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"Leonardo da Vinci and the Splendor of Poland: A History of Collecting and Patronage"
2002-09-13 until 2002-11-24
Milwaukee Art Museum
Milwaukee, WI, USA

Prince Adam Karol Czartoryski of Poland will be at the Milwaukee Art Museum for the September 13 opening of Leonardo da Vinci and the Splendor of Poland: A History of Collecting and Patronage, an exhibition of 77 paintings from public and private collections in Poland. Prince Czartoryski, of The Princes Czartoryski Museum in Cracow, Poland, brings the jewel of the exhibition, Leonardo’s Lady With an Ermine, to Milwaukee. He shares the story of this work’s survival throughout the 20th century during the opening night celebration, including music and dance performances, at MAM September 13. The celebration begins at 5 p.m. and Prince Czartoryski speaks at 6:15 p.m.

Organized by the Milwaukee Art Museum, the exhibition will be on view from September 13, 2002, to November 24, 2002. Leonardo da Vinci and the Splendor of Poland: A History of Collecting and Patronage is sponsored by We Energies and Christopher Seton Abele.

The exhibition includes many outstanding paintings, many of which have never been seen in North America. The most famous exhibition painting is Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine (Cecilia Gallerani) from Cracow. Other highlights include Hans Memling’s great Last Judgment from Gdańsk, which has not previously been seen in the United States and will only be on view in Milwaukee. There are five of Bernardo Bellotto’s famous views of Warsaw. Also included are major Polish paintings from the last 500 years and a group of late 19th century paintings by Jewish artists. The exhibition will highlight Poland’s place in history as a meeting ground for artists and intellectuals of many nationalities; a center for rich and diverse forms of royal patronage incorporating Italian, Netherlandish and French influences; a hub for international trade that produced a pluralism of taste, and a country that clung to its artistic culture in the face of a geopolitical order that shattered its national independence throughout much of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Adding poignancy and power to this exhibition is Poland’s determination over the past 50 years to recover and restore national treasures that were stolen or displaced during World War II. The exhibition will tell, for the first time, the story of the fate of important collections of European paintings in Poland as well as works by late 19th century Jewish artists. A number of the paintings will be on view for the first time since recovery and conservation.

Laurie Winters, the Museum’s curator of Earlier European Art, has stated, “The cultural history of Poland is little known today, but Poland had a rich culture from the Renaissance into the 19th century. This exhibition and its catalogue, on sale at MAM Store, are intended to shed light on this hitherto lost aspect of European cultural history.”

Throughout the exhibition, the Milwaukee Art Museum will host and partner with local and international organizations to present a broad range of educational programs and activities. Programming includes a lecture by David Alan Brown, curator of Italian Paintings at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; a Polish family day including a performance by the Syrena Polish Folk Dance Ensemble; a symposium of international scholars on creating an identity in 19th century Poland; and performances by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Early Music Now, and the Pabst Concert Series. The Museum will expand its hours during the exhibition only, opening seven days a week from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., except Thursdays when it will remain open until 8 p.m.

Additional Support for the Exhibition

Additional support for Leonardo da Vinci and the Splendor of Poland: A History of Collecting and Patronage comes from Polish National Alliance; Trust for Mutual Understanding; Spirit of Milwaukee; The Kościuszko Foundation, Inc., An American Center for Polish Culture; Polanki, Inc., the Polish Women’s Cultural Club of Milwaukee; Sotheby’s; Fine Arts Society of the Milwaukee Art Museum; Istituto Italiano di Cultura; Italian Government Tourist Board; and The Legion of Young Polish Women of Chicago. The exhibition is also funded in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities and is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities. Promotional support is provided by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Transportation is provided by LOT Polish Airlines.

National Exhibition Tour

After the Milwaukee Art Museum, the exhibition will travel to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, (December 8, 2002 - February 16, 2003) and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco: California Palace of the Legion of Honor (March 8, 2003 - May 15, 2003).


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