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.
The window has lost its utilitarian character to serve as artistic material. A random pattern of cracks on a window pane, due to a blow, has been elevated to the rank of a decorative ornament. The art of destruction has simultaneously become an act of creation. Lead moulds preserve the effect of the impact of cumulative energy. The abstract pattern of the stained glass is a memento of sudden, uncontrollable expression.
A round box with a cover; it was probably used as a powder box, in the colour of milk, decorated with medallions and a blue floral painted pattern. The glass inside the powder box was painted with cobalt, hence the blue colour.
This is a decorated cast iron stove, designed for heating water in the bathroom. It consists of four parts, decorated with geometric and floral ornaments.
A mace, that is a blunt weapon consisting of a handle and a head created of vertically placed flangs (feathers), was commonly used in the Polish army of the 17th and 18th centuries, as an insignia indicating the rank of rittmeister or colonel. According to tradition, the presented mace was owned by Stefan Czarniecki, the Castellan of Kiev, later the Field Crown Hetman.
The powder horn comes from the collection of Władysław Łoziński in Lviv. It was donated to the Wawel Royal Castle by an antiquary Szymon Szwarc in 1930.
A decorative and portable piece of furniture in the form of an angular box closed with a pair of small doors and containing eight drawers. Furniture of that type, made of exotic materials, was not commonly used in Poland of the 17th century.
The wall cabinet is made of nut wood, with an architectural structure referring to the façade of a Renaissance palazzo with artistic decoration of human figures and heads fully sculpted. A series of drawers and lockers in symmetrical arrangement are placed around the centrally located architectural construction door. It is placed on a secondary adjusted table, made in the 2nd half of the 19th century — especially for this particular cabinet.
Guild maces symbolised the power of guild seniors. They looked like the military maces of the officers back then. The mace consisted of a shaft and a head composed of radially arranged insets called feathers. The exhibit presented here belonged to the Kraków guild of bricklayers, masons and carpenters. It was made of brass, the handle was covered with decorative, gilded metal plates; the feathers with openwork floral decorations were silvered.
This piece of furniture is an example of the small cabinets that were popular in the 2nd half of the 17th and the 1st half of the 18th century. Its typical elements include a small wooden body with a folding door, small drawers, a hiding place, and a metal open-work decoration on the sides made of engraved iron sheet with a set of stylised plant motifs, figures of people, angels, and animals.
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.
Photomontage using combination print. The composition is made through repeated imprinting of one or more negatives on an appropriately masked paper. Zofia Kulik’s collages are complex visual texts. Each carries a message that has been carefully devised and executed.
The exhibit comes from the collection of the Field Museum No. 2 established by Polish soldiers who fought in Egypt during the WW II. The creator and spiritus movens of this unique project was Jarosław Sagan. The head, with relatively shallow sculpting is a simplified form of a Corinthian capital. It could have been based on classical extended examples from Byzantine architecture. It consists of two zones, with the lower row made in a shallow relief resembling stylised acanthus. The leaves in the upper row, which are carved deeper in marble, spread towards four edges under the rectangular abacus.
Nature, seemingly unpredictable, surprises us with its regularity, rhythm, and sometimes even the creation of geometric forms. Perfect ripples on the water, geese flying in a V-formation, mushrooms forming a circle in the forest - they arouse admiration, but the surprise at their discovery is greater. This impression results from the association of the sense of order being a property belonging solely to the human mind, and being the result of its production, in contrast to the irregularity which characterises the living world. However, this could not be more wrong.
The grotesque tapestry with a monogram of King Sigismund Augustus (SA – Sigismundus Augustus) and a globe is part of a series of decorative textiles in which the royal monogram plays the major role. Before our eyes, an extravaganza unfolds of ancient gods, birds, animals, fruit and flower garlands. On the axis of the composition is placed an oval shield with the monogram of the king, covered with a closed crown. A richly decorated frame is surrounded by a wreath of fruit. Aside from apples, grapes and lemons, there is also a pineapple, brought to Europe by Christopher Columbus.
The tapestry is part of a group of twelve textiles with the coats of arms of Poland and Lithuania against a background of ornamentation called Netherlandish grotesque. It belongs to a subgroup in which the coats of arms of both parts of the Commonwealth are entrusted to the care of the Roman goddess Ceres – a patron of peace, abundance and prosperity. The slender female figure in robes, modelled on clothing of ancient statues, holds a sickle and cornucopia, and stands in the middle on a marble podium. The sickle in her hand and a wreath of grain ears on her head bring associations with summer – the season of harvest, while the cornucopia symbolises prosperity.
A tapestry of the same size and the same function as the tapestry with the Monogram of Sigismund Augustus in Cartouche. It belongs to a group of three monogram grotesques with the initials SA inscribed within an oval medallion. In the middle of the composition, there is a blue convex medallion with the entwined initials SA under a closed crown, placed against a background of a drapery supported by two angels sitting on crosspieces of a metal frame (a motif typical of Netherlandish grotesque).
An elegant piece of furniture made from boxwood with an upholstered seat and a high backrest, which is characterised by its richly carved ornamentation. The chair is associated with Andrea Brustolon of Venice, who was one of the most original sculptors and artists of the Venetian Baroque.
The fashion of taking snuff, common in Europe of the 17th and 18th centuries, sparked the creation of a separate category of containers. Maiolica pharmaceutical vases were used for selling snuff, various other tins for storing it, and different forms of snuffboxes, including those made of porcelain, were used for taking it.
Along with the growing popularisation of overseas beverages such as coffee, tea and chocolate, European manufactories also designed vessels used to hold them. At the beginning, they were modelled on familiar Chinese or Japanese forms, but then, gradually, the models took on new shapes unknown to the East.