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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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.

A workbench for mural painting designed by Wacław Taranczewski

A wooden table on metal wheels, doubling as a palette for mural painting, designed by Wacław Taranczewski. In the years1948–1970, the artist held the post of a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków, managing the faculty of decorative painting. 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;}

A sketch of a not created painting “Długosz and St. Kazimierz” by Jan Matejko

The presented pencil drawing by Jan Matejko is a sketch for the painting entitled Długosz and St. Kazimierz which was eventually left unpainted. On his paintings, Matejko often presented historical topics from the reign of the Jagiellonians. One can mention, among others, such paintings as: Stańczyk during a ball at the court of Queen Bona, in the face of the loss of Smolensk (1862), Union of Lublin (1869), The Hanging of the Sigismund bell (1874), or Prussian Homage (1880–1882).

Jacek Malczewski’s palette

Jacek Malczewski’s palette is one of the several painting palettes preserved in a collection of memorabilia of famous artists associated with the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków. It served for oil painting. Its large size, streamlined, heart-like shape and thumb hole, as well as its small weight – resulting from the type of wood used – made it possible to conveniently hold the palette on the forearm and support it by propping it against the side. 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;}

Fragment of a decorative fabric – a prop from the School of Fine Arts

A fragment of decorative fabric was used as a prop in the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków – at the school of historical painting of Jan Matejko.

“Interior of Cracovian or Bronowice cottage”

The work is attributed to Włodzimierz Tetmajer or Henryk Uziembło. Both were fascinated by folk themes, which at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries were a fashionable source of inspiration.

“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 the ancient bust” by Wilhelm Moszyński

Little is known about Wilhelm Moszyński. He was born in Zaborów and died prematurely probably before the end of 1885. During the period 1875–1880 he was a student at the School of Fine Arts in Kraków.

“Anatomical study of muscles” by Ferdynand Olesiński

Ferdynand Olesiński, from a family of Wieliczka [the centre of salt mining] miners, was educated during the period 1871–1883 at the Kraków School of Fine Arts under the direction of Florian Cynk, Leopold Loeffler, Feliks Szynalewski, Henryk Grabowski, Izydor Jabłoński, and above all Jan Matejko and Władysław Łuszczkiewicz. He was a distinguished student who won praise and rewards.

“Apollino” by Emanuel Herncisz

Emanuel Edmund Herncisz (1858–1885) studied at the School of Fine Arts in Kraków under Władysław Łuszczkiewicz, Leopold Loeffler and Jan Matejko during the period 1874–1882. Thanks to the scholarship of the Austrian government, during the period 1882–1883, after completing his education in Kraków, Herncisz went on to study at the Munich academy. In 1883, the artist made a trip to Italy, where he planned to return with Seweryn Bieszczad to take up painting studies. The artist’s plans were scuppered by tuberculosis, which would lead to his death two years later.

“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.

“Study of a male nude” by Ferdynand Bryll

The present study of a male nude comes from a time when Ferdynand Bryll studied at the School of Fine Arts in Kraków. The perfectly captured proportions of the model, along with the correct chiaroscuro modelling, are evidence of the solid fundamental skills possessed by the aspiring artist.

“Study of a male nude” by Ferdynand Bryll

Ferdynand Bryll, painter, portraitist, conservator and illustrator, was born in 1863, in Kraków. In the years 1876–1884, he studied at the School of Fine Arts in Kraków. In the course of his studies, in 1882, at the request of Jan Matejko, he assisted Henryk Rodakowski during his work on the frieze in the parliamentary chamber in Lviv. 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;}

“Study of a male nude figure” by Jacek Malczewski

The presented drawing is the first student work by Jacek Malczewski to be noticed and awarded. He received the first prize and the amount of 30 guilders from the management of the Kraków Society of Friends of Fine Arts. At that time, Malczewski studied under Władysław Łuszczkiewicz and Feliks Szynalewski, with Jan Matejko also exerting a tremendous influence on the artistic development of the young adept.

“The stalls in the Corpus Christi church in Kraków” by Jacek Malczewski

Jacek Malczewski began systematic studies at the School of Fine Arts in Kraków in the middle of 1873. His first teachers were Władysław Łuszczkiewicz, a historical painter and a well-known art historian, and Feliks Szynalewski. His education was also overseen by Jan Matejko, to whom Malczewski was very attentive.

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.

“Study of the nude figure of a standing woman” by Stanisław Zygmunt Malcher

The present Study of the nude figure of a standing woman was created during Malcher’s studies at the academy in Kraków. The post-impressionist style and vivid colouration of the image testify to the impact that the works of both his university masters exerted on the artist.

“Male nude figure” by Adam Ciopcio-Siemianowicz

Adam Siemianowicz (family name: Ciopcio) was born in 1902 in Orenburg on the Ural River in the Russian Empire. The future painter was the son of Szymon Ciopcio and Julia née Abramik, peasants from Podlasie exiled to the Urals in 1888. The boy began to paint while still in Orenburg. At that time, he usually painted postimpressionism-styled landscapes.

“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.

“Male nude figure” by Stanisław Wyspiański

The young man’s nude figure drawing was created during Stanisław Wyspiański’s stay in Paris in 1892. Wyspiański was then a third-year student at the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts and he completed supplementary studies in Paris.