Exhibition at the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus from the Collection of the National Museum in Krakow
Napoleon Orda (1807–1883) belongs to the most interesting names in Polish art of the 19th century. The artist left behind a huge legacy: more than 1,000 drawings and watercolours depicting places visited in the years 1840–1880 during his artistic journeys, first across France, the Rhineland, Spain and Portugal, then around the Governorates of Grodno, Volhynia, Minsk, Kaunas, Vitebsk, Vilnius and Mogilev, the Grand Duchy of Posen, West Prussia and Galicia. From this output, 260 works were printed in the Album of Historical Views of Poland Dedicated to Fellow Countrymen, published in eight portfolios in the years 1873–1883.
Orda focused not only on the picturesqueness of landscapes and sites, but most of all on the historical and emotional importance of the painted views, hence the presence of so many significant places in his works. He did not limit his scope to sacral or representative architecture or picturesque ruins, but depicted – a controversial novelty at the time – industrial objects: factories, sugar refineries, mills or fulling mills. He also distanced himself from the traditional canon of beauty that required embellishment and idealization, and decided for truthful representation that did not leave out any potentially disfiguring details. His well-thought-out approach to colour schemes permitted him to capture colours characteristic of particular regions.
The year 2017 marks the 210th birthday anniversary of the artist, offering the perfect occasion for the exhibition Napoleon Orda (1807–1883). Illustrated Encyclopaedia of the Country, presenting 110 drawings and watercolours depicting views that are historically and emotionally important for both Poles and Belarusians.
It is the first such an extensive presentation of Napoleon Orda’s works outside Poland and the first such an extensive exhibition in Belarus. The presented works come from the collections of the National Museum in Krakow which holds the largest set of drawings and watercolours by Napoleon Orda.