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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.

Poison cabinet

Pomalowana na czarno szafka służyła do przechowywania w aptece leków o silnym działaniu. Zwykle na takiej szafie umieszczano napis Venena (łac. veneum — trucizna) oraz malowano symbole czaszki i skrzyżowanych piszczeli. Na drzwiach prezentowanej szafki zostały wymalowane białą farbą...

Karol Szymanowski's posthumous mask

Few mementoes and works of art directly associated with Karol Szymanowski have been preserved to this day. Therefore, the posthumous mask makes for quite a unique document. Suffering from tuberculosis, Szymanowski died in Le Signal hospital in Lausanne. The mask was made right after his death by a Swiss sculptor, Lucien Jules Delerse.

Sculpture “Over a grave” by Antoni Pleszowski

This woman with a melancholic look on her face and her hair coveredh, gives the impression of being deeply immersed in her thoughts, which may reflect the passing and loss of a loved one. The manner of presenting the sitting, freely-posed figure derives from the works of Michelangelo, as well as later Roman sepulchral sculpture of the Baroque period, with which the author of the work — an artist educated in Kraków, Vienna and Rome — was very familiar.

“Young couple” (“I Shall Never Return”, 1988)

Young Couple is an object of spectacle Cricot 2 Qui non ci torno più (I Shall Never return), which was created in Kraków and Milan in 1987–1988. The premiere took place on 23 June 1988 at the Piccolo Teatro Studio in Milan. The play I Shall Never return is a summary of previous work of Tadeusz Kantor's theater.

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.

Group AES+F, “Défilé #5”

The AES+F group shows dead bodies dressed in ballroom finery. The dramatic content is emphasised by using f life-size photographs, made all the more realistic by being displayed in lightboxes. The human fear of passing away is hidden behind obsessive adornment of the body. Death is presented in its “luxury” version which, despite all efforts, only serves to emphasize the deadness of the corpse. The series Défilé consists of 7 photographs in lightboxes. Film with the photographic prints has been glued to Plexi and placed in aluminium boxes, lit from behind.

Sculpture “Sikorski grave”

The sculpture Sikorski's Tomb was made in 1987 by Julian Stręk of Pustków-Rudki near Dębica, one of the recently discovered, leading Polish naive artists. It is a composition of many three-dimensional figures and elements made of pine wood, with oil polychrome of aquamarine dominant and with details in silver, walnut and blue colours.

Group AES+F, “Défilé #6”

The AES+F group shows dead bodies dressed in ballroom finery. The dramatic content is emphasised by using f life-size photographs, made all the more realistic by being displayed in lightboxes. The human fear of passing away is hidden behind obsessive adornment of the body. Death is presented in its “luxury” version which, despite all efforts, only serves to emphasize the deadness of the corpse. The series Défilé consists of 7 photographs in lightboxes. Film with the photographic prints has been glued to Plexi and placed in aluminium boxes, lit from behind.

Group AES+F, “Défilé #4”

The AES+F group shows dead bodies dressed in ballroom finery. The dramatic content is emphasised by using life-size photographs, made all the more realistic by being displayed in lightboxes. The human fear of passing away is hidden behind obsessive adornment of the body. Death is presented in its “luxury” version which, despite all efforts, only serves to emphasize the deadness of the corpse. The series Défilé consists of 7 photographs in lightboxes. Film with the photographic prints has been glued to Plexi and placed in aluminium boxes, lit from behind.

Group AES+F, “Défilé #1”

The AES+F group shows dead bodies dressed in ballroom finery. The dramatic content is emphasised by using f life-size photographs, made all the more realistic by being displayed in lightboxes. The human fear of passing away is hidden behind obsessive adornment of the body. Death is presented in its “luxury” version which, despite all efforts, only serves to emphasize the deadness of the corpse. The series Défilé consists of 7 photographs in lightboxes. Film with the photographic prints has been glued to Plexi and placed in aluminium boxes, lit from behind.

Bartek Materka, untitled [“Skeletons”]

Reconstruction of an open grave. By the manner of painting, the artist has emphasised the emotive quality of the represention of a post mortem.

Short-toed Eagle

Short-toed Eagle — Circaetus gallicus (Gmelin, 1788) is a bird of prey in the family of Accipitridae. It feeds on different species of reptiles, especially snakes. Occasionally hunts for amphibians and small mammals. In Poland, bird is very rare — can be found...

Damask fabrics from the grave of St queen Jadwiga

Queen Jadwiga d’Anjou died on July 17th, 1399, several weeks after she gave birth to her daughter, Elizabeth Bonifacia (June 22nd), probably due to labour-related complications (puerperal fever). She was buried on July 19th together with the child, who had died several days earlier, in the chancel of the Wawel cathedral, to the north of the base on which the main altar is situated. The queen was buried in rich clothing of damask with sleeves trimmed with strips of thicker fabric with rhomboid pattern. Burial clothing is one of the most moving mementoes of the great saint. It is difficult to determine the original colour scheme of fabric that have undergone a permanent change as a result of 500 years spent in a dark and damp grave. Undoubtedly, they were extremely expensive and luxurious fabrics, reflecting very high standards of living at the court of Władysław Jagiełło and his wife Jadwiga in late 14th century. The first of these fabrics, clearly oriental in style, was probably made in Egypt in the 15th century. Patterns visible on the other two fabrics are closest to Spanish weaving manufactures from the 13th, 14th, and 15th century.

“Peter’s Head” from the cycle “Herbarium” by Alina Szapocznikow

Body casts appeared in works by Alina Szapocznikow in 1965, when she began to present her own fingers and mouth in sculptural material. In 1971, she made of polyester the crushed Autoportret–Zielnik [Self-Portrait Herbarium], regarded as an introduction to Zielnik [Herbarium] — one of her most important works made on the basis of body casts.

Tomb stele from Ginari Tafah

The sculpture was purchased in Cairo by soldiers of the Polish Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade during WW II. The stele comes from the Christian site in Lower Nubia (present day Egypt) in Ginari Tafah. The tombstone is topped with an imitation of a conch. Traces of dark red paint on the tombstone indicate that it must have been painted originally. The epitaph begins with the formula declaring the death of the person called Elisabeth.

Stele of the son of Chairemon and Isidora from Kom Abou Billou

The stele was purchased in Cairo at Eli Albert and Joseph Abermayor by soldiers of the Polish Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade during WW II. The scene depicts a deceased man lying on a klinai and a female orant standing opposite. The man lying in the bed is dressed in a short-sleeved chiton and a himation rolled at the waist, wrapped around his left hand. In his right, outstretched hand he is holding a kantharos. The woman standing in front of him is depicted en face, she is dressed in the same way as the man and is raising her hands in a gesture of prayer. Under the scene an inscription is placed. The name of the deceased has been preserved only partially; perhaps it was Sosas. The name of his father was Chairemon; the name of Isidora is also there, popular in Egypt in the Roman period. The figures are bound together by family ties.

Mummy of a falcon

Mummy was carefully wrapped in resinated bandage, the crossing bands created geometrical pattern. In the upper part it is formed to resemble the head of a falcon with all the essential details being marked on it. X-ray made of the mummy have revealed no mummified remains under the bandages; inside are the bones of an animal. The falcon's skeleton being mixed with, as paleontologist have discovered, the bones of a frog and lizard, presumably the bird's last meal.

Mummy of a cat

Mummy was carefully wrapped in resinated bandage, the crossing bands created a geometrical pattern. The upper part was formed to resemble the head of a cat with all details being marked on it. X-ray made of the mummy have revealed no mummified remains under the bandages; inside are bones of an animal. In order to provide stiffness the cat's skeleton was stiffed by a stick. Animals were mummified in Egypt for different reasons. A haunch from an ox or some other animal, dipped in salt and wrapped in bandages, was put in a wooden coffin of appropriate shape to serve as food for the deceased in the Netherworld. Mummified pets – monkeys, dogs, even gazelles and ducks – were placed inside the funerary chamber, sometimes inside the coffin with their dead owner.

Fragment of bandage of a mummy

The representation on the bandages illustrates a fragment of chapter 125 of the Book of the Dead, the scene of “weighing hearts”. The Book is a set of formulas and spells, which are supposed to help the deceased to achieve eternal life in another world and to put down the demons of darkness, but foremost to be favourably judged of Osiris. The figures shown on the bandages, usually 42 of them, picture the Egyptian nomes, which functioned simultaneously as religious centers. The judges of the Tribunal of Two Justices are the same time the guardians of the sinners.