Titian and Others: The Newest Works in the Wawel Royal Castle Collection

New masterpieces, treasures, and rarities in the collection of Wawel Royal Castle
May 19–June 11, 2023

Wawel Royal Castle presents its most recent acquisitions.
Together in one place for Museum Night. 
Join us for the first Wawel showing of masterpieces by Titian, Brueghel, Bordone, and others, alongside never before exhibited treasures from the Sanguszko collection, as well as unique Meissen porcelain sculptures including a life-size fox (one of only four in the world).
A recovered wartime loss – Jan Maurits Quinkhardt’s The Drawing Lesson of 1762 – rounds out imposing and unprecedented special showing, Titian and Others: Wawel Royal Castle’s Newest Works of Art.

All of these masterpieces, now part of the Wawel permanent collection, contribute to the historical, multifaceted narrative of Polish cultural identity. In keeping with Wawel Royal Castle’s mission to disseminate knowledge about its priceless collection, we are putting these works on display as quickly as we can. All of this has been possible thanks to the financial decisions and actions of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Minister of Culture and National Heritage Professor Piotr Gliński, as well as the support of Minister of State Assets Jacek Sasin and State Treasury companies PKO Bank Polski – Strategic Partner of the Wawel Royal Castle and Totalizator Sportowy – Partner of the Wawel Royal Castle, both of which we proudly welcome into the fold of Wawel partners.

The occasion was marked by the presentation of diplomas of appreciation to all key Partners and Patrons of Wawel Royal Castle, including recent donors: the PKO Bank Polski Foundation and the Totalizator Sportowy Foundation, as well as Education Sponsor PGE – Polska Grupa Energetyczna, and TAURON – Sponsor of the Wawel at Dusk music festival and Tydzień Patriotyczny (Patriotic Week).

Priceless gifts

The new masterpieces in the Wawel Royal Castle collection thanks to targeted grants from the state budget are the result of a conscious policy of growing the national art collections.
“Wawel Royal Castle has received with great gratitude and joy the outstanding works of art donated by the PKO Bank Polski Foundation and the Totalizator Sportowy Foundation. The paintings significantly enrich Wawel Castle’s priceless collection of paintings, contributing to the realization of our accompanying common mission of spreading knowledge about the Castle both in Poland and abroad. I hope that the partnerships inaugurated today with PKO Bank Polski, Strategic Partner of Wawel Royal Castle, and Totalizator Sportowy, Partner of Wawel Royal Castle, will grow into a wonderful, long-term adventure, whose overriding goal will always be the promotion of Polish cultural heritage, like our relationship with PGE Polska Grupa Energetyczna, Education Patron, and TAURON, Patron of the Wawel at Dusk festival and Patriotic Week,” says Professor Andrzej Betlej, director of the Wawel Royal Castle.
Joanna Winiewicz-Wolska, chief curator of the Wawel Royal Castle collections adds that two of the acquired, Diana and Callisto by Paris Bordone and Charon’s Boat by Jan Breughel the Younger are exceptionally significant. “These paintings, which date to the sixteenth and first half of the seventeenth century, respectively, are from the era of Wawel’s greatness under the last kings of the Jagiellon dynasty and the first king of the Vasa dynasty. Sigismund III Vasa bought paintings from Italy and the Netherlands, and his art agents sought to acquire works by the painters of the Breughel family. Paris Bordone’s work, in turn, was known to Sigismund II Augustus. Proof of this is his portrait of court goldsmith and medaler Gian Giacomo Caraglio, whom the king ennobled. Today it hangs in the Military Review Room.”
Titian and Others is also an invitation to admire priceless treasures from the collection of the Sanguszko family. Among them are three seventeenth-century tapestries made of wool and silk: Allegorical Forest Landscape, Landscape with Cocks, and Landscape with Hares. The verdures are part of a unique set of tapestries of which only seven survive. Wawel now holds six of them; the three already in the collection are Landscape with Fountain, Landscape with Swans, and Summer Landscape with a River. The final textile in the series, Tapestry with Animals, is in the Museu de Arte de São Paulo in Brazil. Another remarkable textile from the Sanguszko collection is a silk banner with the coats of arms of Lithuania (Mounted Knight) and the Korczak arms (Lithuania, 1710–1745).
The newly acquired eighteenth-century Meissen porcelain is also sure to delight. On view is a life-size figure of a fox (h. 44.5 cm) modelled by Johann Gottlieb Kirchner for Augustus II the Strong, king of Poland and elector of Saxony, and is one of only four extant in the world. Alongside is a charming pair of pugs by Johann Joachim Kaendler. In addition to the figures, tableware such as a classically beautiful sugar bowl, make an appearance. There is also a sauceboat and serving dish from the Baroque service of Aleksander Józef Sułkowski, one of the first ministers of King Augustus III.
The multifaceted exhibition is completed by a found and recovered war loss – the painting The Drawing Lesson by Jan Maurits Quinkhardt. Visitors to the Castle, will also come across a sixteenth-century polearm, a glaive of the guard of Emperor Maximilian II and a fragment of a sculpture of a knight in armor – the left arm (1510–1520).

Tiziano Vecellio

Titian (Tiziano Veccellio), (1480/1490–1576) and workshop
Allegory of Love, ca. 1530–1540
Oil on canvas, 96.8 cm x 108 cm

The painting is a variant of Titian’s Allegory of Married Love in the Musée du Louvre, and dated to 1530–1540. The main figures: a woman and a man, as well as a putto carrying a bundle of arrows in general outline duplicate the compositional scheme of the Paris painting, but are posed slightly differently, and have different attributes. Venus holds a bow in her right hand, while her left hand holds up a mirror, which is presented to her by a man dressed in armor. The female figure on the right holds a lute. This set of props suggests love and harmony, and the reflection of the woman’s face in the mirror alludes to the symbolism of transience (Vanitas). The mirror is also an attribute of the personification of Prudence and Truth.
Successful compositions were often repeated in Titian’s studio. Slightly different variants were made, often with the participation of the master himself. The Wawel Allegory of Love is one of several variants; it is distinguished from the others by its high artistic level.
The painting’s provenance is established from the late 18th century. The work came from the imperial collection in Vienna – it was in the picture gallery at the Belvedere, then in the Kunsthistorisches Museum. In 1937, it was exchanged for another painting with the De Boer gallery in Amsterdam. From there it found its way to the New York dealer Frederick Monta, who sold the work to Piero Corsini. It had been in the Corsini family collection since 1946.
The painting, which has a long bibliography was exhibited in 2016 at the Národni Galerie in Prague, and a year later at the Kunsthalle in Hamburg.

Brueghel i Bosch

Jan  Brueghel the Younger (1601–1678)
Charon’s Boat, 3rd quarter 17th c.
Oil on copper, 17.9 x 25.6 cm

Charon’s Boat
from the third quarter of the seventeenth century is an illustration of the Greek myth of Charon, the old man who transported the souls of the dead across the river Styx. In the painting, Charon is a gray-haired man shown on the left-hand side, attempting to push his crowded boat away from the shore. Monsters emerging from the water cling to the side. On the left, flames can be seen from beyond the cliffs – their glow illuminates the sky. To the right, at the foot of the rocks, a huge mill wheel can be seen. The scenery is reminiscent of visions of hell, introduced into painting by Hieronymus Bosch.
The painting has been attributed to Jan Brueghel the Younger. The artist referenced works by Bosch’s continuers, Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Jan Brueghel the Elder, his father, including Juno in the Underworld, The Temptation of St. Anthony, and Aeneas and Sibyl in the Underworld. Joanna Winiewicz-Wolska points out that the artist uses similar compositional and stylistic procedures, but the subject of the painting is his individual choice, his own interpretation of the myth of Charon, referring to a scene from Book III of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy, who made Charon the carrier of sinful souls to hell.
The painting comes from the private collection of Bob Haboldt; it was on long-term loand at Snijders & Rockoxhuis in Antwerp, where it could be seen in a permanent exhibition.

De Troy, Sobieski, Sanguszko and the palace Podhorce

François de Troy (1645–1730)
Portrait of Jakub Ludwik Sobieski (1667–1737)
Paris, 1699
Oil on canvas, 78 x 63 cm

The portrait of Jakub Ludwik Sobieski (1667–1737) comes from the portrait gallery of the palace in Podhorce. According to old inventories, there was an inscription on the back identifying the painter and the date it was made: “Peint à Paris par François de Troy en 1699.” The artist was in exile in Saint-Germain-en-Laye after leaving England. At that time, he may have met Jakub Sobieski and painted his portrait. Archival sources also reveal that he painted a portrait of the youngest of the three Sobieski brothers, Konstantyn – both portraits were probably painted during the Sobieski princes stay in Paris.
The portrait of Jakub remained in the gallery of the palace in Podhorce, which belonged to the Sobieski brothers from 1682 to 1718. Subsequent owners of the residence were the Rzewuskis, and from 1865 Eustachy Sanguszko. The portrait was among the works that Roman Sanguszko, Eustachy’s son, managed to transport to Gumniska during World War II, and then via Romania to São Paulo. It has remained in the Sanguszko family, residing in France in recent years, until today. Purchased from Paul Sanguszko in October 2022.

Paris Bordone: Titian’s Pupil

Paris Bordon (Bordone) (1500–1571)
Diana and Callisto (ca. 1545)
Oil on panel, 28.5 x 110 cm

Diana and Callist
o from about 1545 is an illustration of the myth according to Ovid’s Metamorphoses. In several sequences, it tells the story of the nymph Callisto, deceitfully seduced by Jupiter, who had taken the form of the goddess Diana. When Callisto is found to be pregnant while bathing, an enraged Diana banishes her from her retinue. In the final scene, on the right, further in, the distraught nymph kneels before the jealous Juno, the wife of Jupiter, who, according to Ovid, turned the nymph into a bear. The background of the composition is a vast landscape.
The painting was either the wall of a cassone or, as a spalliera, was part of a cycle with the story of Diana, intended to decorate secular interiors. It is attributed to the Venetian painter Paris Bordone, a pupil of Titian. Giorgio Vasari in his biography of Paris Bordone (to which Joanna Winiewicz-Wolska refers) mentions that the composition depicting Jupiter and the nymph was sent by the artist to the court of the Polish king. The painting Diana and Callisto will thus remind us of the Polish court’s contacts with Paris Bordone, whom Queen Bona visited in Treviso in 1566 on her way to Bari, and Gian Giacomo Caraglio, goldsmith and medaller of Sigismund II Augustus, commissioned a beautiful portrait from him, which can be seen today in one of the rooms at Wawel Royal Castle.
The painting, repeatedly mentioned in the literature and exhibited – most recently in Paris in 2018. It was purchased at the Maison D’Art Gallery in Monaco.

Our Common Mission

The support of our Partners and Patrons is invaluable. Our Education Patron, PGE Polska Grupa Energetyczna, has enabled Wawel Royal Castle is intensively develop museum educational activities. We are grateful to TAURON who sponsor such socially engaged programs as Patriotic Week, and also provide support for the annual open-air classical music festival Wawel at Dusk. The cooperation between Wawel Royal Castle and the PKO Bank Polski Foundation and Totalizator Sportowy Foundation begun this year will contribute to expanding the number and diversity of cultural events held at Wawel Castle.
“In keeping with the idea of Wawel Castle as an open place, which has accompanied us from the beginning, together with our Partners we wish to implement new technologies that will enable visitors to participate in exciting historical reconstructions, unforgettable concerts, as well as interesting workshops accompanying exhibitions of outstanding works of art. The support of our Partners will make it possible to realize the fascinating ideas of many teams – Wawel curators, art interpreters and educators, whose common goal is to bring the knowledge of the Wawel collection to a wide audience. In the past year, more than one million seven hundred and ninety-one thousand people have visited Wawel. This is a truly impressive result, the highest in our history, testifying to the great interest in Wawel Castle, which made it onto the Art Newspaper’s prestigious list of the 100 most popular museums in the world, taking the twenty-second slot. I am convinced that next year can be even better. Also thanks to our new partnerships,” points out Prof. Andrzej Betlej.
The works of art donated to the collection will be on view in Titian and Others from May 19 through June 11. Afterwards they will join the permanent State Rooms and Royal Private Apartments exhibitions.
“We at PKO Bank Polski treat sponsorship of art and culture as a privilege, but also a great responsibility. It is an important element if our social mission. As a strategic partner of Wawel Royal Castle, we would like to help preserve the Castle’s collection for future generations. We are proud, that with our support, two significant works of art – the Portrait of Prince Jakub Sobieski by François de Troy and Charon’s Boat by Jan Brueghel the Younger – have joined the collection. Thanks to our enagement in such valuable projects, we can contribute to shaping the tastes and artistic sensitivity of our fellow Poles and the development of future generations of art lovers,” says Paweł Gruza, vice-chairman of the board of PKO Bank Polski.
“Totalizator Sportowy’s partnership with Wawel Royal Castle is another step for the company in the development of national culture. This former Krakow seat of the kings of Poland is a place that is a great treasury of Polish tradition and history that should be nurtured. Therefore, I am very pleased that with the inauguration of this partnership, the Castle’s collection of Renaissance paintings has been enriched by another work. It is the painting Diana and Kallisto by Paris Bordone, which was purchased by the Totalizator Sportowy Foundation, the largest patron of culture and sports in Poland,” says Olgierd Cieślik, chairman of the board of Totalizator Sportowy.