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In 1895, Stanisław Wyspiański made a polychrome project for the presbytery of a Franciscan church. The composition consists of three elements: the titular fallen angels, at which the group of archers aims, and the figure of Archangel Michael, who guards the gates of paradise. A perfect accompaniment to this work is the polychrome located on the opposite side of the presbytery:  Madonna and the Child and Caritas. The artist, in a visible way, juxtaposed two attitudes to life and showed their possible consequences.

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In 1895, Stanisław Wyspiański made a polychrome project for the presbytery of a Franciscan church. The composition consists of three elements: the titular fallen angels, at which the group of archers aims, and the figure of Archangel Michael, who guards the gates of paradise. A perfect accompaniment to this work is the polychrome located on the opposite side of the presbytery:  Madonna and the Child and Caritas. The artist, in a visible way, juxtaposed two attitudes to life and showed their possible consequences.
The work presented here is a bas-relief, made according to the design of the Franciscan polychrome. The artist used — not for the first time — the sculptural form to recreate his compositions, which he worked on. Apart from Fallen Angels, his popular works include: Maternity and Apollo glaring with grottoes of fever — one of the most important motifs accompanying the artist all his life.

Elaborated by Marta Graczyńska (The National Museum in Krakow), © all rights reserved

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Wyspiański in Biecz

We were very close to having the opportunity to see polychromes and stained-glass panels made by Stanisław Wyspiański in the parish church in Biecz. The artist stayed in Biecz in 1889 during a scientific trip around the regions of Biecz and Sącz organized by the professor of the Kraków School of Fine Arts (today’s Academy of Fine Arts) Władysław Łuszczkiewicz...

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Stanisław Wyspiański,
cartoon for the polychromes
in the parish church in Biecz, 1895
1897,
National Museum in Warsaw.

We were very close to having the opportunity to see polychromes and stained-glass panels made by Stanisław Wyspiański in the parish church in Biecz. The artist stayed in Biecz in 1889 during a scientific trip around the regions of Biecz and Sącz organized by the professor of the Kraków School of Fine Arts (today’s Academy of Fine Arts) Władysław Łuszczkiewicz. At that time, beautiful drawings of the monuments hosted in Biecz itself, as well as in its vicinity, were made: these included, among other things, sketches of the furnishings of St. Sophia’s church and the parish church in Bobowa, small wooden churches in Wilczyska, Sękowa and Binarowa, as well as the 16th-century Gładyszów renaissance court in Szymbark.
In another renaissance manor located in the nearby Jeżów, Wyspiański even made a polychrome on one of the walls, which can be admired to this day.
Six years later, the artist returned to his fascination with Biecz, working in the years 1895–1897 on the designs of polychromes and stained-glass panels which were to be situated inside the local parish church. In a letter to Lucjan Rydel, he wrote at the time:
 “I already have a design for Biecz. It will be seemingly modest and very simple and, under this guise, rich in ornamentation. I think I will manage to smuggle it in its entirety, I just need to have the “lust” for painting. This design has transformed into a huge thing”.
Unfortunately, this “huge thing” was never implemented. Wyspiański came into conflict with the Kraków restorer and architect Sławomir Odrzywolski who supervised renovation works at that time, and, disagreeing with the limitations imposed on him, he ended the cooperation, despite the fact that he was fascinated with this undertaking. The design of one of the stained-glass panels has survived and is currently located at the National Museum in Kraków. In turn, the cardboard template for making polychromes which may be seen above, depicting mallows, is stored in the National Museum in Warsaw.
Most of the drawings made by Wyspiański during the trip around the Biecz region have not survived to the present. Reproductions of the sketches made by the artist in Biecz itself, with which the then student of painting was fascinated, are located in the collections of the Museum of Ziemia Biecka in Biecz. During the visit to the museum, it is worth asking local curators about the artist’s other connections with Biecz, including him being creatively inspired by one of the paintings on exhibition in the “Dom z basztą” (“the House with a tower”) department, namely Madonna with bird and the legend associated with it. According to the researchers of Stanisław Wyspiański’s literary work, including Professor Kazimierz Wyka, it became one of the inspirations for creating the drama from 1899, controversial for its times, entitled The Curse.

Elaborated by: Kinga Kołodziejska (Editorial team of Małopolskas Virtual Museums),
Licencja Creative Commons

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

See also a picture of Stanisław Wyspiański from a trip around the Biecz region.

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Photography of Wyspiański and Mehoffer

In the collection of the Museum of Ziemia Biecka in Biecz, there is a unique photo from 1889, depicting the students of the second year of thethen School of Fine Arts (today’s Academy of Fine Arts) in Kraków, during an educational trip around the regions of Sądecczyzna and Biecz under the supervision of Prof. Władysław Łuszkiewicz.

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St. Wyspiański, J. Mehoffer, Maszkowski
and Cinciel in the church in Libusza, 1889.
From Museum of Ziemia Biecka in Biecz.

In the collection of the Museum of Ziemia Biecka in Biecz, there is a unique photo from 1889, depicting the students of the second year of thethen School of Fine Arts (today’s Academy of Fine Arts) in Kraków, during an educational trip around the regions of Sądecczyzna and Biecz under the supervision of Prof. Władysław Łuszkiewicz. The photograph was taken inside the church in Libusza, located seven kilometres from Biecz. The figure staring at us, the first person from the left, is Stanisław Wyspiański. Standing next to him, sketching some element of the church’s furnishings is Józef Mehoffer.

The participants of the trip arrived at Biecz on 2 August 1889. They stayed at the monastery of the Franciscans of Primitive Observance. From there, they left for nearby towns, looking for themes on which to base their sketches. Biecz alone fascinated Wyspiański so much that, six years later, he became involved in renovation works at the local parish.

More on Stanisław Wyspiański’s links with Biecz here.

 

Elaborated by Kinga Kołodziejska (Editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums), 
Licencja Creative Commons

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland.

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Bas relief “Fallen Angels” by Stanisław Wyspiański

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