The Study Trip Abroad 2009, The Glories of Poland: Cracow to Warsaw, was a trip that Helen Scott Reed has wanted to offer for years — it was a tremendous success. We were fortunate to have with us for the entire trip Christine Rostworowska, a scholar of Poland’s history and art. The first day she presented each trip member with two spiral bound books of supplementary material, one directly relating to our program and the other filled with background research on Poland’s history, furniture, ceramics, glass, tapestries and carpets, tents, sledges, crafts, costumes and films, as well as biographical notes on artists, craftsmen, and architects. On top of that, she was delightful company. Here are just a few highlights of the trip.
|Trust members gather in the courtyard of the Collegium Maius, one of the earliest universities in Europe founded at the end of the 14th century by Casimir the Great. The buildings are ranged round a courtyard and there is a small museum with a treasury, an extensive library, instruments used by Copernicus, and a beautiful collection of furniture|
|A Gdansk wardrobe fitted out for silver display. Late 17th century and 18th century Gdansk wardrobes were monumental baroque forms like this one. Characteristics are two doors with slightly convex panels, sharply profiled pilasters and capitals with carved ornaments, an imposing cornice, two drawers at the bottom, the whole resting on six bun feet or rectangular legs. The Gdansk wardrobes have cornices running in a broken line and surmounted by the owners’ armorial bearings.|
|The beautiful staircase in the Secessionist design in the Building of Industry, a government building in Cracow.|
|It rained as we visited Arkadia, the Romantic park founded by Helena Radziwill in 1778 with its artificial lake, garden pavilions, a Temple of Diana, the High-Priest’s sanctuary, and the Gothic House with Sybil’s Grotto.|
Nieborow, a house of many make-overs in its 300+ years, belonged to the Radziwills in the late 18th and 19th centuries. They put together an important art collection of paintings, antiquities, and furniture from Poland, France, England, and Russia. They started a glassworks, a joiners workshop and a majolica workshop where much was made for the house as well as for broader consumption.
Here, the curator has pulled out a drawer from a French style bureau made in Poland, to show us the signatures of the Nieborow cabinetmakers.
He also showed us a blue and white jar made for the king with his initials on the bottom. The lid of the jar was signed “1991” as it was a replacement.
|Trust members fan out to explore Zamosc, the Ideal Town. Constructed in the 1580s by Jan Zamoyski, who had studied at Padua, it was to be the perfect Renaissance town: a center of trade and learning, as well as an impregnable fortress. The town center is an Italianate forum publicum rather than a market square in the medieval tradition. It is lined with burgers’ houses, united by arcades, and decorated friezes, a few still with richly ornamented attic storeys. The monumental 18th century staircase leads to the vast Town Hall.|
|Built for the noble Lasocki family at the end of the 18th century, Tulowice Manor was designed by one the leading architects of Poland, Hilary Szpilowski.
In derelict condition by the 1980s, it was bought by Andrzej and Alexandra Novak-Zemplinski, an equestrian artist and his wife, who lovingly restored the house for 19 years, winning the Polish Minister of Culture and Art prize for the best preserved historical object.
|A salt sculpture of Goethe, who visited the salt mines in the 18th century. Salt, wheat, and timber, the major exports of Poland, were shipped on the Vistula river to Gdansk for sale.|
|A beautifully restored house in the delightful 16th century town of Kazimierz Dolny, on the Vistula River.|
|On our last day of touring, Trust members gathered in front of the White Lodge, c. 1774, where King Stanislaus Augustus stayed during the construction of the Lazienki Palace, like Jefferson staying in the South Pavilion during the construction of Monticello. The White Lodge was later home to the exiled Louis XVIII of France. Shortly after this picture was taken, Trust members enjoyed a private Chopin concert in the palace. It was a dream.|