The Lady Comes Home

28 November 2019

During the last decade, we could see her at Wawel Castle and more recently at the Main Building of the National Museum in Krakow. Following renovations lasting nine years, Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece Lady with an Ermine returns to the Princes Czartoryski Museum (from 20 December).

The stunning art collection, also including Rembrandt’s Landscape with the Good Samaritan and Rafael’s Portrait of a Young Man (now sadly lost), was first brought to the palace by Prince Władysław Czartoryski, grandson of Izabela Czartoryska Flemming, founder of Poland’s first art museum in Puławy. During the communist era, the treasure trove collected by the Czartoryski family was managed by the National Museum in Krakow, and following the political changes, it was entrusted to the foundation established by the descendants. Three years ago, according to the will of Princess Izabela, the collection finally became the property of the Polish nation, having been purchased by the Polish government and handed over to the National Museum.

As well as Leonardo and Rembrandt’s masterpieces, we will see myriad more beautiful artworks from the collection of around 300,000 items. The paintings, mediaeval enamels, ivory, amber and coral carvings, ceramics, Venetian glass, Augsburg silver, Persian rugs, textiles and Polish and Oriental military items tell a complex, fascinating story about Polish and global art, culture and history. The new permanent exhibition organises them around specific historical periods and themes: as we walk through the chambers, we learn about the Czartoryski family, explore Polish art from the time of the Jagiellonian dynasty until the fall of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and admire European sacral objects and items from the Far East. The first floor presents mediaeval and Renaissance art, and works by artists from Northern Europe from between the 15th and 17th centuries. The 19th-century style Polish Chamber showcases memorabilia from the Temple of Sibyl in Puławy and collections of books, prints and drawings.

There are guided tours in Polish and English at weekends of 20-22 and 27-29 December 2019, and evening concerts in the courtyard on 21 and 22 December. Throughout December, we can visit the Lady for just a zloty! (Dorota Dziunikowska, “Karnet” monthly)

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