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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » June 27, 2013
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Royal Metamorphoses
June 27, 2013   
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The exhibition Metamorphoses: King Stanisław August’s Royal Collection at the Royal Łazienki Museum is part of a larger project aiming to show the last king of Poland (1764-1795) as a patron of the arts and an art collector.

The exhibition comprises 81 prints that have rarely been seen by visitors so far. They are on show in the Palace on the Isle, the king’s summer residence—in the Picture Gallery, the Ballroom and the Bathing Room. Thirty-five of the prints on display once belonged to Stanisław August. The remaining prints come from a collection of a Polish art collector named Jan Kanty Szembek (1911-1979) that was purchased in 1965.

In Stanisław August’s time in the 18th century, many of the prints now on display at the Royal Łazienki Museum decorated the suites on the first floor of the White Pavilion. During World War II the collection was plundered by the Germans, and only some of the prints were recovered and returned to Poland after the war.

Both sets of prints come from the same edition of Metamorphoses, the famous narrative poem by Roman poet Ovid, published in the late 18th century by Pierre-Franc˛ois Basan and Noël Le Mire. Unlike the prints from Szembek’s collection, the prints from the Royal Collection had a familiar bookbinder’s finish featuring a hand-painted green frame.

The exhibition is arranged according to the sequence of events in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The prints on display illustrate various stories such as those about the four seasons, the deluge or the fate of Perseus. A separate group of illustrations are prints whose subject matter corresponds to that of the sculptures in the Palace on the Isle. The prints depicting the stories of Marsyas, Hercules and Andromeda are displayed next to the respective sculptures in the Ballroom and Bathing Room.

Until Sept. 1
Palace on the Isle, Royal Łazienki Museum in Warsaw
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