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Painting “Memento Mori”

The painting was purchased for the museum in 1945. It was created in the second half of the 18th century in one of the guilds in Stary Sącz. It is a very interesting and symbolic work of art which refers to the theme of death and transience so popular in Baroque art. The painting is divided into three parts: two of them are in the shape of a standing rectangle in the upper part and one is of an oblong shape in the lower part.

Painting “Son and His Killed Mother” by Andrzej Wróblewski

The painting shows a small boy embracing a woman who is presented from her shoulders down, without her head. The woman is dead, although it seems that she is returning the caress with a numb gesture of her hand. The artist painted her in a bluish azure and dressed her in a blue dress. He painted all war victims and dead people in this way — using the symbolism of blue: the sphere of shade, immateriality, and transcendence. The form generalised and knowingly made primitive as well as nearly evenly laid colour are for the condensation of essence and expression.

The “Christ on the Cross” icon

Helena Dąbczańska is a famous Lviv collector of incunabula, engravings, books, drawings, fabrics and furniture; the owner of a private museum organized in her own villa and the hostess on artistic Sunday mornings for representatives of the Lviv elite at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Living room furniture set designed by Stanisław Wyspiański

At the turn of 1905, Stanisław Wyspiańki designed the interior of the flat of Zofia née Pareńska and Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński. The history of furniture creation was described by the owner in his Historia pewnych mebli [History of certain furniture] essay published in 1927 by Kurier Poranny [Morning Courier]. Apart from the furniture, other decorative elements were designed, such as the colours of the walls in the individual rooms and the matching curtains.

Crystal radio receiver

“The whole country in the range of a detector” — it was a slogan of British radio operators from 1923. Six years later it was implemented by the Polish radio (Polskie Radio SA). Why a detector receiver? Why not a lamp receiver which gives better reception? There were several reasons, two of which were decisive: a much lower price and an independent source of power, which had to be important in a country like Poland where electricity was scarce in the 3rd decade of the 20th century.

Painting “Portrait of Seweryn Józef Rzewuski”

The portrait depicts Seweryn Jan Rzewuski of the Krzywda coat of arms, a son of Stanisław Mateusz, the Grand Crown Hetman, an older brother of Hetman Wacław Rzewuski, and of Ludwika née Kunicka.

Painting “Wernyhora” by Jan Matejko

Wernyhora – a Ukrainian lyricist and bard, according to some a legendary person, according to others a historical person living in the second half of the 18th century – became famous for political prophecies regarding the fate of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Ukraine. He was supposed to have foreseen the bloody Cossack rebellions, the partitioning of Poland, the unsuccessful national liberation uprisings and the revival of the Polish statehood.

Painting “Portrait of the Artist's Wife: In the Summer Apartment” by Józef Mehoffer

This painting, characteristically shaped as a vertically extended rectangle, is a portrait of the artist's wife against a background of the interior of a summer apartment. This piece was created in 1904 in Zakopane, where the Mehoffers rented a newly completed wooden highland house for a few months.

Painting “Spring in the mountains” by Rafał Malczewski

The Tatra Mountains have always fascinated, delighted and bewildered everyone with their power. They have threatened us with their volatility and have punished daredevils severely who have given up their caution. Ultimately, they have been a real artistic challenge for all those who wished to tame them and include all that has always fallen outside any frames on a flat piece of cloth or paper.

Paintning “Ahasuerus” by Maurycy Gottlieb

The composition presents a young man with oriental facial features, emanating with sorrow and suffering. He is wearing a decorated dark robe, a royal diadem on his head, and a gold earring in his ear. The painting, in dark tones, was brightened with patches of amber colours for the fragments of the face and shoulders as well as with warm reds for the background.

Lajkonik’s costume designed by Stanisław Wyspiański

The costume of Lajkonik, also called the Zwierzyniec Horse, designed by Stanisław Wyspiański in 1904, could be seen in the streets of Kraków until 1963. The costume used today during the annual frolics of Lajkonik is a faithful copy of the displayed exhibit. Although legend associates the origins of Lajkonik celebrations with the Tatar invasions of Kraków in the 13th century, the first ever source reference to it dates back to 1738.

Jadwiga Sawicka, “NATIONAL / exclusive”

From the mass of thickly laid off paint, there emerge words taken out of context and deliberately crooked. The clash between the background and the semantic content enhances the impact.

Painting “White and red” by Tadeusz Brzozowski

It can be boldly stated that the famous “Z. village” has always been known as a place where the human species known as artists are present in unprecedented density. The majority of respondents to the question: “Who do you associate Zakopane with?” would reply “Witkacy”.

Fayum portrait

The portrait was purchased in Cairo by soldiers of the Polish Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade during WW II. The face of the man is oval-shaped, with almond-like eyes with marked pupils, lashes and bushy eyebrows. He has a long moustache and a black beard encircling his face.

Wedding scarf for Kraków costume

A White headscarf tied into a bonnet for the Kraków costume, decorated with flat and punch embroidery. Two sides of the scarf are cut in an openwork teeth style with small holes, the other two sides are more richly decorated. Above the openwork teeth there is a frieze composed of hemstitched and punched cone motifs. Moreover, in the spaces between the cones, there are six-petal punched flowers and embroidered small branches with leaves.

Painting “Portrait of King Augustus III in a Polish costume”

The representative room of the Bishop Erazm Ciołek Palace, known as the Room of Virtues, houses the gallery of old Polish portrait paintings that were common in the old Poland. For the nobility, their own images and depictions of their relatives and ancestors formed a vital factor for building family and social ties and documenting genealogy and affiliations.

Wedding scarf from Raciborowice

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Painting “Nero’s Torches” by Henryk Siemiradzki

Nero’s Torches by Henryk Siemiradzki, also called Candlesticks of Christianity, initiated the collection of the National Museum in Kraków. On the painting, the artist immortalised one of the most tragic moments in the history of Christianity, which was the burning of alleged perpetrators of the fire which broke out in Rome during the reign of Nero in 64 AD, described by Suetonius and Tacitus.

Painting “Jews” by Piotr Michałowski

The group portrait of the Galician Jews belongs to the late works by Piotr Michałowski (1800—1855). It was created in a time when the artist — treating painting as a hobby — managed the estate in Bolestraszyce near Przemyśl. This painting, being actually an oil study, is similar in character to the 17th-century Dutch portraits. From the dark, abstract space busts of five Jews emerge.

Painting “At the Morskie Oko Lake” (“Tourists in the Tatra Mountains”)

It is hard to imagine Zakopane and the Tatra Mountains without tourists. They cross the town and mountain trails with great enthusiasm. The landscape attracts crowds wishing to rest in the shadows of the cool mountains, as well as artists who find an inexhaustible source of inspiration in the overpowering nature. It is assumed that the first painter of the Tatra Mountains was Jan Nepomucen Głowacki (1802–1847) and the first Tatra-related painting is the “View of the Carpathian Mountains from Poronin”, dated 1836. Later this theme was taken up by other painters, like Aleksander Kotsis. It was with him that in 1860 Walery Eljasz took his first trip to Babia Góra from which he saw the Tatra Mountains. A year later he managed to visit them. Since 1866 the mountains became his true passion. Eljasz came from Kraków, from a family where painting and art were the order of the day.