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.”
The present plaque in the form of tondo is sometimes mistakenly described as a representation of The Three Graces. In reality, the relief depicts three personifications of art: painting (the woman on the left, holding a palette), architecture (the woman in the middle, holding a model of a building) and sculpture (the man holding the head of a statue). Inspired by ancient art, Poplawski used a characteristic composition typical of the depiction of the Graces, and the characters are represented as idealized nude figures.
In ancient Greece, if you were harmed by someone whom you were unable to bring into court (e.g. a citizen of another city), you could seek compensation, with the consent of your polis, by seizing the property of the apprehended perpetrator or even the property of any other (innocent!) citizen of the same city from where the criminal came. This procedure was referred to as syle. Special places where individuals threatened with syle were offered sanctuary were known as asylia, which is the origin of today’s term “asylum”.
The present sculpture was gifted to the Academy of Fine Arts by the artist himself, on the occasion of the university awarding him with an honorary doctorate in 2003. Simultaneously, a large exhibition of the sculptor’s works took place in Kraków. Igor Mitoraj (1944–2014) studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków under tutelage of Tadeusz Kantor. After graduation, he went to Paris, where he made his debut as a painter and graphic designer. Over time, the artist abandoned the arts he was trained in in favour of sculpture. He also gave up on following progressive trends in arts, and, since then, his artistic works represent realism inspired by the antiquity.
A statue of a young man carrying a spear (gr. Δορυφόρος, Doryphoros) was found in Pompeii in front of the entrance to the so-called Samnite Palaestra in 1797. The statue is made of Carrara marble and originally stood on a pedestal made of volcanic tuff. It dates back to the 2nd or 1st century BC and is a copy of a lost bronze original made by Polykleitos in the 5th century BC. The statue from Pompeii in Naples (Museo Nazionale, inv. No. 6011) is considered the most complete copy of the classic sculpture.
The plaster cast, located in the corridor of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków, represents a dancing satyr, playing on small plates similar to castanets and tapping out a rhythm on the scabellum (Gr. κρουπέζιον, pronunciation: krupézion, Latin scabellum): a type of percussive instrument in the form of a sandal made of wood with a double, movable sole fitted with small plates.
The original Greek statue was found in 1820 on the Cycladic island of Milos (ancient Greek: Μῆλος, pronounced: Mêlos modern Greek: Μήλος, pronounced: Mýlos) and purchased by Marquis de Rivière, who, back then, was the ambassador of France in Istanbul. He gave the sculpture to Louis XVIII, who, in the following year, handed it over to the Louvre, where it remains to this day. The Aphrodite of Milos became part of the French national collection of antiques, which was to compete with the collections of the British Museum, slightly earlier enriched with the Elgin Marbles: sculptures and reliefs imported from the Acropolis in Athens by Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin.
The clay red-figure vessel comes from Kerch — a Greek colony situated on the Black Sea. It was made in the so-called Kerch style and is dated back to the 4th century BC. The edge of the vessel is trimmed with an ornament of an egg-and-dart encircling the figural scene. On the one side there is Arimaspian fighting with a gryphon. The warrior is dressed in a tunic and trousers — anaxyrides.
The plaster statue of a wild boar in the collection of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków is a copy of an ancient sculpture stored in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. This marble representation of a wild boar comes from Roman times and is a copy of the lost Hellenistic original probably made in Lysippos’circles. The Roman statue of a wild boar was presented to the Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo I de Medici (1519–1574) by Pope Pius IV (1499–1565). At the request of Cosimo de Medici, the sculptor Pietro Tacca (1577–1640) made a bronze copy, which contributed to the popularization of the statue.