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King Władysław’s III of Varna tombstone

The gravestone of Władysław III of Varna is shaped as a tomb, with the figure of the ruler dressed in full armour on the top slab. The giasant has a youthful face with idealised features and holds a bare sword against his chest – Szczerbiec – which serves the purpose of styling the King as an ideal Christian knight. The introduction of a particular object known to all Poles, in this case the coronation sword of polish kings, into the composition had been adopted a number of times in the culture of the 19th century, especially in Jan Matejko’s paintings. It served the purpose of making past events and figures more probable by linking them to particular items or works of art that were considered national relics. Such combinations were not always justified from a historical perspective, but they were used consciously, according to the rules of philosophy of history, which in the distant past allowed for an insight into God’s plans and some general principles governing the history of the country divided by the three partitioning powers.

“Rikka” — “ikebana” vase

Ikebana is the art of arranging flowers which involves the creation of linear harmony and asymmetrical composition while keeping unity among the shapes, rhythms and colours of the material used. Elements used in compositions include branches, leaves, grass, and flowers, as well as vessels, and each of these elements has its own symbolic meaning.

Two small vases ornamented with cranes in flight, placed against a dark blue background

The crane is one of the most important symbols of longevity in many Asian countries. When it is depicted in combination with other symbols, it takes on an additional, slightly different meaning, which is often deeper than the original one. This majestic bird with its beautiful body and feathers has become one of the most important symbols of the culture of Japan, as the Japanese are a people who observe the surrounding nature carefully and draw a lot of inspiration from nature.

Cup

It is one of the most magnificent Baroque, secular works of Polish goldsmithery preserved in the collection in the world. The scenes most emphasized on the goblet are connected with weaving. This was the main source of income for the residents of Leszno in the 17th century. Two of them illustrate everyday occupations – shearing and weaving, and the third one clearly has a allegorical meaning.

Pharmaceutical mortar

A late Renaissance mortar in the shape typical of the Low Countries and with a unique silvery colour. The mortar was made by one of leading casters of Deventer, Gerrit Schimmel, and it is part of a pair. The other is dated from 1688 and signed by the same author. It is at present being exhibited in a museum in Rotterdam.

Astronomical monstrance clock

This is the most precious clock in the Wawel collection clocks. It has a unique, impressive form and a complicated mechanism. The clock's case resembles a monstrance, with the clock dial, held by a kneeling mermaid, replacing the nimbus.

Sabre with a sheath

The blade, regarded as the work of the Armenians of Lviv, may be connected with the reign of John III Sobieski. Its antique-like sheath must have been made much later, as the Rococo ornament indicates. This weapon of highly decorative character is difficult to categorize unambiguously.

Tower table clock

The diverse form and rich ornamentation of the clock place it among the best works of the Augsburg watchmakers of the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Baton

The baton of the Wawel collection is an example of a luxurious ceremonial weapon. It is difficult to establish unambiguously its artistic provenance. In terms of composition and type of ornamentation, it could be classified as a Turkish work. However, its characteristic combination of gold and light blue enamel causes many researchers to believe it to be a Persian work.

Sculpture “Old Centaur”

The Centaur sculpture is a copy of one of two marble sculptures found in Rome in 1736, during excavation works in Hadrian's Villa, but substantially reduced in size. At present, the Furietti Centaurs, named after their discoverer, Giuseppe Alessandro Furietti, can be found in the Capitoline Museums in Rome.

Sculpture “Young Centaur (Smiling Centaur)”

The Centaur sculpture is a copy of one of two marble sculptures found in Rome in 1736, during excavation works in Hadrian's Villa, but substantially reduced in size. At present, the Furietti Centaurs, named after their discoverer, Giuseppe Alessandro Furietti, can be found in the Capitoline Museums in Rome.

Vessel in the shape of the Polish Eagle

At present, the tableware of the Polish royal court is known to us almost exclusively from archive materials. The majority of preserved single items or their designs come from Augsburg – the most important centre of the European goldsmithery in the 17th and 18th centuries. Among these items, the most outstanding is the state set of John Casimir Vasa.

A model of Queen Jadwiga's sarcophagus from Wawel Cathedral

A bronze replica of the final piece which was created in November 1900. The piece is a model of Queen Jadwiga’s (died 1399) sarcophagus, which was created for Wawel Cathedral by Antoni Madeyski in Rome in the year 1902.

Cross of the Order of the White Eagle

The oldest and the highest Polish distinction – one of the most important decorations in Europe of the 18th century. It was established by Augustus II the Strong and awarded, since around 1705, to those who performed great services for the monarch. The presented version was shaped in 1793, in the form of a Maltese cross enamelled red with white borders, and with a small ball at the end of each point.

Commemorative pink glass

Most probably, the glass shows the bust of Adolf Starzeński, commemorating his participation in the Polish national uprising against Russia at the turn of 1830 and 1831...

Silver, round salt shaker, on three volute stems

This valuable product of artistic handicraft is a silver and gold-plated salt shaker – an example of Baroque goldsmithing from Augsburg – which was one of the most important European gold smithery centres.

Horn of Salt Diggers Brotherhood of Wieliczka

The horn of Salt Diggers Brotherhood of Wieliczka is a unique Renaissance work of art commemorating the past wealth of Kraków salt mines. It is the only historical object of such preserved in Poland — the genuine horn of an aurochs (the species that became extinct in Poland in the 17th century, the ancestor of cattle), precisely framed in silver embedded in various golden ornaments.

Salt cellar in the shape of an elongated cup

This silver salt shaker, in the shape of an elongated bowl, which is decorated at the edge with an openwork strip of plants, is the work of a high-class goldsmith. It was made in France in pre-revolutionary times, in Paris in the years 1786–1787, by the goldsmith, Jean-Baptiste-François Chéret. The precise determination of the authorship, time, and place of the creation of this work is possible thanks to the marking, which, in the past, was to testify the occurrence of precious metal, and nowadays is the source of information about the history of the object; its interpretation, however, often requires detective work.

Silver salt cellar with a figure of a boy pushing the sled

This silver salt shaker, in the shape of a boy pushing a sled, is actually a miniature sculpture. It evokes admiration for the precision of the 19th century artist from Frankfurt, who, in the microscopic scale of a few centimeters, was able to develop numerous, intricate details and decorations.

Hanukkah lamp

The eight-branched candelabrum made in honour of the Hanukkah festival – the victorious Maccabean Revolt. The festival – recorded in the books of Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) – is over 2,000 years old.