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- Author designed by Stanisław Witkiewicz
- Date of production 1899
- Dimensions height: 112 cm, length: 184 cm, width: 131 cm
- ID no. S/4091/MT
- Object copyright The Dr. Tytus Chałubiński Tatra Museum in Zakopane
- Digital images copyright public domain
- Digitalisation RDW MIC, Małopolska's Virtual Museums project
Zakopane style in miniature
The wooden mock-up of the Pod Jedlami House is definitely one of the favourite exhibits of visitors to the Museum of Zakopane Style in the Koliba villa. Why is it so popular? It is definitely due to the artistry of completion and how it fires up the viewers’ imagination.
Zakopane style in miniature
The wooden mock-up of the Pod Jedlami House is definitely one of the favourite exhibits of visitors to the Museum of Zakopane Style in the Koliba villa. Why is it so popular? It is definitely due to the artistry of completion and how it fires up the viewers’ imagination. Some perceive the mock-up as a dollhouse, while others as a true work of art. Every visitor wants to look through the tiny windows and doors, looking for the miniature residents of this extraordinary exhibit. Its origins are associated with the Zakopane style and Stanisław Witkiewicz.
This real gem was made of several types of wood in the course of the last three months of 1899. The walls and roof structure were made of spruce, while the door frames, windows, posts, balconies, support beams and doors were made of pear-tree wood. The roof was finished with mahogany to complete the shingles. There are 8,000 of them cut out of cigar boxes. A whole team of Podhale cottage builders (Józek Giewont, Jaś Obrochta, Wojtek Gąsienica, Wojtek Źwijac, Józek Mikuda, Jędruś Walczak, Wojtek Bednarz, Wojtek Roj, Jędruś Gąsienica, Ignac Hoły, Józek Łuszczek, Suchecki, Wojtek Roj Scepancyn and Józek Szostak) worked on it under the direction of Stanisław Witkiewicz, founder of the Zakopane style. They did not limit themselves only to the recreation of the building form, but also made intricate decorations on banisters, door frames, window frames and doors. What is interesting is that the picturesque ornaments in the form of leluja and rosettes are not only limited to the exterior of the building. After opening it, one can also see them inside on the miniature support beams, door and window frames. They are made with the same utmost care as the ones on the outside.
Inspired by the traditional construction of Podhale, Witkiewicz started his campaign for the development of the first Polish national style. An ideal opportunity to enforce his theoretical assumptions arose when Zygmunt Gnatowski (wealthy land owner from Ukraine) decided to build a house for himself in a village near the Tatra Mountains. Witkiewicz took up the challenge and designed an impressive wooden building whose shape and structure drew upon the Podhale cottages and ensured great comfort. This first building was the Koliba villa on 18 Kościeliska Street. It was later followed by other projects.
The most impressive one is definitely the Pod Jedlami House built in Kozieniec in the years 1896/1897 for Jan Gwalbert Pawlikowski. The discussed model was created two years after the completion of the construction. It was ordered by the Committee of the Art Department for Galicia in Kraków for the 1900 World Exhibition (Exposition Universelle) taking place in Paris. The fact that Witkiewicz and his art could participate in this exhibition was a sign of recognition for the Zakopane style, which was to be the Polish contribution to the rebirth of arts and crafts. The presentation was to cover the mock-up together with the photographs of buildings constructed according to Witkiewicz’s designs in Zakopane – a photograph of a highlander’s cottage and the plans for a brick house in the Zakopane style by Franciszek Mączyński (who later became the co-author of the Main Building of the Tatra Museum). Unfortunately, the situation became complicated in Paris. Mączyński’s plans were not sent due to the carelessness of their completion, and the model itself was placed at the wall in the room devoted to Kraków painters. Damaged in transport and dusty, it did not look its best, so it was soon placed in a chest, and Witkiewicz received a call to collect it as soon as possible, because the costs of storage in the then capital of art were very high.
This did not mean the end of the model’s career. Two years later, it was presented at the Kraków exhibition of the “Polish Applied Art” Society whose primary goal was to renew Polish applied art and create modern industrial patterns inspired by Polish folk art. All these measures were connected with the then political situation of the country and the preservation of national identity awareness, as well as the international Arts and Crafts Movement started in the last quarter of the 19th century in England.
The model found shelter in the branch of the Tatra Museum in Koliba villa. Together with the photographs of other projects in the Zakopane style, it tells the story of Witkiewicz’s concept.
The mock-up of the Pod Jedlami House completed its last journey two years ago when it went to Museo della Montagna in Turin where the Tatra Museum presented Podhale culture and art.
Elaborated by Julita Dembowska (The Dr. Tytus Chałubiński Tatra Museum in Zakopane), © all rights reserved
Read about the Pod Jedlami Villa on the website of the Małopolska Days of Cultural Heritage:
Pod Jedlami Villa, photograph from the Illustration Archive of Ilustrowany Kurier Codzienny (Illustrated Daily Courier), from the National Digital Archives, 1918-1939.