Brussels weaving workshops worked for the wealthiest clients: popes and rulers. These were large enterprises, employing from a few to a dozen qualified weavers, capable of bearing the very high costs of making fabrics. Expensive materials — the best wool, often Spanish or English, silk and the most expensive threads of gold and silver — constituted a very serious expense, not only for the workshop, but also for the client.
When the seizure of Wawel Castle was announced by the military authorities of Austria for the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria and the Duchy of Kraków, it provoked a heated debate that carried on until the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. The debate concerned the possible future function of Wawel Castle. This debate has become an inspiration for the local artistic community and has resulted in many visionary projects focused on the rebuilding of Wawel Castle. Today, the stature of Wawel on the list of Polish monuments is not in doubt. However, the Castle still attracts the attention of contemporary artists and continues to generate new, often surprising, interpretations.
Authenticity has become a growing need of the contemporary world. Although the concept itself is hard to define, it has become one of the main criteria of quality with respect to cultural heritage issues. We think about authenticity while appreciating a historic object. We want to know what is genuine and authentic, we strive for a tangible connection with the past. Over the last two centuries, conservators, historians and architects have tried to respond to this need by defining, in different ways, the concept of historical truth present in architecture. From Eugène Viollet-le-Duc (1814–1879), who strived to achieve stylistic purity, though frequently followed his own idea of the medieval form, to those who opposed him: Alois Riegl (1858–1905) of the Viennese school and Max Dvořák (1874–1921), the future head of the Central Commission, who negated any interference in historic layers, recognising their equal value to one another.
John I Albert, son of Casimir IV Jagiellon and the grandson of Władysław II Jagiełło, became the King of Poland on the 27th of August 1492.
The rich culture of medieval Europe was a mixture of ancient (Greek-Roman and Middle Eastern) traditions and the North European beliefs of peoples which the Romans called barbarians. Dragons were present in the myths of all these cultures, so it is no wonder that these fascinating creatures appeared many times in medieval literature and art. The universal nature of dragons means that these beasts could be associated with each of the four elements: according to many legends, dragons lived in water whereas in others they hid in the ground; moreover, they breathed fire and had wings, so they could rise into the air.
The second tapestry in the series The Story of the Tower of Babel shows the consequences of human pride. The builders of the tower wanted it to reach the sky. Human pride angered God, who decided to destroy the work of sinful humanity. Bearded Nimrod, the initiator of the construction, stands at the foot of the tower with hand upraised, trying to shield himself from the Creator, who appears in the upper right hand corner of the textile. Builders working at ground level have scattered their tools and disperse in panic, while those who are on the scaffolding point the angry Creator out to reach other; furter in the background, work continues as if nothing has happened.
The Confusion of Tongues is the third tapestry of the Story of the Tower of Babel series. Unable to comunicate, the people begin to disperse leaving the construction unfinished. Two men in the foreground attempt to interact by using gestures, but it seems that this is in vain. Next to them, two women and a man are sitting in a boat. The man is loading a large package wrapped with string onto the boat. Behind them, resigned people are leaving the construction site; workers with pack animals are going in different directions. The tower itself looks as if it had been abandoned long ago; trees are growing on its lower storeys. God hovers above the tower.
The tapestry has been preserved in two parts. Like other arcade tapestries of this type, which were designed to be put up above window recesses, it was damaged when it was kept in Russia in the nineteenth century. At that time, its central section was cut out. In both sections of the textile, a goddess is shown with a palm wreath on her head. The seated figure holds a cornucopia in her hands, which allows us to identify her as Ceres, the Roman goddess of the harvest.
One of sixteen over-door and over-window tapestries with the coats of arms of both parts of the Commonwealth. They were counterparts of large heraldic tapestries and their purpose was to fill the castle with heraldic motifs of national importance. Their format was adapted to the architecture of Wawel. They were produced as part of the programme for complete decoration of representative chambers with Brussels tapestries.
In this, one of the three largest tapestries in the collection of King Sigismund II Augustus, we can see the beginning of the story of the construction of the Tower of Babel as described in the Book of Genesis. The scene shows Nimrod, the legendary hunter, and people building a tower “whose top may reach unto heaven” (Genesis 11:1–9) under his leadership. The building under construction is situated in the background, on the right hand side of the textile, whereas on the left side, there can be seen workers erecting the tower. Thanks to the detailed presentation, we can see, among other things, what sixteenth-century stonemasonry tools looked like. On the vast plain, people bustle around carrying blocks of stone and building a scaffolding. God, barely visible to the right of the tower, watches their feverish work. As in the other biblical tapestries, there is no shortage of accurately rendered images of animals, insects and plants. The Latin inscription placed in the upper border reads in translation: “Nimrod, the first powerful ruler in the world, built a huge tower of baked bricks. God confounded the builders’ languages, and the work was never completed.”
The artist took the theme from the dialogue of the gods, placed in Virtus, a work of Leon Battista Alberti. Virtue wants to complain about Fortune and the plight of the humans, but Jupiter does not listen to her, as he does not want to enter into a dispute with Fortune. The painting, which is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and interesting paintings, also in terms of iconography, was painted for Alfonso d'Este, Duke of Ferrara.
The outfit consists of a navy-blue coat with a wide cape reaching beyond the shoulders trimmed with a red border. The coat is single-breasted, with one column of buttons, and there is a stand-up collar around the neck.
A secret padlock with a square diameter shackle, two movable pillars, and a cover over the keyhole. The padlock has three keys and protection against thieves in the form of a latch with a serrated blade hidden inside the padlock. After pressing the handle, the blade is released.
Our Lady of Sorrows presented in the collection of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums is an example of a 15th-century religious sculpture from the Małopolska region...
Decorating walls with precious textiles added grandeur and significance to modest interiors. It is known from preserved descriptions and inventories that European rulers highly valued this artwork and loved being surrounded with tapestries since they added splendour to their owners. Tapestries were ordered for specific chambers of a ruler's residence as they performed relevant functions in a given space, expressed through the subject matter of their presentations. A special place in the entire collection of Sigismund II Augustus was occupied by monogram and heraldic tapestries, commissioned probably after 1553 (around 1555). Their subject matter and set of motifs expressed a precisely defined agenda directly related to the person of the ruler and his country.
The complete novelty was an animal and plant landscape, no longer treated as a background or complement to the scene, but as a separate subject matter. This type of textile was called a verdure (French: verdure) from the word verdir, or “to paint in green”, because of the predominance of this colour. It is sometimes claimed that one of inspirations for this kind of woven depictions was the hunting preferences of clients , as they are often also described as tapestries “to admire hunting” (ad venationem spectantia peristromata) or “fighting animals” (pugnae ferarum). The plant and animal landscape as a separate subject matter initially appeared in tapestries, later in paintings (for example paintings by Roelant Savery, 1576–1639). Verdures created between 1553 and 1560 that are part of the collection of tapestries of Sigismund II Augustus are probably among the first examples of this subject matter in tapestry art.
In the 16th century, Rome attracted artists from the North with a series of discoveries of ancient works, as well as with works of the Renaissance masters – Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo. This fascination brought a trend in paintings known as the Netherlandish Romanesque. Its sources were of two kinds.
The Portrait of Sigismund I the Old is one of the very few preserved painted portraits of the ruler. The researchers suppose that it was a prototype of the portrait hanging above the entrance to Sigismund's Chapel, attributed to Andrzej, the painter unknown by his surname.
This artistic photograph by Jan Motyka presents Wawel outlined with a white line, a side elevation of the Wawel cathedral with the Silver Bells’ Tower, Wawel itself, and Sigismund’s chapel. In the foreground, two men are standing in the alley; one is standing in front of the easel...
In front of us, the last act of the history of the Tower of Babel takes place – The Spread of the Nations. On a meadow at the foot of the hill, a group of people can be seen, with two men standing and five women sitting next to them on the grass. All attempts to communicate with one another have been in vain, the evidence of which is a tablet in the hands of the woman in a blue dress.