Motto:

... the establishment of this institution [...] results from the mission of the university, which should not only educate, but also document fields of study [...], it is the payment of the debt owed to the many generations of teachers and students who left their works here without having seen the implementation of the idea which has been discussed and sought since the beginning of the University’s existence.[i]

The Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts, after many years of problems with becoming established and finding a permanent location, was reactivated in 2003, by virtue of a decision of the rector, Prof. Jan Pamuła and approved by the university senate as a university-wide unit.

The location of the Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts – at “the heart of Polish art”[ii]

The 200-year-old Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków is considered by many to be the „heart of Polish art”. Its headquarters is located at Matejko Square, in a large, historical edifice which resembles a treasury from the outside. This neo-Renaissance palace, built in 1879 according to the design of Maciej Moraczewski, was created as the first building owned exclusively by the Academy thanks to Jan Matejko’s efforts. The architect gave it the shape of a mythical or fairy-tale casket with six griffins at the top. The beasts seem to protect valuable content: the cultural legacy and the tradition of shaping next generations. It is this very building which, apart from the workshops of sculpture and architecture, also hosts the Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts in two of its rooms. Due to the limited space, only temporary exhibitions are organised here, while the Museum organises larger exhibitions using the rooms of the faculties located in the same building.

The beginnings

The history of the collection, which now constitutes the core of all the collections of the Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts, dates back to 1818, when the painters Józef Peszka and Józef Brodowski, who operated at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries,  contributed to the establishment of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków as part of the Jagiellonian University and were the first two on the long list of names of artists turned academic teachers and their students, extended by the subsequent grades of alumni-to-be of the oldest Polish arts academy.

Collections

The exhibits in the collections of the Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts are of diverse origin and come from different periods. Despite the unsystematic gathering and the losses incurred over two hundred years, the Museum’s collections are nowadays a clear record of trends in arts as well as the evolution of teaching methods and curricula. The collections amassed for educational purposes were simultaneously designed to raise the prestige of the academy created in Kraków, following the example of renowned academies of fine arts in Rome, Paris and Munich. Among the exhibits gathered at the Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts, there are mementos of the professors and their works, as well as the works of distinguished students, representing the disciplines taught at the Academy of Fine Arts. The collection of the Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts remains unique, even despite the interruptions and losses it has had to endure.

The earliest exhibits in the collections of the Academy of Fine Arts include seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth century paintings of Polish, Italian and Dutch painters. These come from donations and the first purchases made by the professors who founded the Academy. At that time, the university’s collections were enriched by a set of extraordinary oil paintings, whose origin dates back to the first half of the 18th century, called the Book of Plants and Animals and attributed to the Hamilton brothers. The earliest museum acquisitions also include plaster copies of antique sculptures, originating from the once-numerous European foundry workshops, which, along with paintings, engravings and other specimens of fine arts, were brought to the school’s gallery and which can be seen today in the monumental spaces of corridors and exhibitions rooms of the Academy’s building at Matejko Square.

The works of the professors and distinguished students were transferred to the collections, in accordance with the regulations issued by the university’s senate in 1836. The Museum of Fine Arts hosts examples of the youthful artistic explorations of figures such as: Jacek Malczewski, Stanisław Wyspiański, Józef Mehoffer, Witold Pruszkowski and Wojciech Weiss. The self-portraits and portraits of the the university’s director and rectors are displayed in the rector’s office and the senate hall: starting from Jan Matejko, Julian Fałat, Jacek Malczewski, Józef Mehoffer, Leon Wyczółkowski, Wojciech Weiss, Jan Stanisławski, Teodor Axentowicz, and ending with contemporary figures. The group of painting accessories exhibited in these halls, many of which can be found in the compositions of master Matejko, is testimony to the existence of the Jan Matejko School of Historical Painting.

Copies of contemporary paintings, some of which may date back to the period of the Parisian branch managed in the 1920s by Józef Pankiewicz, come from the subsequent decades of the Academy’s history. The collection of the Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts also hosts numerous student works, including graduate theses in the field of painting, and documents the initial artistic explorations of the most important Polish artists of the 2nd half of the 20th century, such as: Tadeusz Kantor, Andrzej Wajda, Jerzy Nowosielski, Czesław Rzepiński, Stanisław Rodziński, Tadeusz Brzozowski, Wacław Taranczewski, Zbysław Maciejewski, Zbylut Grzywacz, Leszek Sobocki and many others, notwithstanding the representatives of younger generations. The museum also owns a collection of approx. 300 student works in the field of artistic fabrics from the 1970s and 1980s.

The museum also boasts a rich collection of sculptures made by artists such as: Konstanty Laszczka, Paulin Wojtyna, Xawery Dunikowski, Józef Marek, Stefan Borzęcki, Wanda Ślędzińska, Marian Konieczny, Józef Sękowski, Jerzy Nowakowski, Antoni Porczak, Bogusz Salwiński and Ewa Janus.

The collection of the ASP Museum is still growing systematically, mainly thanks to the generosity of its donors, and currently includes over 5,000. exhibits. Co-operation with the Faculty of Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art of the home university, which includes holiday internships for students co-organised by the two institutions, has contributed to improving the condition of dozens of exhibits

Significant exhibitions, organized during the fifteen years of the ASP Museum’s operation, included both the university’s own collections, as well as exhibits borrowed from other institutions and private collections. They have made an unquestionable contribution to the popularization of the university’s collections and were also a form of introduction to the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, in 2018. During subsequent exhibitions, the outstanding figures and works of the former rectors and professors were successively commemorated, including: Jan Matejko, Julian Fałat, Jan Stanisławski, Wojciech Weiss, Władysław Jarocki and Konstanty Laszczka.

The Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts belongs to the nationwide Association of University Museums and cooperates with many institutions, including the Malopolska Institute of Culture in Kraków. Every year, the Museum participates in projects such as the Night of Museums (since 2009) and the Open Day of Kraków Museums.

Elaborated by Małgorzata Sokołowska, (The Jan Matejko Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow),
Licencja Creative Commons

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

Photo: prof. Stanisław Tabisz, © all rights reserved


[i]A. Baranowa, W mateczniku [in:] Dary 2004–2009, exhibition catalogue at the Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, ed. Małgorzata Sokołowska, Magdalena Szymańska, Krakow 2009, p. 2.

[ii] In the original, the term “matecznik” (a Polish expression correspondent to the phrase “the heart of something” in its figurative meaning, or the words „den” and „lair,” if interpreted literally) was used interchangeably with the word “ecosystem” with regard to the Academy of Fine Arts by Anna Baranowa, as a reference to the 4th Book of “Sir Thaddeus” (verses 509–513 therein).

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“Hera of Samos” – a plaster cast of an antique sculpture

The present plaster cast is a copy of an ancient Greek statue stored in the Louvre. The sculpture was discovered in 1875 on the sacred road leading to the heraion (temple of the goddess Hera) on the island of Samos. In 1881, the statue was appropriated and taken to the Louvre, where it is still currently stored (Inventory No. Ma 686). The plaster cast from the collections of the Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts was made in the Louvre, as evidenced by a metal plate with the inscription “Musée du Louvre” on the back of the plaster figure.

“Portrait of Konstanty Felicjan Szaniawski, Bishop of Kraków” by Józef Brodowski the elder

Konstanty Felicjan Szaniawski was a Lithuanian referendary, and bishop of Kujawy and Kraków. Having been involved in politics, he participated in diplomatic negotiations and in domestic negotiations concerning army and treasury, aimed at calming the situation in the country. On his initiative, the seminary in Kraków was built and the Higher Theological Seminary in Kielce was established. He was one of the wealthiest bishops of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

“Audience of a Polish envoy before the Ottoman Sultan” by Lucjan Wędrychowski

The presented image from the collections of the Museum of the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts is untypical of Wędrychowski. It presents an unspecified Polish legation in audience at the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. The characters costumes and interior refer to the 17th and 18th centuries. The scene takes place in a faithfully devoted real interior – Arz Odası, the auditorium of the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. MEPs according to the Turkish custom have their own costumes put on special caftans in which the deputies were dressed before visiting the grand vizier or sultan. This richly decorated attire was highly desirable by Polish visitors.

“Austrian Soldier” by Feliks Szynalewski

Feliks Szynalewski was born in Kraków on 11 May 1825. During the period 1835–1837 he completed two classes of primary school for boys. Between 1837–1841 he attended three classes at St. Anna Middle School, and then he began to study at the Kraków School of Drawing and Painting. He was taught to draw by Jan Nepomucen Głowacki and Jan Nepomucen Bizański, to paint by Wojciech Korneli Stattler, and sculpture by Karol Ceptowski. During his studies, Szynalewski earned his wages by making lithographies.

“Borghese gladiator” by Antoni Stopa

Antoni Stopa, a painter, writer and agrarian activist, was born on 5 August 1849 in a peasant family living in a hamlet on Mount Ostrysz near Maków (now Maków Podhalański). Stopa created under many pseudonyms, many of which related to his ancestry: AS, As, Antoni Sygoń, Antoni Sygoń of Babia Góra, Pauper of Maków, Boruta, Peasant from Babia Góra, Peasant from a village, Świtoniec, Jan Kwaśny, Jantek of Ostrysa, Jaźwiec, Kitaj, LM, Leszczak, Walenty Sygoń, Ostrysiak and Racławiak.

“Interior view of the Franciscan cloisters in Kraków” by Ferdynand Olesiński

Ferdynand Olesiński received the second competition prize of 20 guilders in 1875, awarded by the management of the Society of Friends of Fine Arts for a perspective drawing. Olesiński then made a pencil sketch depicting the cloisters at the Franciscan church in Kraków. Perspective drawing was one of the subjects taught at the second branch of the School of Fine Arts in Kraków. The students also learned drawing still life, copying and drawing head contours.

“A tondo representing three personifications of arts” by Stanisław Popławski

Normal 0 21 false false false PL X-NONE X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:Standardowy; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman","serif"; border:none;}The present plaque in the form of tondo is sometimes mistakenly described as a representation of The Three Graces. In reality, the relief depicts three personifications of art: painting (the woman on the left, holding a palette), architecture (the woman in the middle, holding a model of a building) and sculpture (the man holding the head of a statue). Inspired by ancient art, Poplawski used a characteristic composition typical of the depiction of the Graces, and the characters are represented as idealized nude figures.

A plaque commemorating Jan Stanisławski by Konstanty Laszczka

The reliefs commemorating Stanisław Wyspiański (1869–1907) and Jan Stanisławski (1860–1907) are set at eye level in the wall by the landing of a staircase between the first and second floors of the main building of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków.

A plaque commemorating Stanisław Wyspiański by Konstanty Laszczka

The reliefs commemorating Stanisław Wyspiański (1869–1907) and Jan Stanisławski (1860–1907) are set at eye level in the wall by the landing of a staircase between the first and second floors of the main building of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków. Normal 0 21 false false false PL X-NONE X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:Standardowy; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman","serif"; border:none;}

“Naked young man” by Stanisław Radziejowski

Stanisław Józef Rafał Dominik Radziejowski was born to a landowning family in Zegartowice near Wieliczka. He probably started studying at the School of Fine Arts in Kraków in the academic year 1874/1875 and he is thought to have only studied for one year. However, this information has not been confirmed. Certainly, Radziejowski studied at the School of Fine Arts during the period 1880–1885 and 1888–1891 in the composition department of Jan Matejko. During his studies, he received several awards...

“Portrait of a model” by Wanda Ślędzińska

Wanda Ślędzińska (1906–1999), a sculptor and a pedagogue associated with the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków for many decades. She started working at the academy as an assistant at Xawery Dunikowski’s studio. Ślędzińska was the first woman to become the head of the Faculty of Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków. She held this post until she retired in 1970.

“Portrait of Wojciech Weiss” by Xawery Dunikowski

The portrait of Wojciech Weiss by Xawery Dunikowski is dated to 1910. It shows one of the most outstanding painters, draftsmen and Young Poland graphic artists, who is considered to be a representative of the expressionistic current in the art of this period. The portrait is made in a realistic manner and duly reflects the characteristic features of the artist (known from painted portraits and photographs). Young Weiss is a man with a slender face, high forehead and focused eyes.

“For myself” by Konstanty Laszczka

Normal 0 21 false false false PL X-NONE X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:Standardowy; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman","serif"; border:none;}The present self-portrait, made of patinated bronze, shows the bust of the artist. Although the form of the sculpture is synthesized, the image is strikingly realistic: the sculptor managed to capture not only his appearance, but also the characteristic look in his eyes and tension of the facial muscles. The texture of the portrait is diverse.

A double-barrel flintlock handgun – a prop from the School of Fine Arts

Normal 0 21 false false false PL X-NONE X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:Standardowy; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman","serif"; border:none;} This double-barrelled flintlock was used as a prop in the School of Fine Arts in Kraków. The flintlock handgun shows many signs of usage...

Epaulettes – props from the School of Fine Arts

The presented epaulettes were used as props at the Matejko school of historical painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków.

An order cross – a prop from the School of Fine Arts

A metal cross, open-work, decorated with green and white imitations glass of precious stones. The object was used as a prop at the School of Fine Arts in Kraków.

A Persian helmet – a prop from the School of Fine Arts

The present helmet is of eastern origin. It was popular, among others, in Persia and Turkey, from where it was adopted in Poland. In the 17th and 18th centuries, such helmets were worn, among others, by towarzysze pancerni [literally: armoured companions], a type of Polish cavalry unit. The bascinet presented on the website probably comes from Persia. Normal 0 21 false false false PL X-NONE X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:Standardowy; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman","serif"; border:none;}

Mace – a prop from the School of Fine Arts or The Fowler Brotherhood

A gilded mace with a head consisting of six blades, probably a copy of a historical weapon serving as military insignia. It was used as a prop in the School of Fine Arts in Kraków and was presented in the still art painted by Tomasz Lisiewicz (1857–1930) and displayed in MVM (M 8).

“Still Life” by Tomasz Lisiewicz

The objects shown in the painting are props from Jan Matejko’s School of Historical Painting. Among the props painted by Lisiewicz, one can recognize the gilded mace presented on our website, which is still in the collection of the Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków (Rz A 107).

A black pendant with a cross – a prop from the School of Fine Arts

This is probably a piece of funereal jewellery from the time of the partitions. Corals, along with the cross, have probably been made of black lacquer, with velvet tapes for tying around the neck. The object was used as a prop in the School of Fine Arts in Kraków.