The Relationship between Artist and Commissioner in the Radziwiłł’s Nesvizh of the Eighteenth Century (Summary)

Ольга Горшковоз-Баженова (PDF)

The article presents data found in the archives in Minsk and Warsaw related to the artistic and social history of the noble Michał Kazimierz ‘Rybeńko’ Radziwiłł (1702–1762). The artists of the ducal court began to accumulate between 1735 and 1740, with the formation of the separate domain of Michał Kazimierz ‘Rybeńko’ Radziwiłł. The main group of craftsmen gathered in Nesvizh, the capital of the duke’s domain. The core of the group consisted of artists who came to the court of Michał Kazimierz ‘Rybeńko’ Radziwiłł from the environment of his mother, Anna Katarzyna Sanguszko-Radziwiłłowa (1676–1746). Sanguszko-Radziwiłłowa invited well-known masters, such as Johann Conrad Blanck, Giovanni de Fulchi and Johann Benedict Hoffmann. The contract with each master provided training for two to three learners.

The craftsmen commissioned by Michał Kazimierz ‘Rybeńko’ Radziwiłł formed four distinct groups. The most numerous of them was the Nesvizh group, which consisted of 10 people, namely Ksawery Dominik Heski, Józef Ksawery Heski, Kazimierz Lutnicki and Stanisław Mikołajewski and the decorators of the faience manufactory in Sverzhen, the German Küntzelmann, Maciej, Jan and Tomasz. Another group of duke painters was located in Zhovkva, the former domain of Hetman Żółkiewski-Sobieski in Ukraine. The Zhovkva group consisted of six artists. These two groups of artists often worked together under the leadership of Ksawery Dominik Heski. The names of the artists in the Kopys group are not known.

Such a large number of artists permanently working at the ducal court under the patronage of a single patron was relatively rare in the mid-eighteenth century. Neither the duke’s mother, Sanguszko-Radziwiłł, nor his brother, Hieronim Florian Radziwiłł, nor most of the other nobles had so many artists.

The artist training system was similar to the old guild system, and each master who worked for a duke had to teach his craft to two learners. After starting their education, they stayed at the master’s house. The learners were selected from the families of petty nobles of the court of Michał Kazimierz ‘Rybeńko’ Radziwiłł. Gifted young men were usually identified by the duke’s administrators.

The duke’s artists enjoyed the legal protection of the ruler and earned their living by commissioning his work. Radziwiłł’s artists received a regular salary in cash and kind and payment for specific commissions. In addition, craftsmen could receive special rewards from the duke, such as plots of land, houses, etc. The artists worked under the strict control of the duke, and their main goal was to carry out his commissions as accurately as possible.

Keywords: Michał Kazimierz ‘Rybeńko’ Radziwiłł, Anna Katarzyna Sanguszko-Radziwiłłowa, Nesvizh, Zhovkva, Biała Podlaska