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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“Study of a male nude figure” by Zdzisław Jasiński

The presented oil male nude figure was created by Jasiński – then a student at the School of Fine Arts in Kraków – in Florian Cynka’s studio in 1884. He was awarded by the university for this work.

“A Bust of Lenin” by Xawery Dunikowski

Xawery Dunikowski (1875–1964) is one of the greatest Polish sculptors of the 20th century. The present bust of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin comes from the post-war period in the artist’s work. After the WWII, the ideas of social realism carried Dunikowski away. However, ideological activities did not translate into the form of his works: he remained faithful to the expressive, simplified form he developed in the interwar period.

“Naked young man” by Władysław Rossowski

Władysław Rossowski was born in 1857 in Monastyryska near Buczacz (now Buchach in Ukraine). He was a brother of Stanisław Rossowski – a poet, writer and journalist, and father of Tadeusz – a cartoonist and painter. In 1872–1873 he attended Higher Real School in Kraków and in 1873–1874 he studied in Lviv, where he took the matriculation exam. After passing, he studied painting at the School of Fine Arts in Kraków from 1874 to 1884.

“Self-portrait” by Leon Wyczółkowski

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;}Among all the portraits created by Leon Wyczółkowski, his self-portraits occupy a special place. They not only reflect the artist’s appearance in different periods of his life, but also act as records of the painter’s changing personality and moods. They also document his artistic development. Wyczółkowski created several dozen images of himself using oil, tempera, pastel, and graphic techniques. His first works come from the 1890s. He kept creating until the end of his life...

“Child”, a sculpture 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. 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;}

“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.

“Self-portrait” 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. 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 album of plants and animals”

The preserved collection of paintings, called, The album of plants and animals, is identified as the representations of plants and animals which are known from a source text and were purchased for the School of Drawing and Painting by the painter Józef Peszka. A document has been preserved in the archives of the Jagiellonian University, in which Peszka enumerates the items purchased for the school in 1920. In the list, under number 7, he wrote: “A collection of oil-painted animals and birds and flowers on a thick folio paper 30 pieces PLN 540”.

“An anatomical study of a male figure” by Jacek Malczewski

The presented drawing from the collection of the Academy of Fine Arts was awarded by the professors of the School of Fine Arts and was awarded first place by the authorities of the Kraków Society of Friends of Fine Arts, along with a sum of 30 guilders.

“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.

“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).

“Portrait study of Marian Gorzkowski” by Jan Matejko

The sketch is probably a portrait study of Marian Gorzkowski. It shows a middle-aged man, with a thin face covered with wrinkles depicted as a bust. The man has a beard and moustache. He is probably dressed in a frock coat, which was a formal visiting outfit introduced in the 19th century. This is indicated by the widened lapels of the double-breasted long jacket, which was then popular among men, visible in the portrait. However, the artist focused primarily on rendering the facial features of the portrayed person.

“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...

“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.

“Study of a male figure” by Stanisław Bieńkiewicz

Stanisław Bieńkiewicz (1855–after 1930) in 1871–1880 studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków under the direction of Jan Matejko. During the period 1889–1890, together with Józef Mehoffer and Stanisław Wyspiański, he worked on a polychrome of Mariacki Church in Kraków. Bieńkiewicz painted portraits, landscapes, historical, genre and religious scenes.

“Study of a male nude” by Seweryn Bieszczad

Seweryn Bieszczad studied painting at the School of Fine Arts between 1868 and 1876, under the supervision of Władyslaw Łuszczkiewicz and, subsequently, Jan Matejko. He also studied in Vienna and Munich under the supervision of Sándor Wagner (Ger. Alexander von Wagner) and in Dresden as a scholarship holder of the Vienna Academy.

An embroidered jerkin – a prop from the School of Fine Arts

A jerkin embroidered with silver (?) and golden (?) threads, with a large cut-out at the front, adorned with baubles decorated with red coral (eight baubles on each side), geometric ornamentation prevails.

“Niobe’s Head” by Samuel Hirszenberg

Samuel Hirszenberg studied at the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts under Feliks Szynalewski, Izydor Jabłoński, and Władysław Łuszczkiewicz since 1881. In February 1882, in the second term of his studies, being an extremely talented student, he was moved up to the second year by the professors. At the same time, he proved his abilities...

“Landscape with staffage” by Salvator Rosa

Salvator Rosa painted portraits, battle, mythological, and religious scenes, as well as imaginary landscapes. In Rosa’s landscapes, human and animal staffage plays a subordinate role in the composition, whose disturbing, poetic mood is evoked by representations of rocks, twisted trees, and ancient ruins.

A sketch for the painting “Stefan Batory at Pskov” by Jan Matejko

The drawing is a preparatory study for the oil painting by Jan Matejko Stefan Batory at Pskov, which can be found in the collection of the Royal Castle in Warsaw. The painting was completed in 1872, and the artist began sketching it three years earlier. This work loosely refers to the events of the three war campaigns against Moscow conducted over the years 1577–1581 by King Stefan Batory.