poland.
Portrait of Infanta Juana de Austria (Joan of Austria) from the Stenbock Palace by Sofonisba Anguissola or workshop, ca. 1560, Private collection.
Portrait of Queen Isabel de Francia (Elisabeth of Valois) with a female dwarf by Sofonisba Anguissola or workshop, 1565-1568, Basque Museum in Bayonne.
Portrait of Infanta Juana de Austria (Joan of Austria) with female dwarf Ana de Polonia by Sofonisba Anguissola, ca. 1572, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.
Portraits of Anna Jagiellon by Tintoretto and circle of Titian
"The Queen is fresh and in such good health that I would not consider it a miracle if she were to become pregnant", reported from Warsaw on 29 January 1579, Giovanni Andrea Caligari (1527-1613), papal nuncio in Poland, about 56 years old Anna Jagiellon (1523-1596), elected co-ruler of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
"In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, overweightness and obesity were considered symbols of sexual attractiveness and well-being" (Naheed Ali's "The Obesity Reality: A Comprehensive Approach to a Growing Problem", 2012, p. 7) and Anna's mother Bona Sforza, who visited Venice in 1556, was obese in her 40s and 50s, as visible in the cameo in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (inv. 17.190.869).
The Queen was a well known benefactor of the Cracow Academy (now Jagiellonian University) and she visted it twice on 20 July 1576 and on 24 April 1584. Three days after her last visit she sent the doctors of the Academy a mug of pure gold and a few beautifully bound books. It is highly probable that she also offered her portrait. The painting attributed to Tintorretto from about 1575, from the old collection of the Academy and identifed as an effigy of Caterina Cornaro, Queen of Cyprus (1454-1510), could be considered as such.
If Elizabeth I (1533-1603), hereditary Queen of England, favoured the French fashion, especially "when the Anjou marriage negotiation were at their height" in about 1579 (Janet Arnold's "Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd", 2020, p. 188), the elected Queen of the Polish-Lithuanian Republic, could prefer the fashion of the Venetian Serenissima.
Portrait of Anna Jagiellon (1523-1596), elected co-ruler of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth by Jacopo Tintoretto, ca. 1575, Jagiellonian University Museum in Kraków.
Portrait of Anna Jagiellon (1523-1596) holding a cross and a book by circle of Titian, 1560-1578, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Kassel.
Portrait of Henry of Valois by workshop of Tintoretto
After the death of Sigismund II Augustus in 1572, Catherine of Medici, Queen of France, willing to make her favourite son Henry of Valois, Duke of Anjou the king of Poland, sent her court dwarf Jan Krasowski, called Domino to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Under the guise of visiting his family in his homeland, he was to make some inquiries and explore the mood in the Commonwealth. Catherine used all her power to offer the crown to her son by influencing the noble electors.
In order to be more agreeable to the Ottoman Empire and strengthen a Polish-Ottoman alliance, on 16 May 1573, Polish-Lithuanian nobles chose Henry as the first elected monarch of the Commonwealth. He was officially crowned on 21 February 1574.
Expecting that Henry will marry her and she will become a Queen, Infanta Anna Jagiellon the wealthiest woman in the country and a sister of his predecessor, ordered French lilies to be embroidered on her dresses.
Despite the fact that he arrived to Poland with a large retinue of his young male lovers, known as the mignons (French for "the darlings"), including René de Villequier, François d'O and his brother Jean, Louis de Béranger du Guast and especially his beloved Jacques de Lévis, comte de Caylus (or Quélus), and that "he even flattered the Polish lords by cleverly adopting their attire", as wrote Venetian envoy Girolamo Lippomano, he was not feeling well in the unknown country.
After death of his brother Charles IX, Catherine urged him to return to France. During the night of 18/19 June 1574, Henry secretly fled the country.
The portrait of a man in black hat by workshop of Tintoretto from private collection in Milan is almost identical with the portrait of Henry depicted against the wall hanging with his coat of arms as King of Poland in the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest by Italian painter (inventory 52.602) and his portrait holding a crown in the Doge's Palace in Venice (Sala degli Stucchi) by workshop of Tintoretto.
It bears no distinction, no reference to his royal status, as in mentioned two portraits in Budapest and Venice, he is depicted as a simple nobleman. It is higly probable then that it was one of a series of state portraits commissioned by Anna in Venice before Henry's coronation, as a clear signal that he should marry her before becoming a king.
The Infanta was most probably well aware of his inclination towards men, as apart from Krasowski, there were also other Polish dwarfs at the French court. Raised at the multicultural court of the Jagiellons, where people spoke Latin, Italian, Ruthenian, Polish and German, they were perfect diplomats. In 1572 king Sigismund Augustus sent to Charles IX, four dwarfs and in October that year, Claude La Loue brought another three dwarfs from Poland as a gift from Emperor Maximilian II, father of Charles IX's wife Elisabeth of Austria (after Auguste Jal's "Dictionnaire critique de biographie et d'histoire", 1867, p. 896).
A portrait, said to be Mariana of Austria with a female dwarf wearing a wimple from a private collection in Spain, lost, is very similar to the portrait of Elisabeth of Austria in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, which is attributed to Giacomo de Monte (Netherlandish Jakob de Monte, according to some sources). Painter of similar name, Giovanni del Monte, possibly Giacomo's brother, is mentioned as a court painter of Sigismund Augustus before 1557. It is therefore highly probable that the portrait of Queen of France with her dwarf was created for or at the initiative of the Polish-Lithuanian court.
Portrait of Henry of Valois, elected monarch of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth by workshop of Tintoretto, ca. 1573, Private collection.
Portrait of Elisabeth of Austria, wife of Charles IX as a widow with a female dwarf wearing a wimple by Jakob de Monte, after 1574, Private collection, lost.
Portraits of Anna Jagiellon by circle of Veronese
On 15 December 1575, in Wola near Warsaw, infanta Anna Jagiellon and her husband Stephen Bathory, Voivode of Transylvania were elected as monarchs of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
Since the end of the 1570s Anna's court was bursting with life and she kept lively correspondence with many Italian princes, like Francesco I de Medici and his mistress Bianca Cappello, the daughter of Venetian nobleman Bartolomeo Cappello, exchanging news on politics and fashion, sending and receiving gifts (cosmetics, medicaments, crystal bowls and cups, luxury fancy goods, small pieces of furniture e.g. marble tables, silver incrusted boxes etc.) and even courtiers. "From February of 1581 to December of that year, several letters from the agent of Bianca Cappello [...] Alberto Bolognetti, described the perfect female dwarf he found for Cappello in Warsaw; the nana is described as having great "proportions" and being "very beautiful." The nana's travels through Cracow and Vienna were fully documented [...]" (Touba Ghadessi's "Portraits of Human Monsters in the Renaissance", p. 63).
The portrait of a lady by circle of Paolo Veronese from the 1570s, traditionally identified as effigy of Catherine Cornaro (1454-1510), Queen of Cyprus, and known in at least three variants (in Vienna, Montauban and private collection), bears a strong resemblance to the miniature of Anna when a princess of Poland-Lithuania from about 1553. Also the gold cross pendant set with diamonds, visible on the portrait, is very similar to the one depicted on the print in the Hermitage Museum showing Anna (inventory ОР-45839).
The portrait of a woman from Barbini-Breganze collection in Venice, today in Stuttgart, bears a strong resemblance to the portrait of Anna by Tintoretto in the Jagiellonian University (pose and features) and to her effigy in Vienna holding a zibellino (features and garments), also by Tintoretto.
Portrait of Anna Jagiellon (1523-1596), elected co-ruler of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth by circle of Paolo Veronese, possibly Francesco Bassano or Palma il Giovane, ca. 1580, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Portrait of Anna Jagiellon (1523-1596), elected co-ruler of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in a robe of pink damask over a patterned brocade dress by Parrasio Micheli, 1575-1585, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart.
Allegorical portrait of Anna Jagiellon by Francesco Montemezzano
In July 1572 died Sigismund II Augustus, leaving the throne vacant and all the wealth of the Jagiellon dynasty to his three sisters. Anna, the only member of the dynasty present in the Commonwealth, received only a small portion of inheritance, but still became a very rich woman. Sigismund's death changed her status from a neglected spinster to the heiress of the Jagiellon dynasty.
In June 1574 an unexpected turn of events made her one of the favorites in the second election, after Henry of Valois left Poland and headed back to France. Jan Zamoyski reconciled different camps promoting Anna to the crown. On December 15, 1575, Anna was hailed the King of Poland in the Old Town Square in Warsaw. Jan Kostka and Jan Zamoyski, representing the parliament, came to her to ask for her consent. It was then that Anna was supposed to utter the phrase that she "would rather be a queen than a king's wife". A day later, the nobility recognized her definitively as the "Piast" king and Stephen Báthory, Voivode of Transylvania, was proposed as her husband.
The painting identified as allegory of Pomona from the old collection of the Czartoryski Museum bears a great resemblance to other effigies of Anna. A woman in rich costume is being offered a basket with apples, denoted as symbol of the royal power and a symbol of the bride in ancient Greek thought, and pink roses, which represented innocence and first love - Báthory was the first husband to the 52 years old queen.
Allegorical portrait of Anna Jagiellon (1523-1596), elected co-ruler of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth by Francesco Montemezzano, 1575-1585, Czartoryski Museum in Kraków.
Portraits of Anna Jagiellon by workshop of Tintoretto and Francesco Montemezzano
"There is a bridge across the Vistula near Warsaw, built at a great cost of Queen Anna, sister of King Sigismund Augustus, famous all over the Crown", wrote Venetian-born Polish writer Alessandro Guagnini dei Rizzoni (Aleksander Gwagnin) in his book Sarmatiae Europeae descriptio (Description of Sarmatian Europe), printed in Kraków in 1578.
On 5 April 1573, during the Royal Election after death of king Sigismund Augustus, the longest bridge of Renaissance Europe was opened to the public. The construction cost 100,000 florins, and Anna Jagiellon, willing to become a Queen, also allocated her own funds for this purpose. It was a great achievement and major political success praised by many poets like Jan Kochanowski, Sebastian Klonowic, Andrzej Zbylitowski and Stanisław Grochowski.
The bridge, built of huge oaks and pines brought from Lithuania, was 500 meters long, 6 meters wide, it consisted of 22 spans and stood on 15 supports/towers that protected the construction. The construction, however, required constant renovations and was partially broken several times by ice floes on the Vistula River. It was severely damaged after Anna's coronation (1 May 1576) and in his letters from 15 August 1576 to the starosts, King Stephen Bathory recommended the delivery of wood for repair. Again in 1578 and the renovation was managed by Franciszek Wolski, voit of Tykocin. The wood material was floated from the San river. The works were completed in 1582 and "Anna Jagiellon, Queen of Poland, spouse, sister and daughter of grand kings, ordered the construction of this brick fortified tower", according to inscription on bronze plaque in Museum of Warsaw commemorating the fortified Bridge Gate.
Anna, as her brother, undeniably ordered some portraits to commemorate her role in construction and maintenance of the bridge. The portrait from private collection in Milan, attributed to Tintoretto or Veronese and depicting a blond woman in a crown against the view of a bridge, fit perfectly. Her facial features resemble greatly the portrait by Tintoretto in the Jagiellonian University Museum.
The painter depicted the bridge only symbolically in a small window. The recipients of the painting should know what it is about, there was no need to change the convention of Venetian portrait painting to show the whole construction.
On her gown there is a symbol of six pointed star, in use since ancient times as a reference to the Creation and in Christian theology - star of Bethlehem. The star, was symbolic of light and of the preaching of Saint Dominic, who was the first to teach the Rosary as a form of meditative prayer, and become an attribute of Virgin Mary, as Queen of Heaven and as Stella Maris. The title, Stella Maris (Star of the Sea), is one of the oldest and most widespread titles applied to Virgin Mary. It came to be seen as allegorical of Mary's role as "guiding star" on the way to Christ.
The crown of stars is visible in a painting by Tintoretto in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin (acquired from Francesco Pajaro in Venice in 1841), created in about 1570 showing Madonna and Child venerated by St. Marc and St. Luke, and in a painting of Madonna of the Rosary from Sandomierz, created by Polish painter in 1599 in which old Queen Anna was depicted with other members of her family and Saint Dominic.
Thanks to Queen Anna's efforts the rosary confraternities, which mainly existed in Kraków were extended to all of Poland on 6 January 1577 and the annual feast of rosary was solemnly celebrated throughout the Commonwealth. She also donated, among other things, a few precious jewels and necklaces with which the image of Black Madonna of Częstochowa was adorned. In 1587 the Queen received the Golden Rose from Pope Sixtus V, which she offered to the collegiate church of St. John in Warsaw, lost.
The same woman in similar pose and in similar gown was depicted in painting by Francesco Montemezzano from William Coningham's collection in London, now in The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Portrait of Anna Jagiellon (1523-1596), elected co-ruler of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with a symbolic view of the bridge in Warsaw by workshop of Tintoretto, 1576-1582, Private collection.
Portrait of Anna Jagiellon (1523-1596), elected co-ruler of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth by workshop of Tintoretto, 1576-1582, Private collection.
Portrait of Anna Jagiellon (1523-1596), elected co-ruler of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with a dog by Francesco Montemezzano, ca. 1582, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Mystical marriage of Saint Catherine with a portrait of queen Anna Jagiellon by Venetian painter
In 1556 having ambitions of becoming a Viceroy of Naples, Bona Sforza d'Aragona, Anna's mother, agreed to lend to her distant relative king Philip II of Spain a huge sum of 430,000 ducats at 10% annual interest, so-called "Neapolitan sums". Even when paid, the interest payment was late and according to some people the loan was one of the reasons why Bona was poisoned by her trusted courtier Gian Lorenzo Pappacoda.
On November 10, 1573, and November 15, 1574 Catherine Jagiellon, Queen of Sweden, who had the right to a part of the Neapolitan sums in her dowry (50,000 ducats) agreed to renounce and cede it to her sister Anna, as the dispute deteriorated Polish-Swedish relations.
The Commonwealth had bad experiences with a "foreign" candidate, Henry of Valois, who fled the country through Venice just few monts after election, therefore the only possible succesors of over 50 years old queen were children of her sister Catherine, Sigismund born in 1566 (elected as Commonwealth's monarch in 1587) and Anna born in 1568.
The painting in Madrid is very similar in style to two portraits of Anna from the same period (in Vienna and Kassel). The lady in her 40s or 50s depicted as the Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven is a clear indication that the scene has no purely religious meaning and it is very similar to other effigies of Anna, especially to the portrait by Tintoretto in Kraków.
According to the researchers the canvas should be attributed to Palma il Giovane, who created paintings for Anna's nephew and sucessor, Sigismund III Vasa (Psyche cycle and a painting for the St. John's Cathedral in Warsaw, destroyed during World War II) or Domenico Tintoretto, who painted several paintings for Anna's Chancellor, Jan Zamoyski.
In the collection of the Royal Wilanów Palace in Warsaw there is a painting representing highly erotic subject of Leda and the swan by Palma il Giovane or his workshop from the last quarter of the 16th century. It is uncertain how it found its way there, so the option that it was commissioned by Anna, who, as her mother Bona, was strongly engaged in maintaining good relation with her husband Stephen Bathory, is very probable.
The mystical marriage of Saint Catherine, a symbol of spiritual grace, should be interprated then that Catherine's children still have claims to the Neapolitan sums and the crown. Its history before 1746 is unknown, therefore it cannot be excluded that the painting was sent to the Spanish Habsburgs, just as her portrait in Vienna, personally by the queen.
In November 1575, hence shortly before her election, Anna sent to Spain her envoy Stanisław Fogelweder, who was her ambassador there until 1587. She also had her informal envoys in Spain, dwarves Ana de Polonia (Anna of Poland, died 1578) and Estanislao (Stanislaus, died 1579).
Mystical marriage of Saint Catherine with a portrait of queen Anna Jagiellon (1523-1596) by Venetian painter, possibly Palma il Giovane or Domenico Tintoretto, 1576-1586, Prado Museum in Madrid.
Leda and the swan by Palma il Giovane or workshop, fourth quarter of the 16th century, Wilanów Palace in Warsaw.
The Banquet of Cleopatra with portraits of Anna Jagiellon, Stephen Bathory and Jan Zamoyski by Leandro Bassano
On 1 May 1576, then 52 years old Infanta Anna Jagiellon married ten years younger Voivode of Transylvania Stephen Bathory and was crowned as co-ruler of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Soon after the wedding the king started to avoid his elderly wife. He dedicated her just three wedding nights and didn't look into her bedroom afterward. The papal nuncio in Poland, Giovanni Andrea Caligari, reported in August 1578, that the king does not trust her, that he is afraid of being poisoned by her, an art her mother, Bona, was well acquainted with, and he adds in a letter of February 1579, that she is haughty and vigorous (altera e gagliarda di cervello). One night, Anna wanted to visit Bathory, but he escaped. Many people witnessed this event, the Queen developed a fever and was subjected to phlebotomy.
King Stephen reportedly never held a great attraction for the marriage state and women in general, and he married Anna only to do a nice thing for the nation, she however was under the illusion that she would keep her husband with her and seduce him with boisterous balls and feasts. Primate Jan Tarnowski wrote in a letter to a Lithuanian magnate that "as she caught up a man, she carries her mouth high and proud".
The Queen had a grudge against Chancellor Jan Zamoyski, who according to Bartosz Paprocki "wanting to be a lord in Masovia, he sowed disagreement between the king and the queen" and "caused that the king did not live with the queen". Some "distasteful" rumors were also spread during the expedition to Polotsk in 1578, when the king slept in the same hut with Gaspar Bekes, his trusted friend (after Jerzy Besala's "Wstręt króla do królowej").
When Stephen left his wife in 1576, he did not see her, with some breaks, until 1583. She resided in Warsaw in Masovia where in a spacious and richly furnished wooden mansion in Jazdów (Ujazdów), built by her mother Queen Bona, she often held festivities and court games, he in Grodno (in todays Belarus). In January 1578 she organized in Jazdów famous wedding celebrations for Jan Zamoyski and his Calvinist second wife Kristina Radziwill, which lasted for several days.
In February 1579, the Queen prepared a court ball, awaiting Stephen's arrival. In the evening, the Warsaw Castle was illuminated, and the inhabitants were waiting for the king's arrival. Unfortunately, only the messenger with the letter arrived. The king wrote in it that due to the preparations for the war expedition, he would spend the whole year in Lithuania. The disappointed queen "ordered the lights to be turned off and the instruments to be taken out, and with great anger she retreated to her chambers", wrote the nuncio in a letter of February 26. The courtiers rumored that he wanted to divorce her.
The King and Queen reunited in June 1583 in Kraków for the opulent wedding celebrations of Zamoyski with his third wife and a king's niece, Griselda Bathory. The wedding feast was held in the chambers of Queen Anna at the Wawel Castle. The lavish tournaments and a procession of masks was illustrated by an Italian artist in a "Tournois magnifique tenu en Pologne", today in the National Library of Sweden.
Rich Venetian fabrics, like these used in chasubles founded by Anna and her husband (Cathedral Museum in Kraków) or vessels, like enamelled basin with her coat of arms and monogram (Czartoryski Museum), acquired by Anna in Venice, were undoubtedly used during the feasts. The sources confirm that allegorical paintings were brought to the Polish court from Venice for Sigismund III Vasa, Anna's sucessor, like Psyche cycle by Palma il Giovane or Diana and Caliosto by Antonio Vassilacchi.
"You subjects learned this riding from your king", snapped resentful Anna in 1583, when someone from her court set off on a journey.
The Banquet of Cleopatra by Leandro Bassano in Stockholm shows an episode described by both Pliny's's Natural History (9.58.119-121) and Plutarch's Lives (Antony 25.36.1), in which the spartan Roman warrior Antony being seduced by the sensual opulence of Cleopatra.
The Queen of Egypt takes an expensive pearl, reputed to have aphrodisiac qualities, because of an association between pearls and Venus, the goddess of love, and dissolves it in her wine, which she then drinks. It is a culmination of a wager between Cleopatra and Mark Antony as to which one could provide the most expensive feast, which Cleopatra won. Lucius Munatius Plancus, a Roman senator had been asked to judge the wager.
The three protagonists are clearly Anna Jagiellon as Cleopatra, her husband Stephen Bathory as Mark Antony and his friend Jan Zamoyski as Lucius and the painting was commissioned by the Queen to one of her residences, most probably Jazdów.
It is recorded in the Swedish royal collection as far as 1739, therefore, most probably, it was taken from Poland during the Deluge (1655-1660), like the marble lions from Ujazdów Castle, or during the Great Northern War (1700-1721).
In 1578 with the support of Queen Anna the brotherhood of Saint Anne was founded in Warsaw at the Bernardine Church of Saint Anne, and approved by Pope Sixtus V with the bull Ex incumbenti in 1579. The first member and guardian of this fraternity was Jan Zamoyski, chancellor and great hetman of the Crown.
The painting by the same author, Leandro Bassano, from the Swedish royal collection, showing Saint Anne and the infant Virgin Mary was also undeniably created for Anna Jagiellon around the same time as the Banquet of Cleopatra. In 1760 this Catholic painting with Bernardine nuns was in the collection of Louisa Ulrika of Prussia, who freely converted from Calvinism to Lutheran when she moved to Sweden. It is another indication that this painting also was taken from Poland during the Deluge by Swedish or Prussian (Brandenburgian) forces.
Also other paintings by Bassano family and their workshop in Poland were created for partrons in Poland, like the Forge of Vulcan by Francesco Bassano the Younger in the National Museum in Warsaw. It was aquired in 1880 from Wojciech Kolasiński. Taking into consideration that other versions of this painting are in royal collections of "friendly" countries (Prado Museum in Madrid, inventory P005120, recorded as far as 1746 and Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, inventory 5737, recorded in Ambras collection in 1663), it is highly possible that it was commissioned or aquired by Bathory or Anna's successor Sigismund III. Another painting shows Adoration of the Magi with a man in Polish costume (almost idedntical as in the effigy of a Polish nobleman in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek) as one of the Magi.
The Banquet of Cleopatra with portraits of Anna Jagiellon, Stephen Bathory and Jan Zamoyski by Leandro Bassano, 1578-1586, Nationalmuseum in Stockholm.
Saint Anne and the infant Virgin Mary by Leandro Bassano, 1578-1586, Nationalmuseum in Stockholm.
Forge of Vulcan by Francesco Bassano the Younger, 4th quarter of the 16th century, National Museum in Warsaw.
Adoration of the Magi with a Polish nobleman by Francesco Bassano the Younger, 4th quarter of the 16th century, National Museum in Warsaw.
Portraits of king Stephen Bathory by Venetian painters
Official portraiture showed Bathory as he should look like and as he was perceived, imagined by average and less educated subjects, i.e. a strong, powerful, masculine monarch in rich national costume, a man capable to protect the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from Tsar Ivan the Terrible, a brutal tyrant, who used terror and cruelty as a method of controlling his country and who invaded the Commonwealth during the second royal election after Henry of Valois's sudden return to France in mid-June 1574 through Venice. The Tsar had captured Pärnu on 9 July 1575, took as many as 40 thousand captives (according to Świętosław Orzelski) and devastated much of central Livonia. Anna Jagiellon and Bathory were elected just few months later on December 15.
In private effigies or these dedicated to his European colleagues Bathory could allow himself to be depicted as educated in Padua lover of astronomy, in a cloak of a simple soldier in his army or as an old, tired man.
The portrait by Tintoretto from the Spanish royal collection, shows Bathory in a toga-like attire similar to the costume of a Venetian magistrate. It is a kopieniak a sleeveless raincoat of Turkish origin (kepenek), popular at that time in Hungary (köpenyeg). According to Stanisław Sarnicki's "Księgi hetmańskie", published in 1577-1578, kopieniak was a sort of Gabina (gabìno), a toga in ancient Rome, while according to "Encyklopedja powszechna" (Universal encyclopedia, vol. 15 from 1864, p. 446) in Poland the attire and a word were popularized by Bathory, "who used the kopieniak in hunting and during war expeditions".
After king's death some of his robes valued at 5351 zlotys were given to his courtiers. The inventory made in Grodno on 15 December 1586 includes many kopieniaks, made by his Hungarian tailor Andrasz, like the most valuable "scarlet kopieniak lined with sables with one silk button and a loop, 1548 zlotys worth", "12 navy blue half-kopieniaks lined with sables, with gold buttons" or "4 kopieniaks of different colors".
The portrait of a bearded man with hourglass and astrolabe by Francesco Bassano from Ambras Castle in Innsbruck is very similar in style and composition to the portrait of Anna Jagiellon in Vienna. Before 1 February 1582 Bathory offered to Ferdinand II, Archduke of Austria many items captured during the Siege of Pskov to his large collection of armaments in Ambras, including his armor accompanied by a portrait and resume.
Among the things given in deposit to king's courtier Mr Franciszek Wesselini (Ferenc Wesseleny´i de Hadad) in the inventory of king's belongings, there were "A gold carriage chest with the coat of arms of His Highness Augustus, in which there are various small things. Golden saddle of the deceased king Sigismund Augustus. A casket with small things and crane feathers" and also "A leaky watch (water hourglass)" and "Large old Turkish carpets, which were brought by Mr. Grudziński from Hungary from Machmet Basha", most probably offered by Sokollu Mehmed Pasha, Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire.
The inventory does not include any Western, black costumes, however since the king used many items of his predecessor Sigismund Augustus, he undoubtedly had access to his extensive black Italian wardrobe. Curiously the black Italian hose with protruding codpiece were at that time in Poland considered by simple people as more effeminate than dress-like żupan of colorful Venetian fabric. "The nation is effeminate [...] Franca [syphilis], musk, lettuce, with them it came, These puffed hose, stockings, mostardas, The Italian haughty nation has recently brought here" (269, 272-274), wrote in his satire "Conversation of the New Prophets, Two Rams with One Head" (Rozmowa nowych proroków, dwu baranów o jednej głowie) published in 1566/1567, Marcin Bielski.
His interest in astronomy is confirmed by his support to the sorcerer Wawrzyniec Gradowski from Gradów and with a sojourn at his court of John Dee, an English mathematician, astronomer and astrologer and Edward Kelley, an occultist and scryer in March 1583 and April 1585, who were paid 800 florins by the king. He also transformed the Jesuit gymnasium in Vilnius into an academy (1578), where astronomy, poetry and theology were taught. Leaving Transylvania for Poland in 1576, he consulted astrologers, with whom he also set the date of his wedding with Anna Jagiellon.
Therefore Bathory was maybe more effeminate in his private life then in his public appearance, he was however one of the most eminent monarchs of this part of Europe, a wise and brave king who led the Polish-Lithuanian Republic to its greatest glory and power.
After 50 his health rapidly declined. As Sigismund Augustus, Bathory most probably suffered from syphilis, treated by his Italian physicians Niccolò Buccella and Simone Simoni. "The king his grace had on his right leg two fingers below the knee, up to the ankle, a kind of rash, in which there were sometimes shallow, flowing wounds. On that leg, lower than the knee, he had an apertura [ulcer]: and when little was leaking from it, he had no appetite, the nights were restless and sleepless." The portrait in Budapest by Leandro Bassano, which is very similar to other effigies of Bathory, undeniably show him in the last year of his life.
Portrait of king Stephen Bathory in kopieniak coat by Tintoretto, ca. 1576, Prado Museum in Madrid.
Portrait of king Stephen Bathory with hourglass and astrolabe by Francesco Bassano, ca. 1580, Ambras Castle in Innsbruck.
Portrait of king Stephen Bathory sitting in a chair by Leandro Bassano, ca. 1586, Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest.
Portrait of Gustav Eriksson Vasa by Sofonisba Anguissola
In 1575 another inconvenient royal child was sent to be raised abroad, this time from Sweden to Poland. In August 1563 King Eric XIV of Sweden imprisoned Catherine Jagiellon, Duchess of Finland in Gripsholm Castle. She was released in 1567, but during this four-year imprisonment she gave birth to a daughter and a son, future Sigismund III. Catherine was crowned queen of Sweden in spring of 1569, when Eric was deposed. In March 1575, the Swedish Council of State decided to separate the seven-year-old boy Gustav Eriksson Vasa, the only son of Eric XIV, from his mother Karin Månsdotter, as king John III feared that the deposed Eric's followers in Sweden would use Gustav to be able to carry out their reinstatement plans. At Catherine's request her sister Anna agreed to take care of him.
He was well educated, attended the best Jesuit schools in Toruń and Vilnius and Collegium Hosianum in Braniewo. He knew many languages as well as astrology, chemistry and medicine. He travelled to Rome in 1586 and to Prague to meet Emperor Rudolf II, who learned about his chemical talent. As education and travel at that time were far more expensive than nowadays, he was not living in poverty as a prisoner or even a slave in chains in a poor and barbaric country, as some people want to believe.
A small portrait of a child by Sofonisba Anguissola in profuse mannerist frame from private collection in Switzerland shows a boy wearing an elegant black velvet doublet trimmed in gold, black hose and a black cape, like an attendant of the Jesuit school. The boy's features are very similar to these known from portraits of Eric XIV, his daughter Sigrid and to the portrait of a woman from Gripsholm Castle from about 1580, which is identified as Eric's step-sister Princess Elizabeth or his wife Karin Månsdotter. His pose and costume are almost identical with these visible in portrait of king John III of Sweden, husband of Catherine Jagiellon and Gustav Eriksson's uncle, in the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, a copy of original portrait by Johan Baptista van Uther from 1582. Anguissola's portrait can be threfore dated to 1582, a year when Gustav Eriksson reached his legal age of 14, and it was commissioned by his foster mother, proud of her boy starting education, most probably as one of a series for herself, her friends in Poland and abroad.
Portrait of Gustav Eriksson Vasa (1568-1607) by Sofonisba Anguissola, ca. 1582, Private collection.
Portrait of Beautiful Nana and her husband by Sofonisba Anguissola
Another mysterious portrait by Anguissola from the 1580s was acquired in 1949 by the National Museum in Warsaw from private collection. It was previously attributed to Giovanni Battista Moroni and it shows a man with his daughter.
The girl is holding a flower with four petals, similar to a primrose considered as a symbol of true (faithful) love, just as in "The Primrose" by John Donne (1572-1631), to white Caucasian rockcress (Arabis caucasica) or myrtle, consecrated to Venus, goddess of love and used in bridal wreaths - Pliny call it the "nuptial myrtle" (Myrtus coniugalis, Natural History, XV 122).
She wears a coral necklace, a fertility symbol in ancient Rome (after Gerald W. R. Ward's "The Grove Encyclopedia of Materials and Techniques in Art", 2008, p. 145), as in portraits of young brides by Florentine painter Domenico Ghirlandaio and in Polish folk costumes, and a symbol of protection, meant to bring good luck, as in portraits of court dwarf Magdalena Ruiz.
The red-haired man with blue eyes holds firmly a hand of young blue-eyed blond girl, this is not her father, this is her husband.
In 1581 Anna Jagiellon sent to her friend Bianca Cappello, Grand Duchess of Tuscany, one pretty, graceful female dwarf who could dance and sing. Monsignor Alberto Bolognetti, Bishop of Massa Marittima organized a travel for her from Warsaw through Kraków and Vienna. She was accompanied by "a Polish Gentleman named Mr. Giovanni Kobilmiczhi, and I [...] lingua Cobilnisczi, who is setting off in a carriage. I believe that the girl will feel comfortable, being highly recommended to the gentleman, and provided with whatever she needs to protect her from cold" (un Gentilhuomo Polaco nominato Signore Giovanni Kobilmiczhi, et mi [...] lingua Cobilnisczi, Il quale mettendo a viaggio in carozza. Mi credo che la fanciulla si condurrà comodamente, havendola lo massime al gentilhuomo molto raccomandata, et provista di qual che suo bisogno per difenderla dal freddo), according to the letter of February 15, 1581. The man was most probably Jan Kobylnicki, a courtier of king Stephen Bathory.
Beautiful Nana (Italian for female dwarf) was probably married after her arrival to Florence, possibly even with Kobylnicki or other Pole, and it was probably the Queen who commissioned her portrait with her husband from Anguissola, who moved from Pisa near Florence to Genoa in 1581. Consequently a two-sided portrait miniature of a female dwarf and her husband in the Uffizi Gallery painted in the style of Sofonisba from the same period, should be considered as effigy of parents of beautiful Nana.
Portrait of Beautiful Nana and her husband by Sofonisba Anguissola, ca. 1581-1582, National Museum in Warsaw.
Portrait miniature of mother of Beautiful Nana by Sofonisba Anguissola, ca. 1581-1582, Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
Portrait miniature of father of Beautiful Nana by Sofonisba Anguissola, ca. 1581-1582, Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
Portraits of Griselda Bathory and Elżbieta Łucja Gostomska by Sofonisba Anguissola
To strengthen the influence of the Bathory family in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, king Stephen planned the marriage of his Calvinist niece Griselda (née Christine) with the widowed Grand Chancellor of the Crown, Jan Zamoyski, one of the most powerful men in the country.
They were married on June 12, 1583 at the Wawel Cathedral in Kraków. Griselda came to Kraków with a retinue of 1,100 people, including six hundred soldiers guarding the her dowry. The wedding celebration with truly royal splendor lasted ten days.
After Bathory's death in 1586, Zamoyski helped Sigismund III Vasa gain the Polish throne, fighting in the brief civil war against the forces supporting the Habsburgs.
Griselda died four years later on 14 March 1590 in Zamość, an ideal city designed by Venetian architect Bernardo Morando. The city was not far from the second largest city of the Commonwealth, Lviv, dominated by a Royal Castle.
The portait of a young lady by Sofonisba Anguissola from the National Art Gallery in Lviv is very similar to the portrait of Anna Radziwill née Kettler from about 1586 in the National Museum in Warsaw. Anna Radziwill was a wife of a brother of first wife of Zamoyski. Their headdresses or bonnets are very much alike, as well as the dress, ruff, jewels and even the pose. The woman in Anguissola's painting is holding a zibellino, a symbol of a bride, and a small book, most probably a Protestant bible. The features of the woman's face are very similar to portraits of Griselda's uncle, cousin and brother.
A miniature in Sofonisba's style in the Uffizi Gallery (Inv. 1890, 9048, Palatina 778), shows a girl in very similar dress inspired by Spanish fashion to that in Lviv portrait. Her jewelled headdress is not Western however, it is in Eastern style and similar to Russian kokoshnik (from the Old Slavic kokosh, which means "hen" or "cockerel"). Such headdresses carried the idea of fertility and were popular in different Slavic countries. In Poland they preserved in some folk costumes (wianek, złotnica, czółko) and become dominant at the court of Queen Constance of Austria in Warsaw in the 1610s and 1620s.
The girl is therefore Elżbieta Łucja Gostomska (later Sieniawska), who in about 1587 at the age of 13 (born 13 December 1573), entered the court of Anna Jagiellon and whose miniature the Queen could send to her friend Bianca Cappello in Florence. She was the child of a Calvinist Anzelm Gostomski (d. 1588), voivode of Rawa. Her mother, Zofia Szczawińska, fourth wife of Anzelm, who raised her in Sierpc was affraid that her beautiful and wealthy daughter would be abducted by suitors. In 1590, despite her aversion to marriage, she married the Calvinist Prokop Sieniawski, then the court cupbearer, whom Queen Anna and her relatives chose for her.
Consequently also other portrait, depicting a lady with a pendant with Allegory of Abundance, and attributed to Spanish school (Alonso Sánchez Coello) could be a work of Anguissola and identifed as a court lady of Anna Jagiellon. She could be Dorota Wielopolska, lady-in-waiting of the Queen who in May 1576 married Piotr Potulicki, Castellan of Przemyśl. The queen organized for her a lavish feast and a tournament at the Wawel Castle. The painting was aquired by the National Museum in Kraków from a private collection in Gdów near Wieliczka, which was owned by the Wielopolski family.
Portrait of Griselda Bathory (1569-1590) by Sofonisba Anguissola, 1586-1587, National Art Gallery in Lviv.
Miniature portrait of Elżbieta Łucja Gostomska (1573-1624) by Sofonisba Anguissola, 1586-1587, Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
Portrait of a young woman with a pendant with Allegory of Abundance, most probably Dorota Wielopolska by Sofonisba Anguissola, 1580s, National Museum in Kraków.
Portrait of Sigismund III Vasa at a young age by Domenico Tintoretto
After the death of Stephen Bathory in December 1586, when 63 years old elected Queen Anna Jagiellon, could finally rule on her own, she was most probably too sick and too tired to do this. She supported the candidature of her niece Anna or her nephew Sigismund, children of her beloved sister Catherine, Queen of Sweden as candidates in next election. Sigismund was elected the ruler of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth on 19 August 1587.
Raised in Protestant Sweden, where Flemish Domenicus Verwilt and Dutch Johan Baptista van Uther with their stiff realism were chief portraitists at the court of his father and his predecessor, he found "degenerated", frivolous style of the Venetians not very appealing to him, at least initially. Although, he commissioned paintings in Venice, all most probably destroyed, no portrait is mentioned in sources. He supported Martin Kober, a Silesian painter trained in Germany, as his main court portraitist. It was therefore his aunt Anna Jagiellon, who could order a series of portraits of her protégé from Tintoretto for her and for her Italian friends.
The portrait of a blond hair young man, wearing a tight black doublet in El Paso Museum of Art is very similar to other known portraits of the king, especially his effigy in Spanish costume by Jakob Troschel from about 1610 (Uffizi in Florence) and a portrait holding his hand on a sword, attributed to Philipp Holbein II, from about 1625 (Royal Castle in Warsaw).
Chronologically this portrait fit perfectly known portraiture of the king: portrait as a child aged 2 from 1568 (AETATIS SVAE 2/1568), created by Johan Baptista van Uther as gift for his aunt (Wawel), as a Duke of Finland aged 18 (AETATIS SVAE XVIIII), consequently from 1585, also created by van Uther in Sweden (Uffizi), next this portrait by Domenico Tintoretto from about 1590, when he was 24 and was already in Poland and then the miniature at the age of 30 (ANNO AETATIS XXX) from about 1596 by workshop of Martin Kober or follower (Czartoryski Museum). The painting was inscribed on the column (AETATIS…X…TORET), now mostly effaced.
His left hand looks like if was posed on a sword at his belt, however no object is present. It was probably less visible in a drawing or miniature sent to Tintoretto, hence he left his hand strangely in the air, a proof that the sitter was not in painter's atelier. Forgetting of such an important object in the 16th century male portraiture, could be also a result of a rush to accomplish some big royal commission. The Order of the Golden Fleece, basing on which some of Sigismund's portraits were identified, was granted to him in 1600.
It is highly probable that the painting showing the Baptism of Christ by John the Baptist in the National Museum in Warsaw, created by Domenico Tintoretto around that time (after 1588) was also commissioned by Anna. It was bequeathed to the School of Fine Arts in Warsaw by Piotr Fiorentini in 1858 and later purchased by the Museum. Its earlier history is unknown, therefore Fiorentini, born in Vilnius, who later lived in Kraków and Warsaw, could have acquire it in Poland or Lithuania. Anna was engaged in embellishment of the main church of Warsaw - Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist and she also built 80-meter-long corridor (covered passage) connecting the Royal Castle with the Cathedral.
Portrait of Sigismund III Vasa at a young age by Domenico Tintoretto, ca. 1590, El Paso Museum of Art.
Baptism of Christ by Domenico Tintoretto, after 1588, National Museum in Warsaw.
Portrait of princess Anna Vasa in Spanish costume by Domenico Tintoretto
In about 1583, after her mother's death, Anna Vasa like her aunt Sophia Jagiellon in 1570, converted to Lutheranism. Already in 1577, papal diplomacy proposed to marry her to an Austrian archduke, Matthias or Maximilian.
She arrived to Poland in Ocober 1587 to attend her brother's coronation and she stayed until 1589, when she accompanied Sigismund to meet their father John III of Sweden in Reval and then followed John to Sweden. Anna returned to Poland to attend the wedding of Sigismund with Anna of Austria in May 1592. When just few months later, on 17 November 1592, John III died, Sigismund was willing to abdicate in favor of Archduke Ernest of Austria, who was about to marry his sister Anna. This was also intended to alleviate the Habsburgs, who already lost in two royal ellections.
Archduke Ernest, the son of Emperor Maximilian II and Maria of Spain, together with his brother Rudolf (Emperor from 1576), was educated at the court of his uncle Philip II in Spain.
To announce this turn in country's politics, where Anna Vasa become a focal point, her aunt most probably commissioned a series of portraits of her niece.
The portait by Domenico Tintoretto from the collection of Prince Chigi in Rome, now in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, shows a woman in black saya, a Spanish court dress, from the 1590s, similar to that visible in the portrait of the Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia by Sofonisba Anguissola in the Prado Museum from about 1597. However the white ruff collar, cuffs and her gold necklace are definitely not Spanish, they are more Central European and very similar to garments visible in portraits of Katarzyna Ostrogska from 1597 in the National Museum in Warsaw and in the portrait of Korona Welser by Abraham del Hele from 1592 in the private collection, they are not Venetian. The features of the woman's face are the same as in Anna Vasa's portrait from about 1605 and her miniatures from the 1590s identified by me (Marcin Latka). A book on the table beside her is therefore Protestant Bible, published in the small octavo format and landscape with rivers and wooded hills is how Tintoretto imagined her native Sweden.
The portrait of a man with a red beard from the same period in the National Museum in Warsaw and attributed to Tintoretto's workshop is almost identical in composition, techinique and dimensions. He is holding a similar book. It is therefore an important royal court official. The royal secretary from 1579 and a staunch Calvinist Jan Drohojowski (d. 1601) fit perfectly. From 1588 he was also a castellan of Sanok, hence one of the most powerful protestants in the country.
Drohojowski was the son of Stanisław Drohojowski, the promoter of Calvinism. His mother Ursula Gucci (d. 1554), also known as Urszula Karłowna, was also a protestant. She was a lady-in-waiting of Queen Bona and a daughter of Carlo Calvanus Gucci (d. 1551), a merchant and contractor, who arrived in Kraków in the retinue of Queen Bona and was later made Żupnik of the Ruthenian lands.
Portrait of princess Anna Vasa (1568-1625) in Spanish costume by Domenico Tintoretto, ca. 1592, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.
Portrait of Jan Drohojowski, castellan of Sanok by workshop of Domenico Tintoretto, ca. 1592, National Museum in Warsaw.
Portraits of Anna of Austria and Anna Vasa by Sofonisba Anguissola
In 1586, to strengthen her nephew's chances in royal election, Queen Anna Jagiellon proposed a marriage between Sigismund and Anna of Austria (1573-1598). The Habsburgs had strong influences in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and their claims to the throne were supported by part of the nobility. Due to the political instability and Maximilian of Austria's desire for the Polish crown, Anna's parents, preferred the match with Henry of Lorraine.
The plans resummed in 1590 when Anna's engagement with Duke of Lorraine was broken off. In April 1592, the betrothal was formally celebrated in the Imperial Court in Vienna. Despite the opposition of the nobles, Sigismund and 18 years old Anna were married by proxy in Vienna on 3 May 1592. She arrived to Poland with her mother Archduchess Maria Anna of Bavaria and a retinue of 431 people. The young king welcomed his wife accompanied by the "old queen" Anna Jagiellon and his sister Princess Anna Vasa in Łobzów Palace near Kraków where four tents were set up, decorated in Turkish style for the feast. The young queen received rich gifts, including "Kanak necklace with large diamonds and rubies and oriental pearls, which are called Bezars 30" from the king, "a chain of oriental pearls and a diamond necklace, and two crosses, one ruby, the other diamond" from the "old queen" and "kanak necklace with a cross of rubies and diamonds pinned on one" from Princess Anna, among others. Also "the envoy from the Lords of Venice" brought gifts valued at 12,000 florins.
Anna of Austria's Spanish connections become very important soon after her arrival, when after death of his father Sigismund left for Sweden and was willing to abdicate in favor of Archduke Ernest of Austria, who was about to marry his sister Anna Vasa. Two of Anna's effigies by Martin Kober from about 1595 were later sent to dukes of Tuscany (both Francesco I and Ferdinando I were half-Spanish by birth, through their mother Eleanor of Toledo).
Three miniatures and a portrait, all in Sofonisba Anguissola's style, can be dated to around that time. One minature from the Harrach collection in Rohrau Castle in Austria, possibly lost, identified as effigy of Anna of Austria, shows de facto Anna Vasa with an eagle pendant. The other in the Uffizi Gallery (Inv. 1890, 8920, Palatina 650) depict Anna Vasa in more northern costume. The latter miniature is accompanied by very similar miniature of a lady in Spanish cosume with a necklace with Imperial eagle (Inv. 1890, 8919, Palatina 649), it is an effigy of Anna of Austria, the young queen of Poland and relative of the Holy Roman Emperors and the King of Spain.
The portrait by Sofonisba from private collection, which shows a blond lady with a heavy gold necklace is very similar to other effigies of Queen Anna of Austria, especially her portrait in Kraków, most probably by Jan Szwankowski (Jagiellonian University Museum) and engravings by Andreas Luining (National Museum in Warsaw) and Lambert Cornelis (Czartoryski Museum in Kraków).
The miniature of a man from the collection of Dukes Infantado in Madrid, painted in Sofonisba Anguissola's style shows a man in Eastern costume. His attire is very similar to these visible in a miniature with Polish horsemen from Albert of Prussia's "Kriegsordnung" (Military ordinance), created in 1555 (Berlin State Library) and in a portrait of Sebastian Lubomirski (1546-1613), created in about 1613 (National Museum in Warsaw). The features of the man's face are similar to miniature of Sigismund III Vasa (Bayerisches Nationalmuseum) and his portrait by Martin Kober (Kunsthistorisches Museum), both created in the 1590s. In the same collection of Dukes Infantado, there is also a miniature attributed to Jakob de Monte (Giacomo de Monte) from the same period, showing king's mother-in-law Archduchess Maria Anna of Bavaria (1551-1608).
Portrait of Queen Anna of Austria (1573-1598) by Sofonisba Anguissola, ca. 1592, Private collection.
Miniature portrait of Queen Anna of Austria (1573-1598) in Spanish cosume by Sofonisba Anguissola, ca. 1592, Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
Miniature portrait of Princess Anna Vasa (1568-1625) by Sofonisba Anguissola, ca. 1592, Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
Miniature portrait of Princess Anna Vasa (1568-1625) with eagle pendant by Sofonisba Anguissola, ca. 1592, Rohrau Castle.
Miniature portrait of King Sigismund III Vasa in Polish costume by Sofonisba Anguissola, ca. 1592, collection of Dukes Infantado in Madrid.
Portraits of Sigismund Bathory at a young age by Domenico Tintoretto
After failed plans to cede the throne of the Commonwealth to Archduke Ernest, as no monarch could do this without approval from the Diet, the Holy See had proposed the marriage of Princess Anna Vasa to Sigismund Bathory, who both could rule the country during the absence of the king (Sigismund III left for Sweden in 1593).
Sigismund was the nephew of king Stephen Bathory, who on 1 May 1585 confirmed his legal age by dissolving the council of twelve noblemen who ruled Transylvania in his name and made János Ghyczy the sole regent.
After death of his uncle in 1586, he was one of the candidates to the throne of the Commonwealth. Sigismund knew Latin and Italian and in 1592 at his court in Alba Julia he had a large group of Italian musicians like Giovanni Battista Mosto, Pietro Busto, Antonio Romanini, or Girolamo Diruta among others.
In summer of 1593, he went to Kraków in disguise to start negotiations regarding his marriage with Anna Vasa. Possibly on this occasion either the Polish court or Sigismund himself ordered a series of portraits from Domenico Tintoretto. It is unknown why negotiations were eventually unsuccessful, possible reason might be his homosexuality. The elites were probably afraid of another frivolous "Valois", who will escape from the country after few months or it was Anna who refused to marry him.
Three years later however, on August 1595, Sigismund married Maria Christina of Austria, a sister of Anna of Austria (1573-1598), hence becoming brother-in-law of the king of Poland. It was regarded as a major political gain, but Sigismund refused to consummate the marriage.
In summer of 1596 he sent his confessor, Alfonso Carrillo, to Spain. The Jesuit asked Philip II for finacial aid, as well as the Order of the Golden Fleece for Sigismund. The king promised Carrillo, in addition to 80,000 ducats in aid and granting of high distinction, diplomatic aid to Poland.
On 21 March 1599 Sigismund formally abdicated receiving the Silesian duchies of Opole and Racibórz as compensation and left Transylvania for Poland in June. On 17 August 1599 Pope Clement VIII dissolved his marriage.
A young man in a ruff from the 1590s, known from a series of portraits by Domenico Tintoretto, his workshop and some Italian painter, resemble greatly Sigismund Bathory, who was 21 in 1593. One version, in Kassel, bears an inscription ANNO SALVTIS / .M.D.L.X.X.X.V. (In the year of Salvation 1585) on a letter placed on a table beside him, it is a letter from Sigismund's uncle, King Stephen of Poland confirming his rights to Transylvania and therefore his claims to King's inheritance. The other in private collection in Marburg is inscribed TODORE del SASSO / CIAMBERLANO / AETATIS SVAE XXXVI with an image of a key, therefore claiming to be Chamberlain Todore del Sasso, aged 36, however no such man is confirmed in sources, especially as a recipient of the Order of the Golden Fleece known from so many portraits, the inscription must be false. It cannot be also Francesco Maria II della Rovere, Duke of Urbino as the effigy does not match with his features and he had his exquisit court painter Federico Barocci. Another portrait from the Swedish royal collection by Domenico's workshop is in Stockholm. It was probably sent to Sigismund III, when he was in Sweden for his coronation.
There is also another version, but by a different painter, in Mexico. It is attributed to Giovanni Battista Moroni or to Domenico Tintoretto, therefore stylistically close, to a painter born in Cremona, Sofonisba Anguissola, court painter of Spanish monarchs. The effigy is very similar to previous portraits, just the Spanish Order of the Golden Fleece was added. It was commissioned by Polish court or Sigismund himself in about 1596 basing on effigy from 1593.
Portrait of Sigismund Bathory, Prince of Transylvania at a young age by Domenico Tintoretto, ca. 1593, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Kassel.
Portrait of Sigismund Bathory, Prince of Transylvania at a young age by Domenico Tintoretto or workshop, ca. 1593, Nationalmuseum in Stockholm.
Portrait of Sigismund Bathory, Prince of Transylvania at a young age by Domenico Tintoretto or workshop, ca. 1593, Private collection.
Portrait of Sigismund Bathory, Prince of Transylvania at a young age by circle of Giovanni Battista Moroni, most probably Sofonisba Anguissola after Domenico Tintoretto, ca. 1596, Museo Nacional de San Carlos in Mexico.
Portrait of Agnieszka Tęczyńska as Saint Agnes by Francesco Montemezzano
In October 1594, when she was just 16 years old, the eldest daughter of Andrzej Tęczyński, Voivode of Kraków, and Zofia nee Dembowska, daughter of Voivode of Belz, married the widower Mikołaj Firlej, Voivode of Kraków from 1589. The wedding feast with the participation of the royal couple took place in the "Painted Manor" of the Tęczyński family in Kraków, later donated to the barefoot Carmelites (1610). The groom, brought up in Calvinism, secretly converted to Catholicism during his trip to Rome in 1569. He studied in Bologna.
Agnieszka was born in the lavish Tenczyn Castle, near Kraków on January 12, 1578 as the fourth child. Both of her parents died in 1588 and most probably then she was raised in the royal court of Queen Anna Jagiellon. In 1593 she accompanied the royal couple, Sigismund III and his wife Anna of Austria, on their trip to Sweden.
For some time, Tęczyńska's confessor was the Jesuit Piotr Skarga. After her husband's death in 1601, she took up the upbringing of her children, the administration of huge assets and she became involved in philanthropic and charitable activities. Widowed, Tęczyńska fell into devotion. She died in Rogów on June 16, 1644, at the age of 67, and was buried in the crypt at the entrance to the church in Czerna, she founded.
In the preserved paintings, offered to different monasteries, she is depicted in a costume of a widowed lady or in a Benedictine habit, like in a full-length portrait in the Czartoryski Museum in Kraków from about 1640, created by circle of royal court painter Peter Danckerts de Rij or in a three-quarter length portrait in the National Museum in Warsaw, created by Jan Chryzostom Proszowski in 1643. The latter portrait, very Italian in style, was most likely inspired by a portrait of Queen Anna Jagiellon by Sofonisba Anguissola.
A portrait in the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston (MFAH) depicts a lady with a lamb, an attribute of Saint Agnes, a patron saint of girls, chastity and virgins. "During the Renaissance, women who were soon to be married often associated themselves with this saint because Agnes chose to die rather than marry a man she did not love", according to MFAH catalogue. She is holding a Catholic book, most probably a volume of Saint Thomas Aquinas' "On the truth of the Catholic faith" (Incipit liber primus de veritate catholicae fidei contra errores gentilium). A rose-bush is in this context a symbol of the Virgin Mary and of messianic promise of Christianity because of its thorns (after James Romaine, Linda Stratford, "ReVisioning: Critical Methods of Seeing Christianity in the History of Art", 2014, p. 111).
Woman's face is very similar to the effigies of Agnieszka Tęczyńska, later Firlejowa from the last decade of her life and to the portrait of her nephew, Stanisław Tęczyński in Polish costume, created by Venetian painter active in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Tommaso Dolabella.
The portrait was in von Dirksen's collection in Berlin before 1932 and stylistically is very close to portraits of Queen Anna Jagiellon by Francesco Montemezzano (died after 1602), a pupil and a follower of Paolo Veronese.
Portrait of Agnieszka Tęczyńska as Saint Agnes by Francesco Montemezzano, ca. 1592-1594, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Portrait of Queen Anna Jagiellon by Sofonisba Anguissola
In about 1550, a young Cremonese painter, Sofonisba Anguissola, created her self-portrait (private collection) in a rich dress and in a pose exactly the same as that visible in a portrait of Catherine of Austria, Duchess of Mantua and later Queen of Poland. Catherine's portrait, in Voigtsberg Castle, is attributed to Titian. Sofonisba either created this portrait, participated in its creation or saw it somewhere, as Mantua is not far from Cremona. It could be threfore Catherine, who introduced her to the Polish court, when in June 1553 she married Sigismund II Augustus. Around that time Sofonisba created her self-portrait at the easel, one of the best of her self-portraits, which she could sent to the Polish court as a sample of her talent. This portrait is now in the Łańcut Castle.
The portrait which was previously identifed as effigy of Catharine Fitzgerald, Countess of Desmond and Duchess of Dorset (d. 1625) in Knole House is very similar to effigies of Anna Jagiellon by Martin Kober and his workshop in coronation robes from the Sigismund's Chapel (1587) and in widow's clothing (1595) at the Wawel Castle. It was recently identified as portrait of Sofonisba Anguissola basing on a leaf from van Dyck's Italian Sketchbook. The inscription in Italian was evidently added later, as the year 1629 is mentioned in the text (the painter was in Italy between 1621 and 1627).
The drawing shows an old lady, similar to that from the Knole portrait. According to inscription it is an effigy of Sofonisba, whom the Flemish painter visited in Palermo: "Portrait of Lady Sofonisma painter made live in Palermo in the year 1629 on the 12th of July: her age 96 still having her memory and brain very prompt, very courteous" (Rittratto della Sigra. Sofonisma pittricia fatto dal vivo in Palermo l'anno 1629 li 12 di Julio: l'età di essa 96 havendo ancora la memoria et il serverllo prontissimo, cortesissima). However Sofonisba died on 16 November 1625 and according to sources she was born on 2 February 1532, hence she was 92 when she died. Van Dyck was in Palermo in 1624. If he could confuse the dates of Sofonisba's life, he could also confuse the portrait of Queen of Poland by her hand, created in about 1595, that she had, with her self-portrait (Keller Collection, 1610). He may also have seen the portrait elsewhere in Italy, or even in Flanders or England. The Knole portrait was most probably acquired from the English royal collection, therefore it is highly probable that Anna sent to Queen Elizabeth I her effigy, one from a series created by Anguissola.
In July 1589, English envoy Jerome Horsey, wanting to see Anna, sneaked into her palace in Warsaw: "before the windows whereof were placed pots and ranks of great carnations, gillyflowers, province roses, sweet lilies, and other sweet herbs and strange flowers, giving most fragrant, sweet smells. [...] Her majesty sat under a white silk canopy, upon a great Turkey carpet in a chair of estate, a hard-favored queen, her maids of honor and ladies attendants at supper in the same room". Queen Anna allegedly asked him, how Queen Elizabeth could "'spill the blood of the Lord's anointed, a queen more magnificent than herself, without the trial, judgment and consent of her peers, the holy father the Pope and all the Christian princes of Europe?' 'Her subjects and parliament thought it so requisite, without her royal consent, for her more safety and quiet of her realm daily endangered.' She shook her head with dislike of my answer", reported Horsey.
Anna died in Warsaw on 9 September 1596 at the age of 72. Before her death she managed to accomplish tomb monuments for herself (1584) and her husband (1595) in Kraków, created by Florentine sculptor Santi Gucci, and for her mother in Bari near Naples (1593), created by Andrea Sarti, Francesco Zaccarella and Francesco Bernucci. She was the last of the Jagiellons, a dynasty that ruled over vast territories in Central Europe since the late 14th century, when Polish nobles proposed to pagan Duke of Lithuania, Jogaila, to marry their eleven-year-old Queen Jadwiga and thus become their king.
Counter-Reformation, that she supported, and foreign invasions destroyed Polish tolerance and diversity, greedy nobles destroyed Polish democracy (Liberum veto) and invaders turned much of the country's heritage into a pile of rubble. The only portrait of the Queen in the nest of the Jagiellons - Wawel Royal Castle in Kraków was acquired from the Imperial collection in Vienna in 1936, just three years before World War II broke out. It was created by Kober in about 1595 and sent to the Habsburgs.
Self-portrait at the easel by Sofonisba Anguissola, 1554-1556, Łańcut Castle.
Portrait of Queen Anna Jagiellon by Sofonisba Anguissola, or a copy by Anton van Dyck, ca. 1595 or 1620s, Knole House.
Portrait of Queen Anna Jagiellon, a drawing by Anton van Dyck after lost painting by Sofonisba Anguissola, 1620s, British Museum.
In 1530, the nine-year-old Sigismund Augustus, son of Sigismund I the Old and his second wife Bona Sforza was crowned as co-ruler of Poland-Lithuania alongside his father. That same year he was also engaged with his four-year-old cousin Elizabeth of Austria, daughter of Anna Jagellonica, Queen of Germany, Bohemia, and Hungary. On 5 May 1543 then 16-year-old Elizabeth married 22-year-old Sigismund Augustus. The king, who already had several mistresses, did not find Elizabeth attractive and continued to have extramarital affairs.
In the course of the year 1545, on June 15th, the young queen Elizabeth died of an epileptic seizure in Vilnius. Her body filled with lime was awaiting the king's arrival from Kraków on July 24, over one month after her death. On August 25, 1545 the body of Elizabeth was buried in Saint Casimir Chapel of the Vilnius Cathedral. After half a year, on January 9, 1546, in Kraków, Seweryn Boner, the commissioner of Sigismund Augustus, signed a contract with the sculptor Giovanni Maria Mosca called Padovano, to create a tombstone for Elizabeth. Padovano, born in Padua and summoned to Sigismund I's court in 1529, became the main sculptor in Kraków after the tragic death of Bartolommeo Berrecci, murdered in 1537 by another jealous Italian artist. He created several tombstones for Vilnius Cathedral, including most probably tombstone for Vytautas the Great, commissioned by Bona Sforza. As early as 1546 Padovano undertook, together with Giovanni Cini, to create the tombstone for Elizabeth.
Sometime in 1547, in spite of his mother's disapproval, Sigismund Augustus secretly wed his mistress Barbara Radziwill, she died however on 8 May 1551 in Kraków, five months after long battled coronation, of syphilis, cancer or poisoned by Bona. Barbara asked to be buried in Vilnius and her body was transported to Vilnius Cathedral, where she was buried on 23 June next to Sigismund Augustus' first wife. One of her state portraits (a copy in the Royal Castle in Warsaw, inventory R-ZKW-161), which was probaly used as model for the tomb monument, reflects her great love for precious stones and pearls. She was depicted in a traditional wimple of a married woman covered with pearls and gold-diamond brooches, gold-diamond pendant on a gold chain with a large pearl, comparable with famous La Peregrina or the Tudor pearl, and another gold chain with a precious stone cameo with a bust of her husband, most probably created by Jacopo Caraglio, court goldsmith and medallist of Sigismund Augustus.
In January 1552, Jan Lutomierski, royal court treasurer, ordered 8 blocks of red "marble" (Adnet limestone) in Salzburg from Rupert Beyr (pro sepulchro Ser. olim Dominae D. Reginae Barbarae marmores octo iuxta ...), together with one block for the monument of Bishop Samuel Maciejowski in the Wawel Cathedral. The marble was transported to Kraków, from where, after preliminary processing, the blocks were floated down the Vistula to Gdańsk and Königsberg, then up the Nemunas and Neris rivers to the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania covering a total of over 1,500 km. On June 24, 1552 the tomb monument of Queen Elizabeth, created in Kraków, was brought to Vilnius and put in storage in the Franciscan monastery, and on April 18, 1553, Lutomierski signed a contract with Padovano with an advance payment of 280 florins for execution of the monument to Queen Barbara (convenit cum Joanne Maria, Italo lapicida, de labore sepulchri Ser. olim D.D. Barbarae ...). The main sculptural work Padovano performed together with Giovanni Cini on site, in Vilnius. The final bill of 971 florins and 13 groszy for the monuments to both queens was issued in 1562 (In sepulchrum et marmores Serenissimarum Elizabethae et Barbarae Reginarum).
Similar to Maciejowski's monument, created by Padovano in 1552, the royal tombs in the form of arcosolium (an arched recess), undoubtedly portrayed the deceased queens' in the fashionable "Sansovino pose", referring to the statues of Roman courtesans of the Flavian era, sleeping above the sarcophagus and turned towards the viewer. It was a revival of the Etruscan models, as opposed to the traditional medieval model which saw the deceased lying in a more rigid way and celebrating a dead person, in favor of a new conception exalting the living person. The works inspired later realisations, like monument to Barbara Tarnowska in Tarnów from the 1550s, monument to Elżbieta Zebrzydowska in Kielce, created by Padovano after 1553, monument to Urszula Leżeńska by Jan Michałowicz of Urzędów in Brzeziny, created between 1563-1568 or monument to Barbara Górka by Girolamo Canavesi in Poznań, executed after 1574.
In the last years of his reign Sigismund Augustus decided to built in the Vilnius Lower Castle, on the site of the former medieval chapel of St. Anne, destroyed by a fire in 1530, the new church of St. Anne and St. Barbara as a mausoleum for his wives. The coffins of the two queens were to be stored in Vilnius Cathedral, only until the construction of the church would be accomplished, which the monarch expressed in his last will:
The testament of His Majesty Sigismund Augustus, who died in Knyszyn on July VIIth of the year from the Nativity of Our Lord MDLXXII (Library of the Kórnik Castle, copy of the Puławy manuscript by Kielisiński)
[...] The bodies of deceased Ladies our Spouses, dead in Our Lord, we want them to be from the Chapel of St. Casimir, where they are put in depository, in this church of St. Anne to be transferred and buried there. The body Her Majesty Halska [Elizabeth] on the right side of the Church by the altar on the side of choir in the corner of the Church. And the Queen Her Majesty Barbara also from this side of the choir in the corner of the Church on the left side.
[...] For all this benevolence to Her Majesties our Sisters, often mentioned, the Church of St. Anne, aforementioned and begun by us [...] and as it is acceptable according to custom, if we will be buried there, to built a grave on the aforementioned site worthy our state. Also to Queen Her Majesty Halska [Elizabeth] to erect a grave, which is ready at Jop's. Also to Queen Her Majesty Barbara, after moving their bodies, to erect a grave on the above-described places.
Sigismund II Augustus died childless on 7 July 1572 in Knyszyn. The Union of Lublin signed on 1 July 1569 created a single state, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, a republic of nobles with elective monarchy. On 15 December 1575 Sigismund Augustus' sister Anna Jagiellon was elected as co-ruler of the Commonwealth, together with her husband Stephen Báthory.
The king's sisters were reluctant to fullfill his last will concerning the burial of his wives. It is probably due to Bona Sforza's animosity with both wives of her son, that Anna, who was very active in religious foundations (in 1578 she established at Warsaw's Bernardine Church of Saint Anne the St. Anne's Brotherhood), and supervised the construction of tomb monuments for herself, her brother, husband and mother, also not accomplished the delivery of this deed. Anna Jagiellon promote her niece Anna Vasa or her nephew Sigismund Vasa, children of her beloved sister Catherine, Queen of Sweden as candidates the the Commonwealth's throne after her death. Sigismund was elected the monarch of the Commonwealth in 1587 and in 1592 he succeeded his father as the King of Sweden, hence creating one of the largest federal states of the 16th century Europe, but was deposed in Sweden by his uncle Charles IX in 1599.
In July 1655, the grandson of Charles IX, "the Brigand od Europe", as he was called by Stefan Czarniecki, Charles X Gustav of Sweden willing to enlarge the Swedish Empire and taking advantage of the Russian invasion, advanced on the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, thus triggering one of the most devastaing wars in the history of the Central Europe, the so-called Deluge (1655-1660). The Commonwealth was attacked from north, south, east and west.
On 8 August 1655 Russian and Cossack forces captured Vilnius. The city was pillaged, burned and the population was massacred. According to the Russian historian Flavian Nikolayevich Dobryansky (1848-1919) "everything that was holy and beautiful inside and outside the city was burned; the rest was destroyed, not only the roofs, but also the tombs" (Old and New Vilna. Third edition of 1904). Just as marble tombstone of Paul Olshanski, Bishop of Vilnius in the Vilnius Cathedral, created by Padovano in 1555, and monument to Lew Sapieha, Great Lithuanian Hetman and his two wives in the Church of St. Michael in Vilnius from the 1620s, wich were damaged during that time, the royal effigies were most probaly also devastated.
The unfinished and dilapidated church of St. Anne and St. Barbara was left empty until 1666, when, at the request of the prelate Mikołaj Słupski, the king John II Casimir Vasa, great grandson of Bona Sforza, allowed the architect Jan Salwador to dismantle the building and use the materials and funds obtained from it to repair another badly damaged building, the Vilnius Cathedral. The precious marbles from the royal monuments were probably also reused.
Marble tondo of 46.5 cm in diameter from the collection of the Vilnius Univeristy, depicting a woman with long hair in antique costume, which was before the World War I in the Rumyantsev Museum in Moscow, was supposed to come from Elizabeth of Austria's tombstone.
Fragment of marble tomb monument of Elizabeth of Austria (1526-1545), Queen of Poland and Grand Duchess of Lithuania, first wife of Sigismund II Augustus by Giovanni Maria Mosca called Padovano and Giovanni Cini in Kraków, 1546-1552. Hypothetical reconstruction by Marcin Latka ©. All rights reserved.
Fragment of marble tomb monument of Barbara Radziwill (1520/23-1551), Queen of Poland and Grand Duchess of Lithuania, second wife of Sigismund II Augustus by Giovanni Maria Mosca called Padovano and Giovanni Cini in Vilnius, 1553-1562. Hypothetical reconstruction by Marcin Latka ©. All rights reserved.
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.
Before 1516 the confraternity of Saint Reinhold in Gdańsk commissioned a retable for the Saint Reinhold Chapel of the Saint Mary's Church in the city. The outer wings of the polyptych were painted in the workshop of Joos van Cleve, who depicted himself as Saint Reinhold.
The polyptych was shipped to Gdańsk in 1516 and today is on display in the Gallery of Medieval Art of the National Museum in Warsaw (oak, central panel 194 × 158 cm (76.4 × 62.2 in), each wing 194 × 75 cm (76.4 × 29.5 in)). It is the first confirmed work commissioned by patrons from territories of today's Poland.
The second could be Triptych with the Adoration of the Magi with a monarch in a chain of the Order of the Golden Fleece in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin (oak, central panel 72 × 52 cm (28.3 × 20.5 in), each wing 69 × 22 cm (27.2 × 8.7 in)). It was acquired from the Reimer Collection in Berlin in 1843. Possibly commissioned by Sigismund I of Poland.
The outer parts of the wings were painted en grisaille with effigies of Saints Christopher and Sebastian, which may indicate the donor, his patron saints, however among recipients of the Order of the Golden Fleece between 1451 and 1531 there were no Sebastian and only one Christopher - Christopher, Margrave of Baden-Hachberg (1453-1527). Although the latter was portraited in the similar headdress (crinale), he was not a king to depict himself as one of the Magi, and his facial features are completely different. Also other garments are very close to those from the known effigies of the Polish monarch - eg. Communion of Sigismund I, a leaf from the Prayer Book of Sigismund I the Old by Stanisław Samostrzelnik from 1524 in the British Library. The king of Poland was awarded the Order of the Golden Fleece in 1519 at the age of 52.
The sources on artistic contacts of the Polish court at that time with the Netherlands are very scarce. Among commissions confirmed in preserved inventories and accounts the are the following.
In 1526 queen Bona Sforza commissioned in Antwerp through Seweryn Boner, 16 tapestries "de lana cum figuris et imaginibus" of 200 flemish square inches in its entity. They were transported to Kraków via Frankfurt upon Main, Nuremberg and Wrocław.
In 1533 king Sigismund I commissioned through Boner and Mauritius Hernyck in Antwerp 60 tapestries with coat of arms od Poland, Lithuania and Duchy of Milan among which 20 bigger with green and blue background, 26 tapestries without coat of arms and 6 tapestries with figural scenes. The commission cost was 1170 florins and tapestries were transported to Kraków via Nuremberg, Leipzig and Wrocław.
In 1536 the king acquired 7 paintings in Flanders to adorn the apartments of prince Sigismund Augustus at the Wawel castle for 35 florins ("pro septem imaginibus Flandrensibus pictis").
The subtle marble bust of Queen Barbara Zapolya from Olesko Castle in the style of Netherlandish renaissance was probably part of a larger commission made by Sigismund I around 1520.
Madonna and Child in architectural setting
oil on panel, ca. 1535, 33.6 × 25.2 cm (13.2 × 9.9 in), inventory number Wil.1591, Museum of King John III's Palace at Wilanów
The painting represents one of several versions of ''Madonna of the Cherries'' created by Giovanni Pietro Rizzoli, called Giampietrino in about 1508-1510 when he was working alongside Leonardo da Vinci. The Giampietrino's painting is possibly a reproduction of a Madonna painted by Leonardo for Francis I of France. The latter work was probably a painting that influenced Joos van Cleve who was frequently employed by French court. The painting by Giampietrino from doctor Karl Lanz's collection is a direct link to the lost da Vinci's original. The composition enjoyed great success in the early decades of the 16th century and some twenty three versions attributed to Joos van Cleve's workshop have been identified.
Similar painting is in the Arnold and Seena Davis Collection. The work was acquired by Stanisław Kostka Potocki for his collection in the Wilanów Palace in Warsaw.
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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