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It is a small, round room
crowned with a cupola. It is situated in the exact centre of the Palace
on the Isle. In the times of Stanisław Herakliusz Lubomirski, and at the
beginning of Stanisław August’s reign, it was stylized as an artificial
cave with a fountain in the middle. In the years 1788-1795, it was
converted according to the design by Domenico Merlini, to which it owes
a completely different appearance that has been preserved to this day.

Currently, its shape and arrangement bears resemblance to the Roman
Pantheon
and other religious buildings modelled on it. As a result, it
fulfils the initial aim of Stanisław August, who wanted the Rotunda to
reflect the character of a secular temple in honour of the most eminent
Polish kings and the most distinguished Roman emperors. In the first
group, the King included Casimir the Great, Sigismund I the Old, Stephen
Báthory, and John III Sobieski – the monuments of these monarchs were
placed in the four niches of the Rotunda, which undoubtedly echoes the
Gallery of Kings in the Versailles. From the Ancient rulers, Stanisław
August especially valued Titus, Trajan, and Marcus Aurelius; their busts
adorn the lintels of three passages which open the Rotunda to other
Palace rooms. The depictions of virtues – Justice, Clemency, Courage,
and Prudence – which hang in the cupola, would watch over all leaders.
Currently, they are displayed in the Salle de Salomon, and their
original locations are occupied by the paintings of the Four Times of
the Day. They were created in the 1870s, and when the decor and symbolic
arrangement of the interior was changed, they were covered by the
personifications of virtues.

The inseparable companion of the virtues, and the enemy of rulers –
Envy – has also found its place in the Rotunda. It is depicted on the
floor, as the Gorgon’s mask. Unfortunately, it was quickly destroyed and
a star assembled of colourful marbles has taken its place. The
inscription on the frieze explains the symbolic meaning conveyed with
the Rotunda’s arrangement: UTILE MUNDO EDITI IN EXEMPLUM, which means:
“Given as an example serving the world”. Following the last conversion,
Rotunda was used as a fanciful hallway leading to the Salle de Salomon,
where Stanisław August received his official guests.

Details

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

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