One of the ideas guiding us in the creation of the portal Małopolska’s Virtual Museums is to draw attention to the details of the exhibits, often overlooked intricate decorations, which sometimes surprise when looking closer at the texture and shapes of the presented objects. We strive to use advanced technology to bring out these details and draw people closer to them. With the help of such “magnification”, we would like you to stop you for a moment, or maybe even sometimes make you feel delighted? What do the ornaments want? What are they to a work of art? Could an ornament be a signature? These, and many other interesting questions, came up during the LXIII National Science Session of the Association of Art Historians entitled Ornament and decoration of a work of art (November 20-22, 2014, Kraków), in which we had the pleasure of participating, presenting exhibits selected for the conference subject matter from the collection of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums.
The problem of emptiness has been an important issue in the history of thought. The first attempts to define it and, above all, to prove its existence or non-existence date back to the 5th century BC. Among the many philosophical assumptions, there was the view maintained for a very long time, right up until the 16th century, which was in line with the Aristotelian concept formulated as: “nature abhors a vacuum,” or horror vacui. Aristotle understood emptiness as a space devoid of a body (matter); however, he rejected its existence, not seeing any reason for it.
An ancient historian from the 1st century — Pliny the Elder — in his 37-volume encyclopedia titled Natural history, compiled knowledge gathered from works of about 200 authors, thanks to which he preserved the echoes of lost writings and information about the Greek world for posterity, which included many stories concerning art. It was he who repeated the now famous anecdote about the dispute between Apelles — the greatest painter of his time — and another representative of this craft: Protogenes. Apelles — once he had heard of the fame of his competitor — went to Rhodes to see his works. However, he did not find the painter at home, while a board ready to be painted was set on the easel, watched by an old woman. When she asked Apelles who was visiting, the painter grabbed the brush and drew an extremely thin line through the centre of the painting, then he replied: “That’s who.”
Objects derived from noble metals were usually marked with signs, so-called features. Their appearance on goldsmith’s products, their number and significance were related to regulations issued by craftsmen’s guilds, then also by city and state authorities. These small marks with numbers and symbols in various shapes, which often remind us of cavities, are an extremely valuable source of information about the artwork. It is possible to specify several types of symbols when recognizing their elements and functions.
Could Tadeusz Kościuszko, the famous leader of the Uprising in 1794, have been a painter? In the National Museum in Kraków, there are nudes made with a red-brown chalk (so-called sanguine) and watercolour panoramas of Rome painted by Kościuszko.
While the camera obscura was the prototype of a camera, the magic lantern had the same function, i.e. a that of a cinematographic projector. A dark room and a blank wall. If necessary, a white sheet can be hung on it.
One of the legends of the town of Olkusz, passed down by generations, tells the story of the silver mines, to which the town owed its prosperity. One day, the devil decided to fill up the excavations that were so valuable for the inhabitants of the region.
The knee-boot jack was donated by Mr Piwowarczyk of Dębowa in 1982. The base has a grooved fragment for a heel, used to put a foot with a boot on it. It is also equipped with a horseshoe-shaped protection that supports the boot and facilitates its taking off.
Mirosław Hermaszewski — a brigadier general of the Polish Army and a cosmonaut, was the first and the only Pole to fly into space. In 1976, together with Colonel Zenon Jankowski, he was chosen from several hundred Polish pilots as the candidate for a space flight organised within the international Intercosmos space programme.
White salt hair grows on a light grey marl loam. Salt hair is a very original form of those taken by halite. Fibres – in fact, halite crystals in special conditions – grow in one direction. Sometimes, the density of fibres may favour their crystal clumping. The hair then transforms into a fibrous salt, preserving a specific needle structure.
Among the medicinal plants preserved on the stained glass, which can be seen in the Museum of Pharmacy of the Jagiellonian University in Cracow, there is an aconite specimen with a blue inflorescence, which, according to Greek mythology, grew out of the saliva of Cerberus guarding the gates of Hades. What does another exhibit in the collection of WMM – Herbarium by Szymon Syreniusz – say about it?
Shoes – although damaged and worn out, they are like fingerprints; the leather from which they are made adopts a specific shape and fits so that they could be used as a mould for making a cast of the foot. In forensic science, a footprint is as important as fingerprints. The study of such prints (footprints, shoe soles, animal prints...
On one of the seven hills of Rome – the Esquiline Hill – caves full of ancient paintings were excavated around 1480 under the foundations of medieval buildings. Their walls were decorated with fantastic, light and symmetrical structures created of figural, animal and floral motifs. La grotte, or caves, were in fact ruins of the villa of the Emperor Nero. It was called Domus Aurea because of the extraordinarily rich decoration of the walls and the inner part of the dome, which were covered with gold and paintings. They were created between AD 54 and 68 and related to the turn of the Third Style and Fourth Style of Pompeian painting.
Konstancja Studzińska (1787–1853) była pierwszą kobietą w Europie, która ukończyła studia i otrzymała dyplom magistra farmacji. Fakt ukończenia studiów farmaceutycznych przez kobietę w 1 poł. XIX wieku, w czasie, kiedy kobiety nie miały możliwości studiowania, można uznać za wyjątkowy. Konstancja Studzińska pracowała wówczas w prowadzonej przez siostry zakonne aptece szpitala św. Łazarza w Krakowie. Władze uniwersyteckie zarzucały zakonnym aptekarkom niekompetencję i dążyły do tego, by zarządzanie apteką przekazać odpowiednio przygotowanym do zawodu aptekarzom.
Prezentowana drewniana puszka w kulistym kształcie służyła w aptece do pozłacania i posrebrzania pigułek. W ten sposób łagodzono ich przykry smak, a także zabezpieczano przed wysychaniem i psuciem. Sposób powlekania pigułek złotem można znaleźć na przykład w Farmacyi Teodora...
This specimen from the collection of The Geological Museum of the AGH University of Science and Technology is unusual, because in its crystal structure is a foreign body. This phenomenon is called inclusion (known as organic infix too). Inclusion has its strict regularities, for example – the presence of another mineral in the mineral, like diamond in a diamond structure. Sometimes, completely by accident...
The process of producing vessels of white porcelain is regarded as being exceptionally difficult, since, as it is baked in a furnace, small particles can easily permeate inside, and they can dye the porcelain forms, thus disrupting the whole process. One of the most outstanding contemporary hakuji artist is Manji Inoue (born 1929), the Japanese creator who was awarded, in 1995, with the honourable title of “The Living National Treasure” (Ningen Kokuhō).
The sculpture presents a classicist bust of a young woman with a slightly bent head turned to the right. Admittedly, a faint resemblance of the artistic vision of the German sculptor to the actual figure raised doubts, but how many times have images been idealised, beautifying the portrayed individuals and making them look younger?
The present anonymous painting depicts the famous Grotta del Cane [it. Cave of Dogs]. It is located near Naples, by Lake Agname. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the cave was one of the tourist attractions of the region, visited by aristocrats and intellectuals travelling across Italy as part of so-called Grand Tour: a journey through the Old Continent, which was a traditional stage in the education of European elites.
A wooden watering can, covered with salt crystals, is undoubtedly an original, but also a typical, object. Many of the objects left by the miners in the mine, especially those that were sunk in brine (salt water), changed their appearance and...