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Indigenous Customs and Rituals in Polish Art of the 19th and 20th Century

12.12.2016-14.01.2018 Indigenous Customs and Rituals in Polish Art of the 19th and 20th Century

The National Museum in Krakow has prepared its second art presentation in the Presidential Palace. It is centred around indigenous traditions and customs, which are reflected in Polish painting of the 19th and 20th century. The exhibition consists of 39 paintings depicting Polish religious and secular traditions associated both with folk customs and the ethos of the gentry.

'The calendar of liturgy and rituals of the Catholic Church served as key to the selection of nearly forty works, though pieces related to broadly defined culture of the gentry were also displayed. This is the first exhibition of this type in the history of Polish museums' – the NMK Director Andrzej Betlej wrote in its catalogue.

Paintings by Józef Chełmoński and Leon Wyczółkowski devoted to the cult of the Virgin Mary constitute the focus of the Column Hall. They are accompanied by works of Jacek Malczewski, Włodzimierz Tetmajer, Witold Pruszkowski and Marian Zarembski depicting worship services and private prayers.

The painting Hall presents works related to Christmas and Easter celebrations, including works by Jacek Malczewski, Włodzimierz Tetmajer, Józef Chełmoński, Tadeusz Makowski, Ludwik de Laveaux, Teresa Roszkowska. They are complemented by works by Teodor Axentowicz, Józef Czajkowski and Antoni Piotrowski referring to the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord – commonly called the feast of Candlemas, processions through the fields, and folk wedding customs.

The Antechamber is decorated with works by Michał Stachowicz – the first Polish painter who depicted Polish customs and rituals – and those by Artur Grottger and Franciszek Kostrzewski.

The Small Vestibule presents works by Walery Eljasz Radzikowski, Ferdynand Ruszczyc, Witold Pruszkowski and Zofia Stryjeńska, which illustrate traditions associated with Midsummer night – lighting bonfires, throwing wreaths and searching for the fern flower.

In the Hall of the Round Table, one can see five paintings from the 1980s, known as the 'decade of resistance'. The atmosphere prevalent in the society back then is reflected in the paintings by Krakow artists: Stanisław Rodziński, Elżbieta Arend-Sobocka, Paweł Taranczewski and Jacek Sroka.

The display in the Staircase is dedicated to Tadeusz Kosciuszko, the General of the Crown Army of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Supreme Head of the National Armed Forces in the 1794 Uprising, a participant in the struggle for independence of the United States of America. 2016 marks 270 years since his birth, while 2017 will see the 200th anniversary of his death, and 2018 – the 200th anniversary of bringing his ashes into Poland and their ceremonial burial in the royal tombs at Wawel. Works presented here are associated with this last event. Four paintings by Michał Stachowicz adorned the sides of the catafalque with Kosciuszko's coffin in the Krakow Cathedral in 1818. The entire funeral decoration (castrum doloris) is depicted in a painting by Teodor Baltazar Stachowicz, while the background for these works presents a View of the Wawel Castle – a 19th-century copy of a 1847 painting by Jan Nepomucen Głowacki.

Curator: Wacława Milewska
Coordinator: Katarzyna Pawłowska
Layout: Luiza Berdak
Conservation: Anna Rydzewska

Autor: Katarzyna Bik
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