The Golden Age of the Polish Republic - Treasures and Art Collections presented an overview of Polish history, culture and society from the 15th to 18th century. The project seeked to introduce Spaniards to the diverse and rich cultural heritage of Poland. The exhibition was prepared by the National Museum in Kraków by Spanish invitation. It aimed at showing Poland’s achievements in art and culture from the rule of King Casimir the Great (1310–1370) to the loss of independence in 1795, with a focus on the country’s greatest period of development in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Courtesy of the National Museum in Kraków
A major showcase of works from Poland's most illustrious period of creativity and collecting were on display at Madrid's Palacio Real
Golden Age of the Polish Republic - Treasures and Art Collections presented an overview of Polish history, culture and society from the 15th to 18th century. The project seeked to introduce Spaniards to the diverse and rich cultural heritage of Poland. The exhibition has been prepared by the National Museum in Kraków at the invitation of Spain's Patrimonio Nacional. It aimed at showing Poland’s achievements in art and culture from the rule of King Casimir the Great (1310–1370) to the loss of independence in 1795, with a focus on the country’s greatest period of development in the 16th and 17th centuries.
The works on show within the exhibition presented a chronology of Poland’s history and demonstrate its range of artistic accomplishments. Art flourished in the country through the support of various Polish rulers and the generosity of the country's patrons - such as major landowners from Poland’s former eastern borderlands. There were also many artistic commissions from the renowned artist workshops in Western Europe.
The exhibition's eight different time periods illustrated different periods in Polish history. They included: sculpture and artisan crafts made in Poland in Medieval times; Renaissance artworks from the period of the Jagiellonian reign (1386–1572); the powerful ties between the royal powers and university circles; art and culture in the period of the Vasa Dynasty’s reign (1587-1668); 17th century funeral rites; the victory of King Jan III Sobieski (1629-1696) over the Turkish armies outside of Vienna in 1683; the Polish Republic’s rule by the Saxon House of Wettins (1697-1763); and information on King Stanislaus Augustus Poniatowski, the great Polish patron of science, art and literature.
Among the items on display, which number over 200 individual pieces, are Medieval coins, manufactured by Poland's first rulers, Queen Jagiellonka's embroidered book cover, items detailing the influence of Oriental art in seventeenth century Poland (as seen in noble dress and items such as sabres) as well as the Dutch influence in Gdańsk.
Of particular importance was the inclusion of Italian Renaissance masterpiece, Leonardo da Vinci's "Lady with an Ermine" (c.1490). Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Culture Minister Ángeles González-Sinde and even King Juan Carlos personally were personally involved in acquiring the painting for the exhibition as it has not been available for loan since it made its way back to Poland after being plundered during the Nazi occupation. The painting was originally acquired in Italy by Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski in 1798 and incorporated into the Czartoryski family collection in 1800. Following the exhibition in Madrid, the painting will go on to exhibitions in Berlin and London. The painting is one of only four portraits painted by the man behind the "Mona Lisa", which makes this a particularly significant event that has already been called "one of the biggest art events of the season" by the National newspaper El Pais.
Other important aspects of the project included a comprehensive catalogue in Spanish, English, and Polish (with contributions from such leading scholars as Professor J.Ostrowski, Professor S.Waltoś, Professor K.Pomian and Professor A.Rottermund), as well as a rich programme of events relating to various artistic and scientific fields.
The exhibition was a major part of the International Cultural Programme of the Polish Presidency of the EU Council co-ordinated by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute. It came under the Honourary Patronage of Bronisław Komorowski, President of the Republic of Poland and Juan Carlos, King of Spain. It was supported by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland. Both the Polish President and King of Spain were in attendance at the opening of the exhibition opening on June 1, 2011.
For a detailed programme, see: Golden Age of the Polish Republic - Detailed Exhibition Programme.
For a virtual tour of the exhibition (in Spanish), see: Polonia. Tesoros y colecciones artísticas.
Date: 2nd of June - 4th of September, 2011
Venue: Patrimonio Nacional - Palacio Real
Organised by: Patrimonio Nacional, National Museum in Kraków Promessa Programme Curator: Beata Biedrońska-Słota.National Museum in Kraków Coordinator: Olga Jaros, Patrimonio Nacional Curator: Laura Jack Sanz-Cruzado.
Source: Patrimonio Nacional, National Museum of Kraków