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- Author designed by Stanisław Witkiewicz, made by Wojciechowski
- Date of production 1895–1896
- Place of creation Kraków, Poland
- ID no. S/330/1-18/MT
- Collector Maria Dembowska
- Acquired date 1922
- Object copyright The Dr. Tytus Chałubiński Tatra Museum in Zakopane
- Digital images copyright public domain
- Digitalisation RDW MIC, Małopolska's Virtual Museums project
Small is beautiful...
Museums are usually associated with large cool rooms with beautiful paintings hanging on the walls and accompanied by remarkable sculptures. In this totally undisturbed silence the works arouse universal respect and admiration. Are museums just about paintings and sculptures?
Small is beautiful...
Museums are usually associated with large cool rooms with beautiful paintings hanging on the walls and accompanied by remarkable sculptures. In this totally undisturbed silence the works arouse universal respect and admiration. Are museums just about paintings and sculptures? A museum is a place which also gives shelter to small and delicate objects whose beauty is noticeable only after careful inspection; objects that have not only decorated, but also served; objects that were created from the love of beauty and the will to become surrounded with beauty every day. This is definitely the case with the coffee set donated to the collections of the Tatra Museum by Maria Dembowska in March 1922.
This is a description by Stanisław Eljasz Radzikowski: “(...) according to Witkiewicz’s design, Mr. Wojciechowski, a goldsmith in Kraków, made extremely beautiful silver cups for black coffee that were oxidised outside and gilded inside, as well as a sugar pot from light silver (...).”
The set comprises six cups with saucers, teaspoons and a sugar pot. It was most likely used to drink strong coffee because the cups are small, just the right size for espressos. One might ask: what is so extraordinary about that?
The set was designed by Stanisław Witkiewicz, and its form is definitely different than the then fashionable designs, for example, from Bavaria. The cups made of silver (not of porcelain or faience) are shaped as scoops, that is, cups used by the highlanders. The simple shape of the bowl is adorned with a richly decorated handle finished with a spiral and a heart-shaped ornament known from the oscypek moulds. The saucers are also ornamented with a rosette and indents. The small teaspoons shaped as miniature shepherd ladles are simply delightful. The bulging sugar pot has two handles shaped as the scoop’s lug, and a lid finished with detail in the form of traditional topping of the roof ridge, the so-called pazdurek. Its belly is decorated with delicately engraved lelujki.
Stanisław Witkiewicz first came to Zakopane in 1886 upon the invitation of Maria and Bronisław Dembowski. The Dembowskis were greatly interested in the highlander culture, and were one of the first people to gather ethnographic collections. Their house, known as “Afapark,” attracted intellectual and artistic elites who came to Zakopane. Witkiewicz settled near the Tatra Mountains for good in 1890. He saw the Swiss-style villas that were being erected in Zakopane right next to highlanders’ cottages and thought they fitted quite poorly with the local landscape. For him the basis for the development of domestic construction drew upon highlanders’ houses. The Zakopane style created by Witkiewicz referred not only to the architecture, but also to the interior decorative elements, such as the beautifully decorated cupboards, tables, and beds inspired by the materials used by the highlanders.
Metal products in the Zakopane style are a true rarity. Witkiewicz completed his first designs for the Exhibition of Stylish Furniture in Warsaw in 1896. Few of them were executed, and still fewer survived until the present day.
Elaborated by Julita Dembowska (The Dr. Tytus Chałubiński Tatra Museum in Zakopane), © all rights reserved