Early Iconography of Tadeusz Kościuszko and its Social Context in Krakow at the Turn of the 18th and 19th Centuries: Franciszek Smuglewicz and Michał Stachowicz (Summary)

Zbigniew Michalczyk (PDF)

The example of the Great French Revolution demonstrated the importance of graphic art. Therefore, the production of engraved portraits of Kościuszko began in 1793, before the outbreak of the uprising. After the uprising was defeated, the cult went underground. However, it did not lose its power and acquired new features. New topics appeared, such as the scenes depicted by Franciszek Smuglewicz and Michał Stachowicz, ‘Kościuszko taking an oath at Kraków’s Market Square’ and ‘Kościuszko saving Poland from the grave’.

The article examines different versions of the painting ‘Kościuszko taking an oath at Kraków’s Market Square’ to assess whether Stachowicz or Smuglewicz was the author of the composition, which many artists have repeated. The painting by Smuglewicz, housed at the National Museum in Poznań, was painted in Warsaw in 1797. The painting commissioner is unknown. However, research on artworks on this topic by Stachowicz shows that he had painted a similar scene as early as 1795. These images are characterised by the highly detailed architecture of the buildings of the Main Market Square, undoubtedly better known to Stachowicz than to Smuglewicz, the holder of the ruler’s scholarship. A careful comparison of the compositions of both artists shows that Smuglewicz painted individual buildings in a more generalised manner. Other iconographic sources also suggest that the artwork by Stachowicz was more accurate. One version of the composition by Stachowicz probably passed into the hands of Smuglewicz, the Warsaw artist. The painting by Smuglewicz, housed at the National Museum in Poznań, is a replica of the composition. Smuglewicz reproduced gouache and watercolour compositions by Stachowicz in a larger format and oil technique, creating one of the first historical, national and allegorical paintings in Poland.

Keywords: uprising, painting, replica, iconography, Poland