The Sapieha Library at the Wawel Royal Castle"
This exhibition is the first large-scale presentation of selected volumes from the Sapieha library. The collection was acquired from Michael Sapieha in 2013, thanks to a grant from the Minister of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland.
The library of the princely Sapieha family is one of the greatest Polish book collections of its kind. It is comprised of nearly 14,000 volumes in Polish, Latin, French, and German on such diverse subjects theology, history, geography, and the natural sciences. The collection includes books of great historical and
cultural value, such as old printed books in Polish and other languages and beautiful editions published in the 19th and 20th centuries. The Sapieha library is one of the few magnate book collections to have survived to the present despite the country's turbulent history.
During World War II the Sapieha library was concealed in the Bishop’s Palace in Cracow.
In the 1950s, it was confiscated by the communist security services (UB) and transferred to the Wawel Castle as a deposit in 1953. Since 1973, the library has been preserved in the Castle of Pieskowa Skała, a branch museum of the Wawel Royal Castle.
On view in the exhibition are splendid books, book plates, and bindings, complemented by Sapieha family portraits and views of Krasiczyn Castle, which became the family seat in the 19th century.
T H E S A P I E H A S
For four centuries the Sapiehas were one of the most influential families in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The exceptional prestige enjoyed by members of the family, ensured by their elevated social and economic status, enabled them to play a central role in the politics of the Commonwealth. The House of Sapieha issued over fifty high-ranking state and church officials, including thirty senators, five hetmans, six chancellors and subchancellors, and three bishops. The Sapiehas also made their mark as preeminent art patrons and collectors, generous founders of churches and monasteries, and builders of resplendent castles and palaces. Like their political influence, their estates and foundations
extended over immense areas of both the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.