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.
One of the most valuable objects in the Museum in Tarnów, due to its artistic status, is a goblet with a lid, and with a depiction of 12 months. It is associated with Saxony, with the Royal Glassworks in Dresden. It has a structure typical of celebratory chalices, and it is additionally enriched with a conical decorative lid.
This is one of the tallest glass goblets preserved in Polish collections, fully covered with a cut design, the so-called carp scales, a decoration that is unique in its kind, typical only of products made in the Crystal Glassworks in Lubaczów.
The glassworks in Naliboki, in the estate of the Nieśwież line of the Radziwiłł family, was founded in 1722 by Anna née Sanguszko Radziwiłł, the widow of Karol Stanisław. The glass factory was very modern, superbly organised, and was no worse a plant than European ones.
The decoration engraved on the bowl depicts the mythological scene presenting Orpheus sitting under a tree and playing the lyre, surrounded by animals. On the other side the inscription, “Orpheus playing assumedly with a tree and animals”, with spelling mistakes, which allows for attributing this exhibit to Saxon engravers from the Hein family working at that time in the Radziwiłł glassworks in Naliboki.
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.
Kiddush translates from Hebrew as “sanctification.” The ceremony is celebrated at the beginning of the Sabbath and other holidays, by saying a special blessing over a cup of red sweet wine (or red grape juice).
Aside from its practical functions, the silver tableware collected and stored in Old Polish houses also had representative functions. There was also a separate group of dishes of a primarily decorative character, whose original, sophisticated form, perfection of composition, and materials used for their production were to dazzle and delight the guests.
Marcin Marciniak and Jan Sapiński did not suppose that the morning of 3 May 1909 would bring anything special and change their lives in any way whatsoever. While our working in a field, after the plough hit something, one of them found a hard object. The vessel, enveloped in clay, turned out to be one of the most valuable preserved monuments of the artistic craft of pre-Romanesque art, associated with the beginning of Christianity on Polish soil...
Maria Dembowska, along with her husband, Bronisław, gathered one of the first ethnographic collections of the Podhale region). One of the items she donated to the Museum in 1922 was a wooden model of a church chalice designed by Stanisław Witkiewicz...
The chalice was a gift for John Paul II from the President of Senegal, Abdou Dioufan, presented to the Holy Father during his pilgrimage to Senegal from 19 February to 23 February 1992.
At the beginning of 1657, the lands of southern Poland were invaded by George II Rakoczi’s army of 40 thousand soldiers. The army was supposed to give support to the Swedish headquarters in Kraków. The vicinity of Kraków was doomed by the presence of the new invaders.
In the case of the Tarnów collection, the cultural background of the epoch has its counterparts in the Sarmatian culture, characterised by the owner’s need for the ostentatious presentation of his affluence and wealth. The primacy of nobility and magnates, who were in possession of huge estates and enjoyed wide privileges in the 18th century, influenced the development and industrialisation of the country.
The chalice foot is made on a six-leaf plan, the foot coat and a hexagonal sleeve are decorated with a grapevine spike on a gold-plated background, with six silver medallions with engraved scenes: the Birth of Christ, the Last Supper, the Risen Christ, the Gathering of Manna, the Grape Harvest, the Harvest.
The chalice was made in a Roman workshop around 1360. It is set on a ten-leaved foot base with a pedestal, decorated with a geometric decoration strip. The chalice foot is covered with a smooth coat, with an applied medallion containing an engraved coat of arms surrounded by laurel leaves in the field and on the opposite side of the coat with an enamelled cameo showing a Crucifixion Group. The upper base is finished with a ring with a strip of geometric decoration analogous to the base.
The pyx was purchased for the collection in 1998. Probably it is from an unknown village in the Gorlice region. After the war, she was kept at the family of a priest from a local village, as a unused. A pyx (Latin: ciborium, pyxis) is a container used to carry the consecrated host. It takes the form of a cup with a matching lid.
The chalice is an example of seventeenth-century goldsmithing in Małopolska, with features typical of the workshops of the region such as a slim and smooth bowl set in a basket, an oval nodus, repoussé decorations, and motifs of heads of winged cherubs, which was a common element of the decoration of gold products from Kraków in that period.
Church confraternities, which boasted about having a separate chapel or a side altar, completed the religious life of parishioners. The first confraternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, established in Niepołomice by Cardinal Zbigniew Oleśnicki, worked efficiently for one and a half centuries, but in 1596 a church inspector found it, as he described, in a state of “devotional and interment” activity.
The Włocławek cup is the most precious and one of the oldest exhibits of decorative art from the collections at the National Museum in Kraków. It was made in the 1st half of the 10th century, presumably in a workshop located on the territory of Lorraine or Alemannia.