Images Captured in Words: Commemorative Architecture in Printed Funeral Sermons and Manuscript Documents of the 17th Century (Summary)

Mariola Jarczykowa (PDF)

This article discusses texts that refer to the commemorative architecture of the 17th century. These are usually funeral sermons. They describe coats of arms and the decoration of church interiors. In his speech for the funeral of Katarzyna Potocka Radziwiłł, ‘The Tiara of Eternity’ (Tiara wieczności), Augustyn Wituński referred to the paintings that adorned the catafalque and to the inscriptions explaining them. Other preachers also noted the splendid architecture of the occasion, praising its creators and sponsors but stressing that the artistic decoration of a funeral is temporary, as opposed to the eternal verbal glorification. Sometimes, at the end of a printed sermon, the course of the ceremony and its décor were described in great detail, for example, in the ‘Process of the Funeral of Krzysztof Radziwiłł’ (Process pogrzebu Krzysztofa Radziwiłła). Emblems and flag inscriptions were quoted in ceremonial speeches, such as in the ‘Andrzej Łowcowski Dobka funeral speech to the guests’ (Przemowa do gości na pogrzebie Andrzeja Łowcowskiego Dobka). These motifs of the funeral ceremony and the commemorative architecture revealed the ideas behind the ceremonial programme. Similar information is found in other sources. For example, the correspondence describes flags with inscriptions by Salomon Rysiński, Daniel Naborowski and others. The letters also included suggestions on how to decorate festivals and ceremonial processions. Most descriptions of funerals are solemn; the authors sought to capture the ceremonies. However, some texts wittily comment on particular motifs in the design of ceremonies. Examples are manuscript poems by Marcin Działyński, which fling at one of Radziwiłł’s catafalque figures in the Vilnius Bernardine Church.

Keywords: Katarzyna Potocka Radziwiłł, Krzysztof Radziwiłł, coat of arms, emblems, artistic decoration