Jan Matejko (1838–1893)
The Prussian Homage, 1882
Long-term loan from the Wawel Royal Castle

material: oil on canvas

dimensions: 388 × 785 cm

description: Matejko donated the painting entitled The Prussian Homage to the nation, imagining that it would be displayed at Wawel Castle. Krakow thanked him for the gift by granting him honorary citizenship of the city. The painting was deposited in the National Museum in Krakow by the government of Galicia and has been showcased at the Sukiennice since 1885. The topic of the painting is the homage paid on the 10th of April 1525 by the last Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, Albrecht Hohenzollern, to King Sigismund I the Old on Krakow’s Main Square. The Homage was intended to end an era of political instability between Prussia and the Polish Kingdom resulting from the provisions of the Toruń Peace Treaty signed in 1466. Ultimately, Prussia became a secular country and Albrecht, as a secular duke, became a vassal of Poland. These changes were sealed by the act of homage paid to the Polish king. Matejko presented the most important participants of the ceremony. To the right – Polish King Sigismund I with his son Sigismund Augustus, the royal court, Albrecht Hohenzollern and his associates, and to the left – Queen Bona with her ladies in waiting, Polish noblemen and townspeople. A special place is occupied by Stańczyk, the royal jester, who often appears in Matejko’s works as an alter ego of the artist himself. He stands apart from the crowd of onlookers, and faces away from the ceremony, lost deep in thought, conveying Matejko’s reflection about the vicissitudes of history which may show far less clemency to Poles in the future. The artist introduces some anachronisms to his painting, such as the Sukiennice building which is presented exactly as it looked after its restoration in the second half of the 16th century, or the tower of St. Mary’s Church, which only acquired the form seen in the composition in 1529. This was an intentional trick to help those who were less aware of the historic architectural transformations to identify the location as the same Main Square they knew in the 19th century.

exposition: The Gallery of 19th Century Polish Art in Sukiennice,
The Cloth Hall, 1, Main Market Square

key: Around the academy >>>

© 2010 National Museum in Krakow
design & concept: creator.pl