Main religious centers of Poland were also main centers for religious craftemanship in the country. Kraków with its status of coronation city and largest city of southern Poland had an adantage over other locations with the largest number of goldsmiths. A diploma issued in 1478 by Jan Rzeszowski, Bishop of Kraków, Jakub Dembiński, castellan and starost of Kraków, Zejfreth, mayor of Kraków, Karniowski and Jan Theschnar, Kraków's concillors to Jan Gloger, son of Mikołaj Gloger, aurifaber (goldsmith) of Kraków, recognizes Jan as a man of good fame and worthy of admission to the guild of goldsmiths. The document confirms that church had a profound influence on development of this craftsmanship in the country.
Reliquary cross of Andrzej Nosek of Rawicz coat of arms, Abbot of the Tyniec Abbey by Anonymous from Kraków, ca. 1480, Cathedral Treasury in Tarnów.
Fragment of gold reliquary for the head of Saint Stanislaus with selling of a village by Marcin Marciniec, 1504, Cathedral Museum at Wawel Hill in Kraków.
Silver crosier of Bishop Andrzej Krzycki by Anonymous from Kraków, 1527-1535, Płock Cathedral.
Portrait of Primate Bernard Maciejowski (1548-1608) by Anonymous from Kraków, ca. 1606, Franciscan Monastery in Kraków. The Primate was depicted holding silver legate's cross against silver altar set commissioned by him before 1601 in Italy and with a 15th century jewelled mitre of cardinal Frederick Jagiellon.
Reliquary of Saint Stanislaus founded by Bishop Marcin Szyszkowski by Anonymous from Poland, ca. 1616-1621, Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi.
Silver altar cross offered by Primate Wacław Leszczyński to the Gniezno Cathedral by Anonymous from Poland, first quarter of the 17th century, Archdiocesan Museum in Gniezno.
Gold chalice founded by Anna Alojza Chodkiewicz by Anonymous from Poland, ca. 1633, Treasury of the Lublin Archcathedral.
Fragment of a monstrance adorned with jewels from private donations by Anonymous from Lublin, ca. 1650, Dominican Monastery in Lublin.
Fragment of monstrance adorned with enamel by Anonymous from Poland, 1670s, Treasury of the Jasna Góra Monastery.
Monstrance with of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica from the Tyniec Abbey by Anonymous from Lesser Poland, 1679, Cathedral Treasury in Tarnów.
Ciborium adorned with mother of pearl founded by guardian Stefan Opatkowski by Anonymous from Kraków, 1700, Franciscan Monastery in Kraków.
The invasion of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth by neighbouring countries in the year of 1655 ended almost a century period of prosperity since the establishment of the noble republic in 1569. This war, one of the worst in country's history, and known as the Deluge (1655-1660), resulted in the loss of approximately 25% of the population in four core provinces, destruction of 188 cities and towns, 81 castles, and 136 churches. It had a profound impact on all aspects of life and future generations as well as on country's culture. Invasion and occupation by Lutherans from north and west (Sweden and Brandenburg), Calvinists from the south (Transylvania) and Orthodox from east and south (Russia, Wallachia and Moldavia) also significantly strengthened Catholics in previously multi-religious nation. The invaders were renowned for looting even marble flooring and church vestments. In 1658 Swedish troops of commander Pleitner murdered in the church in Skrwilno the local vicar, Father Walerian Cząpski for refusing to declare where he hidden "the treasure of the church".
In those circumstances, between 1655 and 1660, Zofia Magdalena Loka of Rogala coat of arms, owner of Okalewo estate and widow of Stanisław Piwo of Prawdzic coat of arms, deputy cup-bearer of Płock, hidden in the remains of the 11th century settlement in Skrwilno, her most valuable belongings. Discovered in 1961 in a shallow, approx. 50-cm excavation, were gold objects of more than 2 kg weigh, and silver objects of about 5 kg weigh. The treasure consist of the most exquist works of art including gold jewellery from the first half of the 17th century, like pendant with the figure of Fortune set with precious stones and coated with blue, white and green enamel, 6 chains including a chain set with precious stones made up of circular open work links and eight rosettes set with rubies and turquoises, 4 bracelets, two of them with clasps laid over with green, blue, or white enamel and the third coated with black enamel bearing the letters I.H.S. engraved amid the acanthus leaf motif, 16 żupan buttons of Stanisław Piwo, 5 gold and set with rubies, 5 with rock crystal, and 6 made of gilded silver. There is also a silver belt with imitation of encrusting, a silver filigree chain, a fragment of filigree gold chain with enamelled elements, 4 rings and 51 pearls.
Silver tableware constitute the other part of the treasure. It includes silver lavabo set with Rogala coat of arms created by Balthasar Grill in Augsburg and commissioned by Jan Loka, starost of Borzechowo, father of Zofia, a pair of scissors for trimming candle wicks with Prawdzic coat of arms, two silver candlesticks made in Toruń and Brodnica, 12 silver spoons by Hans Nickel, William de Lassensy, Reinhold Sager and Hans Martelius, finest Toruń silversmiths of the time, and a tankard.
Stanisław Piwo died on January 17, 1649 at the age of 53, hence before the invasion, and was buried in the Benedictine nuns Church in Sierpc, where his wife founded him a tomb monument in marble and alabaster depicting him kneeling before the crucified Christ. The tomb was most probably destroyed in 1655, when a Swedish troop looted the Benedictine Monsatery or in 1794 during the fire of the church. Zofia was 10 years younger then her husband and they were married for 26 years. Both Zofia nad Stanisław wer benefactors of many local churches - in 1644 Stanisław offered to the church in Sierpc a gold cloth chasuble and his wife in 1649 offered a silver plaque. In 1650, a year after death of her husband she offered a veil emboidered with gold thread for the image of Our Lady of Sierpc. She lived for few years in her large wooden manor in Okalewo and during the Deluge, she probably left for Gostynin. Nothing is known about her later years.
Gold chain set with precious stones of Zofia Magdalena Loka by Anonymous from Germany or Poland, ca. 1600, District Museum in Toruń.
Pendant with the figure of Fortune of Zofia Magdalena Loka by Anonymous from Transylvania or Poland, turn of the 16th and 17th century, District Museum in Toruń.
Bracelet with a stylized cartouche of Zofia Magdalena Loka by Anonymous from Poland, first quarter of the 17th century, District Museum in Toruń.
Silver lavabo set of Jan Loka, starost of Borzechowo by Balthasar Grill, 1615-1617, District Museum in Toruń.
According to Franciszek Maksymilian Sobieszczański's "Historical Information on Fine Arts in Poland", Volume II from 1849, the local museum in Brno in todays Czechia, had in its collection "a beautiful basin with an ewer, all enamelled in flower stripes, which was given by John III, among other items after relief of Vienna, to Emperor Leopold I, later in Empress Maria Theresa's study, given by her to the Princes of Solm, and few years ago offered to the Moravian Museum, is today kept in Brünn with athentic documents of its provenence" (page 326). The basin from original lavabo set was most probably lost, while enamelled picher in flower stripes is in the collection of Moravian Gallery in Brno (inventory number U 24136). Despite being dated to the second half of the 17th century on the museum website, it was most probably created during Yongzheng Period (1723-1735) for Persian or Ottoman market, hence any connection with John III Sobieski (1629-1696) of Poland can be excluded.
Enamelled pitcher by Anonymous from China, Yongzheng Period (1723-1735), Moravian Gallery in Brno.
Ewer and shell-shaped basin by Anonymous from China, Yongzheng Period (1723-1735), Étude de Maigret.
After two centries of domination as the main center of craftmanship of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwath, the country's main port, Gdańsk, began to decline in the beginning of the 18th century. The transfer of royal court from Dresden, into Warsaw during the Seven Years' War in 1756, ended another half-century hegemony of the Saxon capital. Royal court in the capital of the Kingdom of Poland favored greatly developmnent of local workshops. Also many skilled gold- and silversmiths from other locations began to settle in Warsaw. Among the most notable were Antoni Ignacy Mietelski (d. 1737), originally from Warka, who settled in Warsaw in 1717. In 1725, 1733 and 1737 he was the senior of the city's guild of goldsmiths. Mietelski is the author of two silver jugs in similar proportions, one set with coins from around 1720 (Czartoryski Museum) and the other from 1726 made for the city council and adorned with the symbol of Warsaw - a siren (National Museum in Warsaw). The Warsaw's jug signed with monogram AM was commissioned by the mayor of Warsaw, Józef Benedykt Loupia.
The privilage of king Stanislaus Augustus Poniatowski from 1785 and subsequent orders sanctioned Jewish workshops not affiliated with a guild and impose strict rules on marking the objects (grade of silver, mark of the manufacturer and other hallmarks). Among the most notable goldsmiths of that time were Szymon Stanecki, treasurer of the guild from 1785, active till 1810, who signed his works with monogram SS. He is the author of a silver tureen with handles in the form of a ram's heads and a cover topped with an artichoke dated to about 1785 to 1788 (National Museum in Warsaw). Hil Jakubowicz, a Jewish goldsmith from Łask, who was appionted as one of the five state melters in 1788, is an author of an octagonal filgree basket from about 1785 to 1787. Teodor Pawłowicz, mentioned in the Royal priviledge from 1785 as a deputy senior of the guild and active till at least 1789, and Józef Skalski marking his works with monogram IS, active in the end of the 18th century.
Foreigneres are represented by Karl Ludwig from Dresden, mentioned in the books of the Węgrów-Warsaw evangelical parish in 1785 and author of two silver tureens signed with monogram CL. Martin Holck, mentioned in the books of the mentioned parish in 1783 and active till 1794, Josef Götz called Gallus from Moravia, active in Warsaw from about 1773 till the end of the century and J.M. Schwartz who signed his works with monogram I.M.S.
Unidentified by name silversmiths are Monogrammist IGB, possibly from Poznań, active from the 1770s till the end of the century, author of two tureens from the service of Michał Kemblan Chelkowski, chamberlain of king Stanislaus Augustus that can be dated to about 1785 to 1788.,Monogrammist ASW, Monogrammist GSS and Monogrammist AK, all active in Warsaw in the 1780s.
Silver jug with marriage medal of king Ladislaus IV Vasa and Cecilia Renata of Austria by Antoni Ignacy Mietelski, ca. 1720, Czartoryski Museum.
Silver bust of Saint Stanislaus from Gniezno Cathedral by Anonymous from Warsaw, 1726, Museum of the Gniezno Archdiocese.
Silver tureen with ram's heads by Szymon Stanecki, ca. 1788, National Museum in Warsaw.
The inventory was prepared by a special commision appointed by King John III Sobieski and formed in 1681 basing on the Parliament decission from the same year.
14. Diamond pendant with monogram S.A. [of Sigismund Augustus], under a crown set with rubies, with three additional rubies and a large pear-shaped pearl.
17. Clasp with diamond Saint Michael, set with a large ruby [?], an emerald, 6 smaller rubies, 3 pearls.
18. Diamond cross, 6 rubies, 3 emeralds.
19. Cross with 10 diamonds, 3 pearls.
21. Medallion with Venus and Mars with 2 sharp diamonds, 12 smaller diamonds, 10 rubies.
28. Pendant with letter A [of Queen Anna Jagiellon?] made from 4 rubies, round pearl.
36. Whistle in the form of a owl, 2 rubies, 2 diamonds, 2 diamond roses, 5 pearls.
37. Medallion with Leda and the swan, 8 diamonds, 3 rubies, emerald.
39. Cameo with bust of Charles V on yellow stone.
41. Medallion with the Judgement of Paris, diamonds, rubies.
50. Medallion with the Gigantomachy with a ruby in the center, 6 other rubies, 7 diamonds.
52. Clasp with King David, 2 rubies, smaller diamond, 25 diamonds, rubies, emeralds.
53. Large clasp with diamond Saint George, pearl dragon, 6 pearls, 24 other stones.
55. Gold lion, 6 rubies, 4 diamonds, emerald.
2. Medallion with god Vulcan, 13 diamonds, small ruby, emerald.
4. Medallion with Gaius Mucius Scaevola, 5 diamonds, 4 rubies.
5. Clasp with diamond Saint George or Saint Michael with different tablets and diamond lilies.
7. Gold effigy of Charles V on stone.
9. Clasp with diamond Saint George without a horse.
11. Pendant with diamond Christogram IHS, a ruby at the top and a tablet with diamonds, 2 pearls.
13. Clasp with diamond King David, 6 emeralds, 18 rubies, 4 diamonds.
14. Gold dragon pipe with two large diamonds, smaller diamonds, rubies, emeralds, turquoises, 2 pearls.
15. Large clasp with diamond Saint Michael, 3 Indian pearls.
24. Diamond Saint George with emeralds and diamonds, 3 stones missing.
31. Whistle in the form of a Melusine with diamonds and rubies, 1 stone missing, 2 pearls.
33. Medallion with Mars and Venus, 3 rubies, 3 diamonds.
34. Medallion with Judgement of Solomon, emerald rows, 11 rubies, 8 emeralds.
35. Medallion with Deborah and Sisera, 6 diamonds, 4 rubies.
37. Medallion with Marcus Curtius, 3 diamonds, 2 rubies.
38. Medallion with Orpheus, 5 stones.
3. Agate medallion with a Roman face, diamond frame, 3 rubies.
4. Clasp with diamond Saint George, 3 rubies, 3 emeralds, pearls.
5. Medallion with Venus with a mirror, 7 diamonds, small ruby and a small pearl.
7. Pendant with a folded diamond rose, two ruby figures, 3 emeralds, large pearl, 43 tablets of diamonds.
7. Gold fan handle with 5 diamonds, 4 emeralds, 2 turquoises, 11 pearls.
8. Another fan handle, 12 diamonds, 8 rubies, 1 emerald, 16 pearls.
3. Large pendant with elongated diamond of 22 1/4 carates, small pearl 12.
14. Largest diamond with a pearl of 27,5 carates weight, valued at 20.000 aureos, pearl 2.500 aureos.
Summary of the Jewel Commission
presented to the Lord Treasurer of the Crown, Year 1682
Value of all jewels of the Commonwealth in red zlotys ... 101.670
Gold medallion with Sacrifice of Isaac by Anonymous from Poland, turn of the 16th and 17th century, Treasury of the Jasna Góra Monastery.
Gold pendant with Annunciation to Mary by Anonymous from Poland, first quarter of the 17th century, Treasury of the Norbertines Convent in Kraków.
A free weekend? Take your digital photo camera or your phone, visit your local museum and check if you can identify some dispersed treasures of Polish monarchs - John II Casimir Vasa and John III Sobieski or state jewels. Publish the outcome in Commons or Pinterest and help us to liberate art.
The richly decorated 17th-century monstrance of Bishop Stanisław Kazimierz Dąmbski's foundation, is used exclusively for displaying the Blessed Sacrament on Good Friday and during the solemn procession of the Resurrection on Holy Saturday. It was created between 1680 and 1699 possibly by a Silesian goldsmith Christian Schrötter in Kamienna Góra. Made in silver and adorned with semi-precious stones, it represents Christ in the form of a Host, accompanied by figures from the Old (Abraham, Melchizedek) and New Testament (Mother of God, St. Joseph, St. Peter). It was bequeathed to the Wawel Cathedral by the founder as an equivalent for the gold chalice and silver sanctuary lamp offered traditionally by the bishops at their inauguration.
Bishop Stanisław Dąmbski's monstrance by Christian Schrötter in Kamienna Góra, 1680-1699, Cathedral Museum at Wawel Hill in Kraków.
The monstrance, a chief example of the 17th century Polish goldsmithery, was commissioned by Augustyn Kordecki, Abbot of the Jasna Góra Monastery and later Provincial of the Pauline Fathers, as an ex-voto for the defence of the monastery during the invasion of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth by the neighbouring nations in 1655, so-called Deluge. It was created in 1672 in Warsaw by Royal goldsmith Wacław Grotko from Prague in Czechia (also known as Grottke or Grottkau, active in Warsaw between 1665 and 1675), who was paid 30,000 zlotys in gold.
The work was made from jewels donated by pilgrims to the monastery. Over one meter high (103 cm) and over 13 kg weight monstrance was adorned with 2.366 diamonds, 2.208 rubies, 30 saphires, 81 emeralds, 215 pearls and enamel. A large diamond set in the crown at the top, was bequeathed to the monastery by Zygmunt Przerembski, voivode of Sieradz in 1668. Prophet Aaron and King David kneeling at both sides of the glory are holding wheat sheaves, an eucharistic symbol. Scenes at the foot of the monstrance are related to two themes: the sacrifice of Christ (the Sacrifice of Abraham and the Passover) and the eucharist (Elijah in the Desert and the Last Supper).
According to inscription on the base of the monstrance, Father Augustyn Kordecki was Provincial, Father Stanisław Ligęza was Abbot of the Jasna Góra Monastery and Father Romuald Dymalski was Sacristan of the monastery at the time of its creation.
Abbot Augustyn Kordecki's monstrance by Wacław Grotko in Warsaw, 1672, Treasury of the Jasna Góra Monastery.
Main centers of craftsmanship in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (PLC) in the late 16th and at the beginning of the 17th century, a period dominated by late Renaissance forms in arts, were large cities like Gdańsk, Poznań, Vilnius, Lviv and Kraków. Although now perceived as former German territory, Königsberg, known in Polish as Królewiec, was at that time the capital of Duchy of Prussia, a fief of the Crown of Poland, hence part of the Commonwealth and one of the country's important production and trade centers. Amber crafts developed therein, can be therefore considered as integral part of the PLC's production. Mannerist forms in applied arts prevailed till mid-17th century.
Carouche with coat of arms of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth by Anonymous from Gdańsk, 1612, Artus Court in Gdańsk. Modified in 1690 to honour John III Sobieski.
Amber tankard in silver frame by Anonymous from Königsberg, ca. 1610, Czartoryski Museum.
Rock crystal reliquary in silver frame by Anonymous from Kraków, beginning of the 17th century, Mogiła Abbey.
Silver votive plaque with velvet background of Jan Wolski by Anonymous from Poland, 1631, Treasury of the Jasna Góra Monastery.
Polish Eagle, fragment of silver goblet with Saint Catherine by Anonymous from Kraków, first quarter of the 17th century, Kremlin Museum.
Vera icon of Constance of Austria in a silver-gilt frame founded by Primate Jan Wężyk by Anonymous from Poland, 1630s, Diocesan Museum in Łowicz.
Maria Josepha of Saxony visited the Jasna Góra Monastery with her sister Maria Anna Sophia on May 23rd, 1744. Daughters of Augustus III of Poland and Saxony offered to the Black Madonna of Częstochowa two gold hearts with their names as votive offering. In 1747 the princess married Louis, Dauphin of France (1729-1765) and some time later, in 1756, through intermediary of Duchess Jabłonowska, she sent to Jasna Góra a votive offering for healing her husband. The oil on canvas painting by anonymous French painter is set in a rich bronze frame, cast, chased and gilded, adorned with rocaille motifs and cartouches with coat of arms of Maria Josepha (Polish-Lituanian Commonweath and Kingdom of France). Inscription on frame informs about the intentions of the Dauphine of France. Both the painting and frame were creted by French workshop, however similar example of craftmanship is a late baroque strongbox with monogram of Augustus III of Poland, created in Poland or Dresden.
Votive painting of Maria Josepha of Saxony by Anonymous from France, ca. 1753, Treasury of the Jasna Góra Monastery.
Strongbox with monogram of Augustus III of Poland by Anonymous from Poland or Dresden, 1740s, Czartoryski Museum.