Szymon Czechowicz in mostra al National Museum di Cracovia
La mostra, Genius of the Baroque. Szymon Czechowicz (1689-1775), raccoglie oltre duecento pezzi tra dipinti, disegni e incisioni, comprese quelli realizzati durante il soggiorno di Czechowicz a Roma, provenienti da Palazzo Chigi in Ariccia, dalla Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica di Palazzo Barberini / Palazzo Corsini e dall’Accademia Nazionale di San Luca, oltre che da alcuni dei più importanti musei internazionali.
L’esposizione, promossa da Andrzej Szczerski, direttore del National Museum, e dal suo predecessore Andrzej Betlej (ora direttore del Castello Reale di Cracovia, detto Wawel), curata da Tomasz Zaucha, rende giustizia ad un artista che ha rappresentato in ambito est europeo la scuola romana tardo barocca, mostrando al grande pubblico un saggio profondo e completo dell’opera di questo pittore.
A cura di Tomasz Zaucha
Dal 16 ottobre 2020 al 28 marzo 2021
Sito web: mnk.pl
Szymon Czechowicz was born in Krakow in 1689. He entered the court of Franciszek Maksymilian Ossolinski, where he was allegedly a member of the musical ensemble. Through the efforts of Ossolinski Czechowicz was sent to study art in Rome. He had arrived there around 1710 and did not return to his homeland until around 1730. In 1716 the painter took part in the so-called Clementine Contest at the Academy of St Luke and was awarded third prize for a drawing „A Victorious Return from War”. In 1724/1725 he painted St Hedwig of Silesia for a side altar at the church San Stanislao dei Polacchi. This masterpiece is one of very few recognized paintings from Czechowicz’s Roman period. Regular mentions about Czechowicz sojourning in Rome date from 1725–1730, when he was member of the prestigious Congregation of the Virtuosi (La Compagna di San Giuseppe di Terrasanta), which counted among its members the most eminent artists working in the city. According to the congregation’s published minutes (diario) spanning the period 1701–1739, the candidature of the Pole was unanimously accepted at the meeting of 9 December 1725, and starting from the next session, held on 13 January 1726, when he was officially admitted to the organisation, the painter fairly regularly participated in its gatherings. In the period of interest for the present study, his attendance at the meetings was recorded forty times (he missed only 23 out of 63 sessions), and he was entrusted a few times with some functions: of the sagrestano (sacristan) in 1727 (elected on 12 January), maestro di cerimonie (master of ceremonies) in 1728 (11 January), paciere (peacemaker, i.e. a person who reconciles adversaries) in 1730 (8 January). The gathering of 10 December 1730 was the last session at which his presence was recorded. Although the painter was absent from the next meeting (14 February 1731), he was nevertheless assigned the function of the infermiere (infirmarer, responsible for the care of the sick), so it may be assumed that his departure from Rome was not expected at that time. Yet, Czechowicz did not turn up at the meetings any more. A trace of particular importance of the artist’s presence in Rome in 1730 is his signature on the painting of the Assumption of the Virgin in the high altar of the collegiate church (now cathedral) in Kielce, which reads: “Pinxit S. Czechowicz | ROMAE 1730”. Czechowicz was back in Poland already on 10 December 1731, which is when he painted a portrait of Katarzyna Jablonowska, two months before her wedding to Franciszek Maksymilian Ossoliński, the artist’s patron. Nevertheless, even when in Poland the Roman painting of the beginning of the eighteenth century remained the only source of Czechowicz’s style. It was rooted in the classicising and eclectic heritage of Carlo Maratti (1625–1713), an artist sometimes called l’ultimo dei Romani (“the last of the Romans”). As an artist, Czechowicz remained a Roman himself, until the end of his days.
By the beginning of the 1740s Czechowicz had become a painter much in demand among the magnates countrywide. While executing paintings commissioned by patrons from all corners of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, he probably worked mostly in Warsaw. Yet his paintings are dispersed in many parts of country: in Krakow, Warsaw, Poznan or Vilnius in Lithuania, as well as in smaller towns and villages. His patrons were the most prominent members of the Polish gentry, bishops, cathedral chapters, and many religious orders: Jesuits, Benedictines, Cistercians, Visitation Nuns, Capuchins. From 1762 Czechowicz had been staying at Pidhirtsi castle (now in Ukraine) working there for Waclaw Rzewuski. The nature of the painter’s activity at Pidhirtsi and his relationship with the patron are without precedent in the history of Polish art. The painter, employed by the magnate, executed several dozen paintings. Moreover, Rzewuski purchased many of the earlier paintings from the hands of the artist. Most of Czechowicz’s paintings acquired by his patron were hung in the Pidhirtsi castle’s Green Room, which served as the hetman’s bedroom and study. Out of 106 paintings recorded to have decorated this room in 1768 over 70 were by Czechowicz. This was truly a gallery of Czechowicz.
The artist died in Warsaw on 21 July 1775 and was buried in the vault of the Capuchin church.
The exhibition “Genius of the Baroque. Szymon Czechowicz (1689-1775)” is the first monographic presentation of the artist’s oeuvre. It is represented by almost 200 paintings and drawings gathered from numerous museums and churches from Poland, France, Italy, Lithuania, Ukraine and the United States. The exhibition is accompanied by an extensive catalogue (720 pp., ill.) that comprises essays on the 18th c. painting in Poland and Italy, as well as detailed description of all the works displayed.Exhibition curator: Dr. Tomasz Zaucha
Design: Luiza Berdak
Project coordinator: Katarzyna Pawłowska
National Museum in Krakow, Main Building
al. 3 Maja 1