Virgin Mary, glass painting, 18th/19th century, Lower Silesia
The Museum's collection of around 650 items is ranked the second largest (after the District Museum in Jelenia Góra) collection of Lower Silesian glass paintings. Glass painting – so popular with folk artists and spread all over Central Europe – developed in Lower Silesia mainly in 18th and 19th century in Podsudecie region. Growth of glass painting followed two slumps, the art glassworks suffered in the second half of 18th century and the workers' pursuit for other sources of income. Craftsmen used glass embellishment technologies for manufacturing religious pictures. Church, particularly in the Counter-Reformation era promoted veneration of the saints and miraculous effigies of the Blessed Virgin and thus increased the demand for religious products bringing into being plenty of independent amateur local workshops. Numerous glass painting centres, which at the close of the 19th century developed mass and serial production, used to sell their goods first and foremost to pilgrims frequenting local sanctuaries. No wonder then, most of glassworks centres were situated in the territories surrounding sites of religious cult. Dozen or so workshops, including several family enterprises, are reported to have operated the Bystrzyckie and Orlickie Mountains. Study of Lower Silesian iconography by all means shows the domination of religious topics.
Mary Help of Christians, (Maria Hilf), glass painting, 19th century, Kamieniec Ząbkowicki, Lower Silesia
One hundred most popular topics include the images of Mary with Christ Child worshipped mainly in Bardo, Wambierzyce, Kłodzko, on Igliczna Mountain in the Śnieżnik range, and also in the Czech territories in Zlate Hory and in Kraliki; the image was modelled after the effigy of Mary Help of Christians brought to the region from Austria and worshipped in Złotogłowice near Nysa and in Radochów near Lądek. The only original Polish image of Saint Mary of Częstochowa was particularly famous. The passion tradition often refers to the image of Our lady of Sorrows which brings up the gothic sculpture from Wielisław Stary and Pietà images modelled after the worshipped figures in Bobolice near Ząbkowice Śląskie and in Mściwojów near Jawor.
Numerous Crucified Christ images, presented also in the Way of the Cross cycles, frequently happen to be accompanied by the effigies of Jesus Christ in His Grave. Religious art of the region features original pictures depicting both Christ the Redeemer and Saint Jan Nepomucen (in separate, yet put together portraits). They are depicted as two little boys, one holding the globe and a crown of thorns, the other - a small lamb.
Crucified Christ, glass painting, 19th century, Lower Silesia
Saint Ann - small Mary's teacher - gained most popularity among the saints. Her miraculous images were worshipped first and foremost on Saint Mary's Mountain near Nowa Ruda and in Kowary). Saint Ann, like Saint Joseph - a guardian and breadwinner of Christ Child - frequently appeared in the Saint Family images. Apocryphal genre pictures depicting Mary, Joseph and Christ Child inside their house gained great popularity among glass painting subjects. The figure of Saint Anthony (patron of poor people and lost possessions) was portrayed as frequently as Saint Ann and Saint Joseph. Saint Jan Nepomucen along with Saint Florian seemed to be in the limelight not only for the glass painters but also for all the folk artists of the region. Interesting group presentation of Fourteen Martyrs Help of the Christians reflects the cult developed in Lower Silesian village of Ulanowice near Krzeszów. Holy Trinity has its twofold representation in painting and in sculpture. The older one, named the Throne of Grace (God the Father holding the cross with the dead body of God the Son) was worshipped in the Austrian fair village of Sontagsberg; the new one depicts God the Son sitting on the right of His Father.
Secular art concentrated on the images of ruling persons and their families, military men with Prussian, Austrian or Russian political connections and legendary figures popular in Slovak, Bavarian and Moravian painting. Formally, the collection features standard formats; except for glass the artists would also use mirror base for their works frequently were adorned with red carnations situated in top corners or with garlands of ball-shaped flowers at the bottom. Frames usually have oval or round shaped forms. The oldest and at the same time most intriguing pictures featured by majestic composition, stylish outline and sophisticated colours with shades of orange, blue and green hues account for a distinctive part of the collection.