Portrait of Prince Jerzy Zbaraski as Saint George by Paolo Fiammingo
In 1591, after initial studies in the country, the young Zbaraski brothers Jerzy (George) or Yuriy (1574-1631) and Krzysztof (Christopher) or Kryshtof (1579-1627), descendants of Ruthenian Prince Fyodor Nesvitsky (died before 1442), went on a long trip abroad. They visited Germany, Italy and France. They studied in Padua (1592-1593) and visited Venice, Rome and Naples. In France, they went to Lyon, Bordeaux and Paris. While studying abroad, the brothers converted from Calvinism to Catholicism, however, they were supporters of religious tolerance and opponents of the enormous influence of the Jesuit Order.
They returned to the country at the turn of 1594 and 1595. In the following year (1596) they participated in the expedition to Hungary, in the Moldavian expedition and in the siege of Suceava. In 1598 Jerzy was in the retinue accompanying King Sigismund III Vasa in Sweden.
Probably at the turn of 1600 and 1601, both Zbaraski brothers went to the Netherlands, where Jerzy studied Greek and history under Justus Lipsius in Louvain. Between 1602-1605, Krzysztof stayed in Italy again, where he mastered mathematical science under the supervision of Galileo. In 1616 also Jerzy returned to Padua where he enrolled at the university.
In 1620, after the death of Janusz Ostrogski, Jerzy Zbaraski was appointed Castellan of Kraków. Like his yonger brother Krzysztof, he was not married and had no children. The Zbaraski brothers were the heirs of their father's enormous fortune, in addition to the estates of their mother, Duchess Anna Chetvertynska (Czetwertyńska), a member of the Ruthenian princely family, who according to Józef Wolff were descendants of Yaroslav the Wise, Grand Prince of Kiev. In the 16th century Chetvertynski family owned large estates in Ukraine and Belarus and like Zbaraski family, they had Ruthenian Pogonia, displaying Saint George defeating the dragon, in their coat of arms.
Already in June 1589, in the retinue of bishop Radziwill and voivode Mikołaj Firlej, Jerzy visited the imperial court in Prague, where he had the opportunity to admire exquisite art collections of Emperor Rudolf II. From Venice, Jerzy, a great connoisseur and lover of art, brought the painting of Our Lady of Myślenice, later famous for miracles. According to "The History of the Miraculous painting of Our Lady in Myślenice", published in 1642 in Kraków, the original painting belonged to Pope Sixtus V, who left it in his will to the granddaughter of his sister, who became the abbess of a convent in Venice. When Prince Jerzy Zbaraski saw it in the convent, he wanted to have it, but the abbess did not want to give him the original, but agreed to make a copy. During the plague in Kraków in 1624, the painting was supposed to be burnt as "infected", but was spared from destruction. In 1633, the painting was transferred to the parish church in Myślenice. The image of the Virgin Mary is painted on a wood panel (50.3 x 67.8 cm) and because of some style similarities it is attributed to the Prague school from the beginning of the 17th century. The face and pose of the Virgin is however almost identical as in the painting showing Bathsheba at her bath (sold at Cambi Casa d'Aste in Genoa on 30 June 2020, lot 100), created by Paolo Fiammingo (Paul the Fleming, ca. 1540-1596). Fiammingo, born Pauwels Franck, was a Flemish painter, who, after training in Antwerp, was active in Venice for most of his life. He also possibly worked in Florence. Around 1573 he settled permanently in Venice, where he became a student of Jacopo Tintoretto. He opened a successful studio, which received commissions from all over Europe. One of his most important clients was Emperor Rudolf II and Hans Fugger, the heir of a German banking dynasty, who commissioned him in 1580 to produce several paintings to decorate the Swabian Escorial - Kirchheim Castle near Augsburg.
The style of the hand of Mary in Myślenice painting is similar to that visible in the Lady revealing her breast (An honest courtesan) by Domenico Tintoretto, dated to the 1580s (Prado Museum in Madrid, inventory number P000382).
The portrait of a man as Saint George in private collection, attributed to Italian or Venetian school, is also similar to Tintoretto's style. This small painting (28.7 x 21.7 cm) was painted on copper and the style of painting resemble more precisely the image entitled Profession of arms from the Munich Residence, attributed Fiammingo and created in the 1590s (Alte Pinakothek in Munich).
Prince Jerzy Zbaraski was a founder of at least two churches dedicated to his patron saint, Saint George. One in the main seat of the Prince and his brother, Zbarazh in Volhynia, was the burial place of part of the Zbaraski family. The wooden church and fortified Bernardine monastery was founded in 1606, and from 1627 the new brick church was built, most probably to design by Venetian architect and engineer of His Highness King Sigismund III Vasa, Andrea or Andrzej dell'Aqua, driving nearly 1,600 piles into the marshy area. This church was destroyed in 1648. In 1630 Zbaraski also founded Saint George's church in Pilica. Between 1611-1612, Krzysztof commissioned to Vincenzo Scamozzi in Venice, a project for a fortified palace intendend for Zbarazh. In a commentary to his design, published in 1615 in his "L'Idea Della Architettura Universale", Scamozzi recalled numerous meetings and discusions on military architecture with the learned Ruthenian aristocrat. It was however a design of the Flemish military engineer Hendrik van Peene and Venetian Andrea dell'Aqua that was used to built the new Zbarazh fortress between 1626-1631. His treatise on artillery "Praxis ręczna działa" from 1630 (manuscript in the Kórnik Library), dell'Aqua dedicated to Prince Jerzy Zbaraski.
In 1627 Jerzy founded the Zbaraski Chapel at the Gothic Dominican Church in Kraków, as a mausoleum for himself and his brother. It was built by the masons and sculptors Andrea and Antonio Castelli, probably according to the design of the royal architect Constantino Tencalla. In the baroque chapel there are monuments to two brothers carved in black Dębnik marble and white alabaster. Jerzy is depicted sleeping in armour and in a pose almost identical to that in the tomb monument of King Sigismund I the Old in the Sigismund's Chapel (1529-1531). His hairstyle is typical of a Polish-Lithuanian magnate from this period and he is holding his mace like if he was holding his manhood, a less subtle allusion to his virility or promiscuity. It is possible that some of the highly erotic works by Fiammingo were commissioned by Prince Zbaraski.
The man depicted as Saint George resemble Jerzy Zbaraski from his tomb sculpture, his portrait painted in the 1780s after original from the 1620s (Wilanów Palace in Warsaw) and effigies of his brother Krzysztof (National Museum of the History of Ukraine and Lviv National Art Gallery).
Jerzy was accused of a dissolute lifestyle and when he decided to put an end to coin counterfeiters with whom he was about to cooperate, they "persuaded one lady who visited the prince to give him a poison" (after "Niepokorni książęta" by Arkadiusz Bednarczyk, Andrzej Włusek).
Despite having no children, the memory of the last Prince Zbaraski preserved in the exquisite works of art that he commissioned.
Portrait of Prince Jerzy Zbaraski (1574-1631) as Saint George by Paolo Fiammingo, 1592-1594, Private collection.
Our Lady of Myślenice by Paolo Fiammingo, 1592-1594, Saint Mary's church in Myślenice.
Portrait of royal courtier Sebastian Sobieski by Leandro Bassano
Around October 16, 1593, king Sigismund III Vasa departed from Gdańsk for his coronation as the hereditary king of Sweden. He was accompanied by his courtiers, including Sebastian Sobieski (ca. 1552-1614), third son of captain Jan Sobieski (ca. 1518-1564) and Katarzyna Gdeszyńska. Earlier that year, in February, Sebastian was sent by the King as his envoy to the Lublin Sejmik (regional assemby). It is the first confirmed important function of this royal courtier. "Instructions for the Lublin Sejmik given from His Majesty to Sebastian Sobieski, a royal courtier in Warsaw on February 16, 1593", is in the Czartoryski Library in Kraków (BCz 390).
Sobieski most probably studied at the Calvinist school in Bychawa near Lublin. On December 17, 1576, probably thanks to the intercession of the Crown Vice-Chancellor Jan Zamoyski, he was admitted, as a page, to the court of king Stephen Bathory. Then, like his brothers, due to growing influence of the Counter-Reformation movement at the royal court, he converted to Roman Catholicism. On May 1, 1584, he was transferred to the group of salatariati saeculares (lay beneficiaries) in which he was until the death of the king. He became a supporter of Zamoyski, supported the election of king Sigismund III and, apparently, he participated in the defense of Kraków against the attack of the troops of Archduke Maximilian II in 1587 and the Battle of Byczyna in 1588. From May 1596, he held the position of Standard-Bearer of the Crown and as such he was depicted in the "Entry of the wedding procession of Sigismund III Vasa into Kraków in 1605" (Royal Castle in Warsaw).
Portrait of a bearded man in oriental costume from private collection in France, due some similarity to the style and, possibly, dates of his life is attributed to Hans von Aachen (1552-1615), a German painter trained in Italy. In 1592, while he was still working in Munich, von Aachen was appointed a court painter of Rudolph II, Holy Roman Emperor and moved to Prague in 1596.
According to inscription in Latin in upper right corner the man was 41 years old in 1593 (ANNO 1593 / ÆTATIS 41), exacly as Hans von Aachen, but also Sebastian Sobieski, born in about 1552. The portrait is evidently not a self-portrait of imperial court painter and this wealthy nobleman was depicted in a crimson silk żupan buttoned up to with gold buttons, very similar to żupan buttons of Stanisław Piwo, deputy cup-bearer of Płock, from the second quarter of the 17th century (Skrwilno Treasure, Toruń Regional Museum). His black coat trimmed with lynx fur it is almost identical to the one shown in the portrait of Jan Opaliński (1546-1598), created in 1591 (National Museum in Poznań), or in Twelve Polish and Hungarian types by Abraham de Bruyn, created in about 1581 (Rijksmuseum Amsterdam). His lace collar is very similar to the one in the effigy of The Marshal (Stanisław Przyjemski with a marshal staff) from Stanisław Sarnicki's "Statutes and records of crown privileges" by Jörg Brückner in Kraków, created in 1594 (Czartoryski Library). Letters on the table are very important documents, most probably envoy instructions given by the king. The style of painting is identical with portrait of Doge Marino Grimani (1532-1605), created in about 1595 by Leandro Bassano, signed: LEANDER A PONTE BASS [ANO] EQVES F. (Princeton University Art Museum). The man bear a resemblance to effigies of Sebastian Sobieski's brother Marek Sobieski (ca. 1550-1605), voivode of Lublin (1862 woodcut after lost portrait from the Zamoyski collection) and his brother's descendant (Marek's grandson), king John III Sobieski (portrait painting from the 1670s in the Kórnik Castle).
Mentioned portrait of Jan Opaliński in Poznań, a copy of a painting destroyed during World War I (from the burnt manor house in Rogów near Opatowiec), is considered by Michał Walicki as a very definite manifestation of the Venetian tradition "referring to the portraits of the Bassanos" (after "Malarstwo polskie: Gotyk, renesans, wczesny manieryzm", p. 33). Stilistically very similar was the painting which was before World War II in the Saint Lazarus hospital in Warsaw bearing the inscription in Latin: R. P. PETRVS SKARGA SOCIETATIS IESV. It represented the court preacher of King Sigismund III Vasa, Piotr Skarga (1536-1612), who became the first priest to hold it. The hospital was established in 1591 on his initiative for the poor and lepers and the founder was depicted sitting in his study before a table covered with an oriental carpet.
Portrait of royal courtier Sebastian Sobieski (ca. 1552-1614) aged 41 by Leandro Bassano, 1593, Private collection.
Portrait of Jan Opaliński (1546-1598) aged 45 by follower of the Bassanos, 1591, National Museum in Poznań.
Portrait of preacher Piotr Skarga (1536-1612) by follower of the Bassanos, after 1591, Saint Lazarus hospital in Warsaw, lost.
Portraits of Anna Vasa and Ladislaus Sigismund Vasa by Sofonisba Anguissola
In 1594 a marriage project appeared during Anna Vasa's stay in Sweden. The candidate was John George of Brandenburg (1577-1624), the administrator of Strasbourg from 1592 and a grandson of the Brandenburg elector, who was to become the governor of Prussia, a feudal fief of the Crown of Poland.
Negotiations on this marriage were conducted on the Brandenburg side by the Magdeburg chancellor Wilhelm Rudolf von Meckbach and Johann von Löben who both travelled to Kraków, and on the Polish side by royal secretary Jan Skrzetuski, who travelled to Berlin, and Samuel Łaski. The date of the wedding was set for April 10, 1598 in Stockholm and Anna even received a dowry of 100,000 thalers from her brother Sigismund III Vasa, as well as jewelery, horses, furniture and 10,000 guilders as a wedding gift. Anna and her descendants were to be granted the inheritance rights to Sweden.
Death of John George, Elector of Brandenburg on 8 January 1598, death of Sigismund's wife Anna of Austria (1573-1598) on 10 February and the outbreak of the uprising in Sweden made it impossible to conclude the wedding at the planned place and date. When Sigismund's uncle depose him in Sweden, these plans did not materialize.
The portrait of a noblewoman and her husband in costumes from the late 1590s by Sofonisba Anguissola is very similar to other effigies of Anna Vasa. Her costume in Spanish style and pose resemble closely portrait of queen Anna of Austria by Martin Kober, created in 1595 (Bavarian State Painting Collections and Uffizi Gallery in Florence) and portrait of Archduchess Maria Anna of Bavaria (1574-1616) by Joseph Heintz the Elder, created in 1604 (Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna). The man's costume is typical for France and Protestant countries in the late 16th century.
After return to Poland Sigismund made Anna starost of Brodnica on October 2, 1604, after death of Zofia Działyńska née Zamoyska and in December 1605 she attended Sigismund's wedding in Kraków, sitting in the bride's carriage. The negotiations with John George of Brandenburg were finally discontinued in 1609 and on June 3, 1610 he married Eva Christine von Württemberg (1590-1657), while Anna remained unmarried.
The oval portrait in private collection, very similar to Anna's miniature in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, is also stylistically close to Sofonisba as well as a miniature of Prince Ladislaus Sigismund Vasa in the Bavarian State Painting Collections.
Portrait of Princess Anna Vasa (1568-1625) in Spanish costume by Sofonisba Anguissola, ca. 1598, Private collection.
Portraits of Princess Anna Vasa (1568-1625) and John George of Brandenburg (1577-1624) by Sofonisba Anguissola, ca. 1598, Private collection.
Portrait of Princess Anna Vasa (1568-1625), starost of Brodnica by Sofonisba Anguissola, ca. 1605, Private collection.
Miniature of Prince Ladislaus Sigismund Vasa by Sofonisba Anguissola, ca. 1605, Bavarian State Painting Collections.
Portrait of Sigismund III Vasa in armour by Domenico Tintoretto
"The imago will be gratiosissima to the King. The King His Highness waits for paintings with great joy: a strange thing how he loves when he has something wonderful" (Imago będzie Królowi gratiosissima. Obrazów król Jmć czeka z wielką radością: dziwna rzecz jako się w nich kocha kiedy co cudnego ma), reveals in a letter dated July 12, 1588, written to Stanisław Reszka (1544-1600), who was in Rome, a Jesuit Bernard Gołyński (1546-1599) about the paintings commissioned by Sigismund III Vasa in Italy.
Sigismund was also a talented painter and goldsmith. According to historian Franciszek Siarczyński (1758-1829) in his "Picture of the Era of Sigismund III" (Obraz wieku panowania Zygmunta III), the king with the help of his court goldsmith, a Venetian Redutti (Reduta, Redura) made many church utensils, such as monstrances, chalices, lamps and candlesticks, which he gave to several churches.
In the collection of the Alte Pinakothek in Munich there is a painting which according to Edward Rastawiecki in his "Dictionary of Polish painters" (Słownik malarzów polskich, pp. 96-97) is "another work of this kind" and it was given to king's daughter Anna Catherine Constance Vasa, "on the back, the preserved inscriptions and seals confirm the origin and authenticity of this interesting souvenir". This work is however listed in Johann Nepomuck Edler von Weizenfeld's "Description of the electoral picture gallery in Schleissheim" of 1775 as the work of Tintoretto (Jacopo Robusti, 1518-1594). Stylistically the painting is very close to this Venetian painter and his son Domenico (1560-1635).
The monarch with the chain of the Order of the Golden Fleece is very similar to that visible in the study for a portrait of a king, most probably Sigismund III Vasa, in the collection of Francis Springell, attributed to Peter Paul Rubens, and to Sigismund's effigy in the Procession with St. Anianus by circle of Tommaso Dolabella in the Corpus Christi Church in Kraków. In the background, among the colonnades, there is a statue of the Madonna and Child, and in the clouds the figure which is interpreted as Saint Sigismund, patron saint of the monarchs. Heresy, depicted as an old woman, lies chained on the steps of the church. On the right are two Jesuits.
Saint Sigismund has also a chain of the Order of the Golden Fleece and he bears a strong resemblance to Sigismund III's father-in-law Archduke Charles II of Austria (1540-1590), son of Anna Jagellonica. His crown is bordered with ermine like the Archducal hat (coronet). Curiously also the crown of the main monarch is bordered with ermine. It might be the painter's mistake or that Sigismund III commissioned an effigy of his brother-in-law Ferdinand II (1578-1637) who was raised by the Jesuits and dealt with heresy in his country before becoming emperor in 1619.
Sigismund III received the Order of the Golden Fleece from his brother-in-law king Philip III of Spain in 1600. On this occasion he commissioned silver table service in Augsburg for 20,000 florins. The service, created by Hermann Plixen, was used for the first time during a banquet at the Castle in Warsaw on February 25, 1601. The king also commissioned other exquisite items in Augsburg, like the silver sarcophagus of Saint Stanislaus for the Wawel Cathedral in Kraków, and in other locations. Through his agent in Persia, Sefer Muratowicz, he commissioned a series of kilims with his coat of arms in 1601 and in about 1611-1615 he purchased a series of 6 tapestries in François Spierincx's workshop in Delft with the Story of Diana. On October 29, 1621 Jan Brueghel the Elder wrote to E. Bianchi about sending a lot of paintings to the King (molti pitture al Re) and the "Battle of Kircholm in 1605" by Pieter Snayers, also created for Sigismund, is today in the Château de Sassenage. In Milan, in about 1600, he commissioned a crystal lavabo (ewer and basin) with his coat of arms and monogram (Treasury of the Munich Residence) and most probably the shishak helmet offered to Feodor I of Russia (Kremlin Museum), created before 1591. His portraits in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg, lost during World War II, and in the Wilanów Palace in Warsaw represent him in a rich, chiselled, partially gilt and polychromed blue armor in the type of mezza armatura (half armor), probably made in Milan.
Portrait of a man in a suit of armour etched with gold by Domenico Tintoretto of unknown provenance (sold in 2016 at Christie's, lot 163), has almost identical dimensions as effigy of Sigismund III's sister Anna Vasa by Domenico Tintoretto in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (115.3 x 96.1 cm / 115.5 x 96.7 cm). It is possible that they were created at the same time. The man bears a great resemblance to the effigies of Sigismund III Vasa from the early 17th century, especially his portrait painted in Prague in about 1605 by court painter of Emperor Rudolph II, Joseph Heintz the Elder (Alte Pinakothek in Munich).
Portrait of Sigismund III Vasa in a suit of armour etched with gold by Domenico Tintoretto, ca. 1592-1600, Private collection.
Allegory of suppression of heresy by Domenico Tintoretto, 1600-1619, Alte Pinakothek in Munich.
Portrait of Sigismund III Vasa as Saint Sigismund by workshop of Domenico Tintoretto
Around 1600, most likely an Italian painter Ottavio Zanuoli (d. 1607), created a painting depicting the Communion of the Virgin, today in the Royal Convent of Las Descalzas Reales in Madrid. Zanuoli was a court painter of Archduke Charles of Styria (son of Anna Jagellonica) and his wife Archduchess Maria Anna of Bavaria (granddaughter of Anna Jagellonica). According to handwritten list of all the effigies fixed on the back of the canvas, the painting represent the family of Archduke Charles, depicted as Saint John the Apostle, giving communion to the Virgin. His son Charles of Austria (1590-1624), Prince-Bishop of Wrocław from 1608, is holding a jug as a deacon of the mass. Behind Archduchess Maria Anna, represented as the Virgin Mary, are her daughters including Anna (1573-1598) and Constance (1588-1631), two wives of Sigismund III Vasa. The painting was undoubtedly a gift to Margaret of Austria (1584-1611), a daughter of Charles and Maria, who on 18 April 1599 married King Philip III of Spain, her first-cousin. Margaret became a very influential figure at her husband's court and a great patron of the arts.
In 1603 the Queen of Spain commissioned paintings to her private oratory in the Valladolid palace, painted by Juan Pantoja de La Cruz, today in the Prado Museum in Madrid. One, the Birth of the Virgin shows three of her sisters, together with their mother, Archduchess Maria Anna of Bavaria, the other, the Nativity of Jesus, shows three of her brothers and three of her sisters, the Queen as the Virgin Mary and her husband as a shepherd.
Around 1620, the youngest of Charles and Maria's daughters, Maria Magdalena, who on 19 October 1608 married Cosimo II de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany was represented as Saint Mary Magdalene in a painting by Justus Sustermans, preserved in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, and in a workshop copy in private collection.
Such effigies, in guise of Saints and biblical figures were also popular at the Polish-Lithuanian royal court at that time. The Communion of the Jagiellons at Jasna Góra in 1477 (Casimir IV Jagiellon with his sons admitted to Jasna Góra Confraternity), created by workshop of Venetian painter Tommaso Dolabella in the second quarter of the 17th century (Jasna Góra Monastery), shows King Sigismund III and his sons as their predecessors from the Jagiellon Dynasty kneeling before the Black Madonna of Częstochowa. In the Jasna Góra Monastery, there are also two other paintings created by workshop of Tommaso Dolabella depicting Saints Stephen and Ladislaus, Kings of Hungary, both bearing features of King Sigismund III Vasa and a costume known from other portraits of the king.
A painting by workshop of Domenico Tintoretto, also attributed to his brother Marco, whom the father's will names as a painter in Domenico's workshop, from a private collection in Southern Germany (oil on canvas, 113 x 89 cm, sold at Lempertz, Cologne on May 2003, lot 1133), basing on some details of the painting is identifed as depicting Saint Louis IX, king of France, kneeling before the Crucifix. The traditional symbols of this Saint are indeed visible in the painting, fleur-de-lis on his coat, pendant, crown and sceptre, however there is also a crown embroidered on his coat and the attire is not blue like in the French royal coat of arms, golden fleur-de-lis on a blue field, used continuously for nearly six centuries (1211-1792). Italian painters since the beginning of the 16th century were well aware how the French king should look like and paintings by Ambrogio Bergognone, active in and near Milan, created between 1500-1520 (Accademia Carrara in Bergamo), by Berto di Giovanni, active in Perugia, created in about 1517 (Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria), by Francesco Curradi, active in Florence, created in about 1600 (Private collection) and Matteo Rosselli, active in Florence, painted between 1613-1614 (Chiesa della Madonna in Livorno), depict the Saint in a mantle of French monarchs with golden fleur-de-lis on a blue field. The Saint from the Tintoretto's painting is therefore not Saint Louis IX. Another saint monarch connected with France is Saint Sigismund (Latin Sigismundus, died 524 AD), King of the Burgundians, patron saint of monarchs and of the Kingdom of Bohemia (in 1366, Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, transferred Sigismund's relics to Prague and gave the saint's name to one of his sons, the later King Sigismund of Hungary). Arm reliquary of Saint Sigismund from the Guelph treasure, created in the late 11th century (Museum of Decorative Arts in Berlin), was in the late 13th or early 14th century supplemented with an orb surmounted by a fleur-de-lis, a shortened representation of a lily-crowned scepter.
Altar painting with Saint Sigismund in the Parish church in Słomczyn near Warsaw (Konstancin-Jeziorna), created in about 1895 after a lost original, is very similar to the painting by workshop of Domenico Tintoretto. The Saint is kneeling before the Crucifix, his crown and sceptre are on a table covered with crimson fabric, his golden mantle and pendant are also very much alike. Another painting in the same church from the 19th century feretory depict Saint Sigismund in similar golden tunic and kneeling before the altar. The church in Słomczyn was founded at the beginning of the 15th century by Mrościsław Cieciszewski and the main patron of the parish from the very beginning was Saint Sigismund. During the Deluge (1655-1660) the church was plundered and invaders destroyed the altars.
In 1165 Werner, bishop of Płock (north of Warsaw), brought the relics of Saint Sigismund from Aachen. In 1370 King Casimir III the Great, commissioned a silver reliquary for the Saint, today in the Diocesan Museum in Płock, and in 1601 King Sigismund III Vasa ordered the 13th century diadem to be placed on the reliquary of his patron saint. Sigismund III was frequenlty depicted in a similar żupan-like attire to that visible in Tintoretto's painting, for example in the mentioned Communion of the Jagiellons, in another painting by circle of Tommaso Dolabella representing Tsar of Muscovy Vasili Shuisky swearing an oath of allegiance at the Parliament of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1611 (Lviv Historical Museum) and in the plaque from his sarcophagus with King's military campaigns, created in 1632 (Wawel Cathedral). The man from the Tintoretto's painting bear a resemblance to the portrait of Sigismund III Vasa in a suit of armour etched with gold by the same painter, created between 1592-1600 (Private collection), his effigy in the Battle of Smolensk by Antonio Tempesta or Tommaso Dolabella, painted after 1611 (Private collection) and his profile on gold 10 ducats coin (portuguez), minted by Rudolf Lehman in Poznań in 1600 (National Museum in Kraków). The overall composition resembles the portrait of Piotr Skarga (1536-1612), court preacher of Sigismund III, created in 1588 by Karel van Mallery (National Library of Spain in Madrid).
The painting by workshop of Domenico Tintoretto was in the collection in Southern Germany, exaclty as Allegory of suppression of heresy by this painter from the collection of Sigismund III's daughter (Alte Pinakothek in Munich). The king often sent gifts to William V, Duke of Bavaria, like the reliquary of Saints John the Baptist and Dionysius the Areopagite, offered in 1614 (Treasury of the Munich Residence) or silver statue of St. Benno of Meissen offered to the altar of St. Benno in the Munich Cathedral, created by Jeremias Sibenbürger in 1625 in Augsburg (Diocesan Museum in Freising). Together with the statue of St. Benno, the king also donated two silver reliquaries in the shape of a hand (not preserved) and 10,000 guilders for celebrating the daily mass, the so-called Polish mass, in the Cathedral.
Portrait of King Sigismund III Vasa as Saint Sigismund kneeling before the Crucifix by workshop of Domenico Tintoretto, 1592-1600, Private collection.
Portrait of Janusz I Radziwill by Leandro Bassano
"The Polish Lord, at whose court Michelagnolo was already employed, has recently written, that he must go there as soon as possible, offering him a most honorable position, that is, a place at his table, dressed like the first gentlemen of his court, two servants, who will serve him, and a carriage with four horses, and more than 200 Hungarian ducats a year's allowance, that is about 300 scudi, except donations, which will be a lot; so that he is resolved to leave as soon as possible, nor expects anything other than the opportunity of good company, and I believe that he will depart in fifteen days, so I must arrange him with money for the journey, and in addition it is necessary for him to bring with him at the request of his Lord some things, for which among the provision for a journey and the said things I cannot fail to accommodate at least 200 scudi" (Signor Pollacco, a presso di chi è stato Michelagnolo, ha ultimamente scritto, che ei deva quanto prima andare là da lui, offerendoli partito honoratissimo, cioè la sua tavola, vestito al pari dei primi gentil' homini di sua corte, due servitori, che lo servino, et una carrozza da quattro cavalli, et di più 200 ducati ungari di provvisione l'anno, che sono circa 300 scudi, oltre ai donativi, che saranno assai; tal che lui è risoluto di andar via quanto prima, nè aspetta altro che l'occasione di buona compagnia, et credo che tra quindici giorni partirà, onde a me bisogna di accomodarlo di danari per il viaggio, et in oltre bisogna che porti seco ad instanza del suo Signore alcune robe, che tra 'l viatico et le dette robe non posso far di manco di non l'accomodare almeno di 200 scudi), informed his mother in a letter from Padua in the Venetian Republic of August 7, 1600 (Mss. Palatini, Parte I, Vol. IV, pag. 11.), Galileo Galilei, famous Italian astronomer, physicist and engineer.
Already in 1593 Michelagnolo Galilei (1575-1631), an Italian composer and lutenist, son of another composer and lutenist, Vincenzo Galilei, and the younger brother of Galileo went to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, where foreign musicians were in great demand. Most likely invited by the influential Radziwill family, he stayed there till 1599 and returned to his previous employer in Poland-Lithuania in 1600 after a short stay in Italy.
The "Polish Lord", Michelagnolo's parton, is somerimes identifed as Christopher Nicolaus Radziwill (1547-1603) nicknamed "the Thunderbolt", voivode of Vilnius, Grand Hetman of Lithuania and a representative of the Birzai branch of the Lithuanian magnate family (after "Galileo Galilei e il mondo polacco" by Bronisław Biliński, p. 69), who employed several musicians at his court. Christopher Nicolaus was a son of Nicolaus "the Red" Radziwill (brother of Queen Barbara), a Calvinist and protector of the Calvinists in Poland-Lithuania. By his second wife Katarzyna Ostrogska (1560-1579), daughter of Zofia Tarnowska (1534-1570), he had a son Janusz I (1579-1620), educated in Strasbourg and Basel. Janusz also traveled to Germany, Bohemia, Austria, Hungary, and France. From 1599 he was a cupbearer of Lithuania and on 1 October 1600 he married the Orthodox Princess Sophia Olelkovich-Slutska (1585-1612), the heiress of Slutsk and Kopyl (in present-day Belarus) and the richest bride in Lithuania.
Sophia, canonized by the Orthodox Church in 1983, died in childbirth on March 19, 1612, leaving all of her property to her husband, and just few months later, on March 27, 1613 in Berlin, Janusz married Elizabeth Sophie of Brandenburg (1589-1629), a daughter of the Brandenburg Elector John George (1525-1598) and a great-granddaughter of Barbara Jagiellon (1478-1534), Duchess of Saxony.
It is possible that Michelagnolo was invited to the Commonwealth for the wedding feast of Janusz and Sophia. According to a Galileo's letter from Padua of November 20, 1601 to his brother in Vilnius, he also traveled to Kraków and Lublin. In April 1606 he returned to Italy to live with his brother in Padua. On May 11, 1606 Galileo wrote to him from Venice about negotiating with a German Lord (Signore tedesco) and he secured him a place at court of the Bavarian Elector in Munich. In 1608 Michelagnolo was married to Chiara Anna Bandinelli in Bavaria, whom he most likely met in Lithuania and who was the sister or daughter of Roberto Bandinelli, nephew of the famous Florentine sculptor Bartolommeo called Baccio, who settled with his family in Lithuania (after "Archivio storico italiano", Volume 17, p. 31).
According to the catalogue of exhibition of portraits in the Hague in 1903 (Meisterwerke der Porträtmalerei auf der Ausstellung im Haag, p. 2, item 2a), in the collection of Princess Cecylia Lubomirska née Zamoyska (1831-1904) in Kraków there was a portrait of a lute player by Leandro Bassano. It was later owned by Cecylia's son Kazimierz Lubomirski (1869-1930), most probably lost during World War II.
A young man with several rings on his left hand is playing a serenade on a lute to his beloved. He is listened to by his dog, conventional symbol for fidelity, especially marital fidelity, wearing an expensive collar, possibly bearing his coat of arms. The window in the background shows his house, an Italian-style villa similar to the pavillons of the Radziwill Palace in Vilnius, the larger palace of the Calvinist branch of the family. The Radziwill Palace, initially a renaissance manor house built in the 16th century, was reconstructed and extended between 1635 and 1653 for Janusz II Radziwill (1612-1655), nephew of Janusz I (1579-1620). The lavish edifice was constructed by Jan Ullrich and Wilhelm Pohl to design by Italian architect, most probably Constantino Tencalla, and was depicted in 1653 medal by Sebastian Dadler, minted on the occasion of the inauguration of Janusz II as the Voivode of Vilnius.
The lute player from the Lubomirski collection was signed and dated by the artist. The inscription in Latin stated that the depicted man was 21 years old in 1600 (Anno aetatis suae XXI, MDC), exaclty as Janusz I Radziwill (born in July 1579 in Vilnius), when he married Sophia Olelkovich-Slutska. The sitter bear a great resemblance to other effigies of the Prince, especially a print by Jan van der Heyden after Jacob van der Heyden, created in 1609 (Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum), a portrait by unknown artist (State Historical Museum in Moscow) and a medal with his bust, published in Berlin in "Medals of the princely house of Radziwill" (Denkmünzen des Radziwillschen Fürstenhauses, 1846).
It is generally belived that Bassano's lute player is tantamount to a painting acquired in Venice by Count Stanisław Kostka Potocki (1755-1821), who recalled in a letter to his wife of September 22, 1785 from Venice: "I end my article on Venice by telling you that I have acquired one of the freshest paintings of Paolo Veronese that I have ever seen, it is a Holy Family of the size of your Rubens, I hope that you will be happy with it, adding here a portrait of Bassen playing the lute painted by himself which is really a masterpiece of this master, and you will be happy with this acquisition (je finis mon article de Venise, par te dire que j'ai fait l'aquisition d'un des plus frais tablaux de Paule Véronèse que la aie jamais vue, c'est une St. Famille de la grandeur à peu près de ton Rubens, j'espère que la en sera contente, ajoute ici un portrait du Bassen jouant du luth peint par lui meme qui est vraiment un chef d'œuvre de ce maître, et tu sera contente de moi, Central Archives of Historical Records in Warsaw, 262 t. 1, page 60). Veronese's Holy Family is today most probably in the Wilanów Palace (inventory number Wil.1000, also considered to be the painting purchased in Paris in 1808) and it is currently attributed to his brother Benedetto Caliari. Even if the lute player from the Lubomirski collection was acquired by Potocki in Venice, it does not exclude that it represents a person from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, as paintings commissioned abroad were frequently created in series, as gifts to relatives and friends. In this case the possibility that it was a gift to the tutor's brother, Galileo Galilei, or his family is probable. If Michelagnolo was a court musician of Christopher Nicolaus "the Thunderbolt", he could teach music to his son Janusz I.
"It was customary that the orders of Polish clients abroad were paid through the bankers' offices that organized the transport. Thus, the intermediary between Sigismund III and Chancellor Zamoyski, on the one hand, and Italian painters, on the other, was the Montelupi company from Kraków, whose post office brought finished and paid works to Poland. Gdańsk bankers mediated between our country and the Netherlands, and thanks to their efforts, paintings and fabrics ordered by Ladislaus IV in Antwerp were transported by sea through the Danish straits" (after "Obrazy z kolegiaty łowickiej i ich przypuszczalny twórca" by Władysław Tomkiewicz, p. 119). In the 1620s, most probably after death of Leandro Bassano, who died on April 15, 1622, a painter from the circle of Bassano brothers settled in Pułtusk, a significant economic centre of Masovia. Between 1624-1627 he created three paintings showing scenes from the life of Mary for the Łowicz Cathedral, commissioned by Henryk Firlej (1574-1626), Archbishop of Gniezno and Primate of Poland, son of Jan Firlej (1521-1574), and a self-portrait, today in the Dominican Monastery in Kraków.
Portrait of Janusz I Radziwill (1579-1620), aged 21 playing a lute by Leandro Bassano, 1600, Lubomirski collection in Kraków, lost.
Portrait of Sebastian Petrycy by Venetian painter
Sebastian Petrycy or Sebastianus Petricius Pilsnanus, was born in 1554 in Pilzno near Tarnów in south-eastern Poland as a son of Stanisław (died after 1590), a wine merchant. In 1583 he graduated with the degree in philosophy at the Kraków Academy and he began lecturing there. A year later, in 1584, Sebastian became a member of the Collegium Minus (College Minor) and took the chair of poetics and in 1588 he became a professor of rhetoric.
In February 1589, Petrycy was granted a leave to travel to Italy and study at a selected foreign university. He decided to study in Padua, where he received the degree of doctor of medical sciences at the beginning of March 1590.
When he returned to Kraków, he applied for the recognition of his diploma at the Faculty of Medicine, but was refused admission and left for Lviv, where he got married with already pregnant eighteen-year-old Anna (he was almost forty), the daughter of a wealthy merchant Franz Wenig, and opened his own medical practice. The death of his wife (February 28, 1596) and of his only daughter, Zuzanna, as well as the lost trial for the inheritance of his father-in-law, prompted him to return to Krakow (around 1600). He became the personal physician of the bishop of Kraków Bernard Maciejowski, who in 1603 was made cardinal by Pope Clement VIII. Between 1603-1604 he went with the cardinal to France and Lorraine and in 1606, as a physician of Jerzy Mniszek and his daughter Marina, he left for Moscow, which cost him almost a year and a half in captivity. During his court career, he worked on translations of Aristotle into Polish. He then returned to the medical profession and successfully practiced for the last 10 years of his life.
Petrycy died in 1626 in Kraków, and shortly before his death he founded a marble epitaph for himself depicting him in prayer, created by a royal court sculptor.
Portrait of a bearded man holding glasses, comes from the collection of John Rushout, 2nd Baron Northwick (1770-1859) at Northwick Park. It was previously attributed to Titian and Lotto Lorenzo, however stylistically is also close to Jacopo Tintoretto (1518-1594) and his son Domenico (1560-1635). The man's costume of crimson silk is very similar to Polish żupan, his coat is lined with fur. This effigy is very similar to portraits of Sebastian Petrycy and his son Jan Innocenty Petrycy (1592-1641), who like father was a physician, professor at the Academy and studied in Bologna. Mentioned portraits are today in the Collegium Maius of the Jagiellonian University and were created in the 1620s by workshop of Tommaso Dolabella (1570-1650), a Venetian artist settled in Kraków and a court painter of king Sigismund III Vasa. It is possible that Dolabella's workshop copied some family owned portraits, created in Venice. Consequently the effigy can be dated to beginning of the 17th century when Petrycy was a court physician in Kraków.
Portrait of Sebastian Petrycy (1554-1626) holding glasses by Venetian painter, possibly Domenico Tintoretto, 1600-1606, Private collection.
Portraits of Constance of Austria by Gortzius Geldorp
"Although the king was young, he was more inclined to peace than to war, and he did not even want to find employment in anything in the domain of the god Mars. I heard that one time, when the archbishop and chancellor informed him about the war, he wrote something down in a pugilares. They thought that he was anxious about the fate of the war until the king, who was a good painter, goldsmith and turner, showed them a painted little owl", recalled in his diary Albert Stanislaus Radziwill, Grand Chancellor of Lithuania about the beginnings of the reign of Sigismund III Vasa.
The King, so much inimical to idleness (tanto inimico dell'ozio), in his spare time he occupied himself with a certain artistic work, making his effigies, paintings and other items, which he offered as a gift, like "the one of which he painted with his own hand was the portrait of Saint Catherine of Siena last year" (una delle quali che fece di sua mano, fu il ritratto di S. Catherina di Siena l'anno passato), says of Sigismund III another contemporary witness, the papal nuncio Erminio Valenti (1564-1618), in a handwritten description of Poland and the royal court in 1603 (Relazione del Regno di Polonia).
In 1605 the king married his distant relative (as a granddaughter of Anna Jagellonica), the sister of his first wife and sister of Queen of Spain, Constance of Austria (1588-1631). Many eminent guests arrived to Kraków for Sigismund's wedding, the bride with her mother Archduchess Maria Anna, and her sister - Maria Christina, Princess of Transylvania, Radu Șerban, Voivode of Wallachia or his envoy, Mechti Kuli Beg, Ambassador of Persia, Afanasy Ivanovich Vlasiev, Ambassador of Russia, among others. The city was beautifully decorated on the entry of the wedding procession (mechanical Polish eagle, most probably from ephemeral decorations, preserved in the St. Mary's Church in Kraków). Also many artists came to Kraków at that time. The so-called "Stockholm Scroll", a unique, fifteen-metre long painting depicting the 1605 wedding procession, acquired during the Deluge and returned to Poland in 1974 (donated to the Royal Castle in Warsaw), is attributed to Balthasar Gebhardt, court painter of Archduke Ferdinand (1578-1637), Constance's brother.
Among the most distinguished works attributed to the king there is a gouache painting on parchment with Allegory of Faith in the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm. It bears the king's coat of arms, his monogram S under the crown, the date 1616 and monogram M.N.D.F.C. Below there is also a signature of king's wife Constantia Regina. Since the effigy of a woman bears resemblance to other effigies of the Queen, it was she who lend her features to the figure. Another painting traditionally linked with Sigismund is Mater Dolorosa in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich (inventory number 5082), painted on copper. It comes from the Castle Haag in Geldern in the district of Kleve, North Rhine-Westphalia and was most probably part of Anna Catherine Constance's dowry. Sigismund's painting is a copy of a work by Gortzius Geldorp depicting a female saint in adoration signed with monogram 'GG F', painted on wood. Crispijn van de Passe the Elder created a print, published in Utrecht in 1612, with similar composition, showing the penitent Mary Magdalene (Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, inventory number RP-P-1906-2063), which is however more close to the Sigismund's painting then to the version by Geldorp. The woman in Geldorp's painting has more Habsburg facial features.
The same woman with protruding lower lip was depicted in two other paintings by Geldorp one signed with monogram and dated 'AN ° 1605.GG.F.' (sold in 2015 at Christie's, Amsterdam, lot 52, the other sold in 2011 at Christie's, New York, lot 140). Both paintings represent a lady as Berenice, wife of pharaoh Ptolemy III Euergetes. Berenice pledged to sacrifice her hair to the goddess Venus if her husband was safely brought home from battle during the Third Syrian War. Her hair became the constellation called Coma Berenices (Berenice's hair) and the symbol of power of marital love.
Very little is known about Gortzius Geldorp. He was born in Leuven (Louvain) in 1553 in what was then the Spanish Netherlands and learned to paint from Frans Francken I and later from Frans Pourbus the Elder. Around 1576 became court painter to the Duke of Terra Nova, Carlo d'Aragona Tagliavia (1530-1599), a Sicilian-Spanish nobleman, who in 1582 was appointed Governor of Milan and whom he accompanied on his trips. The Duke died in Madrid on September 23, 1599, and Geldorp died after 1619. It is very possible that he or his student came to Kraków in 1605.
Portrait of Queen Constance of Austria (1588-1631) as Berenice by Gortzius Geldorp, 1605, Private collection.
Portrait of Queen Constance of Austria (1588-1631) as Berenice by Gortzius Geldorp, ca. 1605, Private collection.
Portrait of Queen Constance of Austria (1588-1631) as a Saint in adoration (Saint Constance?) by Gortzius Geldorp, ca. 1616, Private collection.
Miniature portrait of Rafał Leszczyński by workshop of Frans Pourbus the Younger
Rafał Leszczyński, great-grandfather of King Stanisław Leszczyński (Stanislas Leczinski), was born in October 1579 as the only son of Andrzej Leszczyński (d. 1606), voivode of Brześć Kujawski and Anna Firlej, a daughter of Andrzej Firlej (d. 1585), castellan of Lublin. He had three half-brothers: Jan, Grand Chancellor of the Crown, Wacław, the Primate of Poland, and Przecław, voivode of Tartu.
He studied at the school of the Czech Brethren in Koźminek, then he was educated in Silesia (Głogów), Heidelberg (1594), Basel (1595), Strasbourg (1596-1598) and Geneva (1599). He visited England, Scotland, the Netherlands and Italy, where in Padua in 1601 he was a student of the famous Italian physicist, astronomer and mathematician Galileo Galilei. He began his public activity as an envoy to the Sejm from the Sandomierz Voivodeship in 1605. In 1609, he became the marshal of the Central Tribunal, in 1612 - castellan of Wiślica and in 1618 - castellan of Kalisz. As one of the leaders of the Polish Protestants, he was in opposition to the pro-Habsburg policy of King Sigismund III Vasa. He was also called the "Pope of the Polish Calvinists".
After return to Poland (1603), he maintained contacts with foreign scientists. He was interested in military and cartography. He commissioned a map of the south-eastern borderlands of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, unfortunately, despite the help of the geodesist and cartographer Maciej Głoskowski, the work was not completed. In addition to Latin, he spoke French, German, and Italian fluently. He wrote poems, like a paraphrase of Guillaume du Bartas's poem "Judith", published by Andrzej Piotrkowczyk in Baranów in 1620. In his beautiful Renaissance castle in Baranów, built by Santi Gucci, he kept a large library, which, according to an inventory from 1627, had about 1,700 volumes.
A miniature portrait from Leon Piniński's collection, today in the Lviv National Art Gallery (inventory number Ж-50), shows a man in a fashionable Italian/French costume. It was painted on copper and according to inscription in Latin the man was 28 years old in 1607 ([...] SVAE 28. ANNO DOMINI 1607.), exacly as Rafał Leszczyński. The style of this miniature resemble greatly a miniature portrait of an unknown man from about 1600 in the Victoria and Albert Museum, also painted on copper, and attributed to a Flemish painter (inventory number P.28-1942) and miniature portrait of an unknown man in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, created in 1614 (Aº 1614), painted on copper and attributed to a Dutch painter (inventory number SK-A-2104). Portrait of the sculptor Pierre de Francqueville (Pietro Francavilla, 1548-1615) by workshop of Frans Pourbus the Younger in private collection, created between 1609-1615 (after original in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, inventory number 746 / 1890), represent similar style of painting and costume. Such collar is also visible in a portrait of an unknown man in the Wilanów Palace in Warsaw, created in about 1600 and attributed to Agostino Carracci (inventory number Wil.1627).
Major Flemish portrait and miniature painter working in northeast Italy at the beginning of the 17th century was Frans Pourbus the Younger (1569-1622), who from October 1600 was a court painter of Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga in Mantua. He also travelled to Innsbruck (1603 and 1608), Turin (1605 and 1608), Paris (1606) and Naples (1607), and in 1609 Queen Marie de' Medici called him to Paris as court painter. Frans and his workshop also took orders from abroad, not seeing the actual model. Several portraits of Philip III, King of Spain and his wife Margaret of Austria are attributed to him or his workshop (Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, The Phoebus Foundation). His visits to Prague and Graz are not confirmed, however a portrait of Emperor Rudolf II (bust-length, wearing a breastplate, private collection) and a portrait of Archduchess Constance of Austria (1588-1631), future Queen of Poland, and her sisters (Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna) are all attributed to him. Around 1604 Hans von Aachen and the second court painter in Prague, Joseph Heintz, also painted their portraits in direct rivalry with Pourbus. In 1609 a painter from the circle of Hans von Aachen created a portrait of a gentleman, aged 40 (inscribed and dated A 1609 A 40., upper right), painting a miniature (private collection). The man was the same age as Pourbus when he moved to Paris in 1609.
In 1607 the second son of Rafał Leszczyński was born, named Rafał after his father. On this occasion, Leszczyński, who just inherited the Baranów estate from his father, could commission a series of effigies of himself and his family in Italy. It is also possible that a painter from the workshop of Frans Pourbus in Mantua was at that time in Poland. The man from the described miniature resemble the effigies of Rafał Leszczyński's stepbrothers Jan (1603-1678) and Wacław Leszczyński (1605-1666).
Miniature portrait of Rafał Leszczyński (1579-1636) aged 28 by workshop of Frans Pourbus the Younger, 1607, Lviv National Art Gallery.
Portrait of Frans Pourbus the Younger (1569-1622) aged 40, painting a miniature by circle of Hans von Aachen, 1609, Private collection.
Portrait of Adam Wenceslaus, Duke of Cieszyn by Bartholomeus Strobel or circle
Another painting created by Prague school of painting of Joseph Heintz the Elder and Hans von Aachen is a small oval portrait of a man in a gorget. The man also wears a white silk doublet, a military tunic embroidered with gold and a wired reticella lace collar. The painting comes from a private collection in Warsaw and was sold in 2005 (Agra-Art SA, 11 December, Nr 7831). The style of the painting is close to Bartholomeus Strobel, a Mannerist-Baroque painter from Silesia, born in Wrocław, who worked in Prague and in Vienna from about 1608. In 1611 he returns to Wrocław to help his father with work in the Augustinian church and in 1619, thanks to the support of King Sigismund III Vasa, he obtained the status of a court painter (servitor) of Emperor Matthias.
This portrait can be compared with signed works by Strobel, portrait of Władysław Dominik Zasławski-Ostrogski from 1635 in the Wilanów Palace in Warsaw (signed and dated: B. Strobell 1635) and the Crucifixion in the Church of St. James in Toruń (signed and dated: B. Strobel 1634).
According to inscription in Latin (AETATIS SVAE 37 / ANNO 1611), the man was 37 years old in 1611, exaclty as Adam Wenceslaus (1574-1617), Duke of Cieszyn when he was appointed supreme commander of the Silesian troops by the new King of Bohemia Matthias, Emperor from 1612. Counting on imperial favors Adam Wenceslaus, raised in Protestantism, converted to Catholicism and expelled the pastor Tymoteusz Lowczany from Cieszyn on February 23, 1611. He accompanied King Matthias at the ceremonial entry to Wrocław with a retinue of almost three hundred horses.
The portrait is similar to the effigy of Duke Adam Wenceslaus in the Museum of Cieszyn Silesia, attributed to Piotr Brygierski (ca. 1630-1718). The costume (gorget, silk doublet, military tunic and collar) and facial features are very much alike.
Portrait of Adam Wenceslaus (1574-1617), Duke of Cieszyn, aged 37 by Bartholomeus Strobel or circle, 1611, Private collection.
Portrait of Sigismund Charles Radziwill by Gortzius Geldorp
In 1616, Sigismund Charles Radziwill (1591-1642), son of Nicolaus Christopher Radziwill "the Orphan" (1549-1616) and Elżbieta Eufemia Wiśniowiecka (1569-1596) arrived at the royal court in Warsaw and obtained, in 1617, the titular dignity of Carver of the court of Queen Constance of Austria.
He studied at the Jesuit College in Nesvizh, and then in Bologna. In 1612, he joined the Order of the Knights of Malta (Knights Hospitaller) and fought with the Turks in the Mediterranean. After returning to Poland in 1614, his father founded him a Maltese commandery in Lithuania.
At the beginning of 1618, summoned by the Grand Master, he went to Malta. In January 1619, he was in Vienna where a great congregation of Knights Hospitaller was held. He was appointed by the Grand Master general commissioner, together with Charles II Gonzaga (1609-1631), Duke of Nevers. "Having received a license from His Highness the Emperor ... tomorrow, God willing, I am leaving", he wrote in a letter dated January 15, 1619 from Vienna to his brother John George Radziwill (1588-1625). In February 1619 he was in Venice, and he reported again to his brother: "I found his lordship Alexander, our brother, in good health in Venice and I hope that Our Lord will brought him quickly back and your Majesty will see him in our country".
After return to the Commonwealth in 1621 he participated in the battle of Khotyn and in 1622 he commanded the unit of the Polish-Lithuanian light cavalry (Lisowczyks) in the Imperial army. He died on November 5, 1642 in Assisi in Italy.
Before the discovery of a portrait of a man in black costume dated 1619 and signed by Gortzius Geldorp with his monogram 'GG.F.', it was generally believed that he died in 1616 in Cologne. A copy of Titian's Violante by his hand, sold in 2016 in Vienna (Dorotheum, lot 122, monogrammed upper left: 'GG.F.'), indicate that he was in Venice and in Vienna. According to inscription in Latin in upper right corner of mentioned portrait of a man in black costume the sitter was aged 28 in 1619 (AETATIS. SVAE. 28. / .1619.) exactly as Sigismund Charles Radziwill when he was in Venice and in Vienna. The costume of a man and his facial features bear a startling resemblance to effigy of Sigismund Charles Radziwill in the State Hermitage Museum (ОР-45868), created after original from about 1616. His Spanish style costume, typical for the Imperial court in Vienna, is almost identical to that visible in the portrait of Antonio Barberini, Grand Prior of Rome of the Order of Malta, created in 1625 by Ottavio Leoni. Similar outfits are also visible in portraits by Bernardo Strozzi, like in the likeness of Giovanni Battista Mora the Elder, nobleman of Vicenza near Venice, in the Walters Art Museum and in the portrait of Mikołaj Wolski (1553-1630) by Venanzio di Subiaco in the Camaldolese Monastery in Bielany, created in about 1624.
Portrait of Sigismund Charles Radziwill (1591-1642) aged 28 by Gortzius Geldorp, 1619, Private collection.
Portrait of Łukasz Żółkiewski by Johann Philipp Kreuzfelder
At the end of the 16th century, Flemish/Dutch art was the dominant model for Nuremberg portrait painters. Under the influence of Nicolas Neufchatel and Nicolas Juvenel, two prominent Flemish/Dutch artists settled in the imperial city, the highly developed Antwerp portraiture found its way into local portraiture (after catalogue entry by Judith Hentschel for 1626 portrait of a woman). The pupils of Juvenel were among the most successful and sought-after portrait painters in the city and outside.
Jakob Troschel (1583-1624) from Nuremberg, a court painter of King Sigismund III Vasa, was trained in Juvenel's close circle - according to Johann Gabriel Doppelmayr's "Historische Nachricht ..." he learned from Johann Juvenel and Alex Lindner, and Johann Philipp Kreuzfelder (1577-1636), son of a Nuremberg goldsmith, completed his apprenticeship at Juvenel's workshop between 1593 to 1597. In 1612 and 1617 Kreuzfelder portrayed the Nuremberg councillors and in 1614 Bartolomeo Viatis (1538-1624), a merchant from Venice (City of Nuremberg's Art Collections), then he worked as a portrait painter for the Counts of Oettingen and Hohenlohe-Langenburg. He is believed to have stayed in Rome with the artist Adam Elsheimer (1578-1610) and influences from both Flemish and Italian portraiture may be found in his work. Kreuzfelder has been assigned the monogram 'JC' (for Johannes Creutzfelder) by researchers.
In 1626 the painter probably also travelled to Munich, as signed portrait by his hand depicting a lady in rich black dress (sold at Koller Auctions, October 01, 2021, Lot 3013) bears a coat of arms similar to that of Sentlinger family, a wealthy Munich patrician family, and to Constance in the south of Germany in 1628, as effigy of Nikolaus Tritt von Wilderen, a member of the city council of Constance, is attributed to him.
A small portrait of a young nobleman (34 x 25.5 cm, oil on copper) from private collection in the south of Germany (sold at Lempertz KG, November 19, 2022, Lot 1516) was painted in the style symilar to the portrait of a woman from the Sentlinger family. He wears elaborately painted, silk, black doublet and loose breeches. The finely painted white lace trimmings of the lavish collar and cuffs, is characteristic of Kreuzfelder. Also the artist's signature in upper right is very similar. The painting was attributed to German School early 17th century and the monogram was deciphered as TB f. (?) (overlapping), however, it could be also JPC f. for Johannes Philippus Creutzfelder fecit in Latin. Accoring to the rest of inscription, also in Latin, the depicted man was 25 years old in 1619 (Aetatis. 25 / 1619), exaclty as Łukasz Żółkiewski (1594-1636), the younger son of the Chamberlain of Lviv Mikołaj Żółkiewski (d. 1596). He studied abroad, possibly at the Jesuit College of Ingolstadt, a city between Nuremberg and Munich in the Duchy and Electorate of Bavaria, very popular among Polish-Lithuanian nobility at that time. King Sigismund III ordered works of art in Bavaria and sent them to William V, Duke of Bavaria, while king's mistress, influential "minister in a skirt" or "Jesuit's bigotry" Urszula Meyerin (1570-1635), was most likely born near Munich in Bavaria.
Nephew of the famous hetman Stanisław Żółkiewski (1547-1620), Łukasz took part in the Turkish campaign of 1620 and was captured at the battle of Cecora, in which his uncle lost his life. Four years later, in 1624, he accompanied Prince Ladislaus Sigismund Vasa (future Ladislaus IV) on a foreign trip at the behest of King Sigismund III. Żółkiewski, who become the voivode of Bratslav, died childless in a battle with the Cossacks in November or December 1636 and was buried in the Jesuit church in Pereiaslav, which he founded a year earlier (1635) along with the Jesuit College. Later, the Cossacks destroyed Pereiaslav including the church, and they threw out the body of the founder from the coffin (after "Ilustrowany przewodnik po zabytkach kultury na Ukrainie" by Jacek Tokarski, Zbigniew Hauser, Volume 4, p. 180).
The family resemblance of the 25-year-old man to effigies of hetman Stanisław Żółkiewski, Łukasz's uncle, is striking. The shape of the face, lower jaw and lower lip, hair color and hairstyle are very much alike.
The style of the portrait resemble greatly two miniatures from the National Museum in Warsaw (inventory number Min.1014 and Min.1015), identifed as effigies of Gotthard Kettler (1517-1587), Duke of Courland, which was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and his wife Anna of Mecklenburg (1533-1602). It cannot be excluded that Kreuzfelder arrived at some point of his career to the Commonwealth or Żółkiewski commissioned a series of his effigies during his potential sojourn in Nuremberg, because the painter was known among Polish-Lithuanian clients.
Portrait of Łukasz Żółkiewski (1594-1636), aged 25 by Johann Philipp Kreuzfelder, 1619, Private collection.
Miniature portrait of Gotthard Kettler (1517-1587), Duke of Courland by Johann Philipp Kreuzfelder, first quarter of the 17th century, National Museum in Warsaw.
Miniature portrait of Anna of Mecklenburg (1533-1602), Duchess of Courland by Johann Philipp Kreuzfelder, first quarter of the 17th century, National Museum in Warsaw.
Portraits of Tomasz Zamoyski and Katarzyna Ostrogska by Domenico Tintoretto
In the years 1615-1617, "fulfilling the last will of his father", Tomasz Zamoyski (1594-1638), son of Jan Zamoyski, Grand Chancellor of the Crown (1542-1605) and Barbara Tarnowska (1566-1610), daughter of Stanisław Tarnowski (d. 1618), castellan of Sandomierz, undertook foreign peregrinations. Almost all young magnates made such educational journeys at that time.
Through Kraków in the south of Poland, he reached Gdańsk in the north, where he stayed "about six Sundays" - from around December 12, 1614 to the last days of January 1615, also visiting Malbork and Elbląg. In the last days of January 1615, after receiving letters of recommendation from king Sigismund III Vasa, young Zamoyski set off from Gdańsk accompanied by a small court with Father Wojciech Bodzęcki, professor at the Zamość Academy, and Piotr Oleśnicki, Tomasz's cousin, who studied in Paris and Padua at the expense of Jan Zamoyski.
From Lübeck he went to Amsterdam, and from there to England. He arrived in London in mid-July 1615 and spent about 5 months there. James I, captured by Tomasz's wit and kindness, often invited him to hunting and banquets. At the request of Zamoyski the king released several English Catholics from prison - including Father Fludd who was held at Gatehouse Prison. "He was held in high esteem by the King, who often had audiences with him. He often went hunting with his son Charles. The royal horses were always at the disposal of the Lord himself and his servants for fun. King James was given an expensive hat decoration with heron feathers", wrote Tomasz's servant Stanisław Żurkowski in a biography.
Wanting to get to know the country better, he went on a trip around the island, which lasted about two months. Then he travelled to France. Zamoyski probably arrived to Tours, where King Louis XIII was staying at that time, in the first days of March 1616. From Tours the he went to Orléans then to Paris. His stay in the capital of France was very busy: he learned the French language, "listened to the courts in the parliament", he was "in academies on various acts and disputes", he improved his skills in fencing and horse riding, and he learned to play the lute. He attended the audiences of King Louis XIII, held receptions for officials and officers of the French court and visited them. He befriended the princes de Guise, de Rohan, de Nevers and de Montmorency.
From France young Zamoyski came to Italy in January 1617. From an early age, he had contact with the culture of Italy as his father was educated there. He visited Naples and Rome, where he had audiences with Pope Paul V. Then he went to Loreto, Padua and Venice. Also in Italy he maintained the splendor of his retinue. He visited the studios of masters of engraving, painting and goldsmiths, he acquired luxury goods, he organized parties and gave gifts to people from the ruling class. The cost of Zamoyski's journey was amounted to enormous sum of over 20,000 zlotys, while the income from 1 village at that time fluctuated between 140 and 240 zlotys annually.
In the first days of November 1617, through Switzerland, Bavaria, Bohemia and Silesia, Zamoyski returned to Poland, where in Kościan, he was welcomed by servants from Zamość and soldiers from his private units. A few days later, he arrived in Poznań, where "he put away his foreign clothes, cut his hair and returned to Polish attire", as recalled Żurkowski in his biography. From Poznań he went to Łowicz, to pay a visit to the Archbishop of Gniezno, Wawrzyniec Gembicki in his magnificent palace, and then to Warsaw, where he stayed for about two weeks. It was not until December 20 that he arrived in Zamość, where he was solemnly welcomed. Soon after his return his political career advanced, in 1618 he became the voivode of Podolia and in 1619 the voivode of Kiev (after "Peregrynacje zagraniczne Tomasza Zamoyskiego w latach 1615-1617" by Adam Andrzej Witusik). He also decided to marry Katarzyna Ostrogska (1602-1642), granddaughter of Zofia Tarnowska (1534-1570), Princess of Ostroh on paternal side, and great-granddaughter of Duchess Anna of Masovia (1498-1557) on maternal side. 18-year-old Katarzyna and 25-year-old Tomasz were married in the Corpus Christi Church in Jarosław on March 1, 1620. As a dowry, Katarzyna received 53,333 zlotys, 6 castles, 13 cities, about 300 villages and folwarks. She was born in 1602 in the family of Alexander Prince of Ostroh, voivode of Volhynia, and his wife Anna Kostka (1575-1635), as the youngest of eight children. The family lived in the city of Jarosław. Her father died suddenly the year after her birth, leaving a rich inheritance to his three daughters who reached adulthood: Zofia, Anna Alojza and Katarzyna.
The portrait of a young man in a black coat lined with fur, attributed to Domenico Tintoretto, today in the National Gallery in London (inventory number NG173), was presented in 1839 by Henry Gally Knight (1786-1846), a British politician and writer. His right hand rests on a table placed before an open window, and on which is a silver vase containing a sprig of myrtle, consecrated to Venus, goddess of love and used in bridal wreaths. In his left hand he holds a black cap. An open window looks out over a landscape of farmland with two rustic buildings, possibly barns, with what look like thatched roofs supported on wooden trunks or poles, typical for Poland, Ukraine and large estates of the Zamoyskis near Zamość. Merchants from such distant countries as Spain, England, Finland, Armenia and Persia arrived for the annual three-week-long big fair, one of the largest in Europe, in nearby Jarosław - according to Łukasz Opaliński (1612-1662), 30,000 cattle were sold at one Jarosław fair (Polonia Defensa Contra Joan. Barclaium, 1648). The same man was also depicted in a full-length portrait, also by Domenico Tintoretto, which before World War II was in the Łańcut Castle close to Jarosław (catalogue "For Peace and Freedom. Old masters: a collection of Polish-owned works of art ...", pic. 37). He wears a fashionable French/English black costume, very similar to the one shown in the portrait of a young man, attributed to Salomon Mesdach, dated on the table: Aº 1617 (Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, inventory number SK-A-913). A view of a canal in Venice is visible through the window behind him, suggesting that the portrait is a souvenir of his visit to the city. The man in both portraits bear great resemblance to effigies of Tomasz Zamoyski in Polish costume, as a child aged 12, created by Peter Querradt in 1606 (Österreichische Nationalbibliothek) and aged 44, created by Jan Kasiński in 1637 (Diocesan Museum in Sandomierz).
Portrait of a lady, known as Donna delle Rose, in Villa Gyllenberg in Helsinki was painted in the same style as the portrait of a man with myrtle in the National Gallery in London. This work is also attributed to Domenico Tintoretto, it has similar composition and similar dimensions (116.5 x 85.5 cm / 119.5 × 98 cm), therefore can be considered as a pendant or a portrait from a series created at the same time. The modish attire worn by this young woman bespeaks great affluence. Her costume is very similar to Venetian court dresses visible in a print published in 1609 in Giacomo Franco's "Costumes of Venetian Men and Women" (Habiti d'hvomeni et donne venetiane). The northern ruff, however, was replaced with a reticella collar from the late 1610s, like an open peacock's tail behind the head, propped up with sticks, similar to Italian and French collars of courtiers of King Sigismund III Vasa. The Procession with St. Anianus by workshop Tommaso Dolabella (Corpus Christi Church in Kraków) and Banner with Adoration of St. Francis by Jan Troschel (Leżajsk Monastery), testifies to the diversity of the court fashion in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 1620s with Polish, Spanish, Italian, French and German styles represented. White rose in her hair symbolizes purity and innocence of a bride. The woman's face bear great resemblance to preserved portraits of Katarzyna Ostrogska, all created when she was a widow and offered to different monasteries (Museum of Zamość), or to the portrait of her daughter Gryzelda Wiśniowiecka (Kozłówka Palace).
Lady Zamoyska in a Venetian costume painted by Domenico Tintoretto? This was not surprising for the inhabitants of the Zamoyski estates. There were many Italians in Zamość, at the Academy, in the service of the Chancellor Jan Zamoyski, starting with the court architect, Venetian Bernardo Morando. In 1596 Boniface Vanozzi, secretary of Cardinal Enrico Gaetani in Poland, described Zamość, Renaissance ideal city build for the Chancellor, "a lover of the Italian nation" (amatore della natione italiana), from scratch: "He began to build this town in 1581 and already today it has up to 400 houses, mostly built in Italian style". Before 1604 he commissioned to the main altar of the Collegiate Church in Zamość, several paintings in the workshop of Domenico Tintoretto. Negotiations with the artist were conducted on behalf of Zamoyski by representatives of the Italian Capponi and Montelupi families and completed paintings were delivered to Poland in 1604. The largest painting depicted the Risen Christ with St. Thomas the Apostle - the patron of the temple, paintings in the side parts: St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist - the patrons of the founder, and the painting in the top of the altar - God the Father. This altar was transported to the church in Tarnogród in 1781 and only the side paintings preserved.
Tomasz, his father and his wife in Venetian costume were also depicted in two paintings in the Church of the Assumption in Kraśnik (Thanksgiving mass and Rosary procession). Both were created by Tommaso Dolabella in 1626. From 1604 Kraśnik was part of the Zamość estate and the protector of the church was Tomasz Zamoyski, voivode of Kiev. The voivode and his wife founded stalls for the church with their coat of arms and in one of the side altars there is painting of Salvator Mundi by Paris Bordone or his workshop.
Portrait of Tomasz Zamoyski (1594-1638) in French/English costume from the Łańcut Castle by Domenico Tintoretto, ca. 1617, present whereabouts unknown.
Portrait of Tomasz Zamoyski (1594-1638) by Domenico Tintoretto, ca. 1620, National Gallery in London.
Portrait of Katarzyna Ostrogska (1602-1642) in Venetian costume by Domenico Tintoretto, ca. 1620, Villa Gyllenberg in Helsinki.
St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist from the Zamość Collegiate by Domenico Tintoretto, ca. 1604, Church of the Transfiguration in Tarnogród.
Before the invasion by neighbouring countries, known as the Deluge (1655-1660), Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth ranked among the wealthiest countries in Europe and its monarchs successfully competed with rulers of other nations as patron of arts.
"Oriental" and "Muscovy" crown of Sigismund III Vasa
King Sigismund III Vasa, elected monarch of the multicultural Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, was known for his refined artistic taste inherited from the Jagiellons and his grandmother Queen Bona Sforza. He commissioned the most exquisite works of art not only in Europe, but also in Persia. In 1601, the king sent Sefer Muratowicz an Armenian merchant from Warsaw to Persia, where he ordered carpets woven with silk and gold, a tent and swords from Damascus steel and other luxury items. Safavid kilims with coat of arms of Sigismund III Vasa (Polish Eagle with Vasa sheaf) preserved in many collections.
The king was so pleased with the results of Muratowicz's expedition that after his return on October 26, 1602, he gave him the title of servitoris ac negotiatoris and obliged him in the future to present all goods brought to Poland from Turkey and Persia, before they were put up for sale, at the royal court, so that he could choose those he liked the most (after "Sztuka islamu w Polsce w XVII i XVIII wieku" by Tadeusz Mańkowski, p. 25). Sigismund III had a particularly rich collection of oriental arms and Persian or Turkish kalkan shield from the Lubomirski collection in Kruszyna was, according to tradition, the property of the king (Wawel Royal Castle). Mechti Kuli Beg, Ambassador of Shah Abbas of Persia, participated in the king's wedding in Kraków in 1605 and Robert Shirley (d. 1628), sent by the shah on a diplomatic mission to European princes, was received solemnly by Sigismund at the Sejm in Warsaw on February 25, 1609.
Most probably in Italy the king ordered partially gilded shishak, an oriental-style steel helmet with Hercules killing the Lernean hydra on one side and Hercules fighting Antaeus on the other as well as coat of arms of Muscovy, as a gift to Tsar Feodor I of Russia, handed over by Ambassador Paweł Sapieha in 1591 (Kremlin Museum). In Milan in Italy or in Prague he commissioned the crystal lavabo with his coat of arms and monogram (Treasury of the Munich Residence) and in Augsburg in Germany a silver service for 20,000 florins for the ceremony of receiving the Order of the Golden Fleece (used for the first time during a banquet at the Castle in Warsaw on February 25, 1601) and many other precious items. In Flanders and the Netherlands he purchased tapestries, like 6 pieces with the Story of Diana by workshop of François Spierincx in Delft, in about 1611-1615, paintings in Venice, like the Virgin and Child with St. John the Baptist and St. Stanislaus by Palma il Giovane for the St. John's Cathedral in Warsaw, before 1618, amber items in Gdańsk and Königsberg, like amber games board of Queen Anne of Denmark and other amber gifts, sent to England in 1607 through English envoy in Poland William Bruce.
The orders for works of art were related to important dates in king's life. In 1605 he spent large sums for his wedding including costly dresses emboidered with pearls. The bride was a younger sister of his first wife Anna, Constance of Austria (1588-1631), on paternal and maternal side a descendant of Anna Jagellonica (1503-1547). In July 1604, Sigismund sent letters to senators, in which he informed that Emperor Rudolf II did not give his consent for his marriage to Anna of Tyrol (1585-1618), and at the same time informed the lords of the Commonwealth of his intention to marry Constance (after "Najsłynniejsze miłości królów polskich" by Jerzy Besala, p. 169). That same year Joseph Heintz (or Heinz) the Elder, court painter of the emperor, who lived and worked in Rome, Venice, Prague and Augsburg (from 1604), created two portraits of the bride with her favourite monkey. One, less favorable, was originally probably in her family's castle in Graz (Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, inventory number 9452), the other in green dress, a color being symbolic of fertility, was sold in London in 1969 and later acquired by The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown (inventory number 1982.127). Many objects from the collection of King John II Casimir Vasa, Constance's son, sold in Paris, found its place in England, including most probably this portrait of his mother. Around that time Heintz created also a copy of portrait of Queen Bona Sforza (1494-1557), Sigismund III's grandmother, as Salome by Lucas Cranach the Elder (Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, 862), identified by me, and a portrait of Sigismund III himself (Alte Pinakothek in Munich, 11885), signed: J. Heintzen F. / SIGISMVNDVS .../REX POLONIAE/ & SVECIAE ... on a letter on the table. The portrait of the king was before 1929 in the Schleissheim Palace near Munich, therefore it was was most probably a gift from Sigismund to William V (1548-1626), Duke of Bavaria, like the silver reliquary of Saints John the Baptist and Dionysius the Areopagite, created in 1602 for Tsar Boris Godunov and his son and given to William V in 1614 by the Polish king (Treasury of the Munich Residence, 63).
The portrait shows the king with a crown, which was most probably also created around that time, possibly for the coronation of the new queen. Like the portrait, it was made either in Prague or in Augsburg, as Heintz's presence in Poland-Lithuania is not confirmed in sources. However, it cannot be ruled out that the painter or one of his students traveled to Kraków, Warsaw or Vilnius at that time to bring to Poland the portrait of the bride and the crown. Just two years earlier, in 1602, the crown of Emperor Rudolf II, a major work of European goldsmithery was made in Prague by Jan Vermeyen from Brussels (d. 1606), as a private crown for the emperor. Sigismund's crown resemble slightly the crown of Rudolf II (side view), therefore it was most probably created by the same author, nevertheless, it is in many respects atypical of Polish-Lithuanian and European monarchs in general. Unlike the crown seen in the portraits of Queen Anne of Austria (1573-1598) by Martin Kober (1595), only one rim is visible instead of two and the globe and a cross on their intersection is replaced with a pearl or a sharply cut diamond in the form evoking a pyramid, so-called diamatus punctatus. Rudolf II was depicted with his new crown in some effigies (portrait by Hans von Aachen in Apsley House, WM.1509-1948 and engraving in the State Graphic Collection in Munich, 241589D), as well as his successor Matthias (engraving by Aegidius Sadeler in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, RP-P-OB-5021) in which some differences with the original are visible, however, despite the fact that no other image of Sigismund's crown is known we cannot attribute it to the fantasy of a painter.
Also, the overall shape of described crown is unusual and resemble more the crowns visible in Persian and Indian miniatures. Similar diadems with bent petals can be found in the investiture scene of Malik-Shah I, sultan of the Great Seljuk Empire, from the 14th-century book "Jami' al-tawarikh" (Edinburgh University Library), an illustrated leaf from a manuscript of Nizami's "Khamsa": Bahram Gur entertained in the red pavilion, created in Isfahan, Persia in the mid-17th century (private collection) or a miniature painted between 1610-1618 by Bichitr, an Indian painter during the Mughal period, and showing Moinuddin Chishti, a Persian preacher holding a globe (Chester Beatty Library in Dublin). The oriental style crown visible in king's portrait, as a private possession of the House of Vasa, was most probably melted down during the turbulent reign of his son John II Casimir Vasa, melted and material reused by Sigismund himself who was a talented goldsmith or offered as a gift to someone before 1623, as it was not mentioned in the king's last will from May 5. On May 11, 1606 the gifts from the king were presented to Tsaritsa Marina Mniszech in Moscow - 30 very valuable vessels, while the king's envoy Mikołaj Oleśnicki (1558-1629), castellan of Małogoszcz offered many pieces of jewellery "from himself and from his Wife", including "a crown with pearls, diamonds and rubies" (after "Dzieje panowania Zygmunta III, króla polskiego" by Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, Volume 2, 1819, p. 569). The crown visible in the portrait by Heintz was also set with pearls, diamonds and rubies. It is therefore highly possible that Oleśnicki and his wife purchased the oriental crown from Sigismund as a gift for Marina.
Another "oriental" insignia that entered the collection of Sigismund III Vasa around that time was the so-called Muscovy crown. This crown was supposedly sent to the king by False Dmitry after his coronation as Tsar of Russia in 1605 or it was made in Poland around 1610, after the election of Prince Ladislaus Sigismund (later Ladislaus IV), Sigismund III's son, as tsar (after "Klejnoty w Polsce: czasy ostatnich Jagiellonów i Wazów" by Ewa Letkiewicz, p. 139). Ladislaus bequeathed the crown to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth's State Treasury, but after the king's death in 1648 his brother and successor John II Casimir ordered the insignia to be melted down into coins.
One of the gems from the original crown became the property of Jan Kazimierz Krasiński (1607-1669), Grand Treasurer of the Crown. In the 19th century it was given to Tsar Nicholas I of Russia with a piece of parchment with the inscription in Latin EX CORONA MOSCOVIAE and found its place in the collections of the Kremlin Armoury in Moscow (inventory number ДК-752). The jewel is a double-faced sapphire icon-cameo with Christ Enthroned and Golgotha's Cross, attributed to a Byzantine artist from the 15th century. Sigismund III was depicted with the "crown taken in Moscow" on his head (after "Dzieje panowania Zygmunta III, króla polskiego" by Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, Volume 2, 1819, p. 557) in a painting attributed to Christian Melich (Wawel Royal Castle). The painting represent the king on his death-bed displayed in the Guard Chamber at the Royal Castle in Warsaw in 1632. It was also depicted in a portrait of Sigismund's successor Ladislaus IV Vasa, attributed to Pieter Soutman and painted in about 1634, therefore created in Haarlem where the painter returned in 1628. The king was portrayed in a pourpoint lavishly adorned with laces and a high crown with a cross at the top on a table beside him (National Museum in Warsaw, 186555). Although Ladislaus was not crowned, he was officially elected and recognized as the Tsar of Muscovy in 1610 and used the title of Grand Duke of Muscovy until 1634. The crown was mentioned in Sigismund III's last will and testament made on May 5, 1623 in Warsaw as part of his successor's inheritance. The will also include "a golden basin with ewer with the Muscovy coats of arms, bought from the soldiers" left to king's wife Constance of Austria.
The number of West European-style works of art and portraits connected with Tsar False Dmitry I, suggest that he purchased and ordered directly such items. His beautiful armour created between 1605-1606 in Milan by Pompeo della Cesa is in the Military History Museum in Saint Petersburg and a silver pocket watch with an eagle, possibly owned by Dmitriy, made by German or Polish workshop is in the Moscow Kremlin. At the beginning of January 1606 arrived to Kraków Jan Buczynski, secretary of the tsar, with the mission to acquire jewels for his patron. Several merchants from Kraków and Lviv, as well as jewellers Mikołaj Siedmiradzki and Giovanni Ambrogio Cellari from Milan, encouraged by the prospect of a large gain, embarked on a journey to Moscow. It was probably one of them who created the scepter (Moscow Kremlin, R-18) and orb (R-15), later owned by Tsar Michael I (1596-1645). The style of the orb resemble the mentioned crown of Sigismund III depicted in a portrait of his first wife Anna by Martin Kober. In 1606 Philip II Holbein "a court servant and agent in Augsburg" of Sigismund III, who as S.R.M. jubilerus was present in Kraków in 1605, delivered a considerable number of valuables to the court of False Dmitry I (after "Philip II Holbein – złotnik i agent artystyczny Zygmunta III ..." by Jacek Żukowski, p. 23). Holbein also worked for Emperor Rudolf II, and then - Emperor Matthias. It is possible that Dmitry's emissaries arrived also to Augsburg and Hamburg in Germany.
A drawing from Album Amicorum of merchant and banker from Augsburg Philipp Hainhofer (1578-1647), who created the famous so-called Pomeranian Curiosity Cabinet (Pommerscher Kunstschrank) for Duke Philip II of Pomerania, is a copy of a painting by Szymon Boguszowicz depicting the reception of the Polish envoys by Tsar False Dmitriy I in 1606 (Herzog August Library and Hungarian National Museum). Among the designs for the crowns by Hamburg goldsmith Jakob Mores (Mörs) the Elder, who was born around 1540 and lived until around 1612 (after "Archiv Fur Geschichte Des Buchwesens", Volume 65, p. 158) in his "Jewelry book" (Kleinodienbuch, Hamburg State and University Library) there are two crowns which resemble the crown depicted in mentioned portrait of Ladislaus IV by Pieter Soutman, as well as the crowns visible in Coronation of Marina Mniszech in Moscow on May 8, 1606 by Szymon Boguszowicz or follower, created in about 1613 (State Historical Museum in Moscow).
It is generally belived that these are designs for the crown of Rudolf II, however the overall shape resemble more the crowns usually associated with Russia (e.g. great imperial crown from 1762) - the "mitre" is more open then in the Rudolf's crown and there is a globe and a cross (globus cruciger) on the intersection of the rims and not a large stone like in the crown created by Vermeyen. A few years earlier, between 1593-1595 Mores created two drawings for the open crown of King Christian IV of Denmark-Norway, which were also included in his "Jewelry book". It was, however, Dirich Fyring and Corvinianus Saur, who between 1595-1596 made the crown for the coronation of Christian IV (Rosenborg Castle), nevertheless the designs by Mores resemble the shape of the final crown. Some pieces of jewellery in Poland are also attributed to Mores or his circle, like hat decorations of Francis of Pomerania (1577-1620), created in about 1600 (National Museum in Szczecin) or a chain of Constance of Austria from the 1600s (Wawel Royal Castle, ZKnW-PZS 1323), while double-headed imperial eagle from the Diamond Robe of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa also created around that time, may have been created by one of the named court goldsmiths for Constance of Austria or Marina Mniszech.
The shape of the mentioned imperial insignia with a smaller crown at the top is also similar to the Cap from the Grand Set of Tsar Michael I, created by Moscow Kremlin workshops in 1627. It is also possible that the smaller crown in the "Jewelry book" is not a variant, but the insignia intended for the coronation of Marina Mniszech.
Portrait of Sigismund III Vasa with the "oriental" crown by Joseph Heintz the Elder, ca. 1604, Alte Pinakothek in Munich.
Visualization of the "oriental" crown of Sigismund III Vasa by Jan Vermeyen (attributed to), ca. 1604, © Marcin Latka.
Portrait of Ladislaus IV Vasa with the so-called "Muscovy" crown by Pieter Soutman, ca. 1634, National Museum in Warsaw.
Design for the so-called "Muscovy" crown by Jakob Mores the Elder, ca. 1605-1610, Hamburg State and University Library.
Design for the so-called "Muscovy" crown or the crown of Marina Mniszech by Jakob Mores the Elder, ca. 1605-1610, Hamburg State and University Library.
Bronze busts of Sigismund III Vasa and Constance of Austria
Although the existence of royal busts is purely hypothetical and not confirmed by sources, the fashion for such antique sculptures, stemming from Italy and Imperial court in Prague and Vienna, udoubtedly found its reflection in the cosmopolitan court of the Vasas in Kraków and Warsaw. Bronze cartouche with coat of arms of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from the Wawel Castle, a full plastic bronze cast that preserved to our days and commissioned by Sigismund III in about 1604 to adorn overdoor in the northern wing of the castle leading to the Senators' Staircase, confirms that the Vasa residences were filled with such items.
In 1624, the Bishop of Kraków, Marcin Szyszkowski, who titled himself "the most faithful servant of the House of Austria" and who together with Zygmunt Myszkowski brought the Queen Constance from Graz to Poland, sponsored a new architectural dome canopy over the reliquary of Saint Stanislaus in the Wawel Cathedral in the style of Roman baroque. It is the work of the royal architect Giovanni Battista Trevano, the same who rebuilt the Royal Castle in Warsaw, made of black and rose marble, gilt-bronze and wood, created in the years 1626-1629. Gilt bronze figures of the Evangelists and Patrons Saints of Poland, flanking the cupola over the canopy, were cast by Antonio Lagostini, active in Kraków from around 1624. In the year of completion of this work, the bishop also ordered a tomb monument for himself in the cathedral near the canopy. According to the letter from Marcin Szyszkowski to Andrzej Łukomski, a Canon of the Cracow Cathedral Chapter, of 20 January 1629, this was also commissioned from Trevano and Lagostini. The model for the cast bronze bust should be attributed to the sculptors related to Trevano, Andrea and Antonio Castelli, sculptors from Lugano, active in Kraków from about 1623.
If existed, the royal busts were undoubtedly made in gilded bronze, just as majority of the similar works preserved in many European countries and Bishop Szyszkowski's bust. The material and its frequent military reuse, would also explain why the works have not preserved, as in case of bronze garden statues of Ladislaus IV's garden of the Villa Regia Palace in Warsaw, which are confirmed in sources. The preserved bronze statue of King Sigismund III at the column, so-called Sigismund Column in Warsaw, was also initially gilded.
The reconstruction is based on royal portrait paintings with Spanish composition from the 1610s created by workshop of court painter Jakob Troschel, which were in the collection of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg before World War II. Both effigies, possibly from dowry of Polish-Lithuanian Princess Anna Catherina Constance Vasa, are highly schematical and idealized, hence facial features are based on more realistic effigies of the royal pair created by other court painters.
Gilded bronze bust of King Sigismund III Vasa, mid-1610s to 1631. Hypothetical reconstruction by Marcin Latka ©. All rights reserved.
Gilded bronze bust of Queen Constance of Austria, mid-1610s to 1631. Hypothetical reconstruction by Marcin Latka ©. All rights reserved.
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Heraldic pendant of Anna Catherine Constance Vasa
Princess Anna Catherine Constance Vasa was born in Warsaw on August 7th, 1619. She was the only daughter of Sigismund III Vasa and his second wife Constance of Austria that survied the childhood and the youngest of royal pair's children.
Large Spanish style pendants, like the one described here, become less fashionable with the introduction of the French style in the mid-1630s, that prompted frontal brooches. The creation of the pendant could be then closed in the time span between mid-1620s and 1638 when Anna Catherine Constance came of age and came into possession of counties bestowed to her by the parliament. It was also probably in 1638 that Princess' portrait in red Spanish dress with two gold pendants was created (today in the Imperial castle in Nuremberg).
King Sigismund III, himself a talented goldsmith, possibly stood behind the compex emblematic program of this jewel, although it is also possible that it was created long after his death in 1632. Since 1637, a marriage was suggested between Anne Catherine Constance and Ferdinand Charles, Archduke of Austria, heir of Tyrol and nephew of Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor. Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg, and Gaston, Duke of Orléans (brother of King Louis XIII of France), were also candidates for her hand. A jewel stressing splendid dynastic connections and emphasizing vastness of territories ruled by the family would perfectly fit into the Princess' situation at that time. Several heraldic jewels were featured in the official portraits of Anna Catherine Constance's mother Constance of Austria.
Anna Catherine Constance's father Sigismund III Vasa was elected monarch of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, bi-federation of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch in real union, who was both King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. Since Sigismund's crowning in 1592, Polish Vasas claimed themselves rightful hereditary rulers of Sweden, consequently ignoring Sigismund's dethronement of 1598 by the Swedish parliament.
Anna Catherine Constance finally married Philip William of Neuburg (1615-1690), in Warsaw on 8 June 1642. She brought a considerable dowry in jewels and cash, calculated at a total of 2 million thalers. The inventory of Princess' jewels preserved in the Czartoryski Library in Kraków summarizes their value to 443,289 1/3 hard thalers.
The heraldic pendant is listed 18th in the section Pendants: A diamond pendant with Figures of the late King Sigmunt and Constantia with crowns on their heads, in the middle ruby grain, and beneath white Eagle, at the bottom coat of arms of the Duchy of Lithuania, on the right hand Swedish and on the left hand Austrian; above this ruby grain a yellow Lion with open jaw, in the front two fangs holds Zygmunt and Constantia together, on the sides and on the bottom five carved round hanging diamonds, valued at 2,000 thalers.
It is hard to determine the degree of accuracy of the inventory both in terms of description of items as well as valuation. One "large diamond" in a ring was valued at 30,000 thalers and a ring with "coat of arms of Austria" was valued at only 40 thalers. Also traditionally the Queen was depited to the right and the King to the left, and not like in the description of the pendant, which finds confirmation in Sigismund and Constance's portraiture, as well as location of the royal stalls in the Cathedral of Saint John in Warsaw.
The inventory also includes:
A necklace of 22 parts, among which 11 with a diamond in a middle, 3 square cut, 3 triangle cut, and set with two pearls. Another 11 parts in which a Lion's head in the center having a pearl in its mouth, four diamonds and four pearls set around it. All with a pendant with sixty two cut diamonds, and on top of a Lion's head and six hanging pearls, a gift from the Queen to the Princess, valued at 80,000 thalers;
A pendant in which a Lion with three crowns in the shape of the Swedish coat of arms with twenty-six different diamonds, and three hanging pearls, valued at 150 thalers and
A pendant in which a white Eagle with a large ruby on the chest, three small ruby parts, and three large pearls, valued at 700 thalers.
The inventory also lists A white Eagle, having a coat of arms on his cheast at which two rubies, all set with diamonds, with three hanging pearls, valued at 1,200 thalers, which is most probably identical with "diamond eagle with rubies" of the House of Austria received in 1543 by Elizabeth of Austria (1526-1545) from Emperor Charles V on the occasion of her marriage with Sigismund II Augustus of Poland, and preserved in the treasury of the Munich Residence.
Among renowned jewellers of the Vasas in the first half of the 17th century, that could create the work, were Mikołaj Siedmiradzki (ca. 1550-1630) from Lviv in today's Ukraine, who was in service of Sigismund III since 1604, and who in turn employed in his workshop Mikołaj Pasternakowicz and Zygmunt Frączkiewicz. There were also Jean Barbier from Lorraine, active in Kraków from about 1605, who moved to Gdańsk in 1625 and Beniamin Lanier (d. 1630) from Vitry-le-François in north-eastern France, who was active in Kraków from 1606, both court jewellers of Sigismund III. Jakub Burnett from Edinburgh who settled in Lviv in the first half of the 17th century was employed by Ladislaus IV. Members of the family also commissioned jewels abroad, like Prince John Casimir Vasa who in 1643 paid 9000 florins for jewels to Samuel von Sorgen from Vienna and 189 florins "For diamond heart to Mr Jakub jeweller".
Anna Catherine Constance died childless in Cologne on 8 October 1651 and was buried in the church of the Jesuits in Düsseldorf. It is due to purely heraldic character of the jewel, high value of the material and new fashion for more simple jewels that the pendant was most probably melted down, possibly still in the 17th century.
Excerpt from Inventory of Jewels of Her Highness Duchess of Neuburg, Crown Princess of Poland (Spisanie Kleynotów Xiężney Iey Mości Neyburskiey, Królewney Polskiey) by Royal Chancery in Warsaw, 1645, Czartoryski Library in Kraków. Fragment describing Heraldic pendant of Anna Catherine Constance Vasa.
Heraldic pendant of Anna Catherine Constance Vasa, mid-1620s to 1638. Hypothetical reconstruction by Marcin Latka ©. All rights reserved.
Tapestries with Story of Odysseus
During his stay in Antwerp in 1624, the Crown Prince of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Ladislaus Sigismund Vasa visited Peter Paul Rubens' workshop, admired Jan Brueghel the Elder's paintings and visited the famous art collection of Cornelis van der Geest. He also went to see the tapissierspand (Tapestry house), on the site of the current Bourla Theater, on September 24, 1624. We visited a house, writes Stefan Pac, in his diary where they sell beautiful and precious tapestries that are sent all over the world. A few days later, on October 5, 1624 Gaspard Nagodt, treasurer of the Prince of Poland, signed a contract with a Brussels' weaver Jacob Geubels the Younger for delivery of ten tapestries representing the Story of Odysseus (Ulysses) of six ells height each (Flemish ell was equal to about 70 cm or 27 inches), interwoven with gold and silver thread. The complete set comprised 594 ells and cost 19,008 florins. On October 12, 1624 another contract was signed for a series called "with greenery" i.e. verdure tapestries or "Landscapes and Bocages in fresco", for 9207 florins.
An Antwerp merchant, Jan Bierens, "agent and domestic of His Highness the Serene Prince Wladislaus Sigismundus, Prince of Poland and Sweden", oversaw the weaving of the tapestries of the Story of Odysseus and verdures that Geubels the Younger made in Brussels. A lawsuit brought by Geubels against Jan Bierens in December 1626 for payment, confirms that at least a part of the commissioned tapestries was ready by this date.
Notations in the archives reveal the existence of the prince's agents, such as mentioned Jan Bierens and Georges Deschamps or the Frenchman Mathieu Rouault. They had to satisfy Ladislaus Sigismund's creditors and ensure that everything was executed and sent to Poland.
Probably due to Prince's financial difficulties the whole set not executed till Geubels' death in 1629 and the commission was accomplished by an unknown workshop.
It is uncertain when the Story of Odysseus and verdure tapestries were dispatched from Antwerp and when they arrived in Poland. Ladislaus Sigismund, the newly elected monarch of the Commonwealth as Ladislaus IV, wanted to have them before his coronation on February 6, 1633 in Kraków.
By a notarial deed of January 12, 1632 we learn that Jan Bierens had received three chests containing approximately two hundred and fifty - three silver marcs from the hands of Francesco Gissa and Joannes Curius, one butler and the other secretary of Abbot Mikołaj Wojciech Gniewosz (d. 1654), Ambassador of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Antwerp merchant had given them two thousand three hundred and ten rixdales as a pledge and had promised to send the precious delivery to Gdańsk to the address of Abraham Pels.
In the letter from September 15, 1632 Ladislaus IV asked Christian IV of Denmark to release his tapestries from customs (Rkps Riqsarkivet, Polen A. I, 3).
According to François Mols, a number of tapestry cartoons by Jacob Jordaens with the date 1620 were sold at Antwerp in 1774. It is belived that these tapestries were inspired by knowledge of Primaticcio's lost frescoes of the same subject at Fontainebleau. A document from May 15, 1656 in the archives of Antwerp in which Jacob Geubels, son of Jacob Geubels the Younger, had undertaken to weave, tapestries representing the Story of Ulysses after cartoons by Jordaens, confirms that the series were made to his design.
Lavish tapestries "hang up in foreign style" among "golden Netherlandish arts" are mentioned in Adam Jarzębski's "Short Description of Warsaw" (The Main Road, or a Short Description of Warsaw) from 1643, as adorning Ladislaus IV's Palace Villa Regia in Warsaw (1950-1956).
The series was inherited by Ladislaus' brother John II Casimir, who took them to France after his abdication in 1668 and was sold on auction in Paris in 1673 to the agent of the Charles I Louis, Elector Palatine for 12,000 French pounds (position 728 of the inventory).
Tapestry with Odysseus threatening Circe by workshop of Jacob Geubels II after cartoon by Jacob Jordaens, 1624-1632, with coat of arms of the Crown Prince of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Ladislaus Sigismund Vasa, the mark of the city of Brussels B B, weaver's monogram and signature IACO GEVBELS. Hypothetical reconstruction by Marcin Latka ©. All rights reserved.
At the beginning of January 1606 arrived to Kraków Jan Buczynski, secretary of tsar False Dmitry I of Russia, with the mission to acquire jewels for his patron. Several merchants from Kraków and Lviv, as well as jewellers Mikołaj Siedmiradzki and Giovanni Ambrogio Cellari from Milan, encouraged by the prospect of a large gain, embarked on a journey to Moscow.
Princess Anna Vasa (1568-1625) who owned a collection of jewels valued by some at 200,000 thalers, decided also to secretly sell to the tsar a part of it. Stanisław Niemojewski (ca. 1560-1620) of Rola coat of arms, Crown Deputy Master of the Pantry, was appointed to deliver jewels worth of 70,000 zlotys "wrapped in colourful silk" in an iron casked "painted in green". False Dmitry was killed on May 17th, 1606 and it was not as early as 1609 when the collection was returned by the new tsar Vasiliy Ivanovich Shuisky. Among jewels returned was "eagle with two diamond heads with rubies", most probably from princess' collection or pawned with Niemojewski from the State Treasury before 1599.
Such hereldic jewels, either Imperial-Austrian or Polish, were undobtedly in possesion of different queens and princesses of Poland since at least 1543, when Elizabeth of Austria (1526-1545) was presented with a "diamond eagle with rubies" by emperor Charles V on the occasion of her marriage with king Sigismund II Augustus of Poland. Inventory of the jewels of Polish princess Anna Catherine Constance Vasa, daughter of Sigismund III and Constance of Austria, include four pendans and two pair of earrings with eagles, unfailingly three Imperial-Austrian and two Polish: "a pendant with a white, enamelled Eagle, at which seven diamonds, three round pearls and one big hanging ", valued at 120 thalers and "a diamond eagle with a sharply cut diamond in the center, more diamonds around and three hanging pearls".
Anna Vasa, in half a princess of Poland, as a daughter of Catherine Jagiellon and sister of king Sigismund III, was as such entitled to use this emblem. After Sigismund's defeat at the Battle of Stångebro in 1598, she left Sweden to live with him in Poland where she spent the rest of her life.
The miniature portrait of a lady with eagle pendant from Harrach collection in Vienna (Harrach Palace at Freyung Street) previously identified as effigy of Anna of Austria (1573-1598), first wife of king Sigismund III, basing on strong resemblance to portrait of Catherine Jagiellon, if at all connected with Poland, should be rather identified as a portrait of king’s sister Anna Vasa, and not as his wife. The lack of protruding lip, notorious "Habsburg jaw" known from Anna of Austria’s preserved portraits and costume of the sitter, according to Northern fashion and not Spanish of the Imperial court, confirms this hypothesis.
Eagle was a symbol of supreme imperial power, epitomized magnanimity, the Ascension to heaven and regeneration by baptism and was used in jewellery all across Europe at that time. If the pendant is a heraldic symbol than the portrait should be dated to about 1592, when Sigismund was prepared to abandon the Polish throne for Ernest of Austria, who was about to marry princess Anna Vasa (this would also explain how the miniature found its way to Austria) or to 1598, when the princess needed to legitimize herself in her new homeland.
Diamond double-headed eagle of the House of Austria by Anonymous from Milan or Vienna, mid-16th century, Treasury of the Munich Residence. Most probably from dowry of princess Anna Catherine Constance Vasa.
Detail of a portrait of queen Anna of Austria (1573-1598) by Martin Kober, 1595, Bavarian State Painting Collections.
Miniature of princess Catherine Jagiellon (1526-1583) by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Younger, ca. 1553, Czartoryski Museum.
Miniature of a lady with eagle pendant, most probably princess Anna Vasa (1568-1625) by Anonymous, 1590s, Harrach collection in Rohrau Castle (?). Identification by Marcin Latka.
See the work in Polish-Lithuanian Treasures.
When in 1598 died queen Anna of Austria, first wife of Sigismund III Vasa, a young a chamberlain of the queen's court and governess to the king's children, Urszula Meyerin, took her position not only in the king's bed but also at the court and in country's politics. This seven-year period between first and second marriage of the king, marked by increasing role of his mistress and "a minister in a skirt" as she was called, is most probably reflected in the reliquary of Saint Ursula in the Diocesan Museum in Płock.
Before 1601 king Sigismund III ordered a goldsmith of Płock, Stanisław Zemelka, to adorn a reliquary bust of his patron Saint Sigismund in the Płock Cathedral with a gold crown from his treasury. Around the same year the king's close ally and protégé, Wojciech Baranowski, Bishop of Płock, commissioned in the workshop of royal goldsmith a silver bust for relics of Saint Ursula from the Płock Cathedral, which was to be transferred to newly established Jesuit Collegium in Pułtusk. Urszula Meyerin, a supporter of Jesuits who corresponded with the Pope and used her influence on the king to appoint her favourites to state positions, deserved the honor to give her effigy to the virgin martyr Ursula, which would be another reason for king's gratitude towards Baranowski. It is also possible that the king, himself a talented goldsmith, participated in execution of this commission, hence the lack of signature on the work.
Silver reliquary of Saint Sigismund with gold Płock Diadem by Anonymous from Kraków (reliquary) and Anonymous from Hungary or Germany (diadem), second quarter of 13th century and 1370, Diocesan Museum in Płock.
Silver reliquary of Saint Ursula in the form of a bust by Stanisław Ditrich, ca. 1600, Diocesan Museum in Płock.
In 1637, when 42-years-old king Ladislaus IV Vasa decided to marry finally, the situation at the court of his mistress Jadwiga Łuszkowska become difficult. It was probably thanks to efforts of king's wife, imperial daughter, Cecilia Renata of Austria, that Jadwiga was married to Jan Wypyski, starost of Merkinė in Lithuania and left the court in Warsaw. Portrait of a lady with forget-me-nots from Warsaw's National Museum, painted around that time in the style of royal painter, Peter Danckerts de Rij, which depicts a lady in the costume of a married woman from Central Europe holding forget-me-nots, symbolizing true love, might be a portrait of Łuszkowska.
Portrait of a lady with forget-me-nots (possibly Jadwiga Wypyska née Łuszkowska) by circle of Peter Danckerts de Rij, ca. 1640, National Museum in Warsaw.
Portrait of Prince Sigismund Casimir Vasa with a page (possibly illegitimate son of Łuszkowska and Ladislaus IV - Ladislaus Constantine Vasa, future Count of Wasenau) by Peter Danckerts de Rij, ca. 1647, National Gallery in Prague.
Around 1659, when the great war, known is Polish history as the Deluge, was coming to the end, it become obvious to everybody that 48-years-old queen Marie Louise Gonzaga would not give a birth to a child, everybody at the court in Warsaw were thinking on possible heir to the throne. Powerful queen gave birth to a son in 1652, but the child died after a month. The old king John Casimir Vasa, former cardinal, who finding himself unsuited to ecclesiastical life, stood in elections for the Polish throne after death of his brother and married his sister-in-law, had however at least one illegitimate child, a daughter Marie Catherine, and possibly a son.
The painting offered by queen Marie Louise to the Church of the Holy Cross in Warsaw in about 1667 and created by court artist around 1659, depicts the eldest son of king’s mistress Katarzyna Franciszka (Catherine Frances) Denhoffowa. 10 years old John Casimir Denhoff as young Jesus, held by childless queen Marie Louise depicted as Virgin Mary, is offering a ring to his mother in the costume of Saint Catherine.
Katarzyna Franciszka Denhoffowa nee von Bessen (or von Bees) from Olesno in Silesia and her younger sister Anna Zuzanna were maids of honor of queen Cecilia Renata and stayed at the court after queen’s death. Denhoffowa become a trusted maid of a new queen and her second husband John Casimir. In 1648, she married a courtier of John Casimir, Teodor Denhoff, and a year later on June 6, 1649 she gave birth to John Casimir Denhoff, future cardinal. Godparents of the young Denhoff were none other than king and queen herself. In 1666 at the age of 17 he was made abbot of Mogiła Abbey and between 1670 and 1674 he studied canon law in Paris under protection of John Casimir Vasa.
Mystical marriage of Saint Catherine by circle of Peter Danckerts de Rij, ca. 1659, National Museum in Warsaw.
Portrait of king John II Casimir Vasa by Daniel Schultz, 1659, Royal Baths Museum in Warsaw.
Portrait of cardinal John Casimir Denhoff by circle of Giovanni Maria Morandi, after 1687, Private collection.
The second reception stairway, the Senators' Staircase, of the Wawel Castle was constructed between 1599 and 1602 by Giovanni Trevano and Ambrogio Meazzi in the north-west corner of the castle. It is the first such modern construction in Poland facilitating the communication between the floors of the residence and located in the interior space of the edifice. Marble stairs do not run steeply, as it is in the Renaissance Deputies' Staircase, but break up regularly in the middle floors with comfortable podests. Early baroque portals of the saircase with auricular elements designed by Trevano were executed in greenish Carpathian sandstone by Meazzi. The Summary of the Royal spendings by the Kraków's supevisor Franciszek Rylski of Ostoja coat of arms from 1599 and 1600 in the Central Archives of Historical Records in Warsaw (I 299), records a spending of fl. 2991 gr. 15 den. 12 "for demolition of the old stairs and construction of the new one, for Italians and different materials" and salaries of "Jan Treurer (Giovanni Trevano), mason ad r[ation]em fl. 1300 datum fl. 1250" and "Ambrosio Meaczi (Ambrogio Meazzi) to inlay the stairs and doors ad r[ation]em fl. 500 datum fl. 300".
Senators' Staircase of the Wawel Castle, constructed between 1599 and 1602 by Giovanni Trevano and Ambrogio Meazzi.
Bronze cartouche with coat of arms of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth without the Vasa emblem (missing) from the Wawel Castle by Anonymous from Poland, 1604, Czartoryski Museum. One of the cartouches from the overdoor in the northern wing of the castle leading to the Senators' Staircase.
The first wooden manor on the site was constructed for Dukes of Masovia in the 15th century. It was later owned from 1516 by Anna Radziwiłł, Duchess regent of Masovia and Queen Bona Sforza after 1546 for whom an Italian style Renaissance garden was created. The new lavish wooden manor in mannerist style was built in 1570s for Anna Jagiellon. It was here that the premiere of blank-verse tragedy The Dismissal of the Greek Envoys by Jan Kochanowski took place on January 12, 1578. Sigismund III Vasa resided in the manor during the summer. Between 1602 and 1603, according to the Royal accounting books, the old manor was renovated and a new wooden house was built nearby. In 1606 the plan of the manor and garden was prepared for the king by Alessandro Albertini.
When in 1619 the king purchased the allotments belonging to Augustinian friars the construction of a new brick palace become possible. The spot for a Royal summer palace was chosen approximately 120 meters north from the original manor. According to the cornerstone found in 1972 in the foundations of the eastern wing the construction started on September 16, 1624. The structure was designed by Matteo Castelli and Constantino Tencalla and accomplished after king's death by his son Ladislaus IV Vasa. In 1655 during the so-called Deluge of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (invasion of allied forces of Sweden from north, Brandenburg from west, Transilvania from south and Muscovy from East), the castle was devastated and remained practically uninhabited till 1668 when it was given to Teodor Denhoff.
It is a rectangular building with four octagonal towers at the corners, arcaded courtyard and a loggia with a view on Vistula River. Largely destroyed several times, it was reconstructed in 1975.
Plan of the manor and garden in Ujazdów near Warsaw in 1606 by Alessandro Albertini, scale from. 1: 800, hand drawn multicolored document, 42 × 56 cm (16.5 × 22 in), signed: Il sito della villa di Jasdovia; Alessandro Albertini, 1606, Archiwum Główne Akt Dawnych w Warszawie, Zb. Kart. 570 – 1.
Cornerstone of the Ujazdów Castle, sandstone, 57 × 57 × 10 cm (22.4 × 22.4 × 3.9 in), inscription in Latin: REGIAE AMOENITATI / SACRA / COELO SOLO LVCO LACV COLLE VALLE / LAETA / PALATIA AESTIVA / FELICIB[us]. FVNDAMENTIS AVSPICATVRV[m.] SAXVM / ANNO D[omi]NI MDCXXIV SEPTEMBR[e] / SIGISMVNDO III POLONIAE XXXVII / CO[n]STANCIA ANNO REGE / POSITVM / ANNO D[omi]NI 1624 DIE 7[septem]BRIS (Devoted Royal delight (...) summer palace), Muzeum Zamku i Szpitala Wojskowego na Ujazdowie.
In 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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