Showing posts with label Poland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Poland. Show all posts

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Exhibition on Buda and Kraków in the Middle Ages

 Poster of the exhibition 

A new exhibition, titled On Common Path - Budapest and Kraków in the Middle Ages opened last week at the Budapest History Museum. It is the result of a common project of the Hungarian institution and the Historical Museum of the City Kraków, and was realized in the larger framework of the cooperation of Hungary and Poland, as the first step of the Hungarian Cultural Year in Poland.

The exhibition surveys the parallel histories of Buda and Kraków from the period of their foundations to the high points of their development in the late Middle Ages. Both towns were among the major cities of medieval Europe. The exhibition presents common events in the history of the town, as well as personalities who played an important role in the history of both towns. Among other things, it focuses on the Anjou and the Jagiellonian dynasties, as well as on Stephen Báthory, Prince of Transylvania and King of Poland. Through these historical figures, the exhibition illustrated that not only the two cities, but also the history of the two nations is closely linked. The last period surveyed is the 16th century, which represents a break, especially in the development of Buda, which came under Ottoman Turkish occupation in 1541.

Most of the objects in the exhibition give insight into the everyday life of city dwellers as well as into festive occasions. A large number of archaeological finds are presented, including many objects never before shown (expecially from Buda). The parallel histories of the two cities are installed on two sides of the exhibition rooms, while showcases placed in the center of the rooms features historical figures and institutions - such as the University of Cracow - which represented points of contact for the two towns.

View of the exhibition - Buda (Photo: BTM - Bence Tihanyi)

The exhibition will remain on view until July 24 in Budapest, and later will be presented in Kraków as well, It is accompanied by a detailed and useful exhibition catalogue, which will also be published in and English-language edition.

View of the exhibition - Kraków (Photo: BTM - Bence Tihanyi)

Exhibition: Közös úton - Budapest és Krakkó a középkorban. On Common Path - Budapest and Kraków in the Middle Ages. Castle Museum of Budapest History Museum, March 19 - July 24, 2016. The poster, seen above, features the emblem of the Krakow Rifle Association, the "Rooster Company," a work of Gian Giacopo Caraglio from 1564/65. Krakow, Museum Historyczne Miasta Krakowa.

Catalogue: Közös úton. Budapest és Krakkó a középkorban. Kiállítási katalógus. Ed. Judit Benda, Virág Kiss, Grazyna Lihonczak-Nurek, Károly Magyar. Budapest, 2016, 335 pp.

Martin Kober's portrait of Stephen Báthory from Kraków, 1583

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Gallery of Medieval Art at the National Museum in Warsaw

Photo: MNW

The National Museum in Warsaw (MNW) has one of the largest collections of medieval art in the region, which has been on view in a new installation since the end of last year (the gallery opened on December 11, 2013). Last week I finally had a chance to spend again a few days in Warsaw, and went to see the exhibition. Then I went back for a more detailed look - there is so much to see that one visit is definitely not enough. The exhibition is located on the ground floor of the museum, and takes up about 800 square meters in three large halls. These rooms are full of the best of late medieval art from the territory of modern Poland, while also include a few other works from other parts of Europe.

The altarpiece from Grudziadz
The first room provides a rather dramatic entry for the entire exhibition. It is a wide hall, where two lines of statues divide the room as if in a three-aisled church, and at the center, directly opposite the entrance is one of the largest altarpieces in the museum. The dark environment contributes to the church-like feel of the hall. This first room displays the earliest works in the collection, including Romanesque sculpture, as well as what is called  the Inter-regional Art of Northern Europe in the 14th-15th centuries. There are a number of French and German statues here, but the most important works come from the territory of Silesia - which at the time was a possession of the Crown of Bohemia. The international connections are also illustrated by such works as the carving of Three Marys from a Crucifixion-group, carved in alabaster by the Rimini Master, and coming from a church in Wroclaw.
Beautiful Madonna from Wroclaw
 Among a number of late Gothic statues stemming from Wroclaw (Breslau), one can also admire the famous Beautiful Madonna from Wroclaw - made either there or in Bohemia at the end of the 14th century. The large altarpiece in the center of the arrangement comes from Grudziadz (Graudenz) in Pomerania, from a chapel of the Teutonic Knights. It is one of the most refined painted altarpieces of the International Gothic Style, dating from 1390 (or maybe somewhat later). The installation enables one to study all the paintings on the altarpiece, including the Passion-scenes of the first opened stage of the altar, and the Life of the Virgin scenes on the fully opened altar. Other works in the room - originating from Gdansk (Danzig) round out the rich demonstration of the International Gothic.

The next section of the exhibition (in the second, long exhibition gallery) focuses on Wroclaw and Silesia at the middle of the 15th century, with the St. Barbara Altarpiece from 1447 as the main work here. Proceeding chronologically, the next highlight is the Polyptych of the Annunciation with the Unicorn, a wlarge altarpiece from around 1480. As the visitor turns and enters the third long room, artworks from Silesia dating from the the decades around 1500 can be studied, among them the unpainted limewood relief of St. Luke Painting the Virgin by Jakob Beinhart. This sophisticated carving, based on a woodcut by Veit Stoss, demonstrates the very high level of artistic achievement in Wroclaw at the end of the 15th century.

St. Luke Painting the Virgin, by Jakob Beinhart

Monday, August 05, 2013

Europa Jagellonica - Exhibiting the Heritage of the Jagiellonian Era

The Europa Jagellonica exhibition has recently finished its run, closing at the third venue, in Potsdam. I had a chance to see the show in Kutná Hora, as well as in Warsaw, and have seen all the publications accompanying it. In the following, I will provide a brief overview and review of this major European project.
As the website of the project informs, the international exhibition EUROPA JAGELLONICA is a joint Czech-Polish-German project and the first exhibition on the European dynasty of the Jagiellonians during the period around 1500, which was of great significance for Europe.

This project has been in the making for a long time. Organized by the Centre for History and Culture of East Central Europe at the University of Leipzig (GWZO), the basis for this project was the interdisciplinary and international research project, "The Significance of the Jagiellonian Dynasty in Art and Culture of Central Europe 1454–1572", which was carried out from 2000 to 2005. Dr. Jiří Fajt (GWZO) is the chief curator of the project, and Dr. Susanne Jaeger (GWZO) is responsible for the coordination. After several unsuccessful attempts, the exhibition finally got the green light as well as European funds, and was realized together by the Czech Republic, Poland and Germany. Hungary - which was originally supposed to have been part of project - did not become an organizing partner and a venue in the end, but contributed several loans to the exhibition.
Detail of the exhibition at Kutná Hora
The exhibition is quite different at all three venues. Even in the planning phase, it was decided that each venue will have a special focus: in Kutná Hora it was silver mining and economic history, in Warsaw the significance of the Jagellonians for Poland, while in Potsdam, the local theme is the marriage policy of the dynasty, and contacts with the Holy Roman Empire. In addition, there are other changes of thematic focus from venue to venue, as well as somewhat different sets of objects. The Jagiellonian period in focus of the exhibition is summarized by the organizers: 
"The time frame covered by the exhibition starts with the coronation of Jogaila (Władysław Jagiełło) in 1386 as King of Poland. Thanks to prudent political alliances, the Jagiellons ascended to the thrones of Bohemia and Silesia in 1471 and of Hungary in 1490. The resulting commonwealth of nations – Europa Jagellonica – spanned vast territories with a total area surpassing two million square kilometres, from the Baltic to the Black and Adriatic Seas. At the same time, strategic marital unions arranged for Polish princesses expanded the family’s influence to include the Reich states – Brandenburg, Braunschweig, Bavaria and Saxony. This unique amalgamation in Central Europe left its mark on not only the political atmosphere there but on the economies of the individual nations, the intellectual culture and social mentality of the day, and the arts. [The exhibition] will highlight the period’s unique circumstance of cultural diversity amidst unity – the coexistence of regional cultures and the formation of a common tradition. From such a perspective, the old Jagiellonian commonwealth becomes a fascinating reference point for reflections on modern times."

Further information about the project is available at several sites, first of all on the website of GWZO. Various flyers of the exhibition - including one in English - are available online from here. The original central websites of the project - and - are no longer online, however, the provides information on the project. The websites of the various venues also provide information and photos of the exhibition: GASK in Kutná Hora, the Royal Castle and the National Museum (MNW) in Warsaw and the Haus der Brandenburgisch-Preußischen Geschichte in Potsdam all have some information.

Kutná Hora exhibition

The exhibition was the most complete in Kutná Hora. Organized at a perfect venue, the Gallery of the Central Bohemian district (GASK), located in the former Jesuit monastery right next to the church of St. Barbara, the whole town was in effect part of the exhibition. The newly renovated building provided a great location for the exhibition, and it was comfortable to walk through the exhibition. The full list of the sections of the exhibition were unfolded here, which was easy to follow - although contained a few repetitions in my opinion.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Poland to digitise medieval manuscripts

Wroclaw, University Library, R 492 
As reported, Wroclaw University Library in Poland is teaming up with IBM to digitize nearly 800,000 pages of European manuscripts, books, and maps dating back to the Middle Ages. This will include over 1100 medieval manuscripts. Until now, these documents were accessible to only a handful number of students and scientists. Through this digitization project, the Wroclaw University Library can now provide access to this material to anyone via Internet. The project is already in full swing - in the database of the library, currently 674 medieval manuscripts can be accessed. The material is also available via the Europeana portal.

The news gave me a chance to update my list of digitised Corvina-manuscripts (which is a service I maintain, as the official Digital Corvina Library website seems to be defunct). I was able to add a Greek-language Corvina manuscript to the database, which can be browsed in the Digital Library of Wroclaw University (Horologium, R 492). Along with another volume in Toruń, at the Nicolaus Copernicus University Library, as far as I know only these two Corvinian manuscripts preserved in Poland are available online.

To see further Corvinian manuscripts online, navigate to the manuscripts page of the website on the Art of Medieval Hungary!