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Wawel Royal Castle - HOME

Wawel Royal Castle
State Art Collection

31-001 Kraków, Wawel 5

(+48 12) 422-51-55, 422-61-21

Tourist Information:
(+48 12) 422 51 55
ext. 219

Reservations and Guide Service:
(+48 12)
422 16 97

Press contact:
(+48 12) 422 51 55
ext. 380, 341


One of the best collections of its type in Poland, systematically augmented with new acquisitions, gifts and deposits, it includes over one thousand items: gems, gold and silver items, semi-precious stones (mountain crystal, jadeite, nephrite, agate), amber and ivory sculptures, miniatures in jeweller’s settings and numismats minted in the 16th to the 18th c. commissioned by Polish monarchs. The collection resembles the old private collection in the royal treasury, dispersed in the 17th c, and the Crown Treasury at Wawel, finally destroyed following the Prussian looting in 1795. The collection boasts the most valuable medieval precious objects discovered during archaeological excavations at Wawel. There are single items commissioned by Polish monarchs (Casimir the Great, Sigismund I the Old, Sigismund II Augustus, Stefan Batory, Sigismund III, Ladislaus IV, John Casimir, John III Sobieski, August III of Saxony), or by people from their immediate circle at court in Kraków and Warsaw. Many vessels and furniture come from aristocratic treasuries: those of the Radziwiłł,  Sapieha, Potocki and Ogiński families. It is one of the most important collections of old Polish silverware for secular use (bowls, cups, tankards, mugs, pitchers, boxes, cutlery and candlesticks), and other goldsmithery objects of high artistic value historically related to Poland, mainly from  Gdańsk, Toruń and Królewiec. Items from important centres, such as Nuremberg, Augsburg, Leipzig, Hamburg and Wrocław are dominant among the examples of European goldsmithery.
Zoom in - Lanckoroński’s cameo.
Lanckoroński’s cameo.
LANCKOROŃSKI’S GEM. Constantinople, 6th c – mid 7th c. Sardonyx. A carving presenting Christ (described as Emmanuel) above the cross, next to which stand St. Peter and St. Paul. One of the most valuable small Byzantine art works from the time of its greatest development. A gift from Karolina Lanckorońska and the Lanckoroński Foundation.
Zoom in - Pendant.
PENDANT. Central Europe (?), 2nd half of the 12th c. Mountain crystal, gold. An elaborate work of Romanesque jewellery revealing the influence of Byzantine art. Discovered during archaeological excavations at Wawel in 1964. It proves the high social standing and wealth of medieval Wawel inhabitants.
Zoom in - Chalice from King Casimir the Great’s gift.
Chalice from King Casimir the Great’s gift.
CHALICE FROM KING CASIMIR THE GREAT’S GIFT. Kraków, 1351. Silver gilt, enamel. Donated by King Casimir the Great to the church of Canons Regular in Trzemeszno. The oldest among the monarch’s dated foundations for Polish churches, with an appropriate inscription on the rim of the foot. Julian Godlewski’s gift.
Zoom in - Fruit bowl.
Fruit bowl.
TAZZA. Augsburg, Hermann Plexen (Plixen), 1600. Silver gilt. One of the four surviving elements of Sigismund III Vasa’s table service, commissioned in Augsburg for 20 000 florins, at the time he received the Order of the Golden Fleece (1600). Most probably it was first used during a banquet at Warsaw castle on 25th February 1601, immediately after the ceremony of awarding the Order in St. John’s cathedral.
Zoom in - Ship.
SHIP. Nuremberg, Esaias zur Linden (active 1609-1632), 1st quarter of the 17th c. Silver gilt. One of a dozen relics kept at Wawel of the greatest magnate treasury of the old Polish Republic from the Radziwiłł castle in Nieśwież,  which was destroyed by the Russians in 1812-1813.
Zoom in - Basin with a personification of water gods.
Basin with a personification of water gods.
BASIN WITH A PERSONIFICATION OF WATER GODS. Augsburg, Elias I Drentwett (active c. 1617-1643), 1617. Silver gilt. On the left a water nymph (or Venus) with Cupid, on the right Triton capturing Nereida, at the top two winged putta in the clouds, at the bottom a putto riding on a dolphin, and a turtle. The most exquisite example of mannerist ornamental silver in the Polish collection, made in the leading centre of 17th-c goldsmithery. From the treasury of the Hungarian aristocratic Palffy family.
Zoom in - Cups.
CUPS. Poland, early 17th c., with additional elements from the 18th c. Coconut shell, silver gilt. In the chalice collection there is an owl-shaped vessel from the Radziwiłł treasury in Nieśwież, a chalice with the coats of arms of the Ligęza and Lanckoroński families, and also a vessel which was transformed into a receptacle for communion hosts. In those times it was believed that coconut shell could neutralise poison.
Zoom in - Polish eagle-shaped vessel from King John Casimir’s set.
Polish eagle-shaped vessel from King John Casimir’s set.
POLISH EAGLE-SHAPED VESSEL FROM KING JOHN CASIMIR’S SET. Augsburg, Heinrich Mannlich (active 1658-1698), c. 1666. Most probably part of the set whose central element was a monumental Eagle (from 1671, in the Kremlin collection in Moscow), which was originally accompanied by smaller heraldic figures; it is from these figures that the Polish Eagle (at Wawel), Gothland Lion (in the Kremlin collection) and hypothetically Pogoń (in the same collection) were identified. All of them were created by Mannlich.
Zoom in - Tankards.
TANKARDS. Gdańsk, Toruń and Królewiec, 1644-1729. Ornamental display vessels, produced with the representatives of the Polish gentry in mind, who purchased fashionable, luxury goods, which were a good investment, in the Baltic cities. The decorations on chalices and mugs, in the spirit of Baroque moralistic ware, were mainly Old Testament and antique history scenes, sometimes also Polish motifs, primarily representations of King John III. Liturgical pitchers (Eucharistic pitchers) used in the protestant mass liturgy, are similar in shape to secular vessels. 
Zoom in - Palace altar.
Palace altar.
PALACE ALTAR. Augsburg, Johann Andreas Thelot (active 1689-1734), c. 1720-1725. Cypress, palissander and oak, silver, brass, copper, gold, tortoiseshell, ivory, semi-precious stones (lapis lazuli, agate, amethyst, carneol, jasper and onyx), vellum. In the 19th c. it was in the Potocki family’s collection in Volhynia, and after the I World War it was brought to Kraków. A splendid artefact from the palace chapel, richly decorated, made in the most famous European goldsmithery centre of that time.
Zoom in - Miniature with King August III of Saxony’s portrait.
Miniature with King August III of Saxony’s portrait.
MINIATURE WITH KING AUGUST III OF SAXONY’S PORTRAIT. Portrait - Rosalba Carriera (1675-1757) and an unknown royal jeweller, Dresden, 1733-1738 (?). Watercolour on ivory, gold, diamonds. According to tradition the monarch’s gift to his daughter Maria Amalia. The work of the famous painter who composed portraits of the most influential figures in Europe at that time. In a setting with 161 diamonds.
Dariusz Nowacki