Tylman van Gameren was a Dutch architect who worked in Poland. He was an outstanding representative of the trend towards classicism in High Baroque architecture. He was born on 3rd July 1632 in Utrecht, and died in 1706 in Warsaw.
Tylman (Tielman) van Gameren was the son of Jacob Janszon, a tailor and a draper. He gained a careful and comprehensive education in the Netherlands, including under the direction of Jacob van Campen, the greatest architect working there at that time. Tylman deepened his knowledge of architecture during his travels. He went to Germany and Italy, among others, and presumably visited France.
His trip to Venice in the early 1660s turned out to be particularly influential on all his later creations. During his stay Tylman got thoroughly acquainted with the works of Andrea Palladio, and in addition to architecture he also perfected his painting skills. From there, he was brought to Poland, most likely by Stanisław Herakliusz Lubomirski in 1662. He was associated for many years with the court of the later Marshal of the Crown, one of the brightest minds of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Tylman was undeniably under his influence, and he travelled with him to Rome in 1666, and probably again in 1687.
As the first architect in Poland he reached high social and professional status. During the coronation in parliament in 1676, Jan III Sobieski, in recognition of his knowledge and merits as a military engineer, honoured him with the title of Knight of the Golden Spur, which equalled ennoblement (the diploma is stored in the collections of the Print Room of the Warsaw University Library). His nobility was confirmed by Parliament in 1685, and the architect then received the Polonised surname Gamerski. Earlier, in 1677, Tylman married the Polish noblewoman Anna Komorowska.
In the early years of his stay in Poland, van Gameren worked mainly as a military engineer in the service of the rebel and Grand Marshal of the Crown Jerzy Sebastian Lubomirski (d. 1667). For many years, Tylman took commissions from Lubomirski's son, Stanisław Herakliusz, and occasionally took orders for designs for mansions from other aristocratic families as well.
During his residence in Poland, Tylman van Gameren designed more than 70 buildings, but only a small part of them remain intact today. One of the most important and groundbreaking projects was the Palace in Puławy, built for Stanisław Herakliusz Lubomirski (1674). This is probably the earliest example of the use of ancient temple portico in the façade of a residential building on Polish soil. However, the palace was entirely rebuilt by the Czartoryski family in the eighteenth century.
Tylman’s finest residence – Krasiński Palace in Warsaw (1682-1695) – has been widely admired ever since its construction, and can still be seen in its almost original form. It became a source of reference for a number of other, somewhat more modest palaces designed by the Dutchman. The most important of them are the residences in Nieborów (1695-1697) and Białystok. A good example of his smaller residential buildings is Gniński-Ostrogski palace (1681-1685) on Tamka street in Warsaw (currently the Fryderyk Chopin Museum).
Among the religious buildings designed by Tylman, the university collegiate Church of St. Anna in Kraków (since 1689) stands out with its size and unusual shapes, adapted to the requirements of the chapter. Having greater freedom, the architect chose to create central-plan churches. Two excellent examples of these are St. Kazimierz Church in Warsaw’s New Town (1688) and the Bernardine Church in Czerniaków, Warsaw (1690-1693).
Tylman also designed the first big urban architectural complex, Marywil, founded on the initiative of Queen Maria Kazimiera (1692-1695) on the site of today’s Theatre Square. The trapezoidal square was enclosed on three sides by uniform houses, and on the fourth side there was a colonnade with a chapel in the middle.
In his designs, the architect consistently favoured plain, compact structures, completely devoid of dynamics. He strove to achieve harmony, balance and perfect proportions. Tylman usually planned simple rhythmic partitions of walls by pilasters. His main sources of inspiration were Dutch architecture and the works of Palladio.
Tylman van Gameren died in 1706 in Warsaw. He was buried in the Moscow Chapel of Our Lady of Victory Dominican Church. The alleged self-portrait of the architect from 1667, made with ink on paper, has been preserved in the collections of the Print Room of the Warsaw University Library.
Author: Paweł Migasiewicz, December 2009, transl. Bozhana Nikolova