Forget Rome and Paris. If you are visiting Poland then you have to know this fact: Warsaw is one of the greatest European capitals for visiting art work! This city holds a complex historical culture that’s reflected in its art. From the monarchy to the German occupation, this is a list of some of the most famous pieces of art you can visit in Warsaw.
The Battle of Grunwald Bell by Jan Matejko
This painting depicts a scene of the famous Battle of Grunwald, fought in 1410. The conflict is one of the most important battles of the Polish and Lithuanian history because it represented a great victory over the Teutonic Order. The painting was created by Polish painter Jan Matejko in a three year period, starting in 1875 and finishing in 1878. It was made out of oil on canvas and measures 426 x 897 centimeters (168 x 389 inches).
The central focus of the piece is the death Ulrich von Jungingen, the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, by the hands of Vytautas the Great, the Lithuanian Grand Duke. Matejko based his depiction of the battle on a book called The Annals written by Jan Dlugosz. Also, the painter made an extensive research of the grounds were the encounter took place. The Battle of Grunwald was one of the artworks that topped the lists of most wanted paintings during the occupation of Poland by the Nazis. Even Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany, offered a bounty of 10 million marks for it.
Many people died trying to keep its location secret. The painting went through some restorations, and nowadays it’s located in The National Museum, Warsaw as part of a permanent exhibition. This museum opens from Tuesday to Sunday, and the cost for visiting permanent exhibitions is around 15 PLN per person.
The Girl in a Picture Frame by Rembrandt
Also known as The Jewish Bride and The Girl in a Hat. This is an oil on panel painting created in 1641 by Rembrandt, one of the most prolific Dutch painters of his time. The Girl in a Picture Frame is part of a collection of artwork located in The Royal Castle in Warsaw, a building that served as a residency for the Polish monarchy but nowadays functions as a museum.
This work by Rembrandt was one of three pieces made by him that were given to the museum; the other ones are The Scholar at the Lectern and Landscape with Good Samaritan. These pieces were transferred to The Royal Castle collection in 1994, thanks to the efforts of Countess Karolina Lanckorońska, a World War II resistance fighter and historian. You can find The Girl in a Picture Frame in a room dedicated to the Countess, here you’ll see 36 others paintings donated by Lanckorońska.
If you’re in Warsaw, take some time to visit this wondrous painting by Rembrandt; you can go to The Royal Castle from Tuesday to Sunday. The average entrance cost rounds the 20 PLN.
King Sigismund’s Column by Constantino Tencalla and Clemente Molli
This landmark was created to commemorate the King Sigismund Vasa III. During his kingdom, Sigismund moved the capital from Krakow to Warsaw in 1596, in an effort to combat heresy. With this move he also wanted to stablish the reign of Catholicism in the country. These are the reasons why this marvelous column is located in the capital of Poland, next to The Royal Castle.
The column was commissioned by King Wladyslaw IV Vasa, son and successor of Sigismund. It was designed by the architect Constantino Tencalla and Clemente Molli, but it was constructed by Daniel Tym. They finished the piece in 1644, and a bronze statue of the King Sigismund was put on top of the column. They took the columns of Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore and the Column of Phoca as reference.
King Sigismund’s Column has been reconditioned several times during the 18th and 19th Throughout the Nazi occupation the column was demolished and the sculpture of King Sigismund was badly damaged. In 1949 the column was restored, and it was located just a few miles away from its original site. If you visit The Royal Castle you can still see the real broken pieces lying around as a reminder of what happened during the World War II.
The Soul Escaping the Body by Xawery Dunikowski
Dunikowski was Polish sculptor and artist, but he was also a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp. He is widely known for creating pieces inspired in events that happen in Auschwitz.
The Soul Escaping the Body is a sculpture that he created in 1918. This piece depict a couple, one of them is holding the body the lifeless body of the other, as if mourning a terrible death. Thanks to his continuous work as an artist, Xawery Dunikowski has a museum filled with his pieces. This museum is located in what was the former palace of Królikarnia, and nowadays it’s called Xawery Dunikowski Museum of Sculpture in Królikarnia. You can visit this beautiful sculpture from Tuesday to Sunday.
The Death of Barbara Radziwiłł by Józef Simmler
Also known The Death of Barbara Radziwillowna, this is a painting made by Polish painter Józef Simmler in 1860. The scene portrayed in this piece is the deathbed of Barbara Radziwill, Queen of Poland and Grand Duchess of Lithuania. Just a few months after she was designated the Queen of Poland in 1550, she became increasingly ill and died. Her kingdom was short, but her influence was big because it brought new political influence to the Radziwill family; perhaps this is the reason why many artists created works of arts using Barbara as an influence. Simmler, in particular, evoked so much humanity on the face of the dying Queen. The Death of Barbara Radziwill is an oil on canvas painting that measures 96 x 111 centimeters (37.8 x 43.7 inches). You can see this piece in The National Museum, Warsaw.
Did we miss your favorite piece of art? Let us know in the comment section.