Art in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania is of imperial nature not only from political perspective, but also due to formed multilayer variety of art culture.
Our Lady of Sorrows (17th – 18th century) by Unknown authorLithuanian Art Fund
Back in the period of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (13th century - 1795) art patrons and collectors strongly stimulated development of art.
As it may be noticed from the first items in this exhibition, the origins of Lithuanian sculpture date back to those times. Sacred art held a very important place in the hearts of artists.
Sacred art, also known as religious art, as a very popular theme was raised by imagery inspiration and spiritual motifs in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
The Last Supper (late 16th century) by Unknown authorLithuanian Art Fund
Last Supper is the final meal that, in the Gospel accounts, Jesus shared with his Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion.
This is a flattened, painterly, but not linear (Byzantine) painting. The carved background is very impressive, soft and light, nicely included in the already painted picture, and has some features of Mannerism. The Last Supper was created by an unknown artist in the late 16th century.
Our Lady of Trakai (16th–17th century) by Unknown authorLithuanian Art Fund
Our Lady of Trakai is an iconographic image known for its miracles. Miracles in front of the painting have been recorded since 1600 in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
In 1718 the painting was crowned with crowns sent by the Pope (this painting was the first to be crowned in Lithuania).
The iconography of the painting is similar to the Byzantine style of The Mother of God Guiding Star therefore Our Lady is wearing a veil with the Greek cross on her head. The painting was reconfigured in the 16th century: it was reduced making it similar to the so-called St Luke’s painting of Mary.
Mother of God guiding star (18th century) by Unknown authorLithuanian Art Fund
The Mother of God guiding star, or the One Who Shows the Way (Hodegetria), is an iconographic depiction created in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania of The Blessed Virgin Mary with the Infant Jesus.
Mother of God (Hodegetria) (last quarter of the 17th century) by Unknown authorLithuanian Art Fund
Mary shows the Saviour, who is the way, the truth and the life. She is portrayed to her waist, her head and shoulders are draped in a robe, she holds the Infant Jesus, who is giving blessing, on her left arm. The stars on the robe echo the iconic tradition of painting stars on the forehead or shoulders of the Mother of God, which symbolise triple chastity – before childbirth, and during and after childbirth.
The Holy Trinity based on the Old Testament (second half of the 17th century) by Unknown authorLithuanian Art Fund
Created in the second half of the 17th century this painting reflects The Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity based on the Old Testament is the main church dogma of one God in three persons.
God the Father is the original source of the whole divinity. God the Son is an image or Word expressing the Father. God the Holy Spirit is a bond connecting the Father and the Son.
Resurrection of Jesus (second half of the 17th century) by Unknown authorLithuanian Art Fund
Resurrection of Jesus is the subject, which depicts the third day after death of Jesus and his appearance to his followers. Jesus Christ is shown with a scarlet robe or a robe and a loincloth holding a long cross with a flag in his left hand, which symbolises victory over death and resurrection.
St Anthony of Padua (1750) by Unknown authorLithuanian Art Fund
This painting of St Anthony reflects an idea of a saint and a famous preacher and missionary. He was born into a rich and noble family in Lisbon. His life was shrouded in legends and miracles. He is usually depicted with the Infant Jesus, who, according to the legend, appeared before the praying Anthony.
St Anthony’s apparition (early 18th century) by Unknown authorLithuanian Art Fund
Another painting of St Anthony’s Apparition created in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in early 18th century.
St Ursula with St Joseph and St Stanislaus (1756) by Unknown authorLithuanian Art Fund
St Ursula is a blessed virgin martyr who lived in the fourth century in Britain. The daughter of the British King who was a Christian, she was ordered to marry a pagan. Advised by an angel, she asked the man to wait for three years and left for a pilgrimage to Rome with her noble friends and visited the Pope.
The Grand Duchy of Lithaunia was rich in portraits. Most of them reflected the most famous, important persons in the Duchy. For instance, on the right you may see Marshall of Grodno Powiat Krzysztof Jundziłł.
Portrait of Mykolas Dešertas, Centurion of Navahrudak (1792) by Unknown authorLithuanian Art Fund
Portrait of Mykolas Dešertas, Centurion of Navahrudak.
Karol Stalisław Radziwiłł (18th century) by Unknown authorLithuanian Art Fund
Karol Stalisław Radziwiłł (1669–1719) was a prince, Polish-Lithuanian nobleman and diplomat.
Ordynat of Nieśwież, Stolnik of Lithuania in 1685, Equerry of Lithuania in 1686, Deputy Chancellor of Lithuania in 1690, Grand Chancellor of Lithuania in 1698, Bailiff of Vilnius.
Portrait of Jeronimas Stroinovskis, Bishop of Vilnius (early 19th century) by Unknown authorLithuanian Art Fund
Portrait of Jeronimas Stroinovskis, Bishop of Vilnius (1752-1815) is based on a subtle blend of black and red.
A slight smile plays across his face, however he is looking sideways from the viewer. Therefore, a dreamy and sad state made be perceived.
Each book from the period of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania is a unique source of information, they are rich treasury of culture. The following books may be also viewed as artworks admiring their magnificent covers, design and engravings.
Natural law, political law, political economy and law of nations (1785) by Hieronim StroynowskiLithuanian Art Fund
Hieronim Stroynowski (1752–1815) whose portrait you have seen earlier, was the Rector of Vilnius University, Head of the Department of Natural Law, and one of the most famous Polish and Lithuanian physiocrats.
Natural Law, Political Law, Political Economy and Law of Nations is his most important work. It is a textbook on natural law, which he used for his lectures. In it, he criticizes serfdom, argues the necessity to tax landowners, and tries to spread 18th century French philosophy and the idea of universal enlightenment.
Description of European sarmatia, which encompassed the Kingdom of Poland, Lithuania, Samogitia, Russia, Masovia, Prussia, Pomerania, Livonia, Muscovy, and partly the Tartars. (1583) by Alessandro GuagniniLithuanian Art Fund
Italian chronicler Alessandro Guagnini (1538–1614) spent a long time in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and gained citizenship. To prepare his Description of European Sarmatia, he mostly used the chronicle of Maciej Stryjkowski (1547–1593), historian of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
The work presents descriptions of Poland, Lithuania, Prussia, Livonia, and Russia, as well as the Tartar Hordes. In the part dedicated to Lithuania, the author discusses Lithuanian religion, customs, everyday life, provides the genealogy of the Grand Dukes and noble families as well as the legend of Palemonas.
The book was first published in Krakow in 1578. It has many wooden engravings with portraits of the Grand Dukes and is dedicated to the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania Stephen Báthory.
The journey into Jerusalem by the great nobleman Mikalojus Kristupas Radvila (1614) by Mikołaj Krzysztof RadziwiłłLithuanian Art Fund
In 1582–1584, Grand Marshall of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Mikołaj Krzysztof Radziwiłł "the Orphan" (1549–1616) travelled around Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Cyprus, and Crete. He wrote the book The Journey into Jerusalem, which was illustrated with engravings by Thomas Makowski (1575–1630) and published in Braunsberg in 1601.
His eloquent description of the everyday life, customs, laws, and nature of the foreign lands made the book very popular; in the 17th -18th centuries it was reprinted 7 times in Polish, 4 times in Latin, and 2 times in German.
Lenten Triodion (1609) by Unknown authorLithuanian Art Fund
The liturgical Orthodox hymnal for celebrations with varying dates, The Triad of the Fast, was published in 1609 in Vilnius, in the Mamoničiai printing house. It was the second printing house in Vilnius, Grand Duchy of Lithuania (after Pranciškus Skorina’s), and operated in 1574-1624.
In 1586, the printing house was granted the privilege to print works on religion and law in ecclesiastical Slavic, Greek, and Russian by the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania Stephen Báthory.
The moonlight of Tyszkiewicz is sunlight to the episcopate of Vilnius, that rose happily greeting the panegyric from Vilnius University of the Society of Jesus. (1649) by Constantinus Drucki HorskiLithuanian Art Fund
The Moonlight of Tyszkiewicz is Sunlight to the Episcopate of Vilnius is a panegyric written by Vilnius University philosophy student Constantine Drucki Horski to celebrate Jerzy Tyszkiewicz (1596–1656) being elected Bishop of Vilnius (1649).
By employing the key components of the Tyszkiewicz Leliwa coat of arms (the moon and stars) the author creates various poetic connections with antique literature, history, and mythology.
The book is valuable not only for its texts, but also for its illustrations, namely the two engravings by Daniel Pelzeldt. The first depicts a panoramic view of Vilnius and the Tyszkiewicz coat of arms, a half moon and star, which links the picture nicely with the first words of the panegyric.
The great art of artillery (1650) by Casimir SiemienowiczLithuanian Art Fund
Casimir Siemienowicz (~1600–1651) was a graduate from Vilnius University, military officer in the army of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and artillery engineer.
In his book The Great Art of Artillery, he provided the theory and blueprints for creating multistage rockets and rocket artillery for the first time in history. The book became popular all over Europe. It was used as textbook for preparing artillery specialists for over a hundred years. In 1651, it was translated into French, in 1676 into German, and in 1729 into English.
Lithuanian History (Parts 1-2) (1669) by Alberto Wijuk KojałowiczLithuanian Art Fund
The second part of Albert Wijuk Kojałowicz’s History of Lithuania describes events from 1387 to 1572. The book is dedicated to the Court Treasurer of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Kazimierz Jan Sapieha (~1642–1720).
Four books on lyrics. One book on Epodes and another on Epigrams. (1632) by Matthias Casimirus SarbieviusLithuanian Art Fund
Maciej Kazimierz Sarbiewski (1595–1640) was a Jesuit, professor at Vilnius University, and one of the most famous Latin writing 17th century European poets. He was awarded a laurel wreath by Pope Urban VIII, singling him out as the most prominent poet of the era.
Sarbiewski wrote several works on rhetoric and poetry. His collection of poetry Three Books of Lyrics (Lyricorum libri tres) was first published in 1625 in Cologne. The title page of the 1632 edition Four Books of Lyrics is decorated with an engraving by Cornelius Galle (1576–1650), which is based on a drawing by the Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640).
The Statute of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (1693) by Unknown authorLithuanian Art Fund
The Third Statute of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania is one of the three legal codes of Lithuania passed in 1529, 1566, and1588. Only copies remain of the first two. The composition of the Third Statute was overseen by Deputy Chancellor of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Lew Sapieha (1557–1633).
It was an extensive and progressive legal code, which influenced the legal codes of neighbouring countries (Prussia, Russia, and Ukraine). The Third Statute of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was valid until 1840, when Russian laws were imposed in Lithuania. The fourth edition, which was printed in the Vilnius Academy Printing House in 1693, includes articles and documents concerning the activities of the Seimas from 1550 to 1690.
Historia illustrissimae Domus Sapiehanae (1724) by Antonio Aloysio MisztołtLithuanian Art Fund
Antanas Aloyzas Mištautas (1685–1740) was a Jesuit, Doctor of Philosophy, and Professor of Metaphysics and Ethics at Vilnius University.
In the three part panegyric to the Sapieha family of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, The History of the Noble Family of Sapieha, the author sought to embellish the history of the Sapieha family’s origins by claiming the Sapiehas were descended from Punigaila, the son of Narimantas Gediminaitis. The book includes the family tree of the Sapiehas and a dedication by the author to Antoni Kazimierz Sapieha (1689–1739), the Marshal of the Grand Tribunal of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (from 1724), and a united coat of arms of A. K. Sapieha.
Images of the Family of Dukes Radvila (1758) by Martinus Franciscus WöbeLithuanian Art Fund
Images of the Family of Dukes Radziwiłł is an album of graphic portraits, composed of 165 copies of the copper engravings from the Gallery of Nesvyžius.
The collection of family portraits was started by Mikołaj Krzysztof Radziwiłł the Orphan (1549–1616), who kept the portraits in his castle. Later the gallery was expanded with portraits from the collections of other members of the family. The Gallery of Nesvyžius was greatly expanded during the ruling of Voivode of Vilnius and Hetman of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Michał Kazimierz Rybeńko Radziwiłł (1702–1762).