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The expansion of the rural villa of Stanisław August and changes in its appearance brought about the need for new rooms and premises, which would satisfy the demands of a larger number of guests often invited by the King. It was necessary to
include a Ballroom – an indispensable element of every palace, where
the guests could spend time during celebrations. The room was added in
1788 to the former Baths on the west side, and the works were executed
according to the design by the Royal architect Johann Christian
Kamsetzer. It is the most spacious room in the Palace. It is rectangular
in shape and positioned along the north-south axis. It is characterized
by a simple composition, harmony, and a light colour palette, which is
further emphasised by the large amount of light entering through the
tall balcony doors. The Classicist style visibly dominates the interior,
which, nonetheless does includes late-Baroque items. Architectural
decorations, sculptures, and paintings allude to well-known Ancient and
Renaissance era patterns, such as the Raphael Loggias from the Papal
Palace
in the Vatican City. White walls and gildings allude to Louis
XVI’s Versailles.

The construction of the Ballroom was completed in 1793. Its main
decorative elements are two Ionic porticos made of white marble, while
statues brought from Rome in the same year stand in the niches. The
porticos form monumental frames for the fireplaces. In the southern
niche, the sculpture Farnese Hercules is embedded. It is a copy
of the Ancient work by the Roman artist Giuseppe Angelini. Hercules is
portrayed as resting after a fight. He stands on a board supported by
mythical characters. The first is Chiron – lethally wounded in the knee –
one of the Centaurs, Hercules’ foes. The other is the three-headed dog
in chains – Cerberus – defeated by the mythical hero by being brought
out from Hades. On the other side of the room – in a niche in front of
the fireplace, stands the Apollo Belvedere statue made in Rome
by Antonio d’Este, on the basis of the Ancient model. It is positioned
on a board supported by the sculpture of King Midas with donkeys’ ears
and one of Satyr Marsyas bound. According to the mythology, the two were
punished by Apollo for disputing his mastery of the lyre. The objects
surrounding the fireplaces project Stanisław August’s vision of the
ideal rule. Such rule was to come after overcoming all adversities faced
by the King during his reign. It was imagined to be peaceful
(symbolized by Hercules), and open to the development of arts and
sciences (symbolized by Apollo).

The painted decoration of the walls is also an important element of
the Ballroom symbolic design. It comprises rectangular wall panels
filled with grotesques painted by Jan Bogumił Plersch in 1793. These
depictions conveyed specific content alluding to the political reality
of the time. Their creation should primarily be associated with the
proceedings of the Great Sejm (1788-1792) and the adoption of the
Constitution of May 3, 1791. The intended result of those events was to
introduce a new, better order in the Republic, and bring about
a so-called “golden age”, which is alluded to by the characters of the
grotesques. These paintings represented also philosophical and
existential ideas, reflecting the King’s interests. Here, we can see
a personification of the Four Elements, Times of the Day, Seasons, and
the Zodiac Signs, as well as mythological Parcae – spinning the thread
of human life. Cronos-Saturn – seen above the clock – is the equivalent
of the Christian Providence, in whose protection Stanisław August
believed. The Pagan Lord of Time is the guarantor of the harmony
expressed in the World Room.

Details

  • Title: The Ballroom
  • Location Created: The Palace on the Isle

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