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Sarmatism. A Dream of Power - the exhibition extended until July 25, 2010.

Szołayski House – Branch of the National Museum in Krakow 11 Szczepańska Street


27 February – 25 July 2010


What was Sarmatism? How did it originate? What was its impact on Polish art and culture in the 16th to 18th centuries? What remains of it? These are just some of the questions suggested by the exhibition “Sarmatism. A Dream of Power”, organized by the National Museum in Krakow at the Szołayski House. The show completes the Festival re_wizje/sarmatyzm, a project of the National Stary Theatre.

Sarmatism is one of the key concepts in defining our national identity; it refers to a lifestyle, an attitude, an ideology, a culture. The Sarmatian legacy in art is the subject of the exhibition at the Szołayski House. It consists of several sections, dedicated to the belief in the Sarmatian origin of the Poles, the characterization of the Sarmatian knight and his transformation into a landed proprietor, Sarmatian taste, art and fashion as well as the critique of Sarmatism in the times of Stanislaw August. On display are 170 works of art from our Museum’s collection, as well as from the National Museum in Warsaw, the National Museum in Kielce, the Regional Museum in Tarnów, the Jagiellonian Library in Krakow, the Princes Czartoryski Foundation and the residence of the Archbishop of Poznań.

Visitors’ interest will certainly be aroused by Sarmatian portraits from the 16th to 19th centuries, which represent members of the famous Polish families: Sapiehas, Rzewuskis, Tarnowskis, Czarnieckis and Sanguszkos. Of particular beauty is the portrait of Lew Sapieha by Henryk Rodakowski, one of the most important Polish painters. Fine objects such as weapons, jewellery, clothing, old prints, exquisite textiles and unique embroideries made – as tradition has it – by the Turks taken captive at Vienna, add to the splendour of the show.
The exhibition is accompanied by screenings of feature and documentary films about Sarmatism. Visitors will also have the opportunity to be photographed in a kontusz – the traditional costume of the Sarmatian.


Text: Beata Biedrońska-Słota
Graphic design: Marcin Przybyłko

Information and group reservations: (+4812) 292 81 83–5



The exhibition accompanies the Festival re_wizje/sarmatyzm at the National Stary Theatre in Krakow.



Patron of the National Museum in Krakow




Sponsor of the Szołayski House – Branch of the National Museum in Krakow




The project was completed with financial support from the Minister of Cultural and National Heritage.




Media sponsors: TVP Kraków, Radio Kraków, Rzeczpospolita, Tygodnik Powszechny, Art & Business,,, Magiczny Kraków, Krakow Post,, Kurs na Kurs

Portret Wacława Rzewuskiego, malarz polski, ok. 1773-74, Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie, Fot. Teresa Żółtowska-Huszcza, Piotr Ligier
Konkluzja z portretem Piotra Sapiehy (1701-1771); nieznany malarz, Polska, 1744, Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie, fot. Teresa Żółtowska-Huszcza, Piotr Ligier
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