… A to Polska właśnie…”

Friburg windows, Józef Mehoffer

Leon, I have some­thing for you. Do you remem­ber Mehoffer? And these things?

Well, now com­pare to this

Turns out that these artists just make the draw­ing sketches, and then a glass expert pro­duces it. You know, chain pro­duc­tion. And I found the ori­gin­al sketches along­side plenty of oth­er stuff you – English plur­al you – have to see. And no, I was not at Włocławek – for those of you who don’t know about Włocławek, well, that was a noclegi that deserves the anec­dote* –, but I just also dis­covered that Mehoffer designed the stain-glass win­dows at Włocławek’s Cathedral. Seriously, this guy and his super col­league Wyśpiański are the world mas­ter of stain-glass win­dows. I always neg­lected such win­dows until I saw Mehoffer’s at Friburg, and so far I keep look­ing for more of their jobs, look­ing for someone else’s win­dows as well, and no way, nobody like these two guys.

This year some­what resembles my last year in Madrid, in the sense of self-determ­in­a­tion to do too many things at the same time, at to what this post con­cerns, fur­ther dis­cov­er­ing Kraków. Where in Madrid I used to remem­ber the year and archi­tect of vir­tu­ally every min­im­ally rel­ev­ant build­ing with­in the city centre, now I’m going for that degree of know­ledge about Krakow. I star­ted, this time, with museums. Call it Leon push­ing me to every second one dur­ing our trips. And just that, that one chance when we stumbled upon those stain-glass win­dows at Friburg’s cathed­ral. That single moment when that coin­cid­ence made me utterly inter­ested in Mehoffer, and thus, to the top­ics sur­round­ing him.

So why not start­ing with Matejko his­tor­icism? We all know we love his­tory. And where Matejko’s col­our man­aging is quite inter­est­ing, most of all his paint­ings are an encyc­lo­pae­dia of arts. Perfect start­ing point, his­tory was always my thing. That quickly escal­ated.

Back in the cen­tur­ies, around Revolution times, Paris pushed around Europe a clas­si­cism which val­ues his­tor­ic­al depic­tions over every-day life scenery, to which Napoleon was par­agon – those David’s encyc­lo­pae­di­as… –. On the mean­while, a non-exist­ent Poland slightly pushed by Poniatowski’s attempts to update a back­ward school of arts, val­ued those his­tor­ic­al depic­tions for the spe­cial reas­on of a remin­is­cence of Poland’s former great­ness. There is one paint­ing that won­der­fully explains everything.

prussian-homage-1024x498 „... A to Polska właśnie...”
Jan Matejko [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
And this paint­er and his gen­er­a­tion were the golden age, the update and reviv­al, of Polish Arts. Boosted by a pre­vi­ous blow in Literature – Mickiewicz, Słowacki, Krasiński – they developed the visu­al aspect, gathered in the Kraków School of Fine Arts, where Matejko was a teach­er, and Mehoffer or Wyśpiański were stu­dents. Among oth­er awe­some teach­ers and stu­dents I just dis­covered and I’d love to show you.

But more explan­a­tions to come, I’m rush­ing now to take a train to vis­it some of my favour­ite people on earth, but I’ll also take the oppor­tun­ity to fin­ish some research on that School at my friends“ city.


Yeah, I know the world is get­ting a bit messed up. But hey, if there is one out­come of Trumplandia I’m kind of pleased with, is the amount of inter­est­ing stuff that is being writ­ten about that dis­aster, and all the oth­ers – don’t let one story make you for­get the rest. I have noth­ing to add on that top­ic, just refer your­self to the wisest art­icles you find around the net.

2 Replies to “… A to Polska właśnie…””

  1. Correction: I’m not push­ing you into every second museum, I’m just sug­gest­ing there is one and then you pull me along 😛
    But no, dif­fer­ent thing: I’m look­ing at glass win­dows, too, nowadays. Turns out the most prom­in­ent ones of Münster are t e r r i b l e. The entire cathed­ral: This dark, grey-and-brown-and-black post-1945 stuff that just totally neg­lects the rais­on d’être of church win­dows (some­thing to illu­min­ate the interi­or? To make it bright­er than as if there was just a wall?).
    St. Lamberti has a Sainte-Chapelle-like apsis, though (not with pic­tures like that, but with a sim­il­ar col­our impres­sion).

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