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Kazimierz IV’s tomb is one of the most spectacular pieces of late gothic art. On the one hand, it clearly refers to a local tradition started by Władysław I Łokietek’s tombstone; on the other hand, it comprised of a number of unique iconographic solutions that exhibit erudition of local intellectual circles. The king lies on the top slab of the tomb, but his figure is presented in an utterly exceptional way. It is an extremely expressive and veristic image because the ruler was captured in agony. What is more, unlike the earlier royal tombs in Kraków, Kazimierz IV is dressed in a clergyman’s robe, which was used only for a coronation ceremony. The richly draped cope, clasped at the chest with a magnificent brooch, attracts special attention. It is a singular image with no analogical piece found so far. It is most often interpreted within the scope of patristics of the early Christian Church; the king’s physical death was juxtaposed with the birth of the soul to eternal life.

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The tomb of king Kazimierz IV Jagiellończyk was sculpted in brown-and-red stone mined in Adnet near Salzburg in Austria and only the internal parts of the canopy were sculpted in Piñczów limestone. The tomb is dated with an inscription as of 1492 and was signed by two artists. Under the king’s feet there is the house mark (an abstract copyright mark in the form of strokes used by late-medieval craftsmen) and signature of the main artist, a Nuremberg-based sculptor, Veit Stoss. His arrival in Kraków became a breakthrough event for local artistic circles. The presence of the most outstanding sculptor of late Middle Ages elevated the capital of the Kingdom of Poland to the status of one of the most important centres of late gothic sculpture in Central Europe.
Kazimierz IV’s tomb is one of the most spectacular pieces of late gothic art. On the one hand, it clearly refers to a local tradition started by Władysław I Łokietek’s tombstone; on the other hand, it comprised of a number of unique iconographic solutions that exhibit erudition of local intellectual circles. The king lies on the top slab of the tomb, but his figure is presented in an utterly exceptional way. It is an extremely expressive and veristic image because the ruler was captured in agony. What is more, unlike the earlier royal tombs in Kraków, Kazimierz IV is dressed in a clergyman’s robe, which was used only for a coronation ceremony. The richly draped cope, clasped at the chest with a magnificent brooch, attracts special attention. It is a singular image with no analogical piece found so far. It is most often interpreted within the scope of patristics of the early Christian Church; the king’s physical death was juxtaposed with the birth of the soul to eternal life.

Elaborated by Marek Walczak, PhD (The Institute of Art History), editorial team of Małopolska's Virtual Museums,
Licencja Creative Commons

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

 

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The tombstone of king Kazimierz IV Jagiellończyk

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