Portraits of Hedwig Jagiellon and Anna Jagellonica by Lucas Cranach the Elder
Despite numerous suitors for her hand, the Crown Princess Hedwig Jagiellon remained unmarried at the age of 17. In 1529, Krzysztof Szydłowiecki and Jan Tarnowski proposed to Damião de Góis, envoy of John III, king of Portugal, to marry Hedwig to king's brother Infante Louis of Portugal, Duke of Beja. At the same time negotiations were carried to marry her to Louis X, Duke of Bavaria and Habsburgs, on April 18, 1531 proposed Frederick, brother of Louis V, Count Palatine of the Rhine.
To attract suitable marriage proposal, Hedwig's father continued to amass a considerable dowry for her. He commissioned the most luxurious items in Poland and abroad, like the casket, created by Jacob Baur and Peter Flötner in Nuremberg in 1533, adorned with jewels from Jagiellon collection (Hermitage Museum). He also charged his banker Seweryn Boner with the acquisition in Venice of some lengths of silk, several hundred ells of satin, five cloth of gold bales, thirty bales of fine Swabian and Flemish linen as well as pearls for 1,000 florins. In her letter of 19 April 1535 the Princess asked her father for a larger amount of cloth of gold.
The marriage was a political contract, and Princess' role was to seal the alliance between countries by producing offspring. Thanks to this she could also have some power in her new country and Hedwig's stepmother, Bona Sforza, knew perfectly about it. It was she who probably took care of providing some erotic items in Hedwig's dowry.
In 1534 it was finally decided, in secret from Bona, who was unfavorable to the Hohenzollerns, that Hedwig will marry Joachim II Hector, Elector of Brandenburg and the marriage contract was signed on 21 March 1535. Sigismund commissioned some portraits of Hedwig from court painter Antonius (most probably Antoni of Wrocław), which were sent to Joachim.
The groom arrived to Kraków with a retinue of 1000 courtiers and 856 horses and Sigismund's nephew Albert, Duke of Prussia with his wife Dorothea of Denmark and 400 people. Apart from 32,000 red zlotys in cash Hedwig also received from her father robes, silverware, "other indispensable utensils", money for personal use, as well as a rich bed with canopy (canopia alias namiothy), which she took with her to Berlin.
A large painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder from about 1530 in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin, which was transferred from the Royal Prussian Castles in 1829/1830, shows Hedwig as Venus and Cupid. This erotic painting was undeniably part of her dowry.
A portrait from the same collection, which depicts Hedwig as Judith with the Head of Holofernes and dated 1531, was acquired from Suermondt collection in Aachen. As the portraits of her stepmother, it most probably also has a political meaning, or the Princess just wanted to be depicted as her beautiful stepmother.
Aachen was an Imperial City, where coronations of emperors were held till 1562 and in 1815, control of the town was passed to the Kingdom of Prussia. Already in 1523 Joachim I Nestor, Elector of Brandenburg wanted Hedwig's hand for one of his sons. It is possible that her portrait as Judith was sent to the Hohenzollerns or to the Habsburgs already in 1531 to underline that the Jagiellons would not permit them to take their crown.
A similar painting to that of Hedwig's, depicting Venus with Cupid stealing honey by Lucas Cranach the Elder and dated 1531, is in the Borghese Gallery in Rome. It was aquired in 1611 and bears the same inscription as effigy of Katarzyna Telniczanka as Venus. The woman has features of Hedwig's cousin Anna Jagellonica (1503-1547), Queen of Germany, Bohemia, and Hungary. Anna was a daughter of Vladislaus II, King of Bohemia, Hungary and Croatia, elder brother of Sigismund I, and his third wife, Anne of Foix-Candale. On 26 May 1521 she married Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, grandson of Emperor Maximilan I, who was elevated to the title King of the Romans by his brother Emperor Charles V in 1531.
On her golden hairnet embroidered with pearls there is a monogram W.A.F.I. or W.A.F. which can be interpreted as Wladislaus et Anna (parents), Ferdinandus I (husband), Wladislaus et Anna Filia (daughter of Vladislaus and Anne) or Wladislaus et Anna de Fuxio (Vladislaus and Anne of Foix). Similar monogram of her parents WA is visible on a golden pendant at her hat in her portrait at the age of 16 by Hans Maler, created in 1520 (private collection).
Portrait of Crown Princess Hedwig Jagiellon (1513-1573) as Venus and Cupid by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1530, Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.
Portrait of Crown Princess Hedwig Jagiellon (1513-1573) as Judith with the Head of Holofernes by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1531, Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.
Portrait of Queen Anna Jagellonica (1503-1547) as Venus with Cupid stealing honey by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1531, Borghese Gallery in Rome.
Portraits of Princes of Ostroh by Lucas Cranach the Elder and workshop
Soon after death of Constantine, Prince of Ostroh king Sigismund had to deal with the quarrel between his son and his stepmother over the fabulous inheritance. Prince Ilia took the body of his father to Kiev, where he was buried in the Chapel of Saint Stephen of the Pechersk Lavra with great splendor. Already in 1522 his father assured him the succession to the starost of Bratslav and Vinnytsia, confirmed by the privilege of the king Sigismund issued at Grodno Sejm, "on Friday before Laetare Sunday 1522".
Then Prince Ilia sent from Kiev one hundred horsemen to the Turov Castle, on which a dower of his stepmother was secured. They took the castle by force, they sealed all things in the treasury, as well as privileges and even the testament of the deceased prince, handing them over to Turov governor. Alexandra's brother, Prince Yuri Olelkovich-Slutsky (ca. 1492-1542), intervened with the king, who sent his courtier to Prince Ilia, ordering him to return the castle and to pay a dowry of his sister Sophia: "As for Princess Alexandra's daughter, she [mother] is not to give her the third part of the dowry or the trousseau; but her brothers, Prince Ilia and the son of Princess Alexandra, Prince Vasily, her daughter, and their sister to equip and pay her dowry" (royal decree issued on August 5, 1531 in Kraków).
In 1523, when he was twelve years of age, Ilia's father enaged him to a five-year-old daughter of his friend George Hercules Radziwill, Anna Elizabeth (1518-1558). George Hercules obtained a dispensation from Pope Clement VII as the groom was baptized and brought up in the "Greek rite".
After death of his father the young prince lived in Kraków at the royal court, where he studied Latin and Polish. In 1530, 1531 and 1533 he fought with the Tatars and between 1534-1536 he took part in the Muscovite-Lithuanian war where he commanded his own armed forces.
In 1536 Radziwill demanded that Ilia fulfill the contract, he however refused to marry Anna Elizabeth or her sister Barbara, citing the lack of his own consent and because he fell in love with Beata Kościelecka, a daughter of king's mistress. In a document issued on December 20, 1537 in Kraków king Sigismund released him from this obligation.
"Prince Ilia falls from one mud to another", wrote to Albert of Prussia, royal courtier Mikołaj Nipszyc (Nikolaus Nibschitz), who also very negatively characterized liberated daughters of George Hercules Radziwill, about the planned marriage of Ilia with Kościelecka.
The engagement with Beata was sealed with the royal blessing on January 1, 1539, and the wedding, on February 3 of the same year, was held at the Wawel Castle, one day after the wedding of Isabella Jagiellon and John Zapolya, King of Hungary. After the wedding ceremony, a jousting tournament was organized, in which Ilia took part. The prince wore silver armor lined with black velvet, a Tatar belt and leather shoes with spurs and silver sheets. During a duel with young king Sigismund Augustus, Ilia fell from his horse and suffered severe injuries. On August 16, 1539 in Ostroh, he signed his last will in which he left his possessions to the unborn child of Beata, a daughter born three months later.
By virtue of the judgment of August 1531 Princess Alexandra was granted the towns of Turov and Tarasovo in today's Belarus and Slovensko, near Vilnius. As a wealthy widow in her late 20s, she most probably lived with her stepson in Kraków and in Turov.
A painting by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder dated '1531' below inscription in Latin, most probably the first approach to this subject by Cranach, shows a courtly scene of Hercules and Omphale. A young man in guise of mythical hero is flanked by two noblewomen as Omphale's ladies. Partridges, a symbol of sexual desire hangs over the heads of the women. In the myths Omphale and Hercules became lovers and they had a son. The painting is known from several versions, all by Cranach's workshop as original, likely to be by the master's hand, is considered lost.
One copy was reported before 1891 in the Wiederau Castle, built between 1697 and 1705 in a village south of Leipzig by David von Fletscher, a merchant of Scotish origin, royal Polish and electoral-Saxon privy and commercial councilor. The other was owned by the Minnesota Museum of Art until 1976, and another was sold in Cologne in 1966. There is also a version which was sold in June 1917 in Berlin together with a large collection of Wojciech Kolasiński (1852-1916), a minor Polish painter better known as an art restorer, collector, and antiquarian of Warsaw (Sammlung des verstorbenen herrn A. von Kolasinski - Warschau).
The audacious woman on the left has just put a woman's cap on the head of a god of strength dressed in a lion's skin. Her bold pose is very similar to that visible in a portrait of Beata Kościelecka, created by Bernardino Licinio just a year later. Also her face features resemble greatly other effigies of Beata. The woman on the right bears the features of Princess Alexandra Olelkovich-Slutska, the young man is therefore Prince Ilia, who just returned from a glorious expedition against Tatars.
Princess Alexandra, a beautiful young woman, like Queen Bona and Beata Kościelecka, also deserved to be represented in "guise" of the goddess of love - Venus. A small painting of a nude woman by Lucas Cranach the Elder, acquired by Liechtenstein collection in 2013, and sometimes considered a fake, is dated '1531' and the woman resemble greatly Princess Alexandra. This work predates by one year a very similar Venus in the Städel Museum in Frankfurt.
Portrait of Beata Kościelecka, Ilia, Prince of Ostroh and Alexandra Olelkovich-Slutska as Hercules and Omphale, from Kolasiński collection by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1531, Private collection.
Portrait of Beata Kościelecka, Ilia, Prince of Ostroh and Alexandra Olelkovich-Slutska as Hercules and Omphale, from Cologne by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1531, Private collection.
Portrait of Beata Kościelecka, Ilia, Prince of Ostroh and Alexandra Olelkovich-Slutska as Hercules and Omphale, from Minnesota Museum of Art by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1531, Private collection.
Portrait of Alexandra Olelkovich-Slutska, Princess of Ostroh nude (Venus) by Lucas Cranach the Elder or workshop, 1531, Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna.
Portrait of Alexandra Olelkovich-Slutska, Princess of Ostroh nude (Venus) by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1532, Städel Museum in Frankfurt.
Portraits of Dukes of Pomerania and Dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg by Lucas Cranach the Elder
On January 23, 1530 in Berlin, Duke George I of Pomerania (1493-1531), son of Anna Jagiellon (1476-1503), sister of Sigismund I, married Margaret of Brandenburg (1511-1577), daughter of Joachim I Nestor (1484-1535), Elector of Brandenburg.
Margaret brought a dowry of 20,000 guilders into the marriage. She was quite unpopular in Pomerania due to Brandenburg's claims to Pomerania. In 1524 George crafted an alliance with his uncle King Sigismund I, which was directed against Brandenburg and Duke Albert of Prussia and in 1526 he went to Gdańsk, to meet his uncle and paid homage of Lębork and Bytów, thus becoming a vassal of the Polish crown together with his brother Barnim IX (or XI) the Pious.
George died a year after the marriage on the night of May 9 to 10, 1531 in Szczecin. He was succeeded by his only son Philip I (1515-1560), who became a co-ruler of the Duchy alongside his uncle, Barnim IX. Few months later on November 28, 1531 Margaret bore a posthumous child, a daughter named after her father Georgia.
As a result of the division of the principality, which took place on October 21, 1532, Philip I became the Duke of Pomerania-Wolgast, ruling over the lands west of the Oder and on Rügen and his uncle Barnim IX, the Duke of Pomerania-Szczecin. As the lands of Margaret's jointure/dower, a provision after the death of her husband, were in Pomerania-Wolgast her stepson had to sort out the relationship with his unloved step-mother and to levy a special tax to pay her dowry and redeem her jointure. On February 15, 1534 in Dessau she married her second husband Prince John IV of Anhalt (1504-1551) and on December 13, 1534, Philip and Barnim IX introduced Lutheranism in Pomerania as the state religion.
Barnim IX was a renowned patron of arts and brought many artists to his court. He also collected works of art and he, his brother and nephew frequently commissioned their effigies in Cranach's workshop. The so-called "Book of effigies" (Visierungsbuch), which was lost during World War II, was a collection of many drawings depicting members of the House of Griffin, including preparatory or study drawings by Cranach's workshop.
In February 1525 Barnim concluded an alliance with the House of Guelph by marrying Anna of Brunswick-Lüneburg (1502-1568), daughter of Henry the Middle (1468-1532), Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Margaret of Saxony (1469-1528). Henry, who sided with the French king Francis I during the Imperial election, and so earned the enmity of the elected Emperor Charles V, abdicated in 1520 in favor of his two sons Otto (1495-1549) and Ernest (1497-1546), and went into exile to France. He returned in 1527 and tried to regain control of the land. When this failed, he went back to France and returned only after the imperial ban was lifted in 1530. Henry spent his last years in Wienhausen Castle, near Celle, where he lived "in seclusion" and died in 1532. He was buried in the Wienhausen Monastery.
A few days after the death of his wife Margaret of Saxony on December 7, 1528, he entered into a second, morganatic marriage in Lüneburg with Anna von Campe, who had been his mistress since 1520 and who had previously borne him two sons. In autumn 1525, Henry's eldest son Otto secretly and against his father's wishes married a maid-in-waiting of his sister Anna, Mathilde von Campe (1504-1580), also known as Meta or Metta, most probably a sister of Anna von Campe. When Otto renounced participation in the government of the principality in 1527, Ernest became sole ruler.
In 1527 with the advent of the Lutheran doctrine to Brunswick-Lüneburg, the life of Otto's and Ernest's sister Apollonia (1499-1571) change fundamentally. She was born on March 8, 1499 as the fifth child of Duke Henry the Middle and Margaret of Saxony. When she was five years old, her family sent her to the Wienhausen Monastery. At the age of 13 Apollonia was consecrated, and at the age of 22 she takes her religious vows. Ernest summoned Apollonia to Celle, on the occasion of her mother's planned trip to relatives in Meissen. Her brothers and her mother urged her to change her religion, but Apollonia refused. Back in Celle, where she was the educator of the ducal offspring, she met Urbanus Rhegius, the reformer and her brother's theological adviser. He become her spiritual partner and brought her closer to the new doctrine. Nonetheless, she remained Catholic.
At the Diet of Augsburg in 1530 Ernest signed the Augsburg Confession, the fundamental confession of the Lutherans, and George and Barnim received the imperial enfeoffment. Despite the opposition of the entire community, the Wienhausen Monastery was transformed from a Roman Catholic into a Lutheran establishment for unmarried noble women (Damenstift) in 1531.
Duke Ernest, like Barnim, also commissioned portraits from the workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder. His portrait by Cranach's workshop is in Lutherhaus Wittenberg, and a study drawing to a series of portraits is in the Museum of Fine Arts in Reims.
Ernest married Sophia of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1508-1541) on June 2, 1528. She was a daughter of Duke Henry V (son of Sophia of Pomerania) and Ursula, daughter of Elector John Cicero of Brandenburg.
A portrait of young woman in guise of Judith comes from the old collection of the Grunewald hunting lodge (Jagdschloss Grunewald), near Berlin. This Renaissance villa was built between 1542 and 1543 for Joachim II Hector, Elector of Brandenburg, elder brother of Margaret of Brandenburg. The painting is dated 1530, below the window, a date when Margaret become the Duchess of Pomerania and the castle visible in distance is similar to the Klempenow Castle, which was part of Margaret's jointure. The same woman was also depicted as Venus with Cupid stealing honey in a painting by Cranach the Elder from the private collection in London. She is wearing bridal wreath with a single feather on her head, thereby announcing that she is ready for marriage. The painting is very similar to portrait of Beata Kościelecka as Venus from 1530 in the National Gallery of Denmark and it is dated "1532" on the trunk of the tree, a date when Margaret was already widowed and her stepson wanted to get rid of her. In the same year, she was also represented in a popular courtly scene of Hercules with Omphale. Two partridges, a symbol of desire, hang directly over her head and her face features are very similar to the effigies of Margaret's father and siblings. Above the woman opposite there is a duck, associated with Penelope, queen of Ithaca, marital fidelity and intelligence. This symbolism as well as woman's effigy match perfectly Anna of Brunswick-Lüneburg, who became a driving force behind the division of Pomerania in 1532 and who considered that George's intent to marry Margaret of Brandenburg threatened her own position. The man depicted as Hercules is therefore Anna's husband, Barnim IX. The painting is dated 1532 below the inscription in Latin. It was acquired by the Kaiser Friedrich Museum in Berlin before 1830 and lost in the World War II. The capital of Germany was the city where many items from the collection of dukes of Pomerania were transferred, including the famous Pomeranian Art Cabinet.
Another painting depicting Hercules and Omphale created by Lucas Cranach the Elder in 1532 was also in Berlin before 1931 (Matthiesen Gallery), today in private collection. It is very similar to the painting showing Barnim IX, his wife and his sister-in-law and it have similar dimensions (79 x 116 cm / 82.5 x 122.5 cm), composition and style. In this painting two partridges hang only over the couple on the left. The man is holding his right hand on the breast and heart of a woman, she is his love. The young woman to the right is placing a white cloth over his head like a bonnet in a way of engaging with him like a sister. The older woman in a white bonnet of a married or a widowed lady behind her is handing Hercules the distaff. It is therefore their mother or stepmother. Consequently the scene depict Ernest I of Brunswick-Lüneburg, his wife Sophia of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, his sister Apollonia and their stepmother Anna von Campe.
The two young women from the latter painting were also depicted together in a scene of Judith with the head of Holofernes and a servant from the late 1530s. This painting, today in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, comes from the Imperial Gallery in Prague (transferred before 1737), therefore it was sent to or acquired by the Habsburgs. The same woman as Judith is also represented in a painting in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, acquired in 1911 from the collection of Robert Hoe in New York. Her face features are very similar to effigies of Sophia of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, her father and sons.
Portrait of Margaret of Brandenburg (1511-1577), Duchess of Pomerania as Judith with the head of Holofernes by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1530, Grunewald hunting lodge.
Portrait of Margaret of Brandenburg (1511-1577), Duchess of Pomerania as Venus with Cupid stealing honey by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1532, Private collection.
Portrait of Barnim IX (1501-1573), Duke of Pomerania, his wife Anna of Brunswick-Lüneburg (1502-1568), and his sister-in-law Margaret of Brandenburg (1511-1577) as Hercules and Omphale by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1532, Gemäldegalerie in Berlin, lost.
Portrait of Sophia of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1508-1541), Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneburg as Judith with the head of Holofernes by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1530, Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Portrait of Ernest of Brunswick-Lüneburg (1497-1546), his wife Sophia of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1508-1541), his sister Apollonia (1499-1571) and stepmother Anna von Campe as Hercules and Omphale by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1532, Private collection.
Portrait of Sophia of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1508-1541) and her stepsister Apollonia of Brunswick-Lüneburg (1499-1571) as Judith with the head of Holofernes and a servant by Lucas Cranach the Elder, after 1537, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Portraits of Beata Kościelecka by Lucas Cranach the Elder and Bernardino Licinio
"0 Beata, adorned so rich in rare charms, You have a virtuous and honest speech, The worthy and unworthy of you still adore you, The gray-haired, though prudent, they go crazy for you" (O Beata decorata rara forma, moribus / O honesta ac modesta vultu, verbis, gestibus! / Digni simul et indigni te semper suspiciunt / Et grandaevi ac prudentes propter te desipiunt), wrote in his panegyric modeled on the hymn in honor of the Virgin Mary, entitled Prosa de Beata Kościelecka virgine in gynaeceo Bonae reginae Poloniae (On Beata Kościelecka a maiden in the household of Bona, Queen of Poland, II, XLVII), Andrzej Krzycki (1482-1537), Bishop of Płock and secretary of Queen Bona.
In 1509 when king Sigismund I was obliged to marry by the Piotrków Diet, his mistress Katarzyna Telniczanka was married to his associate Andrzej Kościelecki. The king secured her in the form of an annual salary and made Kościelecki Grand Treasurer of the Crown and starost of Oświęcim. Kościelecki, who was Polish-Lithuanian envoy in Buda between 1501-1503, was a talented and dedicated manager of royal treasury. When in 1510 a huge fire broke out in royal salt mines in Wieliczka, he and Seweryn Bethman descent into the shaft to put out the fire.
Marriage with king's mistress caused a great indignation of Kościelecki's relatives, who were leaving the Senate when the treasurer appeared there.
Kościelecki died in Kraków on 6 September 1515 and on 2 October 1515, after a long illness, died Queen Barbara Zapolya, first wife of Sigismund. When just few weeks after Kościelecki's death Telniczanka gave birth to her daughter Beata, meaning "blessed" (between 6 September and 20 October), everybody at the court gossiped that her real father was Sigismund.
Beata was raised in the royal court together with other children of the king. In 1528 when Beata was 13, Anna, Zuzanna and Katarzyna three daughters of Regina Szafraniec, eldest daughter of Telniczanka, brought a claim against Beata before the royal court concerning a house in Kraków bought by Telniczanka after 1509, a carriage, four horses and a toque embroidered with large pearls valued at 600 zlotys. Two years later Kościelecki's testament was brought before the royal court by Andrzej Tęczyński, voivode of Kraków in a dispute with Kościelecka.
The painting of Venus with Cupid stealing honey by Lucas Cranach the Elder from the National Gallery of Denmark (transferred in 1759 to the Danish royal collection from the Gottorp Castle) is very similar in composition to the portrait of Katarzyna Telniczanka as Venus from the Branicki Palace in Warsaw, lost during World War II. Also the woman depicted is very much alike. It bears the date 1530 on a stone in lower right corner of the painting. As Telniczanka died in 1528, it cannot be her. The same woman is also in the two other paintings by Cranach. One similar to other portraits of Telniczanka's daughters from the 1520s is in the Finnish National Gallery in Helsinki (acquired in 1851 from the collection of future Tsar Alexander II). According to sources it is dated 1525, however the date is today almost invisible and could be also 1527 when Beata reached her legal age of 12 and could be married. The other, in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium (donated in 1928 by Leon Cassel), also of Venus and Cupid, is dated 1531 on the tree trunk. It is very similar to portrait of Princess Hedwig Jagiellon (1513-1573) and Queen Anna Jagellonica (1503-1547) as Venus from the same period. The woman is also depiced in the portrait by Bernardino Licinio from 1532 in private collection, signed and dated by the artist on a postument (M·DXXXII B·LVCINII· OPVS). She is holding gloves and keeping her hand on a postument. This portrait is very similar to the effigy of royal mistress Diana di Cordona by Licinio in Dresden. It is almost like a pendant, their poses and costumes are identical. The woman's headdress or a toque, called balzo, embroidered with gold is adorned with flowers very similar to clematis Beata.
From the 1530s noble ladies throughout Poland, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine wanted to be depicted in the pose of a Roman lady or a courtesan from the Flavian period in their tomb monuments (e.g. monument to Barbara Tarnowska née Tęczyńska by Giovanni Maria Padovano from about 1536 in the Tarnów Cathedral), a pose similar to that known from the Venus of Urbino (portrait of Princess Isabella Jagiellon). In their portrait paintings, all wanted to be a goddess of love.
Portrait of Beata Kościelecka by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1527, Finnish National Gallery in Helsinki.
Portrait of Beata Kościelecka as Venus with Cupid stealing honey by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1530, National Gallery of Denmark.
Portrait of Beata Kościelecka as Venus with Cupid stealing honey by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1531, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium.
Portrait of Beata Kościelecka by Bernardino Licinio, 1532, Private collection.
Portraits of Bona Sforza by Bernardino Licinio
Bona's tutor Crisostomo Colonna (1460-1528), a member of the Pontano Academy, a poet from the Petrarch school, taught her Latin, history, theology, law, geography, botany, philosophy and mathematics. She in turn, who was considered a lover of Virgil and Petrarch, was the first teacher of her son Sigismund Augustus, born in 1520, hence the book.
Two leopards on her bodice, denoted as symbols of strength, intelligence, bravery, justice, and valor, holding stylized S, is clearly an allusion to her family name: Sforza (from sforzare, to force), a nickname given to Muzio Attendolo in the 1380s for his strength and determination and his abilities to suddenly reverse the fortunes of battles.
The whole pattern can be compared with that visible on a fountain in the Dukes' Courtyard of the Castello Sforzesco in Milan from the late 15th century.
Portrait of Bona Sforza d'Aragona (1494-1557), Queen of Poland holding a book by Bernardino Licinio, 1530s, Private collection.
Portrait of Bona Sforza d'Aragona (1494-1557), Queen of Poland holding a book by Bernardino Licinio, 1530s, Government Art Collection, UK.
Portraits of Bona Sforza by Giovanni Cariani
From 1524, after death of her mother, Bona was also Duchess of Bari and Rossano by her own right. Throughout her life she dressed in Italian style and purchased in Italy pearl embroidered velvets, thin Florentine cloths, intricate Venetian chains and ornaments. She also received garments from Italian Princes, like in 1523, when Isabella d'Este (1474-1539), Marchioness of Mantua and a leader of fashion at that time, sent to Bona silk and golden caps in return for sable skins. Two years later, the Marchioness also sent six caps and four pairs of fashionable stockings. In a letter from Kraków of July 20, 1527 Bona expressed her gratitude to Isabella's daughter Eleonora Gonzaga, Duchess of Urbino for beautiful caps she has sent her.
In May 1543 during entry to Kraków for coronation of Elizabeth of Austria (1526-1545), the lords and knights of the Kingdom were dressed in all sorts of costumes: Polish, German, Italian, French, Hungarian, Turkish, Tatar, Spanish, Muscovy, Cossack and Venetian. The young king Sigismund Augustus was dressed in German style, probably as a courtesy for Elizabeth. Bona started to wear her distinctive outfit of a widowed elder lady most probably around 1548, after death of Sigismund I, a medal from 1546 shows her with a large décolletage.
Before 1862 in the Sibyl's Temple at Pulawy, which memorialized Polish history and culture, there was a "fan of Queen Bona" and inventory of Bona's belongings in Bari includes a wonderful chronometer hidden inside a fan made of bird feathers and set with jewels.
Portrait of Bona Sforza d'Aragona (1494-1557), Queen of Poland holding a fan by Giovanni Cariani, 1530s, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Portrait of Bona Sforza d'Aragona (1494-1557), Queen of Poland in a striped dress by Giovanni Cariani, 1530s, Musée Jacquemart-André.
Portraits of Catherine de' Medici by Giovanni Cariani and Palma Vecchio
"The Queen became all-powerful, and took all seriousness from her husband and other dignitaries, so that she plays a role similar to the Queen regent in France", wrote from Kraków on March 10, 1532 Ercole Daissoli, the secretary of Hieronim Łaski, about Bona Sforza, Queen of Poland.
Around that time another eminent woman of the Renaissance, Catherine de' Medici, future Queen of France was engaged to Henry, duke of Orleans. Orphaned at birth, she was brought from Florence to Rome by her father's uncle Pope Leo X. The next Pope and Catherine's uncle Clement VII, allowed her to return to Florence and to reside in the Palazzo Medici Riccardi. The Pope entered into an alliance with France, Venice, Florence and England to limit the influence of Emperor Charles V in Italy, but the French defeat in the battle of Pavia exposed the Papal States to imperial revenge, which culminated in the sack of Rome in 1527. The defeat suffered by Clement VII in Rome also led to riots in Florence. In return for his help in retaking the city the Pope promised Charles V that he would be crowned emperor. On the occasion of Emperor's coronation in Bologna in 1530 a medal was struck to model by Giovanni Bernardi.
Catherine returned to the papal court in Rome, where Clement VII attempted to arrange an advantageous marriage for her. He managed to combine two important marriages: that of Catherine with the son of the king of France and that of Alessandro, nicknamed il Moro (appointed Duke of Florence) with Margaret of Austria, the illegitimate daughter of Charles V. Thirteen-year-old Catherine began to learn French. Venetian ambassador, Antonio Soriano, described her physical appearance at that time: "she is small of stature, and thin, and without delicate features, but having the protruding eyes peculiar to the Medici family". On 23 October 1533 Catherine arrived in Marseille, where she married the younger son of the French king. The unexpected death of Clement VII on 25 September 1534, almost a year after the wedding, affected the alliance between the papacy and France. Pope Paul III, whose election was backed by Emperor Charles V, broke the alliance and refused to pay the enormous dowry promised to Catherine. King Francis I of France, Catherine's father-in-law, was later attributed the bitter affirmation: "I received the girl stark naked" (J'ai reçu la fille toute nue).
The portrait of a lady called "Violante", identifed as Allegory of Virginity and attributed to Palma Vecchio and Giovanni Cariani is known from several versions. One was in the collection of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria and was recorded in Theatrum Pictorium (number 185). This painting was most probably cut and might be tantamount to the painting in the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest. Other are in Galleria Estense in Modena, centred around the collection of the d'Este family, rulers of Modena, Ferrara and Reggio and in private collection in Barcelona, possibly from the Spanish royal collection. The woman was also depicted in similar pose wearing black mourning dress in another paining in Budapest (inventory number 109).
Facial features and hand gesture of the woman are almost identical with another effigy in the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest, the portrait of young Catherine de' Medici (inventory number 58.4), bearing later inscription in French: CATERINE DE MEDICIS REINE DE FRANCE. The omnipresent V in these portraits is therefore reference to the powerful Emperor Charles V, whose actions had great impact on the life of Catherine.
Portrait of Catherine de' Medici (1519-1589) by Giovanni Cariani, 1532-1534, Galleria Estense in Modena.
Portrait of Catherine de' Medici (1519-1589) by Giovanni Cariani or Palma Vecchio, 1532-1534, Private collection.
Portrait of Catherine de' Medici (1519-1589) by Giovanni Cariani, 1532-1534, Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest.
Portrait of Catherine de' Medici (1519-1589) from the Theatrum Pictorium (185) by Jan van Troyen after Palma Vecchio, 1673, Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava.
Portrait of Catherine de' Medici (1519-1589) in mourning by Giovanni Cariani, ca. 1534, Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest.
Portraits of Stanisław Lubomirski and Laura Effrem by Bernardino Licinio and Giovanni Cariani
"For Peace and Freedom. Old masters: a collection of Polish-owned works of art, arranged by the European Art Galleries, Inc., to help to maintain the exhibit of Poland at the World's Fair, New York, 1940." This is the title of official catalogue of 77 paintings, mostly from the Łańcut Castle, displayed in the Polish Pavilion during the New York World's Fair opened on 30 April 1939. On 1 September and 17 September 1939, the Second Polish Republic was again invaded and partitioned by its neighbours. World War II begun and paintings never returned to Łańcut.
Among them were a portrait of a green-eyed nobleman attributed to Lorenzo Lotto and a portrait of a lady attributed to Paris Bordone, both holding gloves. The portraits, now in private collections, have similar dimensions (99.4 x 74.9 cm / 88 x 74.5 cm) and compostion, they are almost like pendants. The woman is now holding a little dog and the effigy of a man bears inscription DOMINICHO / RADISE, which was not visible before. It was most probably added after 1940 to make him close to the Radise family living in New York since about 1920, as no Dominicho or Domenico Radise is reported in sources. Both paintings are stilistically close to Giovanni Cariani, also known as Giovanni Busi or Il Cariani.
The woman was also depicted in two other paintings from the same period, one attributed to Palma Vecchio in Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden and the other, most probably a modello or a ricordo to previous, attributed to circle of Bernardino Licinio in private collection. The painting in Dresden, entitled Resting Venus, was most probably acquired for the collection of Augustus II, King of Poland.
According to a bill of the picture, it was bought through the dealers Lorenzo Rossi and Andreas Philipp Kindermann in 1728 in Venice for 2000 Taleri, however since the painting is also described in inventory from 1722 it could be that it was confused with another painting of Venus attributed to Sassoferrato. The frame is adorned with king's monogram AR (Augustus Rex) and the Eagle of Poland. It cannot be excluded that it was offered to the king during his visit to the Łańcut castle in 1704 or later by members of the Lubomirski family. The version attributed to Licinio comes from the Heinemann Gallery in Munich.
Renaissance-baroque Łańcut Castle was built between 1629-1641 as palazzo in fortezza (fortress palace) for Stanisław Lubomirski (1583-1649), voivode of the Kraków by Italian architect Matteo Trapola on the site of previous, most probably wooden castle of the Pilecki family. Stanisław's grandfather was another Stanisław (d. 1585), son of Feliks Lubomirski, owner of the Sławkowice and Zabłocie estates.
In May 1537 he married a Queen's lady-in-waiting Laura Effrem (Laura de Effremis), coming from an old family noble from Bari, related to the Carducci, Dottula, Alifio, Piscicelli and Arcamone families, belonging to the immediate circle of Isabella of Aragon, Duchess of Milan and her daughter Bona. Laura received from the queen a dowry of 1,200 zlotys and jewels worth 350 zlotys, as well as twenty cubits of damask.
According to letter of Queen's secretary Stanisław Górski to a poet Klemens Janicki dated 10 June 1538 in Kraków "Italian Laura, who had married Stanisław Lubomirski a year ago, having come here at the Queen's request after Easter, in the house where the maids and matrons are staying, gave birth to a son." The son died in infancy, Laura most probably died four years later in 1542 and Stanisław married Barbara Hruszowska with whom he had three children.
The portraits could also depict Piotr V Kmita Sobieński (1477-1553), Grand Marshal of the Crown and one of the most trusted followers of Queen Bona, and his first wife Anna Górka (d. 1537). They married in about 1519 and around that time he rebult in renaissance style his castle in Wiśnicz, near Kraków, which was later reconstructed by Trapola between 1615-1621 for the same Stanisław Lubomirski who built the castle in Łańcut.
Portrait of a noblewoman with pearls in her hair, most probably Laura Effrem by Bernardino Licinio, 1530s, Private collection.
Portrait of a noblewoman, most probably Laura Effrem, as Resting Venus by Bernardino Licinio, 1530s, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden.
Portrait of a noblewoman from the Łańcut Castle, most probably Laura Effrem by Giovanni Cariani, 1530s, Private collection.
Portrait of a nobleman from the Łańcut Castle, most probably Stanisław Lubomirski (d. 1585) by Giovanni Cariani, 1530s, Private collection.
Portraits of Sigismund Augustus as a boy by circle of Titian
Hereditary and absolute monarchs of Europe had no interest whatever in preserving the memory of elective rulers of Poland-Lithuania, especially after decline of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth as a leading European power following the destructive Deluge (1655-1660) and its dissolution following the partitions in the late 18th century. That is why the identity of the Jagiellons, Vasas and even of king Wiśniowiecki or members of the Sobieski family in their portraits sent to European courts was lost in oblivion.
In 1529, through the intercession of queen Bona, a courtier with a stormy and dissolute life, Giovanni Silvio de Mathio (Joannes Silvius Amatus) from Palermo, called Siculus was appointed the tutor of nine years old Sigismund Augustus. He also obtained the Vitebsk parish and the Vilnius canon with Bona's support. Siculus was a doctor of both laws and lecturer of Greek at the Kraków Academy. He died at 90 years of age in about 1537.
Siculus left Padua, under the rule of the Republic of Venice, for Vienna in 1497 and Kraków in about 1500. When in Poland, he frequently ordered copies of Greek texts from Aldo Manuzio (Aldus Manutius) in Venice. The first edition of the controversial work by Philostratus "Life of Apollonius of Tyana", printed in Venice between 1501 and 1504 by Manuzio, was in a private library of king Sigismund Augustus, now in Saint Petersburg (after Alodia Kawecka-Gryczowa, Biblioteka ostatniego Jagiellona, 1988, pp. 291-292). It tells the story of the first century philosopher and magician and concerns pagan magic and secret sciences.
As an ardent follower of Neoplatonic ideas at the Sigismund's court and opponent of Erasmus of Rotterdam, Siculus spread rumors in Kraków that Erasmus had been put under a church curse.
Platonism affirms the existence of abstract objects that the physical world is not as real or true as timeless, absolute, unchangeable ideas, as in a quote from Plato's Timaeus, which reads "this world is indeed a living being endowed with soul and intelligence." For Plato, the term ''Anima Mundi'' meant ''the animating principle of matter.''
The painting from the collection of Cardinal Mazarin, possibly originally from the French royal collection, recorded in the inventory of 1661 as a work of Titian (no. 912), shows a little boy and his tutor holding hands on a globe with figures which looks like floating souls and similar to the print Integra naturae speculum artisque imago, published in Robert Fludd's Utriusque cosmi maioris scilicet ... from 1617-1618.
The portrait of a boy in costume and, more northern, hairstyle, typical for 1530s is mentioned for the first time in 1646 by Balthasar de Monconys as placed in the Tribuna of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, where the most important antiquities and paintings from the Medici collection were displayed, and with attribution to Titian. the boy's features are very similar to those on a series of portraits from about 1521 showing Sigismund Augustus as a child, while the costume to the medal by Giovanni Padovano from 1532.
Both paintings were undoubtedly commissioned by queen Bona to be sent to major European courts.
Portrait of Sigismund Augustus as a boy with his tutor Giovanni Silvio de Mathio by circle of Titian, ca. 1529, Louvre Museum.
Portrait of Sigismund Augustus as a boy by circle of Titian, ca. 1532, Uffizi Gallery.
Portraits of Sigismund I the Old and Bona Sforza by Titian
In 1808 Lucien Bonaparte (1775-1840), younger brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, acquired the "Portrait of the Duchess Sforza" along with 26 other paintings from the Riccardi collection in Florence. This painting was sold in London on May 1816. Also the inventory of the collection in Palazzo Medici-Riccardi in Florence from the end of the 17th century lists the painting as Titian in the quarta stanza (fourth room) and as Ritratto d'una Duchessa Sforza (Portrait of a Duchess Sforza, Carte Riccardi, Archivio di Stato, Florence, fil. 267, c. 256 r.). The 15th century Palazzo Medici-Riccardi remained the principal residence of the Medici family until 1540 when Cosimo I moved his principal residence to the Palazzo Vecchio.
The woman is dressed in a fashionable, damask, fur-lined gown and green cap, called a balzo embroidered with gold, typical for the 1530s fashion in Italy. She wears the heavy gold paternoster girdle and a long string of pearls, which were very costly.
This cannot be Christina of Denmark, who in 1534 at the age of 12 became Duchess of Milan as a wife Francesco II Sforza, as her face features do not match the painting by Titian, the sitter is older and Christina was not a Sforza. The sitter's face is very similar to other known effigies of Bona Sforza, Queen of Poland, Grand Duchess of Lithuania and also Duchess of Bari and Rossano by her own right, Duchess Sforza.
A portrait of an old man in a dark tunic by Titian in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna has identical dimensions as portrait of Duchess Sforza - 88 x 75 cm (34.6 x 29.5 in) / 88.9 x 75.5 cm (35 x 29.7 in) and similar composition, just as later portraits of Sigismund II Augustus and his third wife Catherine of Austria. Both are painted on canvas.
The man holds his left hand on a band of the coat, showing two rings that certify the high social status. The portrait was in the collection of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria in Brussels and was included in the Theatrum pictorium (Theatre of Painting), a catalog of 243 Italian paintings in the Archduke's collection, under number 57, one number after portrait of Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski by Bernardino Licinio (56). Both portraits entered therefore the Archduke's collection at the same time.
David Teniers the Younger copied the portrait in the 1650s. This miniature, painted on panel, is in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The sitter's face is very similar to other known effigies of King Sigismund I the Old from the 1530s.
Portrait of King Sigismund I the Old by Titian, 1532-1538, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Portrait of Queen Bona Sforza by Titian, 1532-1538, Private collection.
Portrait of King Sigismund I the Old by David Teniers the Younger after Titian, 1650s, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Portrait of King Sigismund I the Old from the Theatrum Pictorium (57) by Jan van Troyen after Titian, 1660, Princely Court Library Waldeck.
Portraits of Hedwig Jagiellon by Titian and Giovanni Cariani
"In Poland there are mountains in which the salt goes down very deep, particularly at Wieliczka and Bochnia. Here on the fifth of January, 1528, I climbed down fifty ladders in order to see for myself and there in the depths observed workers, naked because of the heat, using iron tools to dig out a most valuable hoard of salt from these inexhaustible mines, as if it had been gold and silver. I also saw, and talked with, the very beautiful, wise maiden, Hedwig, daughter of the good King Sigismund the First. She was finer than all the riches I have just mentioned, and worthy of a glorious realm", wrote in his work Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus (A Description of the Northern Peoples), printed in Rome 1555, the Swedish scholar and prelate, Olaus Magnus (1490-1557), last Catholic archbishop of Uppsala, who lived the latter half of his life in exile.
On the Wawel Hill, Princess Hedwig and her court, which was almost unchanged until her departure in 1535, lived in a house, which does not exist today, built opposite the southern entrance to the cathedral, in front of the gate leading to the castle courtyard. The chamberlian of her court was Mikołaj Piotrowski, brother of Jan, the Abbot of Tyniec, the superintendent of the kitchen (praefectus culinae) was Jan Guth, called Grot, of Radwan coat of arms from Pliszczyn, the stewards were Orlik, Żegota Morski, Hincza Borowski, Andrzejek and Szczęsny and the Princess' ladies-in-waiting were: Ożarowska and Ossolińska, Anna Zopska, Morawianka, who came to Poland with Hedwig's mother, Elżbieta Długojowska, Stadnicka and Lasocka, female dwarf Dorota and Dorota the laundress and the priest, Father Aleksy. According to Jan Boner's accounts, the Princess' court cost from about 3 to 5 thousand florins annually.
Hedwig, "much loved by the king of Hungary" (molto amata dal re d'Ungharia), as wrote Ercole Daissoli in 1535, frequently received gifts from her uncle John Zapolya, like in February 1527, when his envoy Joannes Statilius, brought her a cross set with diamonds, emeralds, rubies and pearls and wonderful cups for the king and the queen.
When on November 1526, Zapolya was proclaimed king of Hungary, she took part in the thanksgiving Te Deum laudamus service in the Wawel cathedral. When she passed the news of the victory of her uncle over the Archduke Ferdinand of Austria to the Kraków nuns, "overcome with the frenzy of joy, they laughed and danced", reported the envoy of the Viennese court, Georg Logschau, clearly embittered.
In April 1533, when Sigismund and Bona, with the young king Sigismund Augustus and their daughter Isabella Jagiellon left for Lithuania, Hedwig remained in Kraków with younger sisters Sophia, Anna and Catherine under the custody of a bishop Piotr Tomicki.
During this time the new marriage projects related to the eldest daughter of the king, in which Queen Bona, the Habsburgs, her uncle king of Hungary and Duke Albert of Prussia participated vividly, grew more intense. Among the candidates were Frederick of the Palatinate (1482-1556) and Louis of Bavaria (1495-1545), supported by the Habsburgs. Both Johannes Dantiscus and Piotr Tomicki, who were engaged in marriage negotiations, thought about the latter with reluctance, believing that it is not right to wed a beautiful and healthy girl to a sick man and Frederick was ready to marry the Polish princess only for her dowry. The princess did not learn German, which may indicate that her stepmother was planning for her more distant, most probably Italian marriage.
On June 13, 1533 Hedwig's mother, Queen Barbara Zapolya, the first wife of Sigismund was reburied in the recently completed Sigismund Chapel built by Italian architects and sculptors. The king, who earlier commissioned a silver altarpiece for the chapel from the best artists in Nuremberg, also commissioned a jewelled casket for his daughter (Hermitage Museum).
A portrait attributed to Giovanni Cariani or Bernardino Licinio in the Gallerie dell'Accademia in Venice shows a young woman in a black, most probably mourning dress from the 1530s (dated to 1533 by Federico Zeri). The woman's face is astonishingly similar to effigies of Hedwig Jagiellon, especially her portrais by Lucas Cranach the Elder as Madonna (Detroit Institute of Arts) and as Venus (Gemäldegalerie in Berlin). It was therefore a modello for a series of paintings that remained in Venice, a gift for a potential suitor in Italy or a painting that returned to the place of its origin with one of the notable Polish-Lithuanian royal guests in Venice - Queen Bona Sforza in 1556, Queen Marie Casimire in 1699 or her daughter Teresa Kunegunda Sobieska, Electress of Bavaria, who spent ten years in exile in Venice between 1705 and 1715.
The same woman, in the same, although more disarranged attire, is depicted in the painting which was attributed to Palma Vecchio, then to Giovanni Cariani and now to Titian, in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. It is verifiable in the Imperial gallery Vienna as far as 1720, thus it was a gift for the Habsburgs, so engaged in Princess' marriage projects.
Portrait of Crown Princess Hedwig Jagiellon (1513-1573) in a black dress by Giovanni Cariani, ca. 1533, Gallerie dell'Accademia in Venice.
Portrait of Crown Princess Hedwig Jagiellon (1513-1573) in a black dress by Titian, ca. 1533, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Portraits of Diana di Cordona by Bernardino Licinio and Lucas Cranach the Elder
The portrait of an Italian lady in crimson robe by Bernardino Licinio was first recorded in the inventory of Dresden collection in 1722. It is highly probable, that just as other paintings from the royal collection it was taken from Warsaw in 1720 by Augustus II the Strong. It shows a woman in her thirties wearing an elaborate costume of a noble. Her bonnet is embroidered with gold thread and adorned with flowers of gold and enamel or precious stones. The pattern on the bonnet is very much like a gentian, called Diana (Gentiana Diana), which owes its name to Roman goddess of the hunt, the wilderness, childbirth and the Moon. Diana was also one of the goddesses of night, therefore dark blue was her color. The pattern with some violet flowers and three main plants is also very similar to flowering cardoon (cardo in Italian and Spanish), exactly as in the coat of arms of the Sicilian noble family of Spanish-Catalan origin, Cardona. The motif is threfore a reference to sitter's name Diana de Cardona, better known under Italianized version of her name Diana di Cordona.
The portrait is signed and dated (M.DXXXIII / B. LYCINII. P) on the niche behind the figure and in an underlying layer of paint (P [or B]. LICINI. F [or P] / MDXXX [?]), both partly obliterated.
In 1533 Sigismund I ordered his banker, Seweryn Boner, to order in Bruges for himself and his wife Bona 60 tapestries with the coats of arms of Poland, Milan and Lithuania, 26 pieces without coats of arms and 6 very expensive "figural" tapestries. It is highly possible that around that time some paintings and portraits were also commissioned.
Also in the same year Queen Bona wanted to change her hereditary Rossano principality into the estate of Pietro Antonio Sanseverino, Prince of Bisignano. As a daughter of Gian Galeazzo Sforza, Duke of Milan her Italian inheritance was very important to Bona. After an accident in 1527 she could not have more children, so she put all her faith in her only son, Sigismund Augustus, who rechaed legal age of 14 years old in 1534, for continuation of the dynasty. To facilitate his entry into adulthood, she agreed or possibly even arranged his affair with her lady-in-waiting Diana di Cordona, who was just five years younger than Bona (born in 1494).
Raised by Countess Ribaldi in Rome, Diana had an abundant life and allegedly infected Sigismund Augustus with syphilis. When the young king married in 1543, she most probably left for her native Sicily.
The same woman as in the Dresden portrait by Licinio was also depicted in the painting from the same pariod by Lucas Cranach the Elder in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid. It was acquired in Berlin in 1918 from the collection of the painter Wilhelm Trübner. It's earlier history is unknown. It is possible that it was taken from Poland during the Deluge - "the elector [of Brandenburg] himself took to Prussia as a spoil, the most valuable paintings and silverware of the royal table", wrote Wawrzyniec Jan Rudawski about the looting of royal residencies in Warsaw in 1656.
The painting shows Diana the Huntress as the nymph of the Sacred Spring, whose posture recalls Giorgione's and Titian's Venuses, a clear inspiration by Venetian painting. The inscription in Latin, which reads: FONTIS NYMPHA SACRI SOM: / NVM NE RVMPE QVIESCO (I am the Nymph of the Sacred Spring: Do not disturb my sleep. I am resting.), indicate that the client who ordered the painting was not speaking German, therefore could be either Queen Bona or Diana herself.
Egeria, the nymph of a sacred spring, celebrated at sacred groves close to Rome, was a form of Diana. In the grove at Nemi, near Rome there was a spring, sacred to Diana. She was believed to bless men and women with offspring and to assist mothers in childbirth. Two partridges in the painting is a symbol of sexual desire as according to Aelian (Claudius Aelianus) partridges have no control over it (after Steven D. Smith's "Man and Animal in Severan Rome: The Literary Imagination of Claudius Aelianus", p. 183).
Portrait of Diana di Cordona, mistress of king Sigismund Augustus by Bernardino Licinio, 1530s, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden.
Diana di Cordona, mistress of king Sigismund Augustus as Diana the Huntress-Egeria by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1530s, Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum in Madrid.
Portraits of Sigismund Augustus and Sigismund the Old by Christoph Amberger
On 10-11 November 1530 a marriage treaty on behalf of ten-year-old king Sigismund II Augustus and his four-year-old cousin Elizabeth of Austria (1526-1545), eldest daughter of Anna Jagellonica, Queen of Bohemia and Hungary, was signed in Poznań. On this occasion Elizabeth's father Ferdinand I, commissioned a series of portraits of his daughter and her three-year-old brother Maximilian from his court painter Jacob Seisenegger (Mauritshuis, Bayerisches Nationalmuseum). Everybody in Europe should know who will be the future Queen of Poland and Grand Duchess of Lithuania and who will be the future King of Bohemia and Hungary, despite the fact that the crowns of these countries were elective. Around 1533, when Sigismund Augustus was approaching the legal age of marriage (14), and his mother Bona wanted to break off the engagement or postpone the marriage, he most probably ordered an armour for the young king of Poland, created by Jörg Seusenhofer (Wawel Royal Castle). Its breastplate and sleeves proudly display the monogram formed by interweaving capital letters "E" and "S" (Elisabetha et Sigismundus). In 1537 Seisenegger created another portrait of eleven-year-old Archduchess Elizabeth and of her brother Maximilian.
The king of Poland undeniably received a portrait of his fiancée, and she received his portrait. The portrait attributed to Christoph Amberger in the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna was acquired in the 18th century by Joseph Wenzel I, Prince of Liechtenstein. It shows a young man in a costume and hairstyle from the 1530s, similar to that visible in portraits of Archduke Maximilian by Seisenegger, bronze medal with a bust of Sigismund Augustus by Giovanni Maria Mosca, created in 1532, and anonymous print from 1569 after original effigy from about 1540. The collar of his shirt is embroidered with gold thread with depiction of the dextrarum iunctio (hand in hand), highly popular in Roman art. In the Roman world marriage was considered a dextrarum iunctio, a joining of hands and "the right hand was sacred to Fides, the deity of fidelity. The clasping of the right hand was a solemn gesture of mutual fidelity and loyalty" (after Stephen D. Ricks "Dexiosis and Dextrarum Iunctio: The Sacred Handclasp in the Classical and Early Christian World", 2006, p. 432). It was a popular motif in engagement rings. Some gold rings with this symbol preserved in Poland (Wawel - third quarter of the 16th century, Konin - 1604).
Face features of the young man bears strong resemblance to other portraits of Sigismund Augustus, especially his portrait by Jan van Calcar in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
"He is of medium height, gaunt, with black hair and a stringy beard, dark - complexioned and and does not seem to be very strong, but rather feeble, and therefore he could not stand great hardships and exertion and often suffers from podagra. [...] In his youth he liked to dress richly, he wore Hungarian and Italian robes of various colors, today he always wears a long robe and does not use any other color except black", described the aging king few years before his death the Papal Nuncio Giulio Ruggieri in 1568. Being involved in many affairs and holding a large number of mistresses, historians agree that the king contracted the "Italian disease", as the French called syphilis.
Two years earlier, in 1565, another Ruggieri, Flavio from Bologna, reported about Polish women that "adding charms by artificial means or dyeing their hair is a great disgrace to them". Sigismund's mother Bona Sforza was described as a lovely bright blonde with black eyelashes and eyebrows. Her court as Duchess of Bari and Rossano by her own right was on the other hand full of peoples of dark complexion and of Mediterranean descent. The word for a woman in Old Polish is białogłowa, literally meaning "white head", which most probably refers to fair hair of young women (after Łukasz Gołębiowski's "Lud polski, jego zwyczaje, zabobony", published in 1830, p. 112) or a white cap.
It is possible that later in his life Sigismund was darkening his hair to look more masculine and less "feeble", while his mother and sisters were lightening the hair to look more like a "white head", his hair darkened with age, he inherited a hair anomaly from his mother, painters used cheaper dark pigments to create copies, portraits and sitters' appearance was intentionally adapted to recipients - more northern look and costume for northern Princes, more southern look and costume for southern Princes, as a part of diplomacy, or painters received just a general drawing with sitter's appearance and adjusted the details (eye and hair color) to how they imagined the sitter.
Christoph Amberger, primarily a portrait painter, was active in Augsburg, a Free Imperial City. A portrait of Emperor Charles V, brother of Ferdinand I, from 1532 in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin is attributed to Amberger. In Poland there is a portrait of an old man from Leon Piniński's collection, also attributed to Amberger, which was bequeathed in 1931 to the Wawel Royal Castle in Kraków. Before World War II in the royal Wilanów Palace in Warsaw, there was another portrait attributed to Amberger. It was identified as effigy of Charles the Bold (1433-1477), Duke of Burgundy due to some resemblance to his portraits and the collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece, that was established in 1430 by his father Philip the Good. The man's costume however does not match the fashion of the second half of the 15th century, it is more similar to that visible in portrait by Amberger in the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna, described above. Both men are also similar.
On March 7, 1519 in Barcelona, at the Chapter of the Order of the Golden Fleece, Emperor Charles V, granted Sigismund I the order along with the king of Denmark Christian II. The face features of a man from Wilanów portrait resemble greatly other effigies of king Sigismund I identifed by me, Marcin Latka, e.g. portrait by Titian in Vienna and effigy by Joos van Cleve in Berlin.
Portrait of king Sigismund II Augustus by Christoph Amberger, ca. 1534, Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna.
Portrait of king Sigismund I the Old by Christoph Amberger, 1530s, Wilanów Palace in Warsaw, lost during World War II.
Portraits of Sigismund I the Old by Jan van Calcar
The portrait of an old man in a fur coat by Jan van Calcar from private collection is very similar to the effigies of king Sigismund I the Old published in Marcin Kromer's "De origine et rebus gestis Polonorum" from 1555 and Marcin Bielski's "Chronicle of Poland" from 1597. It bears a mysterious and ambiguous inscription in Latin: ANNO SALVTIS 1534 27 / ANNA AETATIS VERO MEAE / 40 (year of salvation 1534 27 / in the actual year of my age / 40) which, however, fit perfectly the events in Sigismund's life around the year of 1534. That year Sigismund was celebrating 27th anniversary of his coronation (24 January 1507) and his wife Bona Sforza her 40th birthday (2 February 1494), so the portrait could be a gift from her to please 67 years old Sigismund.
The portrait of a 70 years old man (inscription ANNO ATAT. SVAE * LXX * on the base of the column) with a dog attributed to Venetian school, stylistically is very similar to the previous one. Also the depicted man is undeniably the same, just much older, or more realistic. The difference in details, like eye color might be beacuse the portraits were not taken from nature or the one with darker eyes is a copy of some other effigy. Hedwig Jagiellon, Sigismund's eldest daughter, has bright eyes in her portrait by Hans Krell from about 1537 and dark in other. The compostion is close to known portraits by Calcar, who entered Titian's Venetian studio in 1536.
The king's particular liking for little doggies is confirmed by sources. When he was over thirty years old and staying at the Hungarian court of his brother in Buda from 3 October 1498 until the end of 1501, together with his courtiers, armed post, servants and his then life companion, Katarzyna Telniczanka, his favorite animal was a lap dog called Whitey (Bielik). The dog was the subject of his special care and he liked him so much that Whitey accompanied the prince during his stays in the bathhouse, and was even washed with soaps bought especially for him.
Portrait of king Sigismund I the Old in a fur coat by Jan van Calcar, 1534, Private collection.
Portrait of king Sigismund I the Old aged 70 with his dog by Jan van Calcar, 1537, Private collection.
Portraits of Hedwig Jagiellon as Madonna by Lucas Cranach the Elder and Lucas Cranach the Younger
"When this Lady was devoted to such a house and to a country whose language and customs are foreign to her, and therefore must experience great longing when no person is with her, who would share with her the commonness of speech; His Majesty pleads with Your Grace to instruct his nephew so that his spouse could keep people of both sexes from her countrymen who speak her language, until she learns the German language herself, and that her husband will treat her with due honor and marital love", wrote in a letter of July 9, 1536 the king Sigismund I to Cardinal Albert of Brandenburg (1490-1545), Archbishop of Mainz and Magdeburg asking him to intervene at the Berlin court with his daughter's marital problems.
Relations of Hedwig Jagiellon with her husband were not going well. The marriage with a Catholic did not satisfy Hedwig's mother-in-law, Elizabeth of Denmark, a devout Protestant, who converted in 1527 against the will of her husband. In July 1536, almost a year after the wedding in Kraków, Sigismund was forced to send his envoy Achacy Czema (Achaz Cema von Zehmen), castellan of Gdańsk to the cardinal.
Albert of Brandenburg, prince of the Roman Church and renowned patron of the arts, was famous for his lavish lifestyle, which displeased many Protestants. In his portraits by the best German painters he and his concubines Elisabeth "Leys" Schütz from Mainz and Agnes Pless, née Strauss from Frankfurt were frequently depicted in guise of different Christian Saints. Several paintings by Lucas Cranach shows Albert as Saint Jerome. He was depicted as Saint Erasmus in a painting by Matthias Grünewald and as Saint Martin in a painting by Simon Franck. His mistress Leys Schütz was depicted as Saint Ursula and both Albert and Leys were shown in the scene of the Christ and the Adulteress by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder in the Staatsgalerie Aschaffenburg.
The cardinal collected more than 8,100 relics and 42 holy skeletons and wanted to repress the growing influence of the Reformation by holding far grander masses and services. For this purpose he decided to demolish two old churches and built a new representative church in a central location of his residential city of Halle, dedicated solely to the Blessed Virgin Mary (Marienkirche).
The face features of Saint Erasmus from the so-called Pfirtscher Altar, which was until 1541 in the collegiate church in Halle, today in the Staatsgalerie Aschaffenburg, are identical with the portrait of cardinal Albert of Brandenburg as Saint Jerome in his study, created by Cranach in 1525, today in the Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt.
Like earlier her mother Barbara Zapolya (Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid) and her stepmother Bona Sforza (The State Hermitage Museum), Hedwig was also depicted as the Virgin in old Medieval custom. In the painting as the Nursing Madonna (Madonna lactans) in the collection of the Museum der bildenden Künste in Leipzig her features are very similar to these visible in her portrait as Judith dated 1531 in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin. In the painting from the Friedenstein Palace in Gotha (recorded since 1721), the main seat of the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha, one of the Saxon duchies held by the Ernestine branch of the Wettin dynasty, her features are very similar to the portrait in Veste Coburg. It is dated 1534, when the Princess was still unmarried, threfore it was most probably sent to a potential suitor in Saxony. In the painting from the Georg Schäfer collection in Obbach near Schweinfurt, from the Eltz Castle and the Zwettl Abbey, between Vienna and Prague, Madonna's features and pose are very similar to the Gotha painting.
In the painting in the Detroit Institute of Arts, acquired from the collection of Arthur Sulley (1921-1923) in London, Hedwig pose and features are very similar to the painting in Gotha. It was created in 1536, threfore after her marriage to Joachim II Hector, Elector of Brandenburg. Similar to this painting is the effigy in the Prado Museum in Madrid, acquired in 1988 from the collection of Duquesa de Valencia, also created in 1536. Derived from the latter are the Virgins from the Bode Museum in Berlin, acquired in 1890 from Carl Lampe in Leipzig, possibly from the collection of cardinal Albert of Brandenburg and lost during World War II and in the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest, which was at the beginning of the 19th century in the Court collection (Hofsammlungen) in Vienna.
The Madonna and Child by Lucas Cranach the Younger from the Swedish royal collection, today in the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm is very similar to the painting in Detroit, while the Child is almost identical as in the portrait of Hedwig's stepmother as the Virgin in the Hermitage. Its provenance in Sweden is unknown, therefore it cannot be excluded that it was taken from Poland during the Deluge (1655-1660) or it was part of dowry of Hedwig's sister Catherine Jagiellon (1526-1583), future Queen of Sweden.
Sigismund was aware of the Lutheran sympathies of his son-in-law, and already in 1535 when the Brandenburg envoys came to Vilnius to sign the pacta matrimonialia (March 21, 1535) the Polish-Lithuanian side was guaranteed that the wedding would take place in the Catholic rite. Joachim II converted to Lutheranism in 1539. Concerned that his daughter will be forced to abandon Catholicism, which he expressed in his letter to Joahim of 26 September 1539 (Illud autem ante omnia Illm vestram rogamus: ne filiam nostram dulcissimam adigat ad eeclesiae unitatem deserendam), the king decided to send another priest from Poland and to pay him a salary from his own treasury so as not to burden his son-in-law reluctant to Catholicism. Łukasz Górka, bishop of Kuyavia, envoy in Berlin helped the king to choose the priest Jerzy, who was paid an annual salary of 100 florins.
Good relations between the spouses are evidenced by letters written by Hedwig to her husband in 1542, when Joachim II was in Hungary as the leader of an anti-Ottoman expedition. Despite religious differences Hedwig was an exemplary mother for three of her step-children (two sons and a daughter of her cousin Magdalena of Saxony).
Portrait of cardinal Albert of Brandenburg (1490-1545) as Saint Erasmus from the so-called Pfirtscher Altar by Lucas Cranach the Elder and workshop, ca. 1526, Staatsgalerie Aschaffenburg.
Portrait of Crown Princess Hedwig Jagiellon (1513-1573) as Madonna lactans by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1531, Museum der bildenden Künste in Leipzig.
Portrait of Crown Princess Hedwig Jagiellon (1513-1573) as Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John by Lucas Cranach the Younger, 1534, Friedenstein Palace in Gotha.
Portrait of Crown Princess Hedwig Jagiellon (1513-1573) as Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John by Lucas Cranach the Younger and workshop, 1534 or after, Private collection.
Portrait of Crown Princess Hedwig Jagiellon (1513-1573) as Madonna with Child nibbling grapes by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1534 or after, Eltz Castle.
Portrait of Crown Princess Hedwig Jagiellon (1513-1573) as Madonna and Child with grapes by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1534 or after, Zwettl Abbey.
Portrait of Crown Princess Hedwig Jagiellon (1513-1573) as Madonna and Child by Lucas Cranach the Younger, 1534-1536, Nationalmuseum in Stockholm.
Portrait of Electress Hedwig Jagiellon (1513-1573) as Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1536, Detroit Institute of Arts.
Portrait of Electress Hedwig Jagiellon (1513-1573) as Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1536, Prado Museum in Madrid.
Portrait of Electress Hedwig Jagiellon (1513-1573) as Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1536 or after, Bode Museum in Berlin, lost.
Portrait of Electress Hedwig Jagiellon (1513-1573) as Madonna and Child with grapes by workshop Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1536 or after, Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest.
King Sigismund I, his wife and his four daughters as Hercules and Omphale by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder
Sigismund I the Old was frequently compared to the mythological hero Hercules, it was a standard during renaissance. In 1537 the king was celebrating 20th anniversary of his coronation (24 January 1507) and 70th anniversary of his birth (1 January 1467).
The composition of a painting from the Mielżyński collection, now in the National Museum in Poznań, astonishingly match the composition of the Jagiellon family around 1537. It is a workshop copy, most probably a copy of a copy, hence resemblance might be not so evident. Cranach workshop was famous for its "mass production" of quality paintings. The study for a portrait, a drawing with all details of the sitter's costume meticulously described, was prepared by some court painter or a Cranach's pupil sent to the patron. Just as in case of preparatory drawings to portraits of Margaret of Pomerania (1518-1569) and Anna of Brunswick-Lüneburg (1502-1568), Duchess of Pomerania, relatives of Sigismund through his sister Anna Jagiellon, Duchess of Pomerania (1476-1503), such drawings were sent from Poland to facilitate the work on commission.
In this courtly scene showing Hercules, who was sold to the court of Queen Omphale where he had to remain as a slave for three years, we could distinguish the 70 years old king Sigismund (1467-1548), his 43 years old second wife Bona Sforza (1494-1557), and his four daughters: 18 years old Isabella (1519-1559), 15 years old Sophia (1522-1575), 14 years old Anna (1523-1596) and 11 years old Catherine (1526-1583).
King Sigismund I, his wife and his four daughters as Hercules and Omphale by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1537, National Museum in Poznań.
Portraits of Bona Sforza by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder
In a letter of 29 June 1538 in response to accusations that his second wife Bona appropriated the robes of his first wife Barbara Zapolya, the king Sigismund I testified that the Queen arrived to Poland with so many garments, clothes and ornaments that it would be enough for a few queens.
The Queen's passion for fabrics revived crafts and trade. Under her patronage, attempts were made to establish Italian-style silk weaving mills, as evidenced by entries in the accounts of the royal court (after Ksawery Piwocki's "Tkanina polska", 1959, p. 14). In December 1527 Federico II Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua sent a large shipment of costly materials, including gold cloth, silk and satin fabrics commissioned by Bona, to her Venetian agent Gian Giacomo de Dugnano. Trade took Venetian merchants all over the Mediterranean and as far as China, a fact that affected not only the city's economic prosperity but its cultural identity, making 15th century Venice one of the most culturally diverse cities in Europe (after Carol M. Richardson's "Locating Renaissance Art", 2007, p. 211). So was "Guanyin look" of Bona and her step-daughter in some paintings by Cranach inspired by Chinese art?
Bona's taste for German garments and embroideries is confirmed by employment at her court of German embroiderers. Jan Holfelder from Nuremberg became her court embroiderer in about 1525 and Sebald Linck from Nuremberg or Silesia was mentioned in the accounts in the years 1537-1579.
Portrait of Bona Sforza d'Aragona (1494-1557), Queen of Poland by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1530s, Villa del Poggio Imperiale.
Portrait of Bona Sforza d'Aragona (1494-1557), Queen of Poland holding a flower by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1530s, Arp Museum Rolandseck.
Portraits of daughters of Bona Sforza by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder
Around the year of 1537 three of four daughters of Sigismund I and Bona Sforza reached puberty age (twelve for brides) and their marriage become a principal concern for the queen.
All three, Isabella, Sophia, Anna, apart from the youngest 11 years old Catherine, were depicted with their hair covered with a snood in the painting from the Mielżyński collection showing the daughters and the wife of Sigismund I in 1537.
The portraits of three unkown ladies from the late 1530s, created by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, surprisingly fit the Mielżyński painting and effigies of daughters of Bona by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Younger from the 1550s. They were probably part of a series of copies commissioned to be sent to relatives and potential suitors.
The garments are more German in style, however Italian influences with low-cut bodices are visible. In 1537 the royal tailor was Francesco Nardocci (Nardozzi) from Naples. Also the fabrics are Italian, Venetian sumptuous silk satins and velvets. During the Prussian Homage in 1525 the royal family was dressed in clothes made of rich Venetian fabrics acquired by Jan Boner in Venice (Acta Tomiciana, vol. IV).
Before the advent of cheaper Mexican cochineal in the 1540s, Polish cochineal (Porphyrophora polonica) from which the natural dye carmine is derived, colloquially known as "Saint John's blood", and widely traded in Europe during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, was utilized in Venice to dye fabrics. Polish merchants were present in Venice since at least 1348 and the first permanent dipomatic agent of Poland-Lithuania in Venice between 1535-1543 was Lodovico Alifio, head of the chancellery of queen Bona.
The royal embroiderer Sebald Linck from Nuremberg, active at the court from 1537, also worked for the Princesses, like in 1545 when he redo the collars offered by Primate Piotr Gamrat to Sophia, Anna and Catherine and embroidered their dresses with pearls.
The painting featuring Herodias in the Speed Art Museum in Louisville is similar to portrait of princess Sophia Jagiellon. Also her face features match perfectly her portraits in Spanish costume. The inscription identifying the sitter as mother of Salome was most probably added in the 17th or 18th century. The portrait, originally displaying also the decapitated head of John the Baptist, was cut later and lower part was sold separately.
A radiograph of the portrait in the Winnipeg Art Gallery, depicting Anna, reveals that her right arm originally featured a decapitated head on an oval platter. The composition was altered during its production. All of Bona's daughters were therefore to be depicted in the popular guise of the legendary biblical and mythological femmes fatales such as Salome, Judith, Delilah or Lucretia. The painting by Lucas Cranach the Younger in the Güstrow Palace (Staatliches Museum Schwerin), very similar to the Winnipeg portrait, shows Anna Jagiellon as Judith with the Head of Holofernes.
In 1538 also the youngest daughter of Bona, Catherine Jagiellon, reached the legal age of marriage. Her mother, as for the rest of her daughters preferred Italian match to strengthen her position and the rights to the principalities she owned (Bari and Rossano) as well to these that she claimed (Milan).
A small portrait of a girl as Saint Catherine by Lucas Cranach the Elder in Museo Civico Amedeo Lia in La Spezia, between Florence and Genoa, in a costume from the late 1530s is very similar to effigy of the youngest daughter of Bona from the portrait of Sigsimund I's family from the Mielżyński collection and to other portraits of Catherine Jagiellon.
Portrait of Crown Princess of Poland-Lithuania Isabella Jagiellon (1519-1559) by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1537, Private collection.
Portrait of Crown Princess of Poland-Lithuania Sophia Jagiellon (1522-1575) by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1537, Private collection.
Portrait of Crown Princess of Poland-Lithuania Sophia Jagiellon (1522-1575) as Herodias by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, after 1537, Speed Art Museum in Louisville.
Portrait of Crown Princess of Poland-Lithuania Anna Jagiellon (1523-1596) by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1537, Winnipeg Art Gallery.
Portrait of Anna Jagiellon (1523-1596) as Judith with the Head of Holofernes by Lucas Cranach the Younger, after 1537, Güstrow Palace.
Portrait of Princess Catherine Jagiellon (1526-1583) as Saint Catherine by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1538, Museo Civico Amedeo Lia in La Spezia.
Portraits of Isabella Jagiellon and Sophia Jagiellon by Lucas Cranach the Elder
What better way to depict a potential bride then in a guise of virtuous biblical or historical heroine, the goddess of love or the Virgin?
On 11 January 1537 died in Dresden John, Hereditary Prince of Saxony, the eldest son of Barbara Jagiellon. It was now his younger brother Frederick, born in 1504, second of only two sons of Barbara to survive to adulthood, who would inherit the title of the Duke of Saxony from his father George, nicknamed the Bearded. Despite being mentally handicapped he was declared a heir by his father. Frederick was 33 and was unmarried.
Maintaining the alliance with Saxony was important to Poland-Lithuania and it was beneficial for Papacy and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V if the Catholic and pro-Habsburg Albertine line (headed by George, a staunch opponent of Martin Luther), would stay in power.
The dowry of Jagiellonian women from the late 15th century was customarily 32,000 Hungarian florins payable in five or two installments. The eldest daughter of Sigismund and Bona, Isabella Jagiellon received 32,000 ducats in cash in 1539, and her bridal trousseau was worth 38,000 ducats, therefore her dowry amounted to 70,000 ducats. The wedding contract of the second in line Sophia, concluded in 1555, stipulated her dowry to 32,000 ducats (or 48,000 thalers) in cash and 100,000 thalers in jewels and other valuables, among which were huge amounts of table and church silver, about 60 precious garments, 5 tents, 34 tapestries, 32 carpets and lots of wonderful jewelry (12 berets set with precious stones, 9 gold necklaces set with precious stones, 34 pendants, 17 gold chains, two gold belts, 4 bracelets). She was accompanied by 8 carriages, including one gilded carriage and one chariot, valuable harnesses and 28 horses. Both princesses were unmarried in 1537, therefore their cousin Frederick of Saxony undeniably received their portraits.
Two pendant paintings of Lucretia and Judith by Lucas Cranach the Elder, which were recorded in the inventory of the Ducal Kunstkammer (art cabinet) in Dresden as far as 1595, most likely destroyed in 1945, match perfectly effigies of two mentioned daughters of Sigismund I and Bona. Both paintings had identical dimensions (172 x 64 cm / 67.7 x 25.1 in), similar composition and were dated to around 1537.
Bona Sforza favored her oldest daughter Isabella, who received a thorough education and she could speak and write four languages. Isabella was depicted as Lucretia, the epitomy of female virtue, chastity, fidelity and honour.
The younger Sophia, considered the wisest and the most intelligent of all Bona's daughters and described as "an example and a mirror of virtue, piety, and dignity" (exemplum et speculum virtutis, pietatis et gravitatis) by Stanisław Sędziwój Czarnkowski in 1573, was shown as Judith, intelligent, strong, virtuous and devout woman who saved her people from destruction.
Opting for closer ties with Emperor Charles V, Frederick was eventually married on January 27, 1539 in Dresden to Elisabeth (ca. 1516-1541), from the Counts of Mansfeld, one of the oldest noble families in Germany and sister of Peter Ernst I von Mansfeld, who participated in Charles V's expedition against Tunis in 1535. The groom died childless just four weeks later on February 26, 1539 followed by his father, who died on April 17, 1539. Duke George was succeeded by his Lutheran brother Henry IV (1473-1541), married to Catherine of Mecklenburg (1487-1561). In April 1538 Isabella Jagiellon was engaged to the King of Hungary.
In 1539 John George of Brandenburg (1525-1598), the eldest son of Magdalena of Saxony, daughter of Barbara Jagiellon, reached the legal age of marriage (14). His father Joachim II Hector, Elector of Brandenburg and his stepmother Hedwig Jagiellon were concerned to find a good match for him. Exactly as in the case of Hedwig's portrait as Venus by Cranach from the early 1530s, there is a painting showing Venus from the late 1530s in Berlin. It was accquired by the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin from the Royal Castles' collection in 1830. The woman depicted as Venus resemble greatly other effigies of Sophia Jagiellon. When on November 1, 1539 Joachim II openly introduced the Reformation into Brandenburg by receiving Communion according to the Lutheran rite, the marriage with a Catholic princess could not be considered and on 15 February 1545 his son married Protestant Princess Sophie of Legnica (1525-1546), great-granddaughter of King Casimir IV of Poland.
Exactly the same effigy of princess Sophia's face as in the Berlin Venus portrait, like a template, was used in the effigy of Madonna and Child with grapes by Lucas Cranach the Elder in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. She offeres the Child a bunch of grapes a Christian symbol of the redemptive sacrifice, but also a popular Renaissance symbol for fertility borrowed from the Roman god of the grape-harvest and fertility, Bacchus, similarly to the effigy of her father's first wife Barbara Zapolya (Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid).
The same template was also used in the effigy of Madonna lactans in Vienna by workshop of Cranach, showing the Virgin breastfeeding the infant Jesus, a common motif in European art since the Middle Ages and a symbol of purity and humility. This motif was borrowed from the image of Isis lactans, a major goddess in ancient Egyptian religion whose worship spread throughout the Greco-Roman world, nursing her son, Horus, the god of divine kingship. The painting, now in the Cathedral Museum (Dom Museum) in Vienna, was deposited by the Weinhaus Parish in Vienna, a votive temple, built to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Vienna in which John III Sobieski, king of Poland led the army to a decisive victory over the Ottomans on 12 September 1683.
In the spring of 1570, two years after death of her husband Henry V, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, Sophia Jagiellon converted to Lutheranism.
Portraits of Isabella Jagiellon (1519-1559) as Lucretia and Sophia Jagiellon (1522-1575) as Judith by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1537, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden, lost.
Portrait of Crown Princess Sophia Jagiellon (1522-1575) as Venus with Cupid as the honey thief by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1539, Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.
Portrait of Crown Princess Sophia Jagiellon (1522-1575) as Madonna and Child with grapes by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1539, Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
Portrait of Crown Princess Sophia Jagiellon (1522-1575) as Madonna lactans by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1538-1550, Dom Museum in Vienna.
Portraits of Isabella Jagiellon by Lucas Cranach the Elder and workshop
The plan to wed Isabella Jagiellon, the eldest daughter of Sigismund I the Old and his second wife Bona Sforza, to John Zapolya, Voivode of Transylvania and King of Hungary emerged around 1531.
A portrait of a young woman by Lucas Cranach the Elder from the National Gallery of Denmark, bears a great resemblance to other effigies of Isabella. It can be therefore dated to about 1532, as the medal with Princess' bust by Giovanni Maria Mosca.
A woman in an image of Venus in the Hallwyl Museum is Stockholm also bears a strong resemblance to effigies of Isabella Jagiellon. The woman has even the same necklace as that visible in Isabella's portrait in a green dress by workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder (Private collection). The painting was therefore part of her dowry which she took with her to Hungary and brought back to Poland, when she returned in September 1551.
The painting was originally part of the larger composition depicting Venus and Cupid, similar to the portrait of Isabella's stepsister Hedwig Jagiellon, daughter of Barbara Zapolya, in Gemäldegalerie in Berlin. It was most probably cut by more prudish subsequent owners.
Before acquisition in 1915, the painting was in the Edsberg Castle north of Stockholm, which was once owned by Gabriel Oxenstierna (1619-1673), highly valued by the Brigand of Europe, as he was called by Stefan Czarniecki, king Charles X Gustav of Sweden.
Isabella died just three years after her return to Transylvania on 15 September 1559, at the age of 40, allegedly as a result of a poorly performed abortion, a child of her lover Stanisław Nieżowski.
Portrait of Crown Princess of Poland-Lithuania Isabella Jagiellon (1519-1559) by Lucas Cranach the Elder, ca. 1532, Statens Museum for Kunst.
Portrait of Crown Princess of Poland-Lithuania Isabella Jagiellon (1519-1559) as Venus by Lucas Cranach the Elder and workshop, ca. 1537, Hallwyl Museum is Stockholm.
Allegorical portrait of Bona Sforza as Lucretia by workshop Lucas Cranach the Elder
"Bona loved power and did not like to share it with anyone, not even her own son - as evidenced by her reluctance to handing over Lithuania to him. For this reason, even earlier, in 1538, she prevented the functioning of the institution of four resident senators alongside Sigismund Augustus, created during the Diet of that year" (after Maria Bogucka's "Bona Sforza", 1989, p. 224).
The 1537 anti-royalist and anti-absolutist rebellion (rokosz) of the Polish nobility, ridiculed by the nickname of the Chicken War, criticized the role of queen Bona, whom they accused for the "bad upbringing" of young Sigismund Augustus, centralizing policies and seeking to increase her power in the state. As a result the 1538 Diet declared elections vivente rege, that Bona forced, illegal in the Polish kingdom and insisted that all estates had the right to be present at such events in the future.
That same year it was also agreed that the only son of Bona will marry archduchess Elizabeth of Austria (1526-1545), which Bona "a great enemy of the king of Rome" Ferdinand I, her father, strongly oposed.
So does she commissioned a painting to express her dissatisfaction?
The painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder, dated 1538, from the old collection of the Royal Wilanów Palace in Warsaw (recorded in 1743) can be considered as such. It shows Lucretia, a noblewoman in ancient Rome, whose suicide led to the political rebellion against the established power.
Allegorical portrait of Bona Sforza as Lucretia by workshop Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1538, Wilanów Palace in Warsaw.
Portrait of king Sigismund I by circle of Lucas Cranach the Elder
In 1538 Sigismund I and his second wife Bona Sforza were celebrating 20 years of their fruitful marriage which produced a heir to the throne and four daughters, one of which was about to become the Queen of Hungary and large festivities were held at the Wawel Castle.
The portrait of a man in the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1538, date top center: MDXXXVII(I), is very similar to the effigy of King Sigismund I from Aleksander Gwagnin's "Sarmatiae Europae descriptio", published in Kraków in 1578 and other portraits of the king.
Christian II of Denmark (in the Museum der bildenden Künste) and Elector Frederick III of Saxony (in the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia) are depiced in very similar black caps with earflaps, costumes and beards in their portraits by Cranach and his workshop from the 1520s. Therefore the painting could be a copy of a portrait from the 1520s.
The initals on a signet ring displaying a coat of arms are illisible and unidentifiable as of today, however they are very similar to these visible on signet seal of Sigismund I with monogram SDS (Sigillum Domini Sigimundi) in the State Archives in Gdańsk and in Poznań.
Finally the age of the sitter (?) on the painting is also illisible and identifed as xlv, so could it be XX, as 20th anniversary or LXXI, as age of Sigismund in 1538 and commissioned by the king or his wife on this occasion as one from a series commemorating it? "If the present work had a female pendant, which is quite possible, the orange as a symbol of fertility would have been especially appropriate" (after The Met Catalogue Entry).
Portrait of king Sigismund I by circle of Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1538, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Portraits of Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski by Lucas Cranach the Elder and Bernardino Licinio
Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski was born on 20 September 1503 in Wolbórz in central Poland. He studied in Kraków between 1517 and 1519. He was ordained a vicar in about 1522 and worked in the office of Jan Łaski the Elder, Primate of Poland.
At the turn of 1531/32 he went to Germany, probably on the mission entrusted to him by Łaski, and he enrolled in the University of Wittenberg. The letter of recommendation from Łaski enabled him to live in Philip Melanchthon's house. Acquaintance with the prince of German humanists turned into friendship over time and he also met Martin Luther and other Protestant reformers. The leading painter in the city, who also held the office of mayor, was Lucas Cranach the Elder.
Frycz was a diplomatic agent and he often traveled between Wittenberg and Nuremberg and to Poland. He probably left Wittenberg in mid-1535, when a great plague broke out in the city. In November 1536 Modrzewski was sent by Jan Łaski to Basel to take over Erasmus of Rotterdam's great library, purchased by Łaski during the lifetime of the great humanist. Then he went briefly to Paris, Nuremberg, Strasbourg and Kraków and at the beginning of February 1537 he was in Schmalkalden as an observer on a congress of Protestant princes.
On May 1, 1537 he took part in the talks in Leipzig on dogmatic issues with Jan Łaski the Younger and Melanchthon and after the conference he stayed longer in Nuremberg to learn German. At the beginning of 1538, he was at the fairs in Frankfurt am Main. Most probably through Wittenberg, he returned to Poland. Later, in 1547 he became a secretary of king Sigismund II Augustus.
During his studies and travels in Germany he undeniably dressed as other students and Protestant reformers, however as a nobleman of Jastrzębiec coat of arms and hereditary mayor of Wolbórz, he could allow himself a more extravagant attire, like Cardinal Albert of Brandenburg.
A portrait of a man who was 35 in 1538 (ANNODO: M.D.XXXVIII / AETATI SVAEXXXV / 1538) from private collection, can be therefore considered as effigy of Frycz Modrzewski. From the 18th century to before 1918 it was in the Benedictine Abbey in Lambach, near Linz in Austria. Its prior history is unknown.
In October 1567 Queen Catherine of Austria, third wife of Sigismund Augustus, settled in the castle in nearby Linz with her servants and all the goods she has accumulated during her 14-year stay in Poland. Although Catholic, the Queen was known for generally favorable views on Protestantism. Andrzej Dudycz (András Dudith de Horahovicza), bishop of Knin in Croatia and Imperial envoy who agitated for her stay in Poland, soon after his arrival to Poland in 1565 joined the Protestant church of Polish Brethren and married a Polish woman.
The Queen studied the Bible and other theological works and supported nearby monasteries. She died childless in Linz on 28 February 1572 and donated most of her property to charity.
The same man was depicted in a portrait of a man with beret in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, painted in style of Bernardino Licinio. It is dated similarly as the painting by Cranach: 1538 + NATVS +ANNOS + 35 +. The portrait was in the collection of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria in Brussels and was included in the Theatrum pictorium (Theatre of Painting), a catalog of 243 Italian paintings in the Archduke's collection, under number 56.
Portrait of Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski (1503-1572), called "the Father of Polish democratic thought", aged 35 by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1538, Private collection.
Portrait of Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski (1503-1572), called "the Father of Polish democratic thought", aged 35 by Bernardino Licinio, 1538, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Portrait of Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski (1503-1572), called "the Father of Polish democratic thought" from the Theatrum Pictorium (56) by Lucas Vorsterman II after Bernardino Licinio, 1660, Princely Court Library Waldeck.
Portrait of Princess Isabella Jagiellon nude (Venus of Urbino) by Titian
Who would not like to marry a goddess? A beautiful, educated and wealthy daughter of a king? But she had an important flaw, she was from a distant country with elective monarchy, where parliament decided everything. Her husband will have no right to the crown, his children would need to stand in election, he woud have no title, he could even not be sure that her family will stay in power. She was finally not a niece of an Emperor, hence she cannot bring valuable connections and prestige. This was a hudge disadvantage to all hereditary princes of Europe. This was the case of Isabella Jagiellon, the eldest daughter of Sigismund I and Bona Sforza. She was born in Kraków on 18 January 1519 and named after her grandmother, Isabella of Aragon, Duchess of Milan and Duchess of Bari.
Together with her brother, Isabella received a good education, including from humanist Johannes Honter, and she could speak four languages: Polish, Latin, German, and Italian. Her mother willing to reclaim the inheritance of Isabella of Aragon pursued a French and an Italian marriage for her daughter. She hoped that King of France would install his son Henry and Isabella in the Duchy of Milan. Isabella, being the eldest granddaughter of the rightful Duke of Milan after her mother, would strengthen the French claims to the Duchy. These plans were abandoned after Battle of Pavia on February 25, 1525. Then Isabella's grandmother wanted to marry her granddaughter for one of her late husband's cousins Francesco II Sforza, Duke of Milan, however Sigismund I opposed as Francesco's hold of the title was tenuous. In 1530 Bona proposed Federico Gonzaga, a son of her friend Isabella d'Este, and sent her envoy Giovanni Valentino (de Valentinis) to Mantua. Bona's daughter was 11 and the potential groom 30 years old. Federico, however, who was made Duke of Mantua by Emperor, pushed for marriage with Maria Paleologa and after her death with her sister Margaret Paleologa, as she brought March of Montferrat as her inheritance and claimes to the title of Emperor of Constantinople. Then Valentino corresponded (25 November 1534) about Isabella's marriage with Ercole II d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, the eldest son of Alfonso I d'Este and Lucrezia Borgia, another friend of Bona. In 1535 Habsburgs proposed Ludovico, eldest son of Charles III, Duke of Savoy. The marriage was negotiated by Bona's secretary, Ludovico Monti and the envoy of King Ferdinand of Austria, Baron Herberstein, but Ludovico died in 1536.
Between 1527-1529 and 1533-1536 Isabella lived in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In his texts entitled De Europa written in the 1440s Enea Silvio Bartolomeo Piccolomini, future Pope Pius II, reported about women in Lithuania, that: "Married noble ladies have lovers in public, with the permission of husbands, whom they call assistants of marriage" (Matronc nobiles, publice concubinos habent, permittentibus viris, quos matrimonii adiutores vocant). These assistants, whose number depended on the position and financial situation of the husband, who were fed at his expense, replaced him by old custom in his marital duties if he had neglected them due to illness, prolonged absence or any other cause. The husbands were not allowed to have lovers and marriages were easy to dissolve by mutual consent (Solvuntur tamen facile matrimonia, mutuo consensu). Such habits terrified all male readers throughout Europe.
On November 12, 1537 Mikołaj Nipszyc wrote to Albert, Duke of Prussia about "the secret women's practice, which you could get over with, if the princess Isabella was rendered a good favor in this way". He was probably referring to marriage of Isabella with elected King of Hungary, John Zapolya, secretly planned by Bona. But he could also refer to a painting.
Everything in Titian's painting known as Venus of Urbino emphasize the qualities of a bride depicted. She is beatiful, young, healthy and fertile. She is loyal and faithful and a sleeping dog symbolize devotion, faithfulness and fidelity. She is loving and passionate and red roses in her hand symbolize this. She is also wealthy, her servants are searching the coffers of her dowry for a suitable dress. Sumptuous wall hangings are undeniably allso part of her dowry and a pot of myrtle, used in marriage ceremonies, suggest that she is available for marriage. Her face resemble greatly other effigies of Isabella Jagiellon.
The painting is identifiable with certainty at the Villa del Poggio Imperiale in 1654-1655. In Villa del Poggio Imperiale, there is a portrait of Isabella's mother by Lucas Cranach from the same period and in Poland preserved one of the oldest copies of Venus of Urbino (Museum of Art in Łódź).
Similar pose is visible in monument to Barbara Tarnowska née Tęczyńska (d. 1521) by Giovanni Maria Padovano in the Tarnów Cathedral from about 1536 and monument to Urszula Leżeńska by Jan Michałowicz of Urzędów in the Church in Brzeziny, created between 1563-1568.
Portrait of Princess Isabella Jagiellon (1519-1559) nude (Venus of Urbino) by Titian, 1534-1538, Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
Portrait of Princess Isabella Jagiellon (1519-1559) nude (Venus of Urbino) by follower of Titian, after 1534, Museum of Art in Łódź.
Portraits of Isabella Jagiellon by follower of Titian
In a letter of 31 August 1538, Bona Sforza, Isabella's mother says about two portraits of her daughter Isabella, one in half and second full lenth by a court painter of Jan Dantyszek, prince-bishop of Warmia, possibly a painter from a German school of painting. However it cannot be excluded that Dantyszek, a diplomat in service of Sigismund I, who frequently travelled to Venice and Italy, had at his court a painter from Titian's workshop. In the letter Bona also complain that the features of her daughter in the portrait are not very accurate, it it highly probable that she commissioned a better effigy in Titian's workshop herself.
On 15 January 1539, five hundred Hungarian knights arrived to Kraków. The marriage contract with the dowry of 32,000 ducats in cash plus property worth another 6,000 ducats was probably signed between 28 January and 2 February. After the ceremony, Isabella departed towards Hungary.
The features in the portrait by circle of Titian are identical with known effigies of Isabella. The portrait of a lady holding a zibellino from the Contini Bonacossi collection, as portraits of Sigismund II Augustus and his third wife by Tintoretto, and attributed to school of Agnolo Bronzino is very similar to the later portrait of Isabella by circle of Titian. However, at first sight, the resemblance is not so apparent, so was it the painting mentioned by Bona in her letter or a copy of it sent to the Medicis?
The portrait which was before 1853 in the Hungarian National Museum, known from a lithograph and identified as an effigy of Mary of Anjou (1371-1395), Queen of Hungary, pictured a woman in almost identical costume, sitting in the 16th century Savonarola chair and holding a fan. It was most probably an original portrait of Isabella by Titian, commissioned by her mother.
Portrait of Isabella Jagiellon (1519-1559), Queen of Hungary with her dog by follower of Titian, 1538-1540, Private collection.
Portrait of Isabella Jagiellon (1519-1559), Queen of Hungary holding a zibellino by Italian painter, 1538-1540, Samek Art Museum.
Portrait of Isabella Jagiellon (1519-1559) holding a fan, 1853 lithograph after lost original by Titian or workshop from about 1539, Private collection.
Portrait of Isabella Jagiellon (1519-1559) holding a fan, 18th century after lost original by Titian or workshop from about 1539, Private collection.
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