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Dowry chests used to be an inseparable element of the furnishings of almost every house. They were often passed down from generation to generation, repainted, renovated, and in time considerably differed in the colour and ornamentation of their original appearance. Time, fashion, and also wardrobes which were cheaper and cheaper and consequently more accessible, were their enemies. Cheap chests were usually made of softwood, which was often attacked by insects.

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Dowry chests used to be an inseparable element of the furnishings of almost every house. They were often passed down from generation to generation, repainted, renovated, and in time considerably differed in the colour and ornamentation of their original appearance. Time, fashion, and also wardrobes which were cheaper and cheaper and consequently more accessible, were their enemies. Cheap chests were usually made of softwood, which was often attacked by insects. Because of that, if we take their former commonness into consideration, not many dowry chests have survived to this day in their initial form. Although today they are present in many, not only Polish, museums and regional centres, only a small part of them have survived.
One of such preserved dowry chests is the chest which is on display at the Museum in Kęty and comes from the turn of the 20th century. It is rated among the so-called Wadowice chests because of its characteristics. Time has visibly left its stamp on the chest; a drawer and also the wheels on which the chest stood have not survived to this day. A cover which was situated inside the hiding place has not survived, either.
Time had no mercy on the painted layers as well. The paints darkened considerably but the two square fields on the front wall, on which a craftsman placed simple plant motifs in yellow, red and white, are still quite noticeable. The ornaments on the side walls also refer to them. The lid of the chest was also decorated, but no traces remained. The whole chest was painted dark green.
On the basis of the general analysis it can be stated that the chest fulfils the requirements of the canon of Wadowice chests; it has the shape of a box with a lid, and it is painted in four colours: white, yellow, red, and dark green as the background.
On the front wall there are two decorative fields in the form of squares: simplified plant motifs. Planks of a base in the bottom part are decoratively carved.

Elaborated by the Aleksander Kłosiński Museum in Kęty, © all rights reserved

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Painted dowry chest

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