The more you have been given, the more you owe…

23th September – 27th November 2016

43 miniature portraits were bequeathed between September 1939 and May 1940 as a war deposit at the Lubomirski Museum in Lviv (which belongs to The Ossoliński National Institute) by the siblings Karolina and Antoni Lanckoroński. Following the end of WWII, the miniatures were taken to Kraków along with a part of the Ossoliński collection, and then handed over to the Wrocław section of the Ossoliński Institute in the 1950s. In July 2016, Piotr Piniński, the president of the Lanckoronski Foundation, along with board member Katarzyna Raczyńska and the director of Ossolineum Dr Adolf Juzwenko, signed the bequest deeds which settled the legal status of this unique collection of remarkable works which have high artistic and historical value.

The collection of miniatures comes from the collection of Count Karol Lanckoroński (1848–1933), Polish aristocrat, dignitary at the Austro-Hungarian court, intellectual, archeologist, art expert and renowned art collector. His pro publico bono works were continued by his children: Antoni (1893–1965), Karolina (1898–2002) and Adelajda (1903–1980) Lanckoroński, who set up the Lanckoronski Foundation, an institution which played a key role in the development of post-WWII humanities field in Poland. The Foundation was established by Professor Karolina Lanckorońska, one of the most renowned figures in 20th century Polish culture and learning, who lived her fruitful and heroic life according to the motto: “The more you have been given, the more you owe your country and those near to you”.

The miniatures are small paintings, most often portraits, which were created for private clients. They were painted from the 15th century onwards, but achieved greatest popularity in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Their decline came about through the invention of daguerreotype and photography in mid 19th century.

The collection of miniatures presented in our exhibition is representative of a typical aristocratic family collection. It in- cludes images of ancestors and likenesses of historical figures, created by masters of the form. The portraits which belonged to Karol Lanckoroński include the works of well-known miniature painters, such as: Portrait of Ludwika nee Rzewuska Lanckorońska by Jean-Baptiste Isabey (1814), Portrait of Mikołaj Gołowin by Augustyn Ritt (1795), Portrait of Anna Teofila nee Sapieha Potocka by Heinrich Friedrich Füger (1796). This last miniature is framed in mahogany, along with five other portraits: the image of Anna Teofilia’s mother-in-law Teresa nee Ossolińska Potocka, painted by Jacques de Roy (1780), and four daughters – Emma, Wanda, Paulina, painted by Bernard de Guerard (1812), and Seweryna (1815, painter unknown). This beautiful tableau, showing three generations of distinguished ladies, shows how women’s fashions and the style of painting miniatures evolved.

The works on show include objects created over the past three centuries, dating from the 17th century to the end of the 19th century, and is a real masterclass in the techniques used by painters of miniatures – from oil on parchment, through 18th century pictures created using watercolours and gouache on bone plate, often decorated with jewelled medallions, up to the period of watercolour portraits on paper or using enamel techniques dating from the 19th century. This chronological presentation is crowned with the portrait of Margarethe nee Lichnowska Lanckorońska, the mother of Karolina Lanckorońska, painted at the tail end of the 19th century by Johannes Zehngraf on a photographic plate. The gift from the Lanckoronski Foundation is currently on display at the Pan Tadeusz Museum. Karolina Lanckorońska’s memoirs reveal that her father considered Adam Mickiewicz’s masterpiece worthy of adoration, hence the Karol Lanckoroński collection miniatures are presented next to the manuscript of our national epic, revealing their symbolic context.

The exhibition also features valuable illustrated manuscripts dating from the 15th century to the 19th, which in 2012 were be- queathed to the Ossoliński National Institute by Piotr Piniński, descendant and inheritor of the estate of Count Leon Piniński (1857–1938), a well-known lawyer and Galician deputy, professor at the Jan Kazimierz University in Lviv, collector and patron of the arts. The manuscripts represent only a part of a vast collection which Count Mieczysław Piniński (1895–1945), inheritor of Leon’s estate, left to the Polish nation in 1938, on the condition that a museum would be set up in the Piniński Palace in Lviv, allowing the exhibits to go on public display.

The outbreak of WWII interrupted these plans. In 1939, the Soviets broke up the Piniński collection, and the manuscript collections were added to the Ossolineum. In 1947,eight manu- scrpits ended up at the Ossolineum in Wrocław, the successor to the tradition of the Lviv Ossolineum Institute. The objects are as follows: Officium beate virginis secundum consuetudinem Romanae curie et officium mortuorum (15th century); Latin Italian Breviary (15th century); Horae diurnae ex decreto sacrosancti Concilii Basilii restituti (15th century); Carta Executoria belonging to the Spanish king Phillip II from 1581, issued to Francis Martinez de Vernal Sanchez and his sister, Teresa Gonzalez, against the advice and judgements of the town of La Torre Juan Abad and in spite of the royal treasury; Carta Executoria belonging to the Spanish king Phillip IV from 1659, giving Don Fernando de Paz and Medina from Palma back the estate of Guerar y Mansanilla, taken over in 1585 for the benefit of the state coffers; The Book of Persian Kings (17th century); The Koran, two complete texts in Arabic (18th and 19th century). Piotr Piniński gave these manuscripts to the Ossoliński National Institute and thus enriched its collections with items which have priceless value for future generations.

Exhibition curated by: Anita Soroko
Manuscripts selected and prepared by: Elżbieta Ostromęcka
Texts by: Anita Soroko, Elżbieta Ostromęcka
Exhibition produced by: Alicja Przestalska
Cooperation: Conservation and Bookbinding Workshop, led by Małgorzata Grocholska
Education programming by: Kinga Łaska