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Rendezvous with History

The Diocesan Museum

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The building of the Diocesan Museum, Siedlce

The building of the Diocesan Museum, Siedlce

We had read about the Diocesan Museum in Siedlce that boasts the exhibition of Poland's only canvas of the world famous El Greco - “The Ecstasy of St.Francis” created by the great artist in 1580. After visiting this museum,I thought it deserved a special mention here. The museum is located at 56 Bishop Ignacius Świrski Street. The opening hours of the museum: Tuesday through Saturday: from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. The entrance fee is PLN 16 (paid in cash to the attendant in exchange for his receipt after the end of the visit). Do not forget to sign the guest book, please.

The image of the icon of Our Lady of Częstochowa that is often called The Black Madonna of Częstochowa

The image of the icon of Our Lady of Częstochowa that is often called The Black Madonna of Częstochowa


You will recognize the museum building by this image on the third floor.

Visitors can enter the El Greco Room (it is electronically locked) to watch the world famous painting “The Ecstasy of St.Francis” after they see the entire exhibition. The attendant opens the door for you. The room with the painting is small and has four seats. You can listen to the attendant's short story about this masterpiece.

The Portrait gallery at the Diocese Museum in Siedlce

The Portrait gallery at the Diocese Museum in Siedlce

The portrait gallery is the first thing you see in the museum. It is located in the corridor of the gallery and includes portraits of clergy and secular people from Eastern Mazovia and Podlasie.

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Portrait of a man, 17th century. / Portrait of a woman, 17th century.

The gallery attendant drew our attention to the portraits of King Stanisław Poniatowski and his brother - Michał Jerzy Poniatowski.

Stanislav August Poniatowski, the last king of Poland

Stanislav August Poniatowski, the last king of Poland

Next to those portraits you can see the images of:

  • Bishop Adam Naruszewicz created by Marcello Bacciarell;
  • Jesuit priest Fr. Piotr Skarga painted by Franciszek Smuglewicz;
  • Bishop Benjamin Szymański painted by Antoni Kolberg;
  • the founder of the Churches in Lubartów and Ostrów Lubelski - Mikołaj Krzyniecki - the work of Marcellinus Polak.
  • Józefa Kuszel from Hulidowo painted by Vincenzo Giacomelli;
  • Izabela née Czartoryska Flems - a replica of the canvas created by Kazimierz Wojniakowski.

The women’s portraits are full of small details of clothing, lace accessories, rich jewelry and fashionable hairstyles.

Visiting the Diocese Museum, Siedlce

Visiting the Diocese Museum, Siedlce

The Gothic and the Renaissance art is rare in this area – the Podlasie region. Those works of art were destroyed by numerous invasions, uprisings and wars. We saw paintings on board, canvases and wooden sculptures collected from this period, when Mazovia and Podlasie belonged to the Polish Commonwealth and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Unfortunately, not many wooden polychrome Gothic sculptures have survived. We saw several Gothic sculptures, among them the standing Virgin Mary with the Child in her hand; and the sculpture of Christ the King. There are several polychrome Late-Gothic sculptures: Virgin Mary and Saint John the Evangelist, the Holy Trinity, St. Anna Samotrzeć representing Saint Anna with her daughter Maria and little Jesus.

The image of St.Nickolas at the Diocesan Museum, Siedlce

The image of St.Nickolas at the Diocesan Museum, Siedlce

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In 1596, the Brest Union was signed on the territory of the Polish Commonwealth. The Orthodox Kyiv metropolitan with bishops made a confession of faith and obedience to the Pope. The dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church were adopted, but their own liturgy and church hierarchy were preserved. In the following years, the Uniate church was latinized. The participation of the faithful in joint services was confirmed by the synod in Zamość (1720).
The Uniate iconography also changed, and included Catholic elements (attributes, apocrypha). The Uniate Church began to revere the Catholic saints: St. Jozaphat Kuncewicz (who was a martyr) and other Latin saints (including St. Anthony, St. John of Nepomuk). Besides, the icons of Christ and Virgin Mary often received crowns, golden or silver sheets.
It was interesting to see the icon of Our Lady of Poczajów (located in Ukraine now) bearing inscriptions in Polish, where the image of Virgin Mary is surrounded by scenes illustrating miracles related to the history of the image.

Treasury at the Diocese Museum, Siedlce

Treasury at the Diocese Museum, Siedlce

The rich collections of artistic craftsmanship come from the period from the 16th to the 20th century. We saw crucifixes and monstrances decorated with precious stones, gold and silver liturgical vessels, custodies, reliquaries, silver setting of Roman missal, rings and episcopal pectorals, as well as seals of church and lay institutions. The collection is enriched with a rare collection of medals, rosaries, coins and commemorative medals. The objects made by a personal order enchant with their decorations, symbolism and inscriptions. A part of the showcase is filled with a rich collection of coins from various parts of Europe, including the most frequently presented Polish coins, among them the coins of Jan Kazimierz and of Jan III Sobieski.

A letter of King Zygmunt August, 1555, Vilnius

A letter of King Zygmunt August, 1555, Vilnius

The manuscripts (the documents written by ink on parchment) come from papal, royal and episcopal office. The document of the Pope Alexander VI is extremely valuable to approve the privileges of the Liw parish or the will of Anna Mazowiecka, written on parchment with King Zygmunt's seal and secured with a wax bowl. Another parchment document written in Vilnius has a large crown seal of Zygmunt August. The bull of Pope Clement XII is equipped with a lead -like papal seal suspended on a cord.

The Bible in Art,  the Diocese Museum, Siedlce

The Bible in Art, the Diocese Museum, Siedlce


Portraits of saints at the Diocese Museum, Siedlce

Portraits of saints at the Diocese Museum, Siedlce

Bible in art

The collections includes the works inspired by biblical topics from the Old and New Testament and apocrypha. Old Testament themes present the history of salvation in the following 17th-century paintings: Finding a wife for Abraham, Moses's childhood or David meets Abigail. The artists' favorite biblical motif was showing popular scenes from the life of Jesus and Virgin Mary. The collection is complemented by a home altar with a richly decorated woodcarving and a figure of Virgin Mary with a Child.

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The sculptures of St.John Nepomucene

The saints and the blessed are a visible sign of God's goodness, and their lives testify to the great love of the Creator and other people. Among the numerous works we saw the an extremely eloquent image of Saint Anna teaching Mary, where an old mother gives her daughter a reading lesson with delicate tenderness and understanding.

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Wooden sculptures of saints at the Diocese Museum, Siedlce


Stigmatization of St.Francis

Stigmatization of St.Francis

The collection of 17th-century images is complemented by the following works: Apostle Saint Thomas, stigmatization of St. Francis, the of Saint Klara of Assissi, Saint Tekla, Saint Kazimierz the Crown Prince painted by Józef Buchbinder. The collection also includes the image of St. Mary Magdalena created by the Italian painter of the Baroque era Elisabetta Siriani. The collection is complemented by large 18th-century wooden sculptures: Saint Anthony and Saint John Nepomucene.

End of life
The thought of death, transience and life have been the themes for art for a long time. We saw several portraits - realistic images of a deceased person – that were hung in the sacristy of the church, of which the deceased was a founder. These images include, among others:

  • Erazm Domaszewski - the mayor of Łukow, who brought Bernardine monks to Łuków;
  • Krzysztof Wiesiołowski - the Grand Marshal of Lithuania;
  • Elizabeth Wereszczyńska - the superior of the Bernardine Convent in Brest Litowski.

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Dance of Death

The image of the Dance of Death was interesting to watch. Oval medallions show scenes in which the skeletons dancing with men represent various social states, and the moralizing maxims refer to the presented character. The image was to remind of the fragility of life and equality of all social layers in the face of death.

At the Diocese Museum, Siedlce

At the Diocese Museum, Siedlce

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Liturgical robes at the Diocese Museum, Siedlce

Liturgical robes
The numerous collection of liturgical robes dates back to the 17th - 19th century. The exhibits include head gear, gloves and liturgical slippers. The robes are made of precious fabrics interwoven with gold or silver thread, often hand-embroidered and decorated with rich applications.

Portrait of Pope Innocent X, by Diego de Silva Rodrigues y Velasques, 1650

Portrait of Pope Innocent X, by Diego de Silva Rodrigues y Velasques, 1650


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St.Francis, by Francisco de Zurbaran, 1756

The 17th century is a golden period in Spanish painting. It is the centenary of the greatest masters showing religious art perfectly. The Iberian painting is presented in the small hall preceding the work of El Greco.

Apostle St.Andrew, by Jose de Ribera (Lo Spagnoletto), 1620

Apostle St.Andrew, by Jose de Ribera (Lo Spagnoletto), 1620

You can see the image of Apostle St. Andrew painted by Josè de Ribery (1591-1652). The apostle directs the look up, has a lit face, holds an open book in his left hand, and lifts his right right up. The character was shown on a monochrome background interrupted by a system of diagonal lines referring to the cross.

Admiring El Greco's Ecstasy of St.Francis

Admiring El Greco's Ecstasy of St.Francis

El Greco's “The Ecstasy of St.Francis”
The Siedlce image of El Greco belongs to a group of paintings of the so-called "pidala". To this day, researchers of El Greco's works have been identified by about 15 of this type of compositional performances, of which
The Siedlce image created by El Greco has a great artistic value. The canvas shows the saint before the moment of stigmatization. The figure of the saint is showed from his knees. St.Francis is turned towards the mystical light breaking through the gloomy clouds on the left. His arms are spread out in a gesture of devotion to God. He is dressed in a simple religious mantle with wide-forged sleeves and a massive collar with a hood. He is girded with a double string with a node. The saint is shown against the background of the outlined La Verna mountain. The clouds in the sky have unnatural colors and shapes. A human skull rests under the saint’s right hand. It implies the vanity of this world. The signature of El Greco - the Master of Toledo - is visible under the skull.

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The painting was purchased in 1927 in Warsaw by the dean of the parish church in Kosów Lacki. It was discovered by accident in 1964 during the stock-taking of the church's artefacts by Izabella Galicka and Hanna Sygietyńska.

Our entrance ticket to the Diocesan Museum, Siedlce

Our entrance ticket to the Diocesan Museum, Siedlce

The Diocese Museum is a great pace to visit not only for connoisseurs of art and antiques, but also for simple travelers like us. We have good memories of our visit and might return there some day.

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Opposite the museum you can see the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of Virgin Mary
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Posted by Vic_IV 07:38 Archived in Poland Tagged masovia mazovia siedlce oginski

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