Polonia in the Making is another undertaking from our cycle under construction. This time we have completed the project of Stanisław Wyspiański entitled Polonia.
Apollo in the Making brought fantastic educational results and popularized Wyspiański’s work among visitors of all ages, which is why the Studio and Museum of Stained Glass continue this proven and attractive formula.
Polonia was a link between the year of Wyspiański (2017) and the year of Independence (2018). The stained-glass window was designed by the artist in the years 1894-1904 on commission from the Lviv Cathedral, but was never before realized in glass. The rich symbolism of the stained-glass window tells the story of the situation of our country at that time, which had a huge impact on the formation of Polish national identity. The central part of the composition depicts the personification of the homeland – the figure of a woman in a scarlet coat decorated with white eagles, with a sword attached to her waist, sliding down with the arms dropped. She is surrounded by terrified figures representing three generations of the enslaved nation. There are also other very classic references to Polish history and culture: Szczerbiec appears alongside Polonia, the coronation sword of Polish kings, and on the left there is a girl in a Krakow corset and a boy in a peasant coat representing the rural population. Among the inspirations for the project there were paintings of Jan Matejko, Lviv Oath of Jan Kazimierz and Polonia – 1863 and the altar of Veit Stoss in St. Mary’s Church.
Wyspiański intentionally showed Polonia in such a dramatic, almost macabre way to shake the conscience of his compatriots, who at the end of the nineteenth century ceased to feel the burden of captivity and who, since the last uprising in 1863, seemed to have given up their thoughts on regaining independence.
Unfortunately, once again Wyspiański’s bold visions turned out to be difficult to perceive. The Polonia project aroused controversy because of the “peasant” features of the title character, bluntness of content and avant-garde form. The artist did not agree to changes in the project, firmly defending his concept, which was finally rejected. Thus, Polonia shared the fate of many of its other unrealized stained-glass windows.
Thanks to the “In the Making” cycle, Wyspianski’s design was realised in glass 114 years after the design was created by the artist. The stained glass received the medal PRO OPERE POLITISSIMA ARTE PERFECTO in 2020.
Like the Apollo project, the construction of the Polonia stained glass window was accompanied by workshops for children and museum lessons for young people on subjects related to the stained glass, independence of the homeland and Wyspiański’s work. During the tour, all museum visitors learn about the history of the work and its meaning. The process of creating works before the eyes of visitors served as a kind of temporary exhibition.