Vol. 9, Issue No. 28/2002


Leonardo da Vinci and the Splendor of Poland: A History of Collecting and Patronage

About the exhibition
The story of Polandıs most important public and private museum collections will be presented for the first time anywhere outside of Europe beginning September 10, 2002 as the Milwaukee Art Museum opens Leonardo da Vinci and the Splendor of Poland: A History of Collecting and Patronage. The exhibition runs through November 24, 2002.

The centerpiece of the collection of 77 paintings representing French, Italian, Dutch and German artists is Leonardo da Vinciıs Lady with an Ermine (Cecilia Gallerani), an undisputed masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance. The powerful work also is particularly significant in that it was painted in approximately 1491 and anticipates the Mona Lisa (1505-14). Other exhibition highlights reflect the proud history of collecting in Poland, including a love for the great Dutch and Flemish painters evident in the large numbers of their works found in the national collections, including Hans Memlingıs The Last Judgement (1467-71), from the city of Gdan´sk.

The collection also includes important Italian Renaissance and Baroque works by artists such as Veit Stoss, Jan Matsys, and Ferdinand Bol, and several 18th century cityscapes of Warsaw by Italian court painter Bernardo Bellotto. Alongside these and numerous other European masters will be a select group of works by great Polish artists from five centuries, including The Great Polish Painter, Jan Matejko, Piotr Michalowski, Olga Boznanska and Jacek Malczewski.

Exhibition Highlights Polish Cultural and Historical Significance. The exhibition will highlight Polandıs place in history as a meeting ground for artists and intellectuals of many nationalities; a center for rich and diverse forms of royal patronage incorporating Italian, Netherlandish and French influences; a hub for international trade that produced a pluralism of taste, and a country that clung to its artistic culture in the face of a geopolitical order that shattered its national independence throughout much of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Adding poignancy and power to this exhibition is Polandıs determination over the past 50 years to recover and restore national treasures that were stolen or displaced during World War II. The exhibition will tell, for the first time, the story of the fate of important collections of European paintings in Poland as well as works by late 19th century Jewish artists. A number of the paintings will be on view for the first time since recovery and conservation.

Milwaukee Art Museum officials emphasize the dual impact of the art and its international significance. Exhibition curator Laurie Winters, the Museumıs curator of Earlier European Art, notes that this is the first time MAM has partnered with the national institutions of another country to bring an important exhibition to the United States. "This is a significant partnership and we hope it will be the first of many others to follow," Winters says. "This exhibition is a great opportunity to showcase the significance of Poland as a European cultural center, a fact that had been lost for many years because of the Nazi occupation of Poland in World War II and the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Poland has been effectively dismissed and ignored by American museums and scholarship ­ a critical omission that the exhibition and catalogue remedy."

Minister of Culture of the Republic of Poland, Waldemar Dabrowski, said:
I hope that this exhibition will be a signpost in international relations which will guide all of us who seek culture and peace. At the same time as this opening in Milwaukee of the exhibition of Polish art treasures, the National Museum in Warsaw is holding the main Polish observances of remembrance of the events of September 11. This is no coincidence ­ we hereby convey to you, on this opening of our artistic presentation, an expression of our solidarity.

Exhibition Catalogue
Winters is one of several essayists who are contributing chapters to the exhibitionıs catalogue. Published by Yale University Press, the book will chronicle Polandıs cultural contact with Italy, the history of collecting through the 17th and 18th centuries, Polish Art through the 19th century, restoration and collecting in Poland and the current state of Polandıs museums. Other contributing essayists include Paul W. Knoll, professor of history, University of Southern California; Wojciech Kowalski, professor of law, University of Silesia, Katowice; Andrzej Rottermund, director of The Royal Castle, Warsaw; Piotr S. Wandycz, Bradford Dufee professor of history, Yale University; Dorota Folga-Januszewska, director of collections and research, National Museum, Warsaw; Janusz Walek, deputy director and curator of foreign paintings, The Princes Czartoryski Museum, Cracow, and Antoni Ziemba, curator of Dutch and Flemish paintings, National Museum, Warsaw.

Programs and Events to be Scheduled Throughout Community Throughout the exhibition, the Milwaukee Art Museum will host and partner with local and international organizations such as the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the Warsaw Symphony to present a broad range of educational programs and activities designed to enhance the understanding of Polish culture to diverse audiences. Activities will include musical performances, lectures and a symposium. The exhibition travels to The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco: California Palace of the Legion of Honor.

About the Milwaukee Art Museum
The Milwaukee Art Museum includes the new Santiago Calatrava designed Quadracci Pavilion, completed in October, 2001 and named by Time magazine "Best Design of 2001," renovated and reinstalled permanent collection galleries, and elegant public gardens designed by noted landscape architect Dan Kiley. The Museum's 2001 expansion provided a 30 percent increase in overall gallery space, enhanced educational and public programming facilities, and expanded public amenities.

The Milwaukee Art Museumıs far-reaching holdings include more than 20,000 works spanning antiquity to the present day. With a history dating back to 1888, the Museumıs primary strengths are in 19th- and 20th-century American and European art, contemporary art, American decorative arts, Old Master works, and folk and self-taught art.

Leonardo da Vinci and the Splendor of Poland: A History of Collecting and Patronage is sponsored by Wisconsin Energy Corporation, Christopher Seton Abele, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Polish National Alliance, Trust for Mutual Understanding, Spirit of Milwaukee, and The Kosciuszko Foundation, Inc., An American Center for Polish Culture. It is funded in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities. Transportation is provided by LOT Polish Airlines.

About the Wisconsin Energy Corporation
Wisconsin Energy Corporation (NYSE: WEC) is a Milwaukee-based holding company with subsidiaries in utility and non-utility businesses. The company serves more than one million electric customers in Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula and 960,000 natural gas customers in Wisconsin through its utility subsidiaries - Wisconsin Electric, Wisconsin Gas and Edison Sault Electric. Its non-utility subsidiaries include energy development, pump manufacturing, recycling and renewable energy, and real estate businesses.

The Summit Times

İ Copyright 2002 by Andrzej M. Salski