Napoleon in Poland? Local legend has it that the famous leader once relaxed in Poland in July 1810.
Tymon Markowski’s book Flow is composed of photographs taken around the Brda River. Although the river amalgamates the entire story, it is never actually depicted. The photographer was most interested in the people he encountered nearby.
Before he began work on the book, Markowski prepared a list of sixty items that deserved closer examination. One of them was a local legend which claimed that Napoleon rested under a lime tree in Drzewicz in July 1810, before moving onwards to the East. A stone commemorative plaque even marks the spot where he was purported to have rested. In this photo, we see Piotr Lenart, a historical reenactment enthusiast, posing in characteristic garb near the site. In an interview for Gazeta Wyborcza, Markowski noted:
The place has become so famous that French tourists even go there by the busload.
During his photo session with the campers, Markowski was approached by a woman who confessed that she made up the Napoleon legend with her friends at a party. They never expected the joke to get out of control. Information about ‘Napoleon’s Lime Tree’ can still be found on Polish Wikipedia.
Works from the Flow series won at the International Photography Awards, and seventeen of them were published by the New York Times. When visiting the newspaper, Markowski was told he had an interesting way of showing Poland. He later commented:
That didn’t surprise me. I don’t think you need to go abroad to find extraordinary images. The provinces, often neglected by photographers, are a gold mine of tremendous subjects.
Originally written in Polish, translated by AG, edited by MB, Dec 2018