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Wilhelm Sasnal, untitled

Wilhelm Sasnal’s painting depicts, in a one-to-one scale, a 43-cm metal object, which comes from the hull of the continental aircraft which caused the crash of the Air France Concorde in 2000. Presented for the first time at the exhibition, Scene 2000, at the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw, the picture is part of a series of canvases of the artist, connected with the subject of disasters and accidents. A few of them refer directly to the events related to the Concorde: apart from the two paintings belonging to the collection of the Bunkier Sztuki Gallery, the canvas is also divided into nine sections presenting the individual stages of the plane’s explosion.

Wilhelm Sasnal, untitled

The picture of Wilhelm Sasnal presents a view of the burning Concorde aircraft. The artist recreated the frame from an amateur film made from a car window, which was the only video recording of the disaster at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris in 2000. Presented for the first time at the exhibition, Scene 2000, at the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw, the picture is part of a series of canvases by this artist connected with the subject of disasters and accidents. Despite the fact that Sasnal created a few pictures concerning the subject of the Concorde catastrophe (shown in the Bunkier Sztuki Gallery at the exhibition POPelita), each of them should be perceived as a separate work, and not a specific work cycle. Sasnal’s deep fascination with recordings showing the course of the catastrophe may indicate the artist’s desire to reach the “truth”, to spot what was hidden under the layer of words, descriptions, and interpretations. This pursuit is driven by the awareness of the impossibility of achieving the goal.

The tombstone of king Kazimierz III the Great

Kazimierz III’s (Casimir the Great’s) tombstone was sculpted in red limestone from the Hungarian town of Esztergom, which has been traditionally called ‘marble’. It may be assumed that the type of material was consciously selected, since the colour red had been associated with power and reserved for rulers since the time of the Roman Empire. The king’s tomb was sculpted on three sides only. On the top slab, there is a gisant supporting his legs on a lion, which most often symbolised valour in medieval times and was frequently used to propagate royal virtues. Comparing the ruler to a lion is one of the most recurring topoi of medieval culture. The king was depicted as an old man with long hair and a beard styled in tight curls. Works on this subject mistakenly claim this depiction to be a realistic study of the king’s face. In fact it is an example of a physiognomic type typical of the Middle Ages, which aimed at presenting the ruler as a wise and strict old man modelled after depictions of great ancient sages, Old Testament prophets, apostles, and other venerable figures from the past. The king was portrayed in a leather tunic and a loose cloak, garments which were characteristic of court fashion in the 3rd quarter of the 14th century. Especially of note is the magnificent belt comprising elements shaped as fortified buildings. It may be assumed that it carries an eschatological message via reference to the Heavenly Jerusalem.

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.

The tombstone of king Jan I Olbracht

The tomb of Jan I Olbracht is a milestone piece not only for Kraków artistic circles but for the entire country. It was sculpted in the years 1502–1505 and consists of two parts executed by two different artists of different backgrounds, education and experience. From the local tradition of commemorating dead rulers derives the tomb sculpted in red stone from the Esztergom quarry, placed in a very deep niche carved into the western wall of a chapel. The tomb is decorated on the front side only (the sides are not exposed), while figural representations were replaced by a rectangular inscribed plaque. This simple and sophisticated solution clearly refers to the art of ancient Rome, in which inscription plaques were the basic element of commemoration of the deceased (Lat. tabulae ansatae). The long inscription was carved in the humanist capitals that had been created based on ancient Roman letterforms and is one of the first instances where such a font was used in Poland.

The tombstone of king Władysław I the Short

The circumstances in which Władysław I Łokietek’s gravestone was founded remain unknown. The artistic form of the tomb was mentioned for the first time as late as in Annals of the Famous Kingdom of Poland by Jan Długosz : his body is buried in the cathedral church by the main altar, to the left, in a tomb of white marble adorned with sculptures and a canopy, in front of St. Władysław’s altar, which he, in his lifetime, ordered to be built and furnished. St. Władysław’s altar mentioned here was actually founded by Łokietek’s son – Kazimierz the Great – most likely soon after 1333.

The tombstone of king Kazimierz IV Jagiellończyk

Kazimierz IV’s tomb is one of the most spectacular pieces of late gothic art. On the one hand, it clearly refers to a local tradition started by Władysław I Łokietek’s tombstone; on the other hand, it comprised of a number of unique iconographic solutions that exhibit erudition of local intellectual circles. The king lies on the top slab of the tomb, but his figure is presented in an utterly exceptional way. It is an extremely expressive and veristic image because the ruler was captured in agony. What is more, unlike the earlier royal tombs in Kraków, Kazimierz IV is dressed in a clergyman’s robe, which was used only for a coronation ceremony. The richly draped cope, clasped at the chest with a magnificent brooch, attracts special attention. It is a singular image with no analogical piece found so far. It is most often interpreted within the scope of patristics of the early Christian Church; the king’s physical death was juxtaposed with the birth of the soul to eternal life.

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 #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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Burial royal insignia (sceptre and orb) of St. queen Jadwiga

In the second bay, counting from the west, of the south transept, placed against a stone wall inside an arch, on an altar stone covered with brass plate, there is a metal, glazed case in the shape of a horizontal cuboid on tiny legs. On the top strip, there is an inscription saying: SERVAE DEI REGINAE HEDVIGIS EX TUMBA A. D. 1949; on the bottom strip: IUXTA VOTA ADAE STEPHANI CARDINALIS SAPIEHA CURA STANISLAI JASINSKI SCHOLASTICI ET PAROCHI SUMPTIBUS CULTORUM SERVAE DEI. On side strips, there are highly stylised leafy ornaments and on the joints of the strips, there are highly stylised lilies. Inside, there is a baculum–type sceptre made of gilded wood, thin and elongated. Its bottom part has a handle separated with a simple ring, in the top part, there is a polygonal plate topped with a finial composed of ragged leaves. The top and bottom ends feature rounded bumps. The orb is made of wood, gilded, globe-shaped, topped with a Greek cross. Unfortunately, Jadwiga’s crown did not survive. The insignia found in Jadwiga’s grave were in no way repaired. They were treated as relics and exhibited permanently next to her sarcophagus. In order to do so, a glass display cabinet was designed and made by a Kraków-based bronzesmith, Edmund Korosadowicz.

Queen Jadwiga’s tombstone

Carved in a single block of marble from Carrara and covered with a slightly smaller flat block with the figure of the queen lying with head directed towards the east. It is situated in the first arcade from the west in the southern wing of the ambulatory. An austere block tomb is supported by a base decorated with highly stylised lilies, a frize of square panels filled with heraldic eagles in the top part. The longer side (southern) is divided into seven panels, with the outer ones overlapping narrower sides.

Marble plaque commemorating the burial site of queen Jadwiga

A plaque of black marble from Dębnik, situated to the north of the base of the main altar in the Wawel cathedral. The entire eastern part of the chancel is elevated above the floor level and forms a spacious platform for celebrations of liturgical ceremonies. In the middle of it and on the sides, there are three identical protrusions. In 1605, an Italian stonemason, Ambrogio Meazzi, was commissioned to dismantle the fence in front of St Erasmus altar (the ciborium was relocated to the Chapel of Our Lady) and move the tomb of Frederick Jagiellon, as well as to change the layout of stairs leading to the main altar.

Cartonnage mask

This anonymous cartonnage mask probably dates back to the Ptolemaic period (306–30 BC). The mask is gilded on the face but eyes, pupils and eyebrows are marked black. It has a typical blue wig (nemes). The representation of the deceased is definitely idealised and it bears no distinguishing features.

Aset-iri-khet-es mummy

With over two thousand years mummy comes from the excavations carried out in 1907 in el-Gamhud by the first Polish Egyptologist, Tadeusz Smoleński. The goddess Isis – Aset-iri-khet-es – lies in a sarcophagus with an impressive lid. Through research conducted in 1996 it found that it was a young woman who died approx. two thousand 300 years ago as a result of blood loss caused by arterial puncture fractured leg. Specialists able to determine, among others, the genetic code of the deceased and her blood type. It is the largest in terms of the size of the object from the collection of Egyptology in Poland and is best examined by specialists.

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.