In a Kontush and With a Sabre – Old Art Gallery From The Collections of The Sanguszko Dukes

Ratusz w Tarnowie

Town Hall in Tarnów

“In a kontush and with a sabre” – permanent exhibition devoted to the culture of the Polish nobility.

Ground floor:

In the hall, before the exhibition rooms, the photographs of the Palace in Pidhirtsi are presented, a residence ordered by Stanisław Koniecpolski and built in the 17th century. The next owners were the Sobieski family, the Rzewuski family, and since the second half of the 19th century the Sanguszko family.

This three-floor palace of palazzo in fortezza type, was built on a rectangular plan. It has fortified walls with bastions, a moat and casemates, a courtyard and indoor well. It was surrounded with a large park descending in terraces from the north.

Owing to the Rzewuski family, especially Wacław, this residence inherited from former owners (the Koniecpolski family and the Sobiecki family) together with equipment, was enriched with further artistic collections which provided it with special value. Just before World War I, the interiors of this palace and enormous collections of museum nature were made available and presented to the public. During the war, a significant part of those collections was moved by the Sanguszko family to, among others, the palace in Gumniska near Tarnów. Only some of those items returned to Pidhirtsi in 1933 when the palace was partially restored and opened to the public again.

Silverware, porcelain, glass, archive materials, more valuable furniture and a part of old armoury were left in Gumniska. Here, they were faced with the outbreak of World War II and then nationalisation of property. The collections gathered in Gumniska became the property of the Museum in Tarnów after 1945.

The Sarmatian armoury – a collection of Polish and oriental armaments dating back to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

Among the exhibits, there are defensive weapons used by Polish heavy cavalry and a unique hussar’s lance, almost 5 m long.  Generally, it was a single-use weapon, only several originals have survived until this day in the Museum.

Among the collection of edged weapons, Polish sabres dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries are exhibited. A separate collection is a collection of oriental weapons – Persian and Turkish ones, dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries but also originating from the Balkan countries, the Caucasus or even the area of Maghreb.

The exhibition also presents the collection of horse riding gear, very interesting as a result of variety of materials and rich ornaments, as well as two complete, ceremonial horse tacks of eastern type. One of those tacks is especially valuable, it is decorated with hundreds of rubies, it was made in the second half of the 17th century in Armenian workshops operating in Lviv, famous for their luxurious artistic craftsmanship.

There are also walls of a tent dating back to the first half of the 18th century, made according to Turkish trends, most probably by workshops operating in Brody near Lviv.

The hunting armoury – firearms are presented, used for recreational purposes – hunting and sports, but also defensive and offensive weapons.

In the hunting armoury, which is devoted to hunting themes, long firearms are dominant, dating back to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. One of the most precious exhibits is an arquebus once owned by Hetman Klemens Branicki, with silver decoration reminding of hunting themes that is worthy of admiration for the craftsmanship of old craftsmen – artists. Apart from firearms, there are also examples of ranged weapons represented by 3 crossbows – a weapon which hunters liked very much due to its silent operation. The exhibition also presents certain elements of hunter’s equipment: beautifully ornamented powder boxes, a hunting horn and a hunting game call, called triton, made of sea snail muscle.

The Council Room – exhibition of porcelain and glass

Those exhibits date back to the period between the 16th and 19th centuries and represent the leading manufacturing centres in Western Europe and Poland. Apart from Delftware and stoneware from the manufacturing house of J. Wedgewood, the exhibition is dominated by collections originating from the oldest European porcelain manufacturing house in Meissen, distinguished by high artistic quality. There are also numerous products originating from the manufacturing houses in Berlin and Vienna as well as from three manufacturing houses in Volhynia: from Korets, Baranivka and Horodnytsia.

This exhibition also presents the collection of glass tableware dating back to the period between the 17th and 19th centuries. First of all, this collection is composed of Baroque chalices and glasses from glassworks operating in the 18th century in the eastern areas of the former Republic of Poland as well as glass from glassworks in the area of Saxony and the Karkonosze.

The collection of glass presented in the exhibition is, owing to its forms and numerous original decorative motifs, the most interesting and the largest one in Poland.

Glass originating from yet unknown Polish glassworks operating in the 18th century, presenting a small sample of various types of glassware, is grouped separately. The room is also decorated with wall mirrors with small goblets for candles, dating back to the 17th century.

The Commoners Room – the Old Polish Portrait Gallery

The name of this largest and representative room in the Town Hall originates from the function it performed in the past. The townspeople gathered there and discussed important matters relating to the town. Currently, there is the Old Polish Portrait Gallery with portraits dating back to the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries and known as “Sarmatian portraits”. The collection of Sarmatian portraits presented in the exhibition is one of the largest and most valuable one throughout Poland. All paintings (except for three) used to belong to the gallery of the Rzewuski family but later, in 1865, this gallery and the palace in Pidhirtsi were bought by Duke Władysław Sanguszko.

The presentation of ancestors together with their honours and offices as well as family connections with the most prominent families was one of the most important functions of an ancestral gallery.

The founder of the collection in Pidhirtsi was Stanisław Mateusz Rzewuski of the Krzywda coat of arms (1622-1728). The next owner of Pidhirtsi, son of Stanisław Mateusz, Wacław Rzewuski (1706-1779), continued this tradition.

There are also numerous portraits with the image of Hetman Wacław Rzewuski, painted after 1779, showing him in the costume of the Order of the White Eagle.

It is worthwhile to take a look at a small portrait painted in 1710, presenting two children playing with a dog. Those graceful models are Wacław and Marianna, children of Stanisław Rzewuski.

An interesting phenomenon in the Pidhirtsi gallery was the fact that there were also portraits of representatives of lower social classes. The portrait of Konik, a serf from Pidhirtsi, preserved in the Museum in Tarnów, constitutes an example of the above.

The figures presented in the portraits are usually shown from their heads to their hips. They are striking because of their realism in presenting the physiognomy, with arrogant face expression, with half-shaved heads, with attributes of their offices or with a sabre. They were always characteristically posed, most often in a kontush distinguishing them among other European nations.

The Eastern Room – exhibition presenting silver tableware.

The aim of this exhibition is to show the old culture of the Polish table, culinary customs, various forms of dishes and their functions – sometimes almost completely forgotten today. There are works of goldsmiths’ art which are the most valuable in the Museum’s collections, predominantly of decorative and representative nature. Those items are of exceptional artistic quality, treated as elements of interior design in old seats of the nobility, created in the 17th and the 18th century. A decorated, gilded goblet, called roztruchan, made by a goldsmith from Nuremberg, Georg (Jörg) Ruel, between 1598 and 1613, is one of the oldest items in the presented collection.

The goldsmiths’ art from Augsburg is represented by items with rich, painted decorations, made at the end of the 17th century. This German silverware is supplemented by a pair of gilded, eighteenth-century candlesticks with their columns in the form of female figures and by a beer stein with engraved decoration of its body, made at the turn of the 18th century.

This exhibition also presents silver and silvered vessels of functional and usable nature, dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries and the beginning of the 20th century. Similarly as in the culinary culture of Western Europe, inspired by French patterns, also in Poland, as of the 18th century, certain rules for serving food were adopted and this required various types of dishes as well as cutlery, what is perfectly reflected in the remaining part of this exhibition.