Art and Heritage in Central Europe
The tapestry collection of the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania Sigismund Augustus (1544/1548–1572), distinguished for its highest level of artistry, historical significance, unparalleled scope of an artistic project realised by one client, legendary material value and turbulent destiny is truly a diamond in the context of European art collections.
Sigismund Augustus’ tapestry collection consisted of around 160 artistic textiles. Of these, 140 exist today, most of them being kept at the Wawel Royal Castle.
The drawings for Sigismund Augustus’ tapestries and the actual weaving were executed by the most acclaimed masters of the day. Tapestries featuring wool and silk thread, embellished with gold and silver metallic thread, were woven in as many as eight workshops in Brussels which belonged to figures such as Pieter van Aelst the Younger, Jan de Kempeneer, Willem de Kempeneer, Jan van Tieghem and other masters.
This exhibition presents all groups from the collection of Sigismund Augustus’ tapestries. Visitors will be able to see 37 textiles – 9 tapestries with biblical scenes of the First Parents, Noah and construction of the Babel Tower, 10 verdures, 6 tapestries with the ruler’s initials, 10 textiles with the coats of arms of Lithuania and Poland and 2 smaller tapestries. Some of the textiles have been integrated into the palace interiors exposition. A tapestry collection of this scale has never before been displayed beyond the walls of Wawel. This fact makes the exhibition an exceptional gesture of the Wawel Royal Castle’s and Poland’s attention and good-will towards Lithuania, the finest possible gift to Vilnius on the occasion of its 700th anniversary. It is also one of the most complicated, largest and most expensive projects undertaken in the history of museology in Lithuania. The exhibition’s importance and historical significance, reminding us of the long-lived unity of Lithuania and Poland and the whole region, is further underpinned by the patronage of the presidents of Lithuania and Poland.
The exhibition in Vilnius is open from May 3 to July 16, 2023
Exhibition organisers: National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania (Vilnius, Lithuania), Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection (Kraków, Poland), Adam Mickiewicz Institute (Warsaw, Poland)
Read more: https://wawel.krakow.pl/en/the-tapestries-of-sigismund-augustus-in-vilnius
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