Wyspiański in Biecz

Stanisław Wyspiański,
cartoon for the polychromes
in the parish church in Biecz, 1895
National Museum in Warsaw.

We were very close to having the opportunity to see polychromes and stained-glass panels made by Stanisław Wyspiański in the parish church in Biecz. The artist stayed in Biecz in 1889 during a scientific trip around the regions of Biecz and Sącz organized by the professor of the Kraków School of Fine Arts (today’s Academy of Fine Arts) Władysław Łuszczkiewicz. At that time, beautiful drawings of the monuments hosted in Biecz itself, as well as in its vicinity, were made: these included, among other things, sketches of the furnishings of St. Sophia’s church and the parish church in Bobowa, small wooden churches in Wilczyska, Sękowa and Binarowa, as well as the 16th-century Gładyszów renaissance court in Szymbark.
In another renaissance manor located in the nearby Jeżów, Wyspiański even made a polychrome on one of the walls, which can be admired to this day.
Six years later, the artist returned to his fascination with Biecz, working in the years 1895–1897 on the designs of polychromes and stained-glass panels which were to be situated inside the local parish church. In a letter to Lucjan Rydel, he wrote at the time:
 “I already have a design for Biecz. It will be seemingly modest and very simple and, under this guise, rich in ornamentation. I think I will manage to smuggle it in its entirety, I just need to have the “lust” for painting. This design has transformed into a huge thing”.
Unfortunately, this “huge thing” was never implemented. Wyspiański came into conflict with the Kraków restorer and architect Sławomir Odrzywolski who supervised renovation works at that time, and, disagreeing with the limitations imposed on him, he ended the cooperation, despite the fact that he was fascinated with this undertaking. The design of one of the stained-glass panels has survived and is currently located at the National Museum in Kraków. In turn, the cardboard template for making polychromes which may be seen above, depicting mallows, is stored in the National Museum in Warsaw.
Most of the drawings made by Wyspiański during the trip around the Biecz region have not survived to the present. Reproductions of the sketches made by the artist in Biecz itself, with which the then student of painting was fascinated, are located in the collections of the Museum of Ziemia Biecka in Biecz. During the visit to the museum, it is worth asking local curators about the artist’s other connections with Biecz, including him being creatively inspired by one of the paintings on exhibition in the “Dom z basztą” (“the House with a tower”) department, namely Madonna with bird and the legend associated with it. According to the researchers of Stanisław Wyspiański’s literary work, including Professor Kazimierz Wyka, it became one of the inspirations for creating the drama from 1899, controversial for its times, entitled The Curse.

Elaborated by: Kinga Kołodziejska (Editorial team of Małopolskas Virtual Museums),
Licencja Creative Commons

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

See also a picture of Stanisław Wyspiański from a trip around the Biecz region.