The exhibition marks the first presentation of the Wawel Royal Castle’s pewter collection. It includes many fine pieces produced in the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and regions historically associated with it including Silesia, Prussia, and Saxony. On view are finely crafted objects of daily use such as flasks, tankards, jugs, tableware, oil lamps, and candlesticks dating from the 16th through 20th centuries, which not only demonstrate the richness of pewtering techniques, but also illustrate changing tastes and customs. Enlargements of historic woodcuts are used to illustrate the process of pewter production and the development of the pewter trade.
The centerpiece of the collection is a rare group of four early 17th-century pewter sarcophagi with effigies of knights – three in high-relief and one fully three-dimensional sculpture – on their lids. They were commissioned by Krystyna Sieniawska for her husband Adam Hieronim (d. 1619) and their three sons: Aleksander (d. 1622), Prokop (d. 1627), and Mikołaj (d. 1636). Cast between 1619 and 1642, in the Lwów foundry operated by the Franke family until the mid-1600s, the pewter sarcophagi were originally embellished with precious metals. Jan Pfister (1573–1642), a sculptor employed by Sieniawska, created the model for the sculpture; the three reliefs are attributed to his workshop. The sarcophagi originally stood in the chapel of Brzeżany Castle, one of the largest magnate residences and strongholds of the eastern marches of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In 1920, during the Polish-Bolshevik War, the sarcophagi were evacuated to Wawel Castle in Cracow to save them from destruction. Jakub Potocki, the last owner of Brzeżany, formally gave them to the museum in 1925. In 1966, they were transferred to the Wawel’s branch museum, Pieskowa Skała Castle, and placed in the crypt of the castle chapel, where they remain to this day. For technical and conservation reasons, the sarcophagi themselves could not be safely installed in the exhibition; graphic representations and a film on their history are presented.
The exhibition is accompanied by a scholarly catalogue and an exhibition guide with an essay on the development of pewter manufacturing in Europe and the significance of the craft for the daily lives of people from various walks of life.
May 24 – August 28, 2016
Tuesday – Friday 9:30 am–5 pm
Saturday, Sunday 10 am–5 pm
Monday – closed
last entry one hour before exhibition closes
admission 5 PLN
– at ticket office and exhibition entrance; free with admission to the State Rooms