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A small, barely 40 centimetre tall statuette depicts one of the greatest Krakow historians and journalists of the 19th century: Professor of Kraków Alma Mater, Józef Szujski. The bronze bust depicts a middle-aged man with a distinctive look: a high forehead, combed hair, and a short beard with moustache. 

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A small, barely 40 centimetre tall statuette depicts one of the greatest Kraków historians and journalists of the 19th century: Professor of Kraków Alma Mater, Józef Szujski.
The bronze bust depicts a middle-aged man with a distinctive look: a high forehead, combed hair, and a short beard with moustache. He is dressed in a robe, in accordance with Polish 19th-century national fashion, and a professorial toga with an ermine cape. His chest is decorated with a rector's chain with the Jagiellonian University coat of arms — two crossed rector sceptres under the crown. On the pedestal, in the shape of a low, narrowed column, there is a book surrounded by a wreath of laurel and oak branches, symbolizing eternal, immortal fame. On the pages of the book, there is the inscription: the True History of the Master of real Politics. This short sentence refers to the figure of Józef Szujski, who was known for being both an outstanding scientist and a wise politician.
In the 19th century, sculptural portraits were a topic often undertaken by artists. Busts of figures who had contributed greatly to the Polish history and culture often created cycles of images of “Great Poles”. This type of “cabinet pantheons”, cast in gypsum or metal, were made by such sculptors as Jakub Tatarkiewicz, Wiktor Brodzki, and Pius Weloński. During the partition, they were one of the forms commemorating the history of Poland and propagating patriotic slogans.
The creator of the statue was Józef Hakowski (1834-1897), whose engraved signature, “J. Hakowski”, along with the date of the sculpture's creation, was hidden on the left arm of the bust.

Elaborated by Elżbieta Lang (Historical Museum of the City of Kraków), © all rights reserved

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Józef Szujski — who was he?

Józef Szujski (1835–1883), born in Tarnów, was permanently associated with Kraków because of his life, academic work, and political activity. A pupil of the Saint Anna Junior High School in Kraków, he had shown many abilities since he was a child. He knew six foreign languages, wrote poetry, and, in later years...

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Józef Szujski (1835–1883), born in Tarnów, was permanently associated with Kraków because of his life, academic work, and political activity. A pupil of the Saint Anna Junior High School in Kraków, he had shown many abilities since he was a child. He knew six foreign languages, wrote poetry, and, in later years, also dramas and historical works. He studied philosophy and law as well as Austrian history, Polish and German literature, world history, and philology at the Jagiellonian University and the University of Vienna. Raised in the spirit of romantic, independence slogans, he joined a patriotic group centred around the Kraków studio of the sculptor Parys Filippi. Among the members of the group were the outstanding national artists, Artur Grottger and Jan Matejko.

He believed Poland would regain its sovereignty; that is why, he took an active part in the January Uprising as a devoted soldier and the publisher of the Naprzód magazine, which was the official body of the insurgent National Government in Kraków. The failure of the uprising resulted from a lack of preparation and regardtowards the real opportunities for Poles, which radically changed his youthful vision of the struggle for independence. He regarded armed struggle and conspiracy as fatal for the nation.
He saw the chance of regaining freedom in legalism and organic work within Austrian statehood. This is how the ideology of the Conservative Party Stańczyki in Galicia was born. Szujski became the main ideologist of the party, and, at the same time, the most outstanding representative of the Kraków historical school, which, in the history of Poland, examined the causes of its collapse. He presented his views, among other things, in a four-volume work — History of Poland according to recent research — and in Stańczyk’s acts. He was a member of the National Parliament in Lviv, and a member of the Galician delegation to the Lower House in the Council of State and the House of Lords. Szujski’s political career went hand in hand with his educational one. In 1869, he took on the newly created chair of Polish history at the Jagiellonian University, where he also served as a vice-chancellor. He was also a secretary general of the Kraków Academy of Learning. He died in Kraków in 1883 and his funeral was a great patriotic demonstration.

Elaborated by Elżbieta Lang (Historical Museum of the City of Kraków), © all rights reserved 

See: Sculpture “Bust of Józef Szujski” by Józef Hakowski

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Sculpture “Bust of Józef Szujski” by Józef Hakowski

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