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International engraving exhibition "From the creation of the world to the apocalypse"

Event date: 2024 y.June0627 d. - 2024 y.September0915 d. All events
The National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, in cooperation with the Scientific Library of the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Polish Academy of Sciences in Kraków (Biblioteka Naukowa PAU i PAN w Krakowie), presents an international engraving exhibition dedicated to probably the most significant and largest collection of graphic art works not just in Poland but in the whole Central Eastern European region.
With the opening of the Graphic Art Cabinet of the Scientific Library of the PAAS and the PAS in Kraków in 1935, two invaluable graphic art collections were combined, featuring works accumulated in the 18th–19th centuries. The first part of the assemblage consisted of the collection of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth magnates, the Moszyńscy family. This collection was formed primarily by the member of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth parliaments, Great Quartermaster, Referendary and Great Secretary of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the last Grand Marshal of the Kingdom of Poland, Fryderyk Józef Moszyński (1738–1817), who accumulated the majority of this collection during the reign of the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania Stanislaus August Poniatowski (1764–1795). The second part of the Graphic Art Cabinet was transferred from the Polish Library established in emigration in Paris. A large part of this collection consisted of graphic art works assembled by the Polish emigrant living in Dresden, a participant in the Napoleonic Wars and president of the Polish Senate during the 1831 uprising, Maciej Wodziński (1782–1848). This Graphic Art Cabinet existed as an independent unit for only a relatively brief time – in 1935–1939 and then in 1945–1953, however importantly, the works managed to survive the turmoil of World War II. Once the war had ended, the collection was significantly enhanced with works by the Old Masters of Europe and was included in the structure of the Scientific Library of the PAAS and the PAS. Today, the Graphic Arts Cabinet in the Scientific Library of the PAAS and the PAS in Kraków holds more than 90 thousand splendid, valuable early graphic art works created by the most eminent artists in almost all the European centres of graphic art excellence: Nuremberg, Antwerp, Rome, Paris, London and Dresden. 
The part of the collection being presented at the National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania not only reminds us of the tumultuous history of the collection but also represents works of an unbelievably high artistic value. With the invention of the printing press in the middle of the 15th century, graphic art evolved into a branch of the fine arts that was among the first to reflect the latest innovations and discoveries from around the world. Alongside this, the wide scale of interests pursued by the first collectors of graphic art determined the highly varied thematic palette seen in these works – in those days, they spoke of the whole history of the world as witnessed and perceived by the Old Masters. Images echoing the Bible and the mythology of Antiquity reflected themes that so captivated society in the 15th–18th centuries. Using allegorical language, these creators sought to explain worldly phenomena – the flow of time, temporality, the laws of nature, and the inseparability of man and nature.
It is these themes that are reflected in the international engraving exhibition at the National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, From the Creation of the World to the Apocalypse, which features more than two hundred engravings. The five thematic parts – The Biblical and Chirstianity World, The World of Mythology and Antiquity, The World as an Allegory, The Examined and Tamed World, and The End of the World. Apocalypse – harnessing often intertwining biblical and mythological motifs, tell of the history of humanity and the heavenly, earthly, animal and plant worlds that surround it, also presenting dramatic visions of the Apocalypse.
What is also unique is that these early graphic art works at the international engraving exhibition are presented not only by theme – many are exhibited as whole series, 27 in all, which visitors to the exhibition will be able to see. Such series of works are of particular interest among collectors, while their evaluations on the global art market are very high. The multifaceted nature of a series creates the ideal conditions for looking more broadly at the authors’ works and how they developed their themes.
Featured in the exhibition are prints by Martin Schongauer (ca 1450–1491), Peter Brueghel de Oude (ca 1525–1569), Hendrick Goltzius (1558–1617), Philips Galle (1537–1612) and others, depicting the Blessed Virgin Mary, St John the Baptist, events in the life of Jesus Christ, personifications of the seven deadly sins, and graphic art works by Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) based on St John’s visions of the Apocalypse. There are also works on the themes of Antiquity and concepts of the antique world by the Verona-born jeweller Giovanni Jacopo Caraglio (ca 1500–1565), who spent several years working in the Vilnius court of the ruler of Poland and Lithuania Sigismund Augustus (1529/1544–1572), Sebald Beham (1500–1550), Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) and Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778), as well as engravings by Adriaen Collaert (ca 1560–1618) illustrating the animal world. Particular attention is given to works by Italian artist Bernardo Bellotto (1721–1780) that show images of the birthplace of the rulers of Poland and Lithuania Augustus II (1697–1704, 1709–1733) and Augustus III (1733–1763) – Dresden. Paintings and graphic art works by many of the artists presented in this exhibition have at some stage been part of the historical art collections of Lithuania’s and Poland’s rulers, primarily the Jagiellons and the Vasas, while stove tiles for the palace furnaces and other applied art objects would be created based on these graphic art images.
Due to their fragility and sensitivity to environmental factors, these early 16th–18th-century graphic art works are rarely shown in exhibitions. So the exhibition at the National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania offers visitors an extraordinary opportunity to see these splendid works by internationally recognised, famous graphic art masters, to become familiarised with a rare and varied part of graphic art heritage and to delve deeply into the rich world of European engravings, taking us through the development of art, history and culture. 
Exhibition patrons
President of the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences
akad. prof. habil. dr. JAN OSTROWSKI 
President of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences
akad. prof. habil. dr. JŪRAS BANYS
Exhibit owned by
The Scientific Library of the PAAS and the PAS in Cracow (Poland)
Exhibition organisers
National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania (Vilnius)
The Scientific Library of the PAAS and the PAS in Cracow (Poland)
Exhibition curators
Magdalena Adamska, Gabija Tubelevičiūtė
Exhibition concept and plan authors
Magdalena Adamska, Marijus Uzorka
Exhibition coordinators
Gabija Tubelevičiūtė, Marijus Uzorka, dr. Vydas Dolinskas
Exhibition publishing coordinators
Gintarė Tadarovska, dr. Živilė Mikailienė
Exhibition restoration maintenance coordinator
Mantvidas Mieliauskas
Exhibition scientific and cultural programme coordinators
Arnita Petrulytė, Lirija Steponavičienė, dr. Ramunė Šmigelskytė-Stukienė
Exhibition marketing and information coordinators
Monika Petrulienė, Mindaugas Puidokas
Exhibition technical equipment coordinators
Kęstutis Karla, Aurimas Ramelis
Monika Grigūnienė
Lithuanian translation
Živilė Mikailienė, Gabija Tubelevičiūtė
English translation
Albina Strunga
Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania
Draudimo bendrovė BTA. Vienna Insurance Group 
Media sponsors
Lietuvos rytas
TVP Polonia
JC Decaux 


Published:: 2024-06-13 10:33 Modified: 2024-07-05 09:53
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