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Friday, 22 November 2013

3rd Time's A Charm!!!

Dear friends,

As you well know both me and my fiance tried our best to get to The Lady With An Ermine but be had no luck twice! Both time I dressed up properly, wore a dress and braided my hair in the hope of seeing Cecilia face to face... both times we have failed... but the 3rd time was indeed (as the saying states!) the charm! Both me and my awesome fiancee took a day off on Tuesday (we took a TIL - for all the newbies in the Polish Law - Labor Law - for each National Day off you can take a free day off during that day or any other day in the quarter of the year. Hence we took one from the 1st November...). Tuesday was apparently a lucky day for us... We arrived at the Castle at 8:45 am and the line was already established with around 60 people at least... And the Wawel Ticket Boxes opened that day at 9:15 am so imagine that!!!
!!!IMPORTANT!!! As far as I could figure out/see there are only around 350 tickets per day to see The Lady With An Ermine!!!
We managed to get tickets for both the Crown Treasury and Armoury + The Lady With An Ermine and we eagerly went for the queue. The Treasury was booked at 9:50 am and The Lady was at 11:00 am... Yup! The tickets for The Lady purely vaporized! When we were waiting on a bench after seeing The Treasury I overheard a lady who just came out from the boxes and said that she had tickets for 1 pm (tickets are only until 3pm, dear friends!) so I was very glad we wake up early and had an early start :)
Everyone who sees her - even if too late
To see her alive - will say: that suffices for us
To understand what is nature and what art.
- Bernardo Bellincioni, poet at the court of Ludovico Sforza

Crown Treasury

The exhibition is located on the ground floor of the north-eastern corner of the castle. It is related to the historic institution of the Crown Treasury once located here, which was a visible sign of the independence of the Kingdom of Poland, and later of the Commonwealth of the Two Nations. From the 14th century the insignia of royal power were stored here (crowns, sceptres, orbs, a sword, the Book of Gospels and a tray used in the ceremony of anointing a ruler), as well as a variety of valuables and curiosities which were official state property. At the same time in the castle the monarch’s private treasury consisting of the personal insignia, valuables and ornamental vessels was established. The assets of the Crown Treasury, augmented by diplomatic gifts and royal bequests, including the last will of Sigismund Augustus, were not on public display.
Single objects were only removed on special occasions, primarily for coronation ceremonies. Lists were made of the Crown Treasury’s content during regular audits. The first special public presentation of royal insignia took place in 1792. Three years later the Prussians broke into the Treasury and almost completely destroyed its contents.
Following the destruction of the royal insignia by the Prussians and the loss of almost all the treasures, the new collection, systematically augmented since 1930, only gives an inkling of the old magnificence of the place. Yet, it does include significant works of art, among them some historic artefacts, at the head of which is the Szczerbiec coronation sword - the most significant Polish historic artefact.

The Casimir the Great's Room

Zoom in - The Casimir the Great Room
The Casimir the Great Room
Casimir the Great’s Room is the only remaining example of a formal apartment from the time of the last Piast kings (the first half of the 14th century), with relics of a fresco bearing the monogram of Queen Jadwiga (the end of the 14th century). A massive pillar that runs through the centre of all three levels of the Gothic tower residence is the inspiration for the name it was given: the Hen’s Foot. Today, the first room of the Treasury houses precious stones (dating from 2nd C. BC  to 18th C. AD), among them the gem of the Lanckoroński family, a Roman pendant found on Wawel, as well as medieval religious vessels, such as a chalice commissioned by Casimir the Great, and treasures belonging to Polish rulers, including a pair of candlesticks with the coat of arms of Stefan Batory, a paten and a chessboard belonging to Sigismund III Vasa, a precious stone with the medallion of Vladislas IV Vasa, a vessel in the shape of an eagle from John Casimir’s collection or a miniature of Augustus III Sas in a diamond case, and also ornamental vessels and clocks from the 16th to 18th C.

The Jadwiga i Jagiello's Room

Zoom in - The Jadwiga i Jagiello
The Jadwiga i Jagiello's Room
Jadwiga and Jagiello’s Room is located in the Gothic pavilion which dates from the end of 14th century, later called the Danish Tower. The most valuable artefacts saved from the original Treasury are on display here: Szczerbiec - the coronation sword of Polish kings and a sword which belonged to Sigismund I the Old.

The room in the Sigismund III Tower

The room is located in Sigismund III’s Tower, which was constructed around 1600. The honourable insignia of John III Sobieski are exhibited here: the mantle of a Knight of the Order of the Holy Ghost received in 1676 from the King Louis XIV of France, and a consecrated sword and headwear presented by Pope Innocent XI in 1684.

The room with Ceremonial Weapons

This room with ceremonial weapons houses primarily part of spoils of war from 17th-century Polish military campaigns. Among these are trophies from the Vienna campaign (1683), mainly artistically decorated equestrian equipment, made in the most noted Turkish, Persian and Polish workshops of the 17th and 18th centuries. Here the military objects from the armoury of John III Sobieski in Żółkiew can also be admired.


Room 1.

Shaft weapons and two-handed swords are exhibited in the entrance hall to the Armoury. The main exhibits are representational halberds used by court and city guards. Some of them are richly decorated and bear the coats of arms of such rulers as: Archduke Ferdinand (who later became the Emperor), Archduke Ernest, Ferdinand the Prince of Bavaria, and the Archbishops of Salzburg: Wolf Dietrich von Reitenau, and Paris and Francis Lodron.
The 16th century glaives bearing the coats of arms of the Saxon dynasty of Wettin and the figure of Lucrecia is of unique artistic value. A group of partisans from the court guards of John Casimir, Michael Korybut Wiśniowiecki, John III Sobieski, Augustus II the Strong and Augustus III the Saxon has connections with Poland. The collection of two-handed swords from the 16th and early 17th centuries, along with the sword used by Julius II of Brunswick’s guardsmen is also very valuable.

Room 2.

Zoom in - Room 2.
Room 2.
Suits of armour are exhibited in this room. The complete German plated suits of armour from the 16th and early 17th centuries are examples of the medieval tradition.
Especially noteworthy, for its exquisite construction and aesthetic value, is a tournament suit of armour from the Court of Artus in Gdańsk made by the Nurembergian armourer Konrad Poler c. 1490.  Most exhibits are half-suits of Polish Hussars’ armour from the 17th century, among them a unique item with its original wings. The scaled suits of armour used in Poland in the late 17th and in the first half of the 18th centuries are real rarities.

Room 3.

Zoom in - Room 3.
Room 3.
This room contains western European weapons from the late 15th to the early 19th centuries. There are medieval and modern swords, rapiers, cavalrymen’s swords and sabres. Particularly eye-catching are ceremonial artefacts, richly decorated and made in the best German, Italian, French and Spanish centres. Among the elements of protective suits of armour, two very rare hussar kapalins from the end of the 17th century deserve particular attention. A small collection of Polish sabres contains select examples of curved swords, hussar sabres, and a unique czeczuga (an Armenian sabre). An important historic artefact is the pommel of a cavalryman’s sword which belonged to the Grand Crown Hetman Stanislas Jabłonowski, a participant in the battle of Vienna (1683).

Room 4.

Zoom in - Room 4.
Room 4.
This room houses hand and projectile weapons. The exhibits include magnificent rifles, arquebuses, patrinals and pistols, ivory-incrusted and with etched decoration, from German, Silesian, French, Spanish and Polish factories (16th to the early 19th centuries). There are also interesting, primarily German, cross-bows used for hunting and sports with one beautiful piece made in Poland in 1725 for the Crown Chamberlain Kazimierz Poniatowski.


Zoom in - Basement
The final part of the exhibition is located in three basement rooms, one of which is 14th C. Gothic (with a vault supported by a central pillar) and two Renaissance rooms from the first half of the 16th century. Along the walls there are cannons, howitzers and mortars – ranging from small ceremonial cannons to huge outdoor ones. Two small cannons (from the mid 16th C.)  cast by the Nurembegian founder, Oswald Baldner, commissioned by Sigismund Augustus, are examples of exquisite artistry. A collection of barrels which bear the coats of arms of Polish kings, hetmans and noblemen, the work of celebrated metal casters, is one of the most valuable in the country (alongside the Polish Army Museum collection in Warsaw) and are considered important throughout Europe.
Copies of banners captured from the Teutonic Knights at Grunwald in 1410 hang under the vault in the first basement, reflecting the tradition of bringing trophies captured from an enemy to Wawel Castle. These banners were recreated in the 20th C. from very detailed descriptions by Jan Dlugosz and miniatures by Stanisław Durinek in his work entitled Banderia Prutenorum. 

Acquisitions 2012

Zoom in -
Temporary exhibition 5 XI 2013–31 I 2014
The exhibition presents works of art acquired by theWawel Royal Castle in 2012. During the past year the museum’s collections of painting and decorative arts grewby nearly one hundred objects acquired through purchases, gifts, and deposits. Especially noteworthy are purchases of precious seventeenth- and eighteenth- century silver and porcelain.

The museum acquired a Baroque silver cup, the finest example of secular Polish goldsmith’s work to appear on the western European market in recent years. The monumental 50 cm high cup was made in 1680 by Joachim Scholtz (active 1674–1695) in Leszno. The cup’s rich and intricate decorationmarks it as an  object of luxury, possiblymade for the Leszczyński family. Two display tankards, splendid examples of Gdańsk Baroque silver, and a unique coin beaker appliedwith approximately fifty Sigismund I three-grosz pieces are outstanding additions to  the Crown Treasury exhibition.

The Wawel porcelain collection obtained fine early pieces from the Meissen manufactory—a Hausmaler eagle teapot and a teabowl and saucer from the service of Maria Leszczyńska, queen of France. The museum purchased a cup and saucer from the same service 2009.

The Death of Priam, a 1756 picture by Tadeusz Kuntze (1727–1793), one of the leading Polish painters of the eighteenth century, was the outstanding paintings acquisition of the year. It was purchased with the support of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland. Also on view are oils and drawings significant to the iconography of the Wawel and the Castle of Pieskowa Skała. Foremost among these is the Interior of the Báthory Chapel in the Wawel Cathedral by Marcin Zaleski (1796–1877), a gifted painter of church interiors and
vedute. The collections were enriched by a set of sketches for wall paintings and stained glass for the restoration of The Chapel of the Holy Trinity in theWawel Cathedral and a conceptual project for the restoration and arrangement of selected rooms in the Wawel Castle. Both sets of sketches are byWłodzimierz Tetmajer (1861–1923).

A number of varied and beautifully crafted copper objects were acquired for the Metalwork Department. These include tableware and other objects of everyday use made in Germany, Italy, and Poland in the seventeenth through eighteenth centuries. A cast-bronze miniature of the sarcophagus of Casimir IV Jagiellon in the Chapel of the Holy Cross of theWawel Cathedralwas added to the collection ofminiatures of royal tombs.

A pair of eighteenth-century French flintlock pistols is associated with Wawrzyniec Potocki (arms – Szeliga), a member of the Confederation of Bar (1768–1772). Other notable acquisitions include jewelry, an alabaster cartouchewith the Półkozic arms, seals fromthe eighteenth through nineteenth centuries, and an exceptional piece of historical memorabilia—a snuff box (tabatière) made by Tadeusz Kościuszko.
As I have said before, all pictures inside the Wawel Castle are forbidden so the descriptions and the pictures above are from the Wawel Castle site - which is in both English and Polish language, so fear not! But The collages are my own hand ;) tell me if you like them and if you enjoy the details of this lovely place :) I know I do love this place :) A lot!!! And to top it all up, I must admit that this Tuesday was magical not only because I managed to see Lady Cecilia  for the first time :) (YES! I plan to see her again and stare in her eyes again until my fiance will drag me away...) but also because we managed to see the Manggha Museum - The Japanese Museum in Krakow :) But you will find out more about that in a few days ;) Now I will leave you with Cecilia's story ;) (YES! We are already on the first name basis :p).

Everyone who sees her - even if too late
To see her alive - will say: that suffices for us
To understand what is nature and what art.
- Bernardo Bellincioni, poet at the court of Ludovico Sforza

Wawel Royal Castle, Krakow, Poland, May 10, 2012 – With these words the Bernardo Bellincioni concluded his ode on the portrait of Cecilia Gallerani, Leonardo da Vinci’s splendid "Lady with an Ermine" (ca. 1490, oil on panel; Princes Czartoryski Foundation, Krakow on Deposit in the National Museum, Krakow). One of Leonardo’s undisputed masterpieces, the portrait of the beloved mistress of Ludovico Sforza “Il Moro,” duke of Milan, will be on view at the Wawel Royal Castle until the completion of the major renovation now underway at the Princes Czartoryski Museum in Krakow.

The exhibition is organized by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, the Princes Czartoryski Foundation, Krakow, the National Museum, Krakow, and the Wawel Royal Castle.

Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski acquired the portrait in Italy in about 1800 and gave it to his mother Izabela, who was preparing to open the first public museum in Poland on her estate in Puławy (approx. 80 miles southeast of Warsaw). The painting was put on view in the “Gothic House,” which opened to the public in 1809. Czartoryska initially exhibited the work as a portrait of an unknown lady, but later, based on the picture’s similarity to another portrait by Leonardo in the Louvre, she identified the sitter as La Belle Ferronnière – the celebrated mistress of Francis I of France.

At the turn of the 20th century Polish art historians first suggested the "Lady" may be the missing portrait of Cecilia Gallerani. Bellincioni’s poem, composed soon after the portrait was completed, and extant correspondence between Gallerani and Isabella d’Este helped scholars identify the picture as such; however, the sitter’s identity continued to be a subject of debate until Gallerani’s life dates were firmly established in 1992.

The Sforzas and Krakow
"The Lady with an Ermine" will be displayed in a room in the west wing of the Wawel Castle endowed with a magnificent Renaissance bay window designed and carved by Francesco Fiorentino in the early 1500s. In an interesting historical twist, the room was once part of the apartment of Queen Bona Sforza, the second wife of Sigismund I the Old of Poland. Further, Leonardo had produced the stage sets for Bellincioni’s "Feast of Paradise" performed at the wedding of Bona’s parents Gian Galeazzo Sforza, Ludovico’s nephew, and Isabella of Aragon. Under Sigismund I and Bona, Renaissance Poland saw a consolidation of political power and a great flourishing of the arts and humanities.

Cecilia Gallerani
The beautiful and intelligent Gallerani made her debut at the court of Milan early in 1489 and quickly caught Ludovico’s eye. Engrossed in his romance with Cecilia, the duke kept putting off his impending marriage to Isabella d’Este, which finally took place in January 1491. A few months later Cecelia bore him a son, Cesare. The portrait is an allegory of their love. The ermine (galée in Greek; ermellino in Italian) Cecelia holds alludes to both her surname and to Ludovico who, after receiving the Order of the Ermine from the King of Naples, was sometimes also called “Ermellino Bianco.” Since antiquity the ermine had been a symbol of purity because of its snow-white winter coat. The talented Gallerani was a poet in her own right, praised as a “great light of the Italian language.” Unfortunately, none of her poems have survived.

A Brief History of the Painting
After Gallerani died in 1536, the portrait disappeared for several centuries before it resurfaced in Poland in 1800. From then on it shared the country’s turbulent history. Poland had been partitioned by Austria, Prussia, and Russia in the late 18th century; the 19th century was marked by unrest. The 1830 uprising against Russia forced Princess Izabela Czartoryska to evacuate her collection from Puławy, just ahead of approaching Tsarist troops. The collection found refuge in the Hôtel Lambert, the Czartoryski residence-in-exile on the Île St. Louis in Paris. The turmoil of the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71) and the Paris Commune (1871), conversely, convinced her grandson, Prince Władyslaw Czartoryski to bring the collection back to Poland. The "Lady with an Ermine" was installed in the Czartoryski Museum in Krakow, which opened in 1876.

During World War I, the painting was evacuated to Dresden’s Gemäldegalerie for safe-keeping; it returned to Krakow in 1920. Confiscated by the Nazis at the beginning of World War II, along with other important paintings from the collection it was earmarked for Adolf Hitler’s planned museum in Linz. It wound up, however, in the hands of Hans Frank, governor general of occupied Poland who had taken up residence in the Wawel Castle, and returned to Krakow once more to adorn his apartment. At the end of the war the Leonardo was sent to Germany; recovered in 1945 it was returned to Poland. Political changes in Poland saw the incorporation of the Czartoryski Museum into the National Museum in Krakow. In 1991, the Princes Czartoryski Foundation was established and recognized as owner of the entire collection including the Leonardo. However, the collection has remained on deposit in the National Museum in Krakow.

During this period the painting has been carefully examined by conservators. In-depth technical studies have made it possible to confirm the authenticity of the work and to assess the picture’s physical condition. Despite the 19th-century overpainting of the background, the Lady with an Ermine is one of Leonardo’s best preserved pictures and most of the main elements exhibit no subsequent restoration.


Exhibition open:
  • April through October
    Tuesday–Friday: 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
    Saturday–Sunday: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • November, December
    Tuesday–Saturday: 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
    closed on Sundays and Monday
  • January through March
    Tuesday–Saturday: 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
    Sunday 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
    closed on Mondays
Last entry one hour before exhibition closes.

Admission: 10 PLN (normal), 8 PLN (reduced)
Tickets sold at ticket offices only.

Now I dearly hope that you guys will one day see her too :)

**This post was made out of love for Lady Cecilia & Da Vinci + the awesome Wawel Castle. I was not payed in any way to bring you this info and do this review - I just wanted to share the love for art and architecture and weaponry ;) Cheers!**

P.S. IMHO I do believe Cecilia is much more beautiful than Mona Lisa (yet less known!) - YES! I saw both of them and I did not have a crush on Mona as I do with Cecilia.
P.S.S. DO NOT DARE TO MISS THE CROWN TREASURY!!! I know I did not say much of it but both me and my awesome fiance can admit that it is THE BEST part of the Wawel and it has an impressive array of swords and fireguns and (my personal fav) crossbows!

Yours truly,
The Da Vinci/Cecilia Fan LadyBug :)

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