„Got do Arkadii potrzebny”. Rozważania o nurcie neogotyckim w polskiej architekturze doby klasycyzmu

Ryszard Mączyński

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12775/SZiK.2016.005


The article takes up the subject of the popularization of neo-gothic In Poland by performing a review of the artistic achievements in the field over the period of 1780–1830. The period in view may be divided into three basic phases, conventionally labeled: Picturesque Exotic in the years 1780–1800, Search for the Gothic in 1800–1815 and Recognized neo-gothic in 1815–1830.

It must be clearly stated – albeit against widespread judgments – that talking of the neo-gothic trend in reference to the ruling period of King Stanislaw August has no explanation whatsoever. The buildings emerging at that time resulted from the quest for the exotic rather than from Gothic stylistics. Even its allegedly most prominent example, Stanislaw Poniatowski’s palace in Korsun, was a building of this kind, Moorish in the thought of its progenitor. The status of the first neo-gothic object should be attributed to Arcadia’s ‘Got’, constructed at the end of the first above-mentioned phase. This is due to the fact that the gazebo was conceived as the result of the observation of genuine features of gothic vernacular architecture one could access in Poland. It is imperative to believe that a building so distinct among its contemporaries was mostly the effect of the workings of the analytic sense of observation of Aleksander Orlowski, a drawing artist unconstrained by the rules once put forward by Vitruvius. The sketches made by him were without doubt creative ideas which later simply turned into architectonic drawings in the hands of Szymon Bogumil Zug.

Harsh Times in the beginning of 19th century brought about a significant growth in the demand for artistic works maintained in gothic style. They were now connected not so much to picturesqueness as to history, which led the path towards its permanent association with the rapidly emerging cult of the past and its tradition, dictated by Poland’s loss of independence and its division between the neighbouring countries. The new approach found its fruition in such buildings as the Gothic House in Puławy, the Palace in Radziejowice, as well as – though in a slightly different context – the costumes worn by the Potocki’s Palace in Wilanów and The Lubomirski’s Palace in Łańcut. The majority of Gothic projects of the time were prepared by the architect Chrystian Piotr Aigner. That fifteen-year period also brought about the first discernible efforts to educate architects in the area of old forms, which is revealed at least in the preserved drawings of Wojciech Jaszczołd.

Such education, based increasingly on the imported illustrated publishings, escalated in the constitutional period of the Kingdom of Poland, particularly due to the fact that the fifteen years, abounding in political peace and economic prosperity, favoured the undertaking of building tasks. Authored by Henryk Marconi palace-monument of Dowspuda, where the implementation of traditional decorum formula connected neo-gothic stylistics with a rich content programme, thus glorifying the history of both Polish and Lithuanian nations as well as that of Pac family. Another work meriting distinction, although never actually realized, was a project by Hilary Szpilowski concerning the transformation of the facade of John Baptist's Cathedral in Warsaw. Incidentally, it was just Szpilowski who most willingly and apparently out of his own initiative experimented with gothic stylistics.

The statements of Marconi – just like Chrystian Piotr Aigner's or Sebastian Sierakowski's – prove that the architectural theory and practice were completely divergent. The instilled conviction of perfection achieved in construction by ancient civilizations, fortified by the Vitruvius treatise followed by his successors of Italian renaissance caused a situation in which the rules formulated by them were treated like holy and unassailable truths. The implacable attitude of architects placed gothic in the light of 'weirdness', with no attention paid to the distinct - and how perfect - an architectonic system. In the period embraced in the present discourse all the mentioned architects were sworn classicists. Such ideas, even orthodox at times, are revealed in every single recorded utterance of the architects. All of them (perhaps with the exception of Szpilowski) designed neo-gothic works so to say against their own liking and the rules their followed.

Thus, it must be clearly stated that neo-gothic would not surely come into being in Poland torn between its occupants had it not been for the commissioning parts, investors conscious of their demands. If the research on historic architecture repeatedly raises doubts on the role of the founder in the ultimate shape of the project prepared by an architect, this case leaves no room for uncertainty. All the architects had to comply with the will of the commissioners. Aigner had no choice if his principal Stanislaw Kostka Potocki longed for neo-gothic buildings. Much like Marconi, who in order to fulfill the demands of Ludwik Michał Paca had to go through a rapid self-education in the realm of gothic forms he was previously unfamiliar with. Such a clearly tangible and decisive will of investors, unprecedented in the history of Polish art, bestowed them with a key role. Both those mentioned – Potocki and Pac – travelled to England, whence they brought back their interest in new forms and their courage to implement them.

Among the founders there were (and even outnumbered men) some enlightened ladies: Izabela Branicka of Poniatowski, Izabela Czartoryska of Flemming, Izabela Lubomirska of Czartoryski, Helena Radziwiłłowa of Przeździecki or Anna Potocka of Tyszkiewicz. In their case, the causative factor was certainly literature in which medieval castles worked as a scenery for stories. So bishop Ignacy Krasicki in his 1784 satire may well have made fun on the 'fashionable wives' and their 'new masterpieces of craftsmanship and architecture', and yet, had it not been just for them - sensitive to all the novelties arriving from the 'wide world', wanting to keep up with literary and social fashions and at the same time willing to devote large funds to the accomplishment of their dreams - perhaps we would not have experienced neo-gothic at all. For it is certain that without their strong pressure professional architects, clinging so tightly to classicism sanctioned with ancient authority, would not have followed suit.

Słowa kluczowe

Neogotyk; klasycyzm; architektura ogrodowa; architektura monumentalna; traktaty architektoniczne; mecenat artystyczny

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