Portraits of Anna Jagiellon by Tintoretto and circle of Titian
"The Queen is fresh and in such good health that I would not consider it a miracle if she were to become pregnant", reported from Warsaw on 29 January 1579, Giovanni Andrea Caligari (1527-1613), papal nuncio in Poland, about 56 years old Anna Jagiellon (1523-1596), elected co-ruler of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
"In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, overweightness and obesity were considered symbols of sexual attractiveness and well-being" (Naheed Ali's "The Obesity Reality: A Comprehensive Approach to a Growing Problem", 2012, p. 7) and Anna's mother Bona Sforza, who visited Venice in 1556, was obese in her 40s and 50s, as visible in the cameo in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (inv. 17.190.869).
The Queen was a well known benefactor of the Cracow Academy (now Jagiellonian University) and she visted it twice on 20 July 1576 and on 24 April 1584. Three days after her last visit she sent the doctors of the Academy a mug of pure gold and a few beautifully bound books. It is highly probable that she also offered her portrait. The painting attributed to Tintorretto from about 1575, from the old collection of the Academy and identifed as an effigy of Caterina Cornaro, Queen of Cyprus (1454-1510), could be considered as such.
If Elizabeth I (1533-1603), hereditary Queen of England, favoured the French fashion, especially "when the Anjou marriage negotiation were at their height" in about 1579 (Janet Arnold's "Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd", 2020, p. 188), the elected Queen of the Polish-Lithuanian Republic, could prefer the fashion of the Venetian Serenissima.
Portrait of Anna Jagiellon (1523-1596), elected co-ruler of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth by Jacopo Tintoretto, ca. 1575, Jagiellonian University Museum in Kraków.
Portrait of Anna Jagiellon (1523-1596) holding a cross and a book by circle of Titian, 1560-1578, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Kassel.
Portrait of Henry of Valois by workshop of Tintoretto
After the death of Sigismund II Augustus in 1572, Catherine of Medici, Queen of France, willing to make her favourite son Henry of Valois, Duke of Anjou the king of Poland, sent her court dwarf Jan Krasowski, called Domino to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Under the guise of visiting his family in his homeland, he was to make some inquiries and explore the mood in the Commonwealth. Catherine used all her power to offer the crown to her son by influencing the noble electors.
In order to be more agreeable to the Ottoman Empire and strengthen a Polish-Ottoman alliance, on 16 May 1573, Polish-Lithuanian nobles chose Henry as the first elected monarch of the Commonwealth. He was officially crowned on 21 February 1574.
Expecting that Henry will marry her and she will become a Queen, Infanta Anna Jagiellon the wealthiest woman in the country and a sister of his predecessor, ordered French lilies to be embroidered on her dresses.
Despite the fact that he arrived to Poland with a large retinue of his young male lovers, known as the mignons (French for "the darlings"), including René de Villequier, François d'O and his brother Jean, Louis de Béranger du Guast and especially his beloved Jacques de Lévis, comte de Caylus (or Quélus), and that "he even flattered the Polish lords by cleverly adopting their attire", as wrote Venetian envoy Girolamo Lippomano, he was not feeling well in the unknown country.
After death of his brother Charles IX, Catherine urged him to return to France. During the night of 18/19 June 1574, Henry secretly fled the country.
The portrait of a man in black hat by workshop of Tintoretto from private collection in Milan is almost identical with the portrait of Henry depicted against the wall hanging with his coat of arms as King of Poland in the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest by Italian painter (inventory 52.602) and his portrait holding a crown in the Doge's Palace in Venice (Sala degli Stucchi) by workshop of Tintoretto.
It bears no distinction, no reference to his royal status, as in mentioned two portraits in Budapest and Venice, he is depicted as a simple nobleman. It is higly probable then that it was one of a series of state portraits commissioned by Anna in Venice before Henry's coronation, as a clear signal that he should marry her before becoming a king.
The Infanta was most probably well aware of his inclination towards men, as apart from Krasowski, there were also other Polish dwarfs at the French court. Raised at the multicultural court of the Jagiellons, where people spoke Latin, Italian, Ruthenian, Polish and German, they were perfect diplomats. In 1572 king Sigismund Augustus sent to Charles IX, four dwarfs and in October that year, Claude La Loue brought another three dwarfs from Poland as a gift from Emperor Maximilian II, father of Charles IX's wife Elisabeth of Austria (after Auguste Jal's "Dictionnaire critique de biographie et d'histoire", 1867, p. 896).
A portrait, said to be Mariana of Austria with a female dwarf wearing a wimple from a private collection in Spain, lost, is very similar to the portrait of Elisabeth of Austria in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, which is attributed to Giacomo de Monte (Netherlandish Jakob de Monte, according to some sources). Painter of similar name, Giovanni del Monte, possibly Giacomo's brother, is mentioned as a court painter of Sigismund Augustus before 1557. It is therefore highly probable that the portrait of Queen of France with her dwarf was created for or at the initiative of the Polish-Lithuanian court.
Portrait of Henry of Valois, elected monarch of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth by workshop of Tintoretto, ca. 1573, Private collection.
Portrait of Elisabeth of Austria, wife of Charles IX as a widow with a female dwarf wearing a wimple by Jakob de Monte, after 1574, Private collection, lost.
Portraits of Anna Jagiellon by circle of Veronese
On 15 December 1575, in Wola near Warsaw, infanta Anna Jagiellon and her husband Stephen Bathory, Voivode of Transylvania were elected as monarchs of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
Since the end of the 1570s Anna's court was bursting with life and she kept lively correspondence with many Italian princes, like Francesco I de Medici and his mistress Bianca Cappello, the daughter of Venetian nobleman Bartolomeo Cappello, exchanging news on politics and fashion, sending and receiving gifts (cosmetics, medicaments, crystal bowls and cups, luxury fancy goods, small pieces of furniture e.g. marble tables, silver incrusted boxes etc.) and even courtiers. "From February of 1581 to December of that year, several letters from the agent of Bianca Cappello [...] Alberto Bolognetti, described the perfect female dwarf he found for Cappello in Warsaw; the nana is described as having great "proportions" and being "very beautiful." The nana's travels through Cracow and Vienna were fully documented [...]" (Touba Ghadessi's "Portraits of Human Monsters in the Renaissance", p. 63).
The portrait of a lady by circle of Paolo Veronese from the 1570s, traditionally identified as effigy of Catherine Cornaro (1454-1510), Queen of Cyprus, and known in at least three variants (in Vienna, Montauban and private collection), bears a strong resemblance to the miniature of Anna when a princess of Poland-Lithuania from about 1553. Also the gold cross pendant set with diamonds, visible on the portrait, is very similar to the one depicted on the print in the Hermitage Museum showing Anna (inventory ОР-45839).
The portrait of a woman from Barbini-Breganze collection in Venice, today in Stuttgart, bears a strong resemblance to the portrait of Anna by Tintoretto in the Jagiellonian University (pose and features) and to her effigy in Vienna holding a zibellino (features and garments), also by Tintoretto.
Portrait of Anna Jagiellon (1523-1596), elected co-ruler of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth by circle of Paolo Veronese, possibly Francesco Bassano or Palma il Giovane, ca. 1580, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Portrait of Anna Jagiellon (1523-1596), elected co-ruler of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in a robe of pink damask over a patterned brocade dress by Parrasio Micheli, 1575-1585, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart.
Allegorical portrait of Anna Jagiellon by Francesco Montemezzano
In July 1572 died Sigismund II Augustus, leaving the throne vacant and all the wealth of the Jagiellon dynasty to his three sisters. Anna, the only member of the dynasty present in the Commonwealth, received only a small portion of inheritance, but still became a very rich woman. Sigismund's death changed her status from a neglected spinster to the heiress of the Jagiellon dynasty.
In June 1574 an unexpected turn of events made her one of the favorites in the second election, after Henry of Valois left Poland and headed back to France. Jan Zamoyski reconciled different camps promoting Anna to the crown. On December 15, 1575, Anna was hailed the King of Poland in the Old Town Square in Warsaw. Jan Kostka and Jan Zamoyski, representing the parliament, came to her to ask for her consent. It was then that Anna was supposed to utter the phrase that she "would rather be a queen than a king's wife". A day later, the nobility recognized her definitively as the "Piast" king and Stephen Báthory, Voivode of Transylvania, was proposed as her husband.
The painting identified as allegory of Pomona from the old collection of the Czartoryski Museum bears a great resemblance to other effigies of Anna. A woman in rich costume is being offered a basket with apples, denoted as symbol of the royal power and a symbol of the bride in ancient Greek thought, and pink roses, which represented innocence and first love - Báthory was the first husband to the 52 years old queen.
Allegorical portrait of Anna Jagiellon (1523-1596), elected co-ruler of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth by Francesco Montemezzano, 1575-1585, Czartoryski Museum in Kraków.
Portraits of Anna Jagiellon by workshop of Tintoretto and Francesco Montemezzano
"There is a bridge across the Vistula near Warsaw, built at a great cost of Queen Anna, sister of King Sigismund Augustus, famous all over the Crown", wrote Venetian-born Polish writer Alessandro Guagnini dei Rizzoni (Aleksander Gwagnin) in his book Sarmatiae Europeae descriptio (Description of Sarmatian Europe), printed in Kraków in 1578.
On 5 April 1573, during the Royal Election after death of king Sigismund Augustus, the longest bridge of Renaissance Europe was opened to the public. The construction cost 100,000 florins, and Anna Jagiellon, willing to become a Queen, also allocated her own funds for this purpose. It was a great achievement and major political success praised by many poets like Jan Kochanowski, Sebastian Klonowic, Andrzej Zbylitowski and Stanisław Grochowski.
The bridge, built of huge oaks and pines brought from Lithuania, was 500 meters long, 6 meters wide, it consisted of 22 spans and stood on 15 supports/towers that protected the construction. The construction, however, required constant renovations and was partially broken several times by ice floes on the Vistula River. It was severely damaged after Anna's coronation (1 May 1576) and in his letters from 15 August 1576 to the starosts, King Stephen Bathory recommended the delivery of wood for repair. Again in 1578 and the renovation was managed by Franciszek Wolski, voit of Tykocin. The wood material was floated from the San river. The works were completed in 1582 and "Anna Jagiellon, Queen of Poland, spouse, sister and daughter of grand kings, ordered the construction of this brick fortified tower", according to inscription on bronze plaque in Museum of Warsaw commemorating the fortified Bridge Gate.
Anna, as her brother, undeniably ordered some portraits to commemorate her role in construction and maintenance of the bridge. The portrait from private collection in Milan, attributed to Tintoretto or Veronese and depicting a blond woman in a crown against the view of a bridge, fit perfectly. Her facial features resemble greatly the portrait by Tintoretto in the Jagiellonian University Museum.
The painter depicted the bridge only symbolically in a small window. The recipients of the painting should know what it is about, there was no need to change the convention of Venetian portrait painting to show the whole construction.
On her gown there is a symbol of six pointed star, in use since ancient times as a reference to the Creation and in Christian theology - star of Bethlehem. The star, was symbolic of light and of the preaching of Saint Dominic, who was the first to teach the Rosary as a form of meditative prayer, and become an attribute of Virgin Mary, as Queen of Heaven and as Stella Maris. The title, Stella Maris (Star of the Sea), is one of the oldest and most widespread titles applied to Virgin Mary. It came to be seen as allegorical of Mary's role as "guiding star" on the way to Christ.
The crown of stars is visible in a painting by Tintoretto in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin (acquired from Francesco Pajaro in Venice in 1841), created in about 1570 showing Madonna and Child venerated by St. Marc and St. Luke, and in a painting of Madonna of the Rosary from Sandomierz, created by Polish painter in 1599 in which old Queen Anna was depicted with other members of her family and Saint Dominic.
Thanks to Queen Anna's efforts the rosary confraternities, which mainly existed in Kraków were extended to all of Poland on 6 January 1577 and the annual feast of rosary was solemnly celebrated throughout the Commonwealth. She also donated, among other things, a few precious jewels and necklaces with which the image of Black Madonna of Częstochowa was adorned. In 1587 the Queen received the Golden Rose from Pope Sixtus V, which she offered to the collegiate church of St. John in Warsaw, lost.
The same woman in similar pose and in similar gown was depicted in painting by Francesco Montemezzano from William Coningham's collection in London, now in The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Portrait of Anna Jagiellon (1523-1596), elected co-ruler of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with a symbolic view of the bridge in Warsaw by workshop of Tintoretto, 1576-1582, Private collection.
Portrait of Anna Jagiellon (1523-1596), elected co-ruler of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth by workshop of Tintoretto, 1576-1582, Private collection.
Portrait of Anna Jagiellon (1523-1596), elected co-ruler of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with a dog by Francesco Montemezzano, ca. 1582, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Mystical marriage of Saint Catherine with a portrait of queen Anna Jagiellon by Venetian painter
In 1556 having ambitions of becoming a Viceroy of Naples, Bona Sforza d'Aragona, Anna's mother, agreed to lend to her distant relative king Philip II of Spain a huge sum of 430,000 ducats at 10% annual interest, so-called "Neapolitan sums". Even when paid, the interest payment was late and according to some people the loan was one of the reasons why Bona was poisoned by her trusted courtier Gian Lorenzo Pappacoda.
On November 10, 1573, and November 15, 1574 Catherine Jagiellon, Queen of Sweden, who had the right to a part of the Neapolitan sums in her dowry (50,000 ducats) agreed to renounce and cede it to her sister Anna, as the dispute deteriorated Polish-Swedish relations.
The Commonwealth had bad experiences with a "foreign" candidate, Henry of Valois, who fled the country through Venice just few monts after election, therefore the only possible succesors of over 50 years old queen were children of her sister Catherine, Sigismund born in 1566 (elected as Commonwealth's monarch in 1587) and Anna born in 1568.
The painting in Madrid is very similar in style to two portraits of Anna from the same period (in Vienna and Kassel). The lady in her 40s or 50s depicted as the Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven is a clear indication that the scene has no purely religious meaning and it is very similar to other effigies of Anna, especially to the portrait by Tintoretto in Kraków.
According to the researchers the canvas should be attributed to Palma il Giovane, who created paintings for Anna's nephew and sucessor, Sigismund III Vasa (Psyche cycle and a painting for the St. John's Cathedral in Warsaw, destroyed during World War II) or Domenico Tintoretto, who painted several paintings for Anna's Chancellor, Jan Zamoyski.
In the collection of the Royal Wilanów Palace in Warsaw there is a painting representing highly erotic subject of Leda and the swan by Palma il Giovane or his workshop from the last quarter of the 16th century. It is uncertain how it found its way there, so the option that it was commissioned by Anna, who, as her mother Bona, was strongly engaged in maintaining good relation with her husband Stephen Bathory, is very probable.
The mystical marriage of Saint Catherine, a symbol of spiritual grace, should be interprated then that Catherine's children still have claims to the Neapolitan sums and the crown. Its history before 1746 is unknown, therefore it cannot be excluded that the painting was sent to the Spanish Habsburgs, just as her portrait in Vienna, personally by the queen.
In November 1575, hence shortly before her election, Anna sent to Spain her envoy Stanisław Fogelweder, who was her ambassador there until 1587. She also had her informal envoys in Spain, dwarves Ana de Polonia (Anna of Poland, died 1578) and Estanislao (Stanislaus, died 1579).
Mystical marriage of Saint Catherine with a portrait of queen Anna Jagiellon (1523-1596) by Venetian painter, possibly Palma il Giovane or Domenico Tintoretto, 1576-1586, Prado Museum in Madrid.
Leda and the swan by Palma il Giovane or workshop, fourth quarter of the 16th century, Wilanów Palace in Warsaw.
The Banquet of Cleopatra with portraits of Anna Jagiellon, Stephen Bathory and Jan Zamoyski by Leandro Bassano
On 1 May 1576, then 52 years old Infanta Anna Jagiellon married ten years younger Voivode of Transylvania Stephen Bathory and was crowned as co-ruler of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Soon after the wedding the king started to avoid his elderly wife. He dedicated her just three wedding nights and didn't look into her bedroom afterward. The papal nuncio in Poland, Giovanni Andrea Caligari, reported in August 1578, that the king does not trust her, that he is afraid of being poisoned by her, an art her mother, Bona, was well acquainted with, and he adds in a letter of February 1579, that she is haughty and vigorous (altera e gagliarda di cervello). One night, Anna wanted to visit Bathory, but he escaped. Many people witnessed this event, the Queen developed a fever and was subjected to phlebotomy.
King Stephen reportedly never held a great attraction for the marriage state and women in general, and he married Anna only to do a nice thing for the nation, she however was under the illusion that she would keep her husband with her and seduce him with boisterous balls and feasts. Primate Jan Tarnowski wrote in a letter to a Lithuanian magnate that "as she caught up a man, she carries her mouth high and proud".
The Queen had a grudge against Chancellor Jan Zamoyski, who according to Bartosz Paprocki "wanting to be a lord in Masovia, he sowed disagreement between the king and the queen" and "caused that the king did not live with the queen". Some "distasteful" rumors were also spread during the expedition to Polotsk in 1578, when the king slept in the same hut with Gaspar Bekes, his trusted friend (after Jerzy Besala's "Wstręt króla do królowej").
When Stephen left his wife in 1576, he did not see her, with some breaks, until 1583. She resided in Warsaw in Masovia where in a spacious and richly furnished wooden mansion in Jazdów (Ujazdów), built by her mother Queen Bona, she often held festivities and court games, he in Grodno (in todays Belarus). In January 1578 she organized in Jazdów famous wedding celebrations for Jan Zamoyski and his Calvinist second wife Kristina Radziwill, which lasted for several days.
In February 1579, the Queen prepared a court ball, awaiting Stephen's arrival. In the evening, the Warsaw Castle was illuminated, and the inhabitants were waiting for the king's arrival. Unfortunately, only the messenger with the letter arrived. The king wrote in it that due to the preparations for the war expedition, he would spend the whole year in Lithuania. The disappointed queen "ordered the lights to be turned off and the instruments to be taken out, and with great anger she retreated to her chambers", wrote the nuncio in a letter of February 26. The courtiers rumored that he wanted to divorce her.
The King and Queen reunited in June 1583 in Kraków for the opulent wedding celebrations of Zamoyski with his third wife and a king's niece, Griselda Bathory. The wedding feast was held in the chambers of Queen Anna at the Wawel Castle. The lavish tournaments and a procession of masks was illustrated by an Italian artist in a "Tournois magnifique tenu en Pologne", today in the National Library of Sweden.
Rich Venetian fabrics, like these used in chasubles founded by Anna and her husband (Cathedral Museum in Kraków) or vessels, like enamelled basin with her coat of arms and monogram (Czartoryski Museum), acquired by Anna in Venice, were undoubtedly used during the feasts. The sources confirm that allegorical paintings were brought to the Polish court from Venice for Sigismund III Vasa, Anna's sucessor, like Psyche cycle by Palma il Giovane or Diana and Caliosto by Antonio Vassilacchi.
"You subjects learned this riding from your king", snapped resentful Anna in 1583, when someone from her court set off on a journey.
The Banquet of Cleopatra by Leandro Bassano in Stockholm shows an episode described by both Pliny's's Natural History (9.58.119-121) and Plutarch's Lives (Antony 25.36.1), in which the spartan Roman warrior Antony being seduced by the sensual opulence of Cleopatra.
The Queen of Egypt takes an expensive pearl, reputed to have aphrodisiac qualities, because of an association between pearls and Venus, the goddess of love, and dissolves it in her wine, which she then drinks. It is a culmination of a wager between Cleopatra and Mark Antony as to which one could provide the most expensive feast, which Cleopatra won. Lucius Munatius Plancus, a Roman senator had been asked to judge the wager.
The three protagonists are clearly Anna Jagiellon as Cleopatra, her husband Stephen Bathory as Mark Antony and his friend Jan Zamoyski as Lucius and the painting was commissioned by the Queen to one of her residences, most probably Jazdów.
It is recorded in the Swedish royal collection as far as 1739, therefore, most probably, it was taken from Poland during the Deluge (1655-1660), like the marble lions from Ujazdów Castle, or during the Great Northern War (1700-1721).
In 1578 with the support of Queen Anna the brotherhood of Saint Anne was founded in Warsaw at the Bernardine Church of Saint Anne, and approved by Pope Sixtus V with the bull Ex incumbenti in 1579. The first member and guardian of this fraternity was Jan Zamoyski, chancellor and great hetman of the Crown.
The painting by the same author, Leandro Bassano, from the Swedish royal collection, showing Saint Anne and the infant Virgin Mary was also undeniably created for Anna Jagiellon around the same time as the Banquet of Cleopatra. In 1760 this Catholic painting with Bernardine nuns was in the collection of Louisa Ulrika of Prussia, who freely converted from Calvinism to Lutheran when she moved to Sweden. It is another indication that this painting also was taken from Poland during the Deluge by Swedish or Prussian (Brandenburgian) forces.
Also other paintings by Bassano family and their workshop in Poland were created for partrons in Poland, like the Forge of Vulcan by Francesco Bassano the Younger in the National Museum in Warsaw. It was aquired in 1880 from Wojciech Kolasiński. Taking into consideration that other versions of this painting are in royal collections of "friendly" countries (Prado Museum in Madrid, inventory P005120, recorded as far as 1746 and Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, inventory 5737, recorded in Ambras collection in 1663), it is highly possible that it was commissioned or aquired by Bathory or Anna's successor Sigismund III. Another painting shows Adoration of the Magi with a man in Polish costume (almost idedntical as in the effigy of a Polish nobleman in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek) as one of the Magi.
The Banquet of Cleopatra with portraits of Anna Jagiellon, Stephen Bathory and Jan Zamoyski by Leandro Bassano, 1578-1586, Nationalmuseum in Stockholm.
Saint Anne and the infant Virgin Mary by Leandro Bassano, 1578-1586, Nationalmuseum in Stockholm.
Forge of Vulcan by Francesco Bassano the Younger, 4th quarter of the 16th century, National Museum in Warsaw.
Adoration of the Magi with a Polish nobleman by Francesco Bassano the Younger, 4th quarter of the 16th century, National Museum in Warsaw.
Portraits of king Stephen Bathory by Venetian painters
Official portraiture showed Bathory as he should look like and as he was perceived, imagined by average and less educated subjects, i.e. a strong, powerful, masculine monarch in rich national costume, a man capable to protect the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from Tsar Ivan the Terrible, a brutal tyrant, who used terror and cruelty as a method of controlling his country and who invaded the Commonwealth during the second royal election after Henry of Valois's sudden return to France in mid-June 1574 through Venice. The Tsar had captured Pärnu on 9 July 1575, took as many as 40 thousand captives (according to Świętosław Orzelski) and devastated much of central Livonia. Anna Jagiellon and Bathory were elected just few months later on December 15.
In private effigies or these dedicated to his European colleagues Bathory could allow himself to be depicted as educated in Padua lover of astronomy, in a cloak of a simple soldier in his army or as an old, tired man.
The portrait by Tintoretto from the Spanish royal collection, shows Bathory in a toga-like attire similar to the costume of a Venetian magistrate. It is a kopieniak a sleeveless raincoat of Turkish origin (kepenek), popular at that time in Hungary (köpenyeg). According to Stanisław Sarnicki's "Księgi hetmańskie", published in 1577-1578, kopieniak was a sort of Gabina (gabìno), a toga in ancient Rome, while according to "Encyklopedja powszechna" (Universal encyclopedia, vol. 15 from 1864, p. 446) in Poland the attire and a word were popularized by Bathory, "who used the kopieniak in hunting and during war expeditions".
After king's death some of his robes valued at 5351 zlotys were given to his courtiers. The inventory made in Grodno on 15 December 1586 includes many kopieniaks, made by his Hungarian tailor Andrasz, like the most valuable "scarlet kopieniak lined with sables with one silk button and a loop, 1548 zlotys worth", "12 navy blue half-kopieniaks lined with sables, with gold buttons" or "4 kopieniaks of different colors".
The portrait of a bearded man with hourglass and astrolabe by Francesco Bassano from Ambras Castle in Innsbruck is very similar in style and composition to the portrait of Anna Jagiellon in Vienna. Before 1 February 1582 Bathory offered to Ferdinand II, Archduke of Austria many items captured during the Siege of Pskov to his large collection of armaments in Ambras, including his armor accompanied by a portrait and resume.
Among the things given in deposit to king's courtier Mr Franciszek Wesselini (Ferenc Wesseleny´i de Hadad) in the inventory of king's belongings, there were "A gold carriage chest with the coat of arms of His Highness Augustus, in which there are various small things. Golden saddle of the deceased king Sigismund Augustus. A casket with small things and crane feathers" and also "A leaky watch (water hourglass)" and "Large old Turkish carpets, which were brought by Mr. Grudziński from Hungary from Machmet Basha", most probably offered by Sokollu Mehmed Pasha, Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire.
The inventory does not include any Western, black costumes, however since the king used many items of his predecessor Sigismund Augustus, he undoubtedly had access to his extensive black Italian wardrobe. Curiously the black Italian hose with protruding codpiece were at that time in Poland considered by simple people as more effeminate than dress-like żupan of colorful Venetian fabric. "The nation is effeminate [...] Franca [syphilis], musk, lettuce, with them it came, These puffed hose, stockings, mostardas, The Italian haughty nation has recently brought here" (269, 272-274), wrote in his satire "Conversation of the New Prophets, Two Rams with One Head" (Rozmowa nowych proroków, dwu baranów o jednej głowie) published in 1566/1567, Marcin Bielski.
His interest in astronomy is confirmed by his support to the sorcerer Wawrzyniec Gradowski from Gradów and with a sojourn at his court of John Dee, an English mathematician, astronomer and astrologer and Edward Kelley, an occultist and scryer in March 1583 and April 1585, who were paid 800 florins by the king. He also transformed the Jesuit gymnasium in Vilnius into an academy (1578), where astronomy, poetry and theology were taught. Leaving Transylvania for Poland in 1576, he consulted astrologers, with whom he also set the date of his wedding with Anna Jagiellon.
Therefore Bathory was maybe more effeminate in his private life then in his public appearance, he was however one of the most eminent monarchs of this part of Europe, a wise and brave king who led the Polish-Lithuanian Republic to its greatest glory and power.
After 50 his health rapidly declined. As Sigismund Augustus, Bathory most probably suffered from syphilis, treated by his Italian physicians Niccolò Buccella and Simone Simoni. "The king his grace had on his right leg two fingers below the knee, up to the ankle, a kind of rash, in which there were sometimes shallow, flowing wounds. On that leg, lower than the knee, he had an apertura [ulcer]: and when little was leaking from it, he had no appetite, the nights were restless and sleepless." The portrait in Budapest by Leandro Bassano, which is very similar to other effigies of Bathory, undeniably show him in the last year of his life.
Portrait of king Stephen Bathory in kopieniak coat by Tintoretto, ca. 1576, Prado Museum in Madrid.
Portrait of king Stephen Bathory with hourglass and astrolabe by Francesco Bassano, ca. 1580, Ambras Castle in Innsbruck.
Portrait of king Stephen Bathory sitting in a chair by Leandro Bassano, ca. 1586, Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest.
Portrait of Gustav Eriksson Vasa by Sofonisba Anguissola
In 1575 another inconvenient royal child was sent to be raised abroad, this time from Sweden to Poland. In August 1563 King Eric XIV of Sweden imprisoned Catherine Jagiellon, Duchess of Finland in Gripsholm Castle. She was released in 1567, but during this four-year imprisonment she gave birth to a daughter and a son, future Sigismund III. Catherine was crowned queen of Sweden in spring of 1569, when Eric was deposed. In March 1575, the Swedish Council of State decided to separate the seven-year-old boy Gustav Eriksson Vasa, the only son of Eric XIV, from his mother Karin Månsdotter, as king John III feared that the deposed Eric's followers in Sweden would use Gustav to be able to carry out their reinstatement plans. At Catherine's request her sister Anna agreed to take care of him.
He was well educated, attended the best Jesuit schools in Toruń and Vilnius and Collegium Hosianum in Braniewo. He knew many languages as well as astrology, chemistry and medicine. He travelled to Rome in 1586 and to Prague to meet Emperor Rudolf II, who learned about his chemical talent. As education and travel at that time were far more expensive than nowadays, he was not living in poverty as a prisoner or even a slave in chains in a poor and barbaric country, as some people want to believe.
A small portrait of a child by Sofonisba Anguissola in profuse mannerist frame from private collection in Switzerland shows a boy wearing an elegant black velvet doublet trimmed in gold, black hose and a black cape, like an attendant of the Jesuit school. The boy's features are very similar to these known from portraits of Eric XIV, his daughter Sigrid and to the portrait of a woman from Gripsholm Castle from about 1580, which is identified as Eric's step-sister Princess Elizabeth or his wife Karin Månsdotter. His pose and costume are almost identical with these visible in portrait of king John III of Sweden, husband of Catherine Jagiellon and Gustav Eriksson's uncle, in the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, a copy of original portrait by Johan Baptista van Uther from 1582. Anguissola's portrait can be threfore dated to 1582, a year when Gustav Eriksson reached his legal age of 14, and it was commissioned by his foster mother, proud of her boy starting education, most probably as one of a series for herself, her friends in Poland and abroad.
Portrait of Gustav Eriksson Vasa (1568-1607) by Sofonisba Anguissola, ca. 1582, Private collection.
Portrait of Beautiful Nana and her husband by Sofonisba Anguissola
Another mysterious portrait by Anguissola from the 1580s was acquired in 1949 by the National Museum in Warsaw from private collection. It was previously attributed to Giovanni Battista Moroni and it shows a man with his daughter.
The girl is holding a flower with four petals, similar to a primrose considered as a symbol of true (faithful) love, just as in "The Primrose" by John Donne (1572-1631), to white Caucasian rockcress (Arabis caucasica) or myrtle, consecrated to Venus, goddess of love and used in bridal wreaths - Pliny call it the "nuptial myrtle" (Myrtus coniugalis, Natural History, XV 122).
She wears a coral necklace, a fertility symbol in ancient Rome (after Gerald W. R. Ward's "The Grove Encyclopedia of Materials and Techniques in Art", 2008, p. 145), as in portraits of young brides by Florentine painter Domenico Ghirlandaio and in Polish folk costumes, and a symbol of protection, meant to bring good luck, as in portraits of court dwarf Magdalena Ruiz.
The red-haired man with blue eyes holds firmly a hand of young blue-eyed blond girl, this is not her father, this is her husband.
In 1581 Anna Jagiellon sent to her friend Bianca Cappello, Grand Duchess of Tuscany, one pretty, graceful female dwarf who could dance and sing. Monsignor Alberto Bolognetti, Bishop of Massa Marittima organized a travel for her from Warsaw through Kraków and Vienna. She was accompanied by "a Polish Gentleman named Mr. Giovanni Kobilmiczhi, and I [...] lingua Cobilnisczi, who is setting off in a carriage. I believe that the girl will feel comfortable, being highly recommended to the gentleman, and provided with whatever she needs to protect her from cold" (un Gentilhuomo Polaco nominato Signore Giovanni Kobilmiczhi, et mi [...] lingua Cobilnisczi, Il quale mettendo a viaggio in carozza. Mi credo che la fanciulla si condurrà comodamente, havendola lo massime al gentilhuomo molto raccomandata, et provista di qual che suo bisogno per difenderla dal freddo), according to the letter of February 15, 1581. The man was most probably Jan Kobylnicki, a courtier of king Stephen Bathory.
Beautiful Nana (Italian for female dwarf) was probably married after her arrival to Florence, possibly even with Kobylnicki or other Pole, and it was probably the Queen who commissioned her portrait with her husband from Anguissola, who moved from Pisa near Florence to Genoa in 1581. Consequently a two-sided portrait miniature of a female dwarf and her husband in the Uffizi Gallery painted in the style of Sofonisba from the same period, should be considered as effigy of parents of beautiful Nana.
Portrait of Beautiful Nana and her husband by Sofonisba Anguissola, ca. 1581-1582, National Museum in Warsaw.
Portrait miniature of mother of Beautiful Nana by Sofonisba Anguissola, ca. 1581-1582, Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
Portrait miniature of father of Beautiful Nana by Sofonisba Anguissola, ca. 1581-1582, Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
Portraits of Griselda Bathory and Elżbieta Łucja Gostomska by Sofonisba Anguissola
To strengthen the influence of the Bathory family in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, king Stephen planned the marriage of his Calvinist niece Griselda (née Christine) with the widowed Grand Chancellor of the Crown, Jan Zamoyski, one of the most powerful men in the country.
They were married on June 12, 1583 at the Wawel Cathedral in Kraków. Griselda came to Kraków with a retinue of 1,100 people, including six hundred soldiers guarding the her dowry. The wedding celebration with truly royal splendor lasted ten days.
After Bathory's death in 1586, Zamoyski helped Sigismund III Vasa gain the Polish throne, fighting in the brief civil war against the forces supporting the Habsburgs.
Griselda died four years later on 14 March 1590 in Zamość, an ideal city designed by Venetian architect Bernardo Morando. The city was not far from the second largest city of the Commonwealth, Lviv, dominated by a Royal Castle.
The portait of a young lady by Sofonisba Anguissola from the National Art Gallery in Lviv is very similar to the portrait of Anna Radziwill née Kettler from about 1586 in the National Museum in Warsaw. Anna Radziwill was a wife of a brother of first wife of Zamoyski. Their headdresses or bonnets are very much alike, as well as the dress, ruff, jewels and even the pose. The woman in Anguissola's painting is holding a zibellino, a symbol of a bride, and a small book, most probably a Protestant bible. The features of the woman's face are very similar to portraits of Griselda's uncle, cousin and brother.
A miniature in Sofonisba's style in the Uffizi Gallery (Inv. 1890, 9048, Palatina 778), shows a girl in very similar dress inspired by Spanish fashion to that in Lviv portrait. Her jewelled headdress is not Western however, it is in Eastern style and similar to Russian kokoshnik (from the Old Slavic kokosh, which means "hen" or "cockerel"). Such headdresses carried the idea of fertility and were popular in different Slavic countries. In Poland they preserved in some folk costumes (wianek, złotnica, czółko) and become dominant at the court of Queen Constance of Austria in Warsaw in the 1610s and 1620s.
The girl is therefore Elżbieta Łucja Gostomska (later Sieniawska), who in about 1587 at the age of 13 (born 13 December 1573), entered the court of Anna Jagiellon and whose miniature the Queen could send to her friend Bianca Cappello in Florence. She was the child of a Calvinist Anzelm Gostomski (d. 1588), voivode of Rawa. Her mother, Zofia Szczawińska, fourth wife of Anzelm, who raised her in Sierpc was affraid that her beautiful and wealthy daughter would be abducted by suitors. In 1590, despite her aversion to marriage, she married the Calvinist Prokop Sieniawski, then the court cupbearer, whom Queen Anna and her relatives chose for her.
Consequently also other portrait, depicting a lady with a pendant with Allegory of Abundance, and attributed to Spanish school (Alonso Sánchez Coello) could be a work of Anguissola and identifed as a court lady of Anna Jagiellon. She could be Dorota Wielopolska, lady-in-waiting of the Queen who in May 1576 married Piotr Potulicki, Castellan of Przemyśl. The queen organized for her a lavish feast and a tournament at the Wawel Castle. The painting was aquired by the National Museum in Kraków from a private collection in Gdów near Wieliczka, which was owned by the Wielopolski family.
Portrait of Griselda Bathory (1569-1590) by Sofonisba Anguissola, 1586-1587, National Art Gallery in Lviv.
Miniature portrait of Elżbieta Łucja Gostomska (1573-1624) by Sofonisba Anguissola, 1586-1587, Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
Portrait of a young woman with a pendant with Allegory of Abundance, most probably Dorota Wielopolska by Sofonisba Anguissola, 1580s, National Museum in Kraków.
Portrait of Sigismund III Vasa at a young age by Domenico Tintoretto
After the death of Stephen Bathory in December 1586, when 63 years old elected Queen Anna Jagiellon, could finally rule on her own, she was most probably too sick and too tired to do this. She supported the candidature of her niece Anna or her nephew Sigismund, children of her beloved sister Catherine, Queen of Sweden as candidates in next election. Sigismund was elected the ruler of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth on 19 August 1587.
Raised in Protestant Sweden, where Flemish Domenicus Verwilt and Dutch Johan Baptista van Uther with their stiff realism were chief portraitists at the court of his father and his predecessor, he found "degenerated", frivolous style of the Venetians not very appealing to him, at least initially. Although, he commissioned paintings in Venice, all most probably destroyed, no portrait is mentioned in sources. He supported Martin Kober, a Silesian painter trained in Germany, as his main court portraitist. It was therefore his aunt Anna Jagiellon, who could order a series of portraits of her protégé from Tintoretto for her and for her Italian friends.
The portrait of a blond hair young man, wearing a tight black doublet in El Paso Museum of Art is very similar to other known portraits of the king, especially his effigy in Spanish costume by Jakob Troschel from about 1610 (Uffizi in Florence) and a portrait holding his hand on a sword, attributed to Philipp Holbein II, from about 1625 (Royal Castle in Warsaw).
Chronologically this portrait fit perfectly known portraiture of the king: portrait as a child aged 2 from 1568 (AETATIS SVAE 2/1568), created by Johan Baptista van Uther as gift for his aunt (Wawel), as a Duke of Finland aged 18 (AETATIS SVAE XVIIII), consequently from 1585, also created by van Uther in Sweden (Uffizi), next this portrait by Domenico Tintoretto from about 1590, when he was 24 and was already in Poland and then the miniature at the age of 30 (ANNO AETATIS XXX) from about 1596 by workshop of Martin Kober or follower (Czartoryski Museum). The painting was inscribed on the column (AETATIS…X…TORET), now mostly effaced.
His left hand looks like if was posed on a sword at his belt, however no object is present. It was probably less visible in a drawing or miniature sent to Tintoretto, hence he left his hand strangely in the air, a proof that the sitter was not in painter's atelier. Forgetting of such an important object in the 16th century male portraiture, could be also a result of a rush to accomplish some big royal commission. The Order of the Golden Fleece, basing on which some of Sigismund's portraits were identified, was granted to him in 1600.
It is highly probable that the painting showing the Baptism of Christ by John the Baptist in the National Museum in Warsaw, created by Domenico Tintoretto around that time (after 1588) was also commissioned by Anna. It was bequeathed to the School of Fine Arts in Warsaw by Piotr Fiorentini in 1858 and later purchased by the Museum. Its earlier history is unknown, therefore Fiorentini, born in Vilnius, who later lived in Kraków and Warsaw, could have acquire it in Poland or Lithuania. Anna was engaged in embellishment of the main church of Warsaw - Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist and she also built 80-meter-long corridor (covered passage) connecting the Royal Castle with the Cathedral.
Portrait of Sigismund III Vasa at a young age by Domenico Tintoretto, ca. 1590, El Paso Museum of Art.
Baptism of Christ by Domenico Tintoretto, after 1588, National Museum in Warsaw.
Portrait of princess Anna Vasa in Spanish costume by Domenico Tintoretto
In about 1583, after her mother's death, Anna Vasa like her aunt Sophia Jagiellon in 1570, converted to Lutheranism. Already in 1577, papal diplomacy proposed to marry her to an Austrian archduke, Matthias or Maximilian.
She arrived to Poland in Ocober 1587 to attend her brother's coronation and she stayed until 1589, when she accompanied Sigismund to meet their father John III of Sweden in Reval and then followed John to Sweden. Anna returned to Poland to attend the wedding of Sigismund with Anna of Austria in May 1592. When just few months later, on 17 November 1592, John III died, Sigismund was willing to abdicate in favor of Archduke Ernest of Austria, who was about to marry his sister Anna. This was also intended to alleviate the Habsburgs, who already lost in two royal ellections.
Archduke Ernest, the son of Emperor Maximilian II and Maria of Spain, together with his brother Rudolf (Emperor from 1576), was educated at the court of his uncle Philip II in Spain.
To announce this turn in country's politics, where Anna Vasa become a focal point, her aunt most probably commissioned a series of portraits of her niece.
The portait by Domenico Tintoretto from the collection of Prince Chigi in Rome, now in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, shows a woman in black saya, a Spanish court dress, from the 1590s, similar to that visible in the portrait of the Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia by Sofonisba Anguissola in the Prado Museum from about 1597. However the white ruff collar, cuffs and her gold necklace are definitely not Spanish, they are more Central European and very similar to garments visible in portraits of Katarzyna Ostrogska from 1597 in the National Museum in Warsaw and in the portrait of Korona Welser by Abraham del Hele from 1592 in the private collection, they are not Venetian. The features of the woman's face are the same as in Anna Vasa's portrait from about 1605 and her miniatures from the 1590s identified by me (Marcin Latka). A book on the table beside her is therefore Protestant Bible, published in the small octavo format and landscape with rivers and wooded hills is how Tintoretto imagined her native Sweden.
The portrait of a man with a red beard from the same period in the National Museum in Warsaw and attributed to Tintoretto's workshop is almost identical in composition, techinique and dimensions. He is holding a similar book. It is therefore an important royal court official. The royal secretary from 1579 and a staunch Calvinist Jan Drohojowski (d. 1601) fit perfectly. From 1588 he was also a castellan of Sanok, hence one of the most powerful protestants in the country.
Drohojowski was the son of Stanisław Drohojowski, the promoter of Calvinism. His mother Ursula Gucci (d. 1554), also known as Urszula Karłowna, was also a protestant. She was a lady-in-waiting of Queen Bona and a daughter of Carlo Calvanus Gucci (d. 1551), a merchant and contractor, who arrived in Kraków in the retinue of Queen Bona and was later made Żupnik of the Ruthenian lands.
Portrait of princess Anna Vasa (1568-1625) in Spanish costume by Domenico Tintoretto, ca. 1592, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.
Portrait of Jan Drohojowski, castellan of Sanok by workshop of Domenico Tintoretto, ca. 1592, National Museum in Warsaw.
Portraits of Anna of Austria and Anna Vasa by Sofonisba Anguissola
In 1586, to strengthen her nephew's chances in royal election, Queen Anna Jagiellon proposed a marriage between Sigismund and Anna of Austria (1573-1598). The Habsburgs had strong influences in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and their claims to the throne were supported by part of the nobility. Due to the political instability and Maximilian of Austria's desire for the Polish crown, Anna's parents, preferred the match with Henry of Lorraine.
The plans resummed in 1590 when Anna's engagement with Duke of Lorraine was broken off. In April 1592, the betrothal was formally celebrated in the Imperial Court in Vienna. Despite the opposition of the nobles, Sigismund and 18 years old Anna were married by proxy in Vienna on 3 May 1592. She arrived to Poland with her mother Archduchess Maria Anna of Bavaria and a retinue of 431 people. The young king welcomed his wife accompanied by the "old queen" Anna Jagiellon and his sister Princess Anna Vasa in Łobzów Palace near Kraków where four tents were set up, decorated in Turkish style for the feast. The young queen received rich gifts, including "Kanak necklace with large diamonds and rubies and oriental pearls, which are called Bezars 30" from the king, "a chain of oriental pearls and a diamond necklace, and two crosses, one ruby, the other diamond" from the "old queen" and "kanak necklace with a cross of rubies and diamonds pinned on one" from Princess Anna, among others. Also "the envoy from the Lords of Venice" brought gifts valued at 12,000 florins.
Anna of Austria's Spanish connections become very important soon after her arrival, when after death of his father Sigismund left for Sweden and was willing to abdicate in favor of Archduke Ernest of Austria, who was about to marry his sister Anna Vasa. Two of Anna's effigies by Martin Kober from about 1595 were later sent to dukes of Tuscany (both Francesco I and Ferdinando I were half-Spanish by birth, through their mother Eleanor of Toledo).
Three miniatures and a portrait, all in Sofonisba Anguissola's style, can be dated to around that time. One minature from the Harrach collection in Rohrau Castle in Austria, possibly lost, identified as effigy of Anna of Austria, shows de facto Anna Vasa with an eagle pendant. The other in the Uffizi Gallery (Inv. 1890, 8920, Palatina 650) depict Anna Vasa in more northern costume. The latter miniature is accompanied by very similar miniature of a lady in Spanish cosume with a necklace with Imperial eagle (Inv. 1890, 8919, Palatina 649), it is an effigy of Anna of Austria, the young queen of Poland and relative of the Holy Roman Emperors and the King of Spain.
The portrait by Sofonisba from private collection, which shows a blond lady with a heavy gold necklace is very similar to other effigies of Queen Anna of Austria, especially her portrait in Kraków, most probably by Jan Szwankowski (Jagiellonian University Museum) and engravings by Andreas Luining (National Museum in Warsaw) and Lambert Cornelis (Czartoryski Museum in Kraków).
The miniature of a man from the collection of Dukes Infantado in Madrid, painted in Sofonisba Anguissola's style shows a man in Eastern costume. His attire is very similar to these visible in a miniature with Polish horsemen from Albert of Prussia's "Kriegsordnung" (Military ordinance), created in 1555 (Berlin State Library) and in a portrait of Sebastian Lubomirski (1546-1613), created in about 1613 (National Museum in Warsaw). The features of the man's face are similar to miniature of Sigismund III Vasa (Bayerisches Nationalmuseum) and his portrait by Martin Kober (Kunsthistorisches Museum), both created in the 1590s. In the same collection of Dukes Infantado, there is also a miniature attributed to Jakob de Monte (Giacomo de Monte) from the same period, showing king's mother-in-law Archduchess Maria Anna of Bavaria (1551-1608).
Portrait of Queen Anna of Austria (1573-1598) by Sofonisba Anguissola, ca. 1592, Private collection.
Miniature portrait of Queen Anna of Austria (1573-1598) in Spanish cosume by Sofonisba Anguissola, ca. 1592, Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
Miniature portrait of Princess Anna Vasa (1568-1625) by Sofonisba Anguissola, ca. 1592, Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
Miniature portrait of Princess Anna Vasa (1568-1625) with eagle pendant by Sofonisba Anguissola, ca. 1592, Rohrau Castle.
Miniature portrait of King Sigismund III Vasa in Polish costume by Sofonisba Anguissola, ca. 1592, collection of Dukes Infantado in Madrid.
Portraits of Sigismund Bathory at a young age by Domenico Tintoretto
After failed plans to cede the throne of the Commonwealth to Archduke Ernest, as no monarch could do this without approval from the Diet, the Holy See had proposed the marriage of Princess Anna Vasa to Sigismund Bathory, who both could rule the country during the absence of the king (Sigismund III left for Sweden in 1593).
Sigismund was the nephew of king Stephen Bathory, who on 1 May 1585 confirmed his legal age by dissolving the council of twelve noblemen who ruled Transylvania in his name and made János Ghyczy the sole regent.
After death of his uncle in 1586, he was one of the candidates to the throne of the Commonwealth. Sigismund knew Latin and Italian and in 1592 at his court in Alba Julia he had a large group of Italian musicians like Giovanni Battista Mosto, Pietro Busto, Antonio Romanini, or Girolamo Diruta among others.
In summer of 1593, he went to Kraków in disguise to start negotiations regarding his marriage with Anna Vasa. Possibly on this occasion either the Polish court or Sigismund himself ordered a series of portraits from Domenico Tintoretto. It is unknown why negotiations were eventually unsuccessful, possible reason might be his homosexuality. The elites were probably afraid of another frivolous "Valois", who will escape from the country after few months or it was Anna who refused to marry him.
Three years later however, on August 1595, Sigismund married Maria Christina of Austria, a sister of Anna of Austria (1573-1598), hence becoming brother-in-law of the king of Poland. It was regarded as a major political gain, but Sigismund refused to consummate the marriage.
In summer of 1596 he sent his confessor, Alfonso Carrillo, to Spain. The Jesuit asked Philip II for finacial aid, as well as the Order of the Golden Fleece for Sigismund. The king promised Carrillo, in addition to 80,000 ducats in aid and granting of high distinction, diplomatic aid to Poland.
On 21 March 1599 Sigismund formally abdicated receiving the Silesian duchies of Opole and Racibórz as compensation and left Transylvania for Poland in June. On 17 August 1599 Pope Clement VIII dissolved his marriage.
A young man in a ruff from the 1590s, known from a series of portraits by Domenico Tintoretto, his workshop and some Italian painter, resemble greatly Sigismund Bathory, who was 21 in 1593. One version, in Kassel, bears an inscription ANNO SALVTIS / .M.D.L.X.X.X.V. (In the year of Salvation 1585) on a letter placed on a table beside him, it is a letter from Sigismund's uncle, King Stephen of Poland confirming his rights to Transylvania and therefore his claims to King's inheritance. The other in private collection in Marburg is inscribed TODORE del SASSO / CIAMBERLANO / AETATIS SVAE XXXVI with an image of a key, therefore claiming to be Chamberlain Todore del Sasso, aged 36, however no such man is confirmed in sources, especially as a recipient of the Order of the Golden Fleece known from so many portraits, the inscription must be false. It cannot be also Francesco Maria II della Rovere, Duke of Urbino as the effigy does not match with his features and he had his exquisit court painter Federico Barocci. Another portrait from the Swedish royal collection by Domenico's workshop is in Stockholm. It was probably sent to Sigismund III, when he was in Sweden for his coronation.
There is also another version, but by a different painter, in Mexico. It is attributed to Giovanni Battista Moroni or to Domenico Tintoretto, therefore stylistically close, to a painter born in Cremona, Sofonisba Anguissola, court painter of Spanish monarchs. The effigy is very similar to previous portraits, just the Spanish Order of the Golden Fleece was added. It was commissioned by Polish court or Sigismund himself in about 1596 basing on effigy from 1593.
Portrait of Sigismund Bathory, Prince of Transylvania at a young age by Domenico Tintoretto, ca. 1593, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Kassel.
Portrait of Sigismund Bathory, Prince of Transylvania at a young age by Domenico Tintoretto or workshop, ca. 1593, Nationalmuseum in Stockholm.
Portrait of Sigismund Bathory, Prince of Transylvania at a young age by Domenico Tintoretto or workshop, ca. 1593, Private collection.
Portrait of Sigismund Bathory, Prince of Transylvania at a young age by circle of Giovanni Battista Moroni, most probably Sofonisba Anguissola after Domenico Tintoretto, ca. 1596, Museo Nacional de San Carlos in Mexico.
Portrait of Agnieszka Tęczyńska as Saint Agnes by Francesco Montemezzano
In October 1594, when she was just 16 years old, the eldest daughter of Andrzej Tęczyński, Voivode of Kraków, and Zofia nee Dembowska, daughter of Voivode of Belz, married the widower Mikołaj Firlej, Voivode of Kraków from 1589. The wedding feast with the participation of the royal couple took place in the "Painted Manor" of the Tęczyński family in Kraków, later donated to the barefoot Carmelites (1610). The groom, brought up in Calvinism, secretly converted to Catholicism during his trip to Rome in 1569. He studied in Bologna.
Agnieszka was born in the lavish Tenczyn Castle, near Kraków on January 12, 1578 as the fourth child. Both of her parents died in 1588 and most probably then she was raised in the royal court of Queen Anna Jagiellon. In 1593 she accompanied the royal couple, Sigismund III and his wife Anna of Austria, on their trip to Sweden.
For some time, Tęczyńska's confessor was the Jesuit Piotr Skarga. After her husband's death in 1601, she took up the upbringing of her children, the administration of huge assets and she became involved in philanthropic and charitable activities. Widowed, Tęczyńska fell into devotion. She died in Rogów on June 16, 1644, at the age of 67, and was buried in the crypt at the entrance to the church in Czerna, she founded.
In the preserved paintings, offered to different monasteries, she is depicted in a costume of a widowed lady or in a Benedictine habit, like in a full-length portrait in the Czartoryski Museum in Kraków from about 1640, created by circle of royal court painter Peter Danckerts de Rij or in a three-quarter length portrait in the National Museum in Warsaw, created by Jan Chryzostom Proszowski in 1643. The latter portrait, very Italian in style, was most likely inspired by a portrait of Queen Anna Jagiellon by Sofonisba Anguissola.
A portrait in the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston (MFAH) depicts a lady with a lamb, an attribute of Saint Agnes, a patron saint of girls, chastity and virgins. "During the Renaissance, women who were soon to be married often associated themselves with this saint because Agnes chose to die rather than marry a man she did not love", according to MFAH catalogue. She is holding a Catholic book, most probably a volume of Saint Thomas Aquinas' "On the truth of the Catholic faith" (Incipit liber primus de veritate catholicae fidei contra errores gentilium). A rose-bush is in this context a symbol of the Virgin Mary and of messianic promise of Christianity because of its thorns (after James Romaine, Linda Stratford, "ReVisioning: Critical Methods of Seeing Christianity in the History of Art", 2014, p. 111).
Woman's face is very similar to the effigies of Agnieszka Tęczyńska, later Firlejowa from the last decade of her life and to the portrait of her nephew, Stanisław Tęczyński in Polish costume, created by Venetian painter active in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Tommaso Dolabella.
The portrait was in von Dirksen's collection in Berlin before 1932 and stylistically is very close to portraits of Queen Anna Jagiellon by Francesco Montemezzano (died after 1602), a pupil and a follower of Paolo Veronese.
Portrait of Agnieszka Tęczyńska as Saint Agnes by Francesco Montemezzano, ca. 1592-1594, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Portrait of Queen Anna Jagiellon by Sofonisba Anguissola
In about 1550, a young Cremonese painter, Sofonisba Anguissola, created her self-portrait (private collection) in a rich dress and in a pose exactly the same as that visible in a portrait of Catherine of Austria, Duchess of Mantua and later Queen of Poland. Catherine's portrait, in Voigtsberg Castle, is attributed to Titian. Sofonisba either created this portrait, participated in its creation or saw it somewhere, as Mantua is not far from Cremona. It could be threfore Catherine, who introduced her to the Polish court, when in June 1553 she married Sigismund II Augustus. Around that time Sofonisba created her self-portrait at the easel, one of the best of her self-portraits, which she could sent to the Polish court as a sample of her talent. This portrait is now in the Łańcut Castle.
The portrait which was previously identifed as effigy of Catharine Fitzgerald, Countess of Desmond and Duchess of Dorset (d. 1625) in Knole House is very similar to effigies of Anna Jagiellon by Martin Kober and his workshop in coronation robes from the Sigismund's Chapel (1587) and in widow's clothing (1595) at the Wawel Castle. It was recently identified as portrait of Sofonisba Anguissola basing on a leaf from van Dyck's Italian Sketchbook. The inscription in Italian was evidently added later, as the year 1629 is mentioned in the text (the painter was in Italy between 1621 and 1627).
The drawing shows an old lady, similar to that from the Knole portrait. According to inscription it is an effigy of Sofonisba, whom the Flemish painter visited in Palermo: "Portrait of Lady Sofonisma painter made live in Palermo in the year 1629 on the 12th of July: her age 96 still having her memory and brain very prompt, very courteous" (Rittratto della Sigra. Sofonisma pittricia fatto dal vivo in Palermo l'anno 1629 li 12 di Julio: l'età di essa 96 havendo ancora la memoria et il serverllo prontissimo, cortesissima). However Sofonisba died on 16 November 1625 and according to sources she was born on 2 February 1532, hence she was 92 when she died. Van Dyck was in Palermo in 1624. If he could confuse the dates of Sofonisba's life, he could also confuse the portrait of Queen of Poland by her hand, created in about 1595, that she had, with her self-portrait (Keller Collection, 1610). He may also have seen the portrait elsewhere in Italy, or even in Flanders or England. The Knole portrait was most probably acquired from the English royal collection, therefore it is highly probable that Anna sent to Queen Elizabeth I her effigy, one from a series created by Anguissola.
In July 1589, English envoy Jerome Horsey, wanting to see Anna, sneaked into her palace in Warsaw: "before the windows whereof were placed pots and ranks of great carnations, gillyflowers, province roses, sweet lilies, and other sweet herbs and strange flowers, giving most fragrant, sweet smells. [...] Her majesty sat under a white silk canopy, upon a great Turkey carpet in a chair of estate, a hard-favored queen, her maids of honor and ladies attendants at supper in the same room". Queen Anna allegedly asked him, how Queen Elizabeth could "'spill the blood of the Lord's anointed, a queen more magnificent than herself, without the trial, judgment and consent of her peers, the holy father the Pope and all the Christian princes of Europe?' 'Her subjects and parliament thought it so requisite, without her royal consent, for her more safety and quiet of her realm daily endangered.' She shook her head with dislike of my answer", reported Horsey.
Anna died in Warsaw on 9 September 1596 at the age of 72. Before her death she managed to accomplish tomb monuments for herself (1584) and her husband (1595) in Kraków, created by Florentine sculptor Santi Gucci, and for her mother in Bari near Naples (1593), created by Andrea Sarti, Francesco Zaccarella and Francesco Bernucci. She was the last of the Jagiellons, a dynasty that ruled over vast territories in Central Europe since the late 14th century, when Polish nobles proposed to pagan Duke of Lithuania, Jogaila, to marry their eleven-year-old Queen Jadwiga and thus become their king.
Counter-Reformation, that she supported, and foreign invasions destroyed Polish tolerance and diversity, greedy nobles destroyed Polish democracy (Liberum veto) and invaders turned much of the country's heritage into a pile of rubble. The only portrait of the Queen in the nest of the Jagiellons - Wawel Royal Castle in Kraków was acquired from the Imperial collection in Vienna in 1936, just three years before World War II broke out. It was created by Kober in about 1595 and sent to the Habsburgs.
Self-portrait at the easel by Sofonisba Anguissola, 1554-1556, Łańcut Castle.
Portrait of Queen Anna Jagiellon by Sofonisba Anguissola, or a copy by Anton van Dyck, ca. 1595 or 1620s, Knole House.
Portrait of Queen Anna Jagiellon, a drawing by Anton van Dyck after lost painting by Sofonisba Anguissola, 1620s, British Museum.
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