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The Emeryk Hutten-Czapski Collection 29.06.2013-01.03.2015 The Emeryk Hutten-Czapski Collection

The impressive collection accumulated by Emeryk Hutten-Czapski (1828–1896) consists mainly of unique numismatic objects: coins, bank notes and medals. This eminent scholar, collector and bibliophile also left an interesting collection of prints, militaria, textiles, badges, pottery, jewelry, gems, and glass as well as a vast library.

In 1903 Emeryk Hutten-Czapski’s collection, donated by his heirs to the city of Krakow, was incorporated into the holdings of the National Museum. Some of the objects are permanently on display at the Gallery of Decorative Art and the Gallery of Polish Arms and Uniforms in the Museum’s Main Building. The current exhibition at the European Centre of Numismatics presents objects held in storage, which have previously been shown only in special temporary exhibitions.

The exhibition opens with two display cabinets that contain a nobleman’s costume and a set of silk kontusz sashes. The kontusz [an outer garment with long slit sleeves that could be thrown on the shoulders] and żupan [a long inner garment with sleeves] sewn from silk taffeta, date from the 1760s. They belonged to Jan Potocki, starost of Kaniów. The kontusz sashes were made in the second half of the 18th century at the Radziwiłł Manufactory in Słuck (Lithuania). The factory, known as the “Persian works”, was run at the time by Leon Madżarski, the son of Jan. Others were produced at the Krakow manufactories of Franciszek Masłowski and the less popular Daniel Chmielowski. The excellence of their workmanship equalled that of the finest silk articles from Persia, Turkey and China.


The next two cabinets contain a selection of jewelry and accessories accompanying Polish national dress. Outstanding among these are a pendant with a cameo showing a monarch and a brooch in the shape of a sprig. The pendant, bought by Hutten-Czapski as a portrait of King Sigismund III Vasa, is in fact a representation of Emperor Rudolf II worked in jasper at the Prague studio of Ottavio Miseroni around 1595.

Signet rings with Polish and foreign coats of arms date from the 18th and 19th centuries. Among the most notable 18th-century items are rings bearing the Dołęga, Sas, Nowina and Półkozic coats of arms. Due to the absence of the owners’ initials and the popularity of these armorial bearings, it is difficult to assign the jewels to a particular family. The ring with the Świnka arms and monogram FC from the first quarter of the 19th century may be associated with the Czacki family. It belonged most likely to Feliks Czacki (1783–1862), a man of letters, historian and renowned bibliophile Guzy [sing. guz], or a type of decorative clothing buttons, date from the 17th and 18th centuries; the smaller ones were used for fastening the żupan, the larger on the kontusz.

These buttons were manufactured from gold, silver, brass and bronze. Guzy were cast, pressed and chased. They were also made in the filigree technique and adorned with granulation. Sets of buttons for formal dress could be additionally decorated with colour enamel and inlaid with precious stones.


The display of clothing is complemented by two belts in the so-called Przeworsk style, composed of a strip of leather fitted with decorative elements in the form of alternating discs and plates made of copper, brass or silver. Przeworsk-style belts were decorated with either engraved or cast ornaments. The ornamentation comprises floral motifs, e.g. acanthus leaves, and simple geometric shapes. Glass forms a separate group of objects in the collection of Emeryk Hutten-Czapski. It comes mostly from the territory of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Huta Kryształowa [Crystal Glasshouse], Naliboki, Urzecze). Of particular note are two pieces from a set: beaker and wine glass from the Crystal Glasshouse, which operated in the starosty of Lubaczów from the end of 1717 until the end of the 18th century. These objects can be associated with Walenty Aleksander Czapski (1682–1751) of the Leliwa coat of arms, bishop of Przemyśl (1735[7]–1741), and later of Kujawy-Pomerania (1741–1751).


The vessels were made of colourless glass and the owner’s coat of arms as well as episcopal insignia were cut, engraved, matted and partly polished (il. 6). The Naliboki glassworks is represented by a goblet with an elaborate intertwined monogram and a humorous inscription: Imię w Cyfrze złożone na tom tu rysował / Aby kto łaskaw na nie pić, nie rekuzował [My name in cipher is inscribed here / So that he who would toast it may drink without fear] The monogram JCPK/W makes it possible to associate the goblet with Jan Ansgary Czapski (d. 1742), who was Grand Treasurer of the Crown from 1738. Another product of the Naliboki factory from the same period is a fine large goblet with a lid and the Oginiec coat of arms, which was used exclusively by the Ogiński family (il. 5). Apart from Polish glasses, the collection of Emeryk Hutten-Czapski includes examples of Saxon glass, including those with the coats of arms of the Wettin house and wares exported to the Russian court. They are accompanied by the earliest ceramic object in the collection: an earthenware jug with the monogram AR (Augustus Rex) painted in cobalt and a tin lid which features a medal bearing an image of Augustus II.

The group of militaria consists mainly of hussar items, including six suits of half armour and two suits of karacena armour from the fourth quarter of the 17th c. The combat equipment is complemented by a saddle in a typically hussar style with the so-called Turkish decoration on the pommel and cantle (elements of the saddle tree), which were fitted with gilt sheet metal inlaid with precious stones, and a horse tack from the 1740s composed of leather headgear, breastplate and crupper, with embroidered decoration and sewn-on ornaments made of silver and partly gilt brass.


The collection of Emeryk Hutten-Czapski also includes distinctions awarded to him and members of his family, both during the period of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and under foreign rule. The collector’s grandfather, Michał Obuchowicz, is represented by a brooch with miniatures of the stars and decorations of the Order of the White Eagle and the Order of Saint Stanislaus from the second half of the 18th century. Mementoes of Karol Czapski include a Maltese Cross and its two miniatures: one framed and intended to be attached to the galloon trim, the other a miniature Commander Cross of the Knights of Malta. Emeryk Hutten-Czapski was a knight of the Order of Saint Stanislaus, as evidenced by the surviving miniature of the third class of the Order from 1857 and the star of the first class of the Order, which he was awarded by Tsar Alexander II in 1871. In 1867 he also received a silver medal for his work in the granting of land to peasants, which shows the busts of Tsars Nicholas I and Alexander II on the obverse. Emeryk Hutten-Czapski assembled the largest Polish collection of canonical distinctions in the form of cross pendants, used by cathedral and collegiate canons. The highlights of the selection on view are the cross of the canon of the collegiate church of St. John the Baptist in Warsaw from the years 1751–1763 and the slightly later cross of the canon of the Płock chapter.

Among Masonic memorabilia, the principal categories are ritual aprons, sashes with jewels, and a group of badges of individual lodges. This part of the collection was developed in stages: some of the objects were accumulated in Emeryk Hutten-Czapski’s lifetime, while others, equally important, were acquired by his wife Elżbieta, through purchases and a large donation made by Ludwika Groppler from the estate of Krzysztof and Henryk Anastazy Groppler.


Emeryk Hutten-Czapski personally collected the items that can be linked to the lodges active in Warsaw, Vilnius and Grodno as well as provincial towns such as Słuck, Kamieniec Podolski, Dubno and Rafałówka. The Warsaw lodges are represented by two badges of the Bracia Polacy Zjednoczeni [United Polish Brethren] lodge from the years 1807–1821 and badges of the Świątynia Minerwy [Temple of Minerva] and Kazimierz Wielki [Casimir the Great] lodges from the years 1815–1821. An interesting item is the emblem of thŚwiątynia Izys [Temple of Isis] lodge, with a ribbon in Polish national colours, as stipulated by a resolution passed by its members. Another rare object, a ritual dagger suspended from a black ribbon, should be attributed to Russian Freemasonry. The dagger is a symbol of revenge, envy and doubt. It was used during the initiation of an apprentice as a reference to an old Masonic legend that tells of the murder of Master Hiram –the builder of King Solomon’s Temple – by faithless pupils.

The exhibition concludes with Emeryk Hutten-Czapski’s collection of pictures of historical figures: kings, princes, national heroes and public personages connected directly or indirectly with the history of Poland.

Autor: Alicja Kilijańska

The Hutten-Czapski Museum

ul. Piłsudskiego 12, 31-109 Kraków
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