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Exhibit of the month

Exhibit of the month

'Exhibit of the Month' is a series initiated by the Jagiellonian University Museum with the beginning of the new academic year. Each month we will explain the Museum collection to you, choosing a single exhibit or a group of exhibits which usually are not shown to the open public. This month's feature is a collection of portraits depicting members of the Pusłowski family.

Róża Książek-Czerwińska

The Pusłowski family in miniature

The Jagiellonian University Museum has a rich collection of miniatures consisting of 128 portraits depicting members of the Pusłowski family, their relatives and friends, and prominent figures from the world of culture. They served as souvenirs, much like photographs do today. The paintings were a kind of pantheon of people close to them and adorned the walls of the Pusłowski salon in Kraków. Their intimate and family character means that without a brief introduction to the history of the family, these portraits are devoid of context and become mere decoration.

Pure chance decided that the Pusłowski family became associated with Kraków. In 1870, Zygmunt married Maria Moszyńska, daughter of Piotr, a well-known Kraków patriot and collector, social activist and patron, the last president of the Free City of Kraków. After their marriage, the Pusłowskis initially settled in France, where they had four sons, two of whom were portrayed by Stanisław Moszyński: Emanuel (1871-1914), an eminent mathematician, and Franciszek Xawery (1875-1968), an assistant to Ignacy Paderewski and head of protocol to Polish President Stanisław Wojciechowski.

At the end of the 1870s,  Zygmunt decided to return to Poland at his wife's insistence. In 1885, he bought a house at 10 Kolejowa Street (now Westerplatte St.) in Kraków and, having hired Tadeusz Stryjeński and Władysław Ekielski, began its reconstruction into a palace in the style of a Genoese villa, which was to combine two functions: residential, and both a museum and an exhibition place.

Throughout his life, he expanded  his collections not only by purchasing from auction houses and dealers, but also by supporting artists through commissions and scholarships.


Translation: Paweł Siemianowski

The Pusłowski family  

The origins of the Pusłowski family date back to the 14th century. In 1350, a Lithuanian knight named Surejlat was granted the ownership of the area then known as Pole Towińskie and a plot of land by the Usla river (present-day Belarus), as a recognition of his battlefield contributions. His descendants then began using the nickname Mongud, and the office of the ensign passed from father to son for three successive generations. The oldest document sealed with the Szeliga coat of arms dates from 1420 (according to the so-called Lithuanian Metrics).

At the beginning of the 17th century, Jakub Pusłowski (1595-1635) laid the foundations for the construction of the family property, buying from his brothers their shares in the family-owned Pousulej (present-day Lithuania). For his merits on the battlefield at Hetman Jan Karol Chodkiewicz’s side, he received the office of starosta (regional governor) of the Anykščiai county and was appointed a royal clerk. He was the first to sign using the name Pusłowski. The family estate of his wife Barbara of Syroms in Pieski became the main family seat of the Pusłowski family until the 19th century.

Thanks to well-thought-out marriages and involvement in military activities, the Pusłowski family quickly moved up the social ladder. Wojciech Pusłowski (1762-1833), the great-grandfather of Franciszek Xawery, contributed most to the family’s change in status. He married princess Józefa Drucka-Lubecka (1776-1830), who brought a substantial dowry into the marriage. After the Partitions of Poland, he acquired numerous estates and government properties. He owned nearly 40 localities, including 11 towns and 28 villages. Wojciech Pusłowski also founded 30 churches - Roman Catholic and Orthodox ones. He had five sons who held high offices. But none of them multiplied their wealth, and after the First World War, the family lost most of their properties in eastern regions.

Wojciech’s son, Władysław Pusłowski (1801-1859), married his cousin Genowefa née Drucka-Lubecka (1811-1867), one of the five daughters of the Russian Treasury Minister Franciszek Ksawery (Franciszek Xawery Pusłowski was named after his grandfather Drucki-Lubecki). After the wedding, the couple moved to the family estates in Lithuania and settled permanently in Albertyn – the main family seat from then on.

Apart from managing the properties, Władysław took an active part in political life. He had six sons, only two of whom survived: Franciszek and Zygmunt (father of Franciszek Xawery). The boys received a good education in the field of humanities, which helped transform the Pusłowski family from financiers into the intelligentsia.

Władysław died suddenly at the age of 58 and was buried in the family tomb in Olszewo. After the funeral, Genowefa emigrated with her sons to Italy and then to France, where her family had been staying. She died in Paris at the age of 47 and was buried in the Pusłowski family tomb at the Père-Lachaise cemetery.

The upbringing that the then ten-year-old Zygmunt received, together with the fact that he had moved first to Rome and then to Paris, made him absorb the French culture and assimilate it as his own, which shaped his cosmopolitan worldview. It also awakened his deep interest in art, literature, collecting and patronage.

In 1870, the brothers Franciszek and Zygmunt divided the inheritances from their father, which provoked some conflicts. Zygmunt inherited the estates in Kovno Governorate of the Russian Empire (present-day Kaunas region in Lithuania), in Grodno Governorate of the Russian Empire (in present-day Belarus), Kučkuriškės near Vilnius along with a paper factory and forests, Czarkowy, a palace in Warsaw (15 Nowy Świat Street) and a significant part of the collection gathered by their ancestors. The collections inherited by Franciszek consisted mainly of family portraits, furniture and fabrics, the majority of which were burnt along with the family palace in Albertyn during World War I. The items that remained were taken deep into Russia.

Zygmunt, unlike his brother, significantly increased his collection, mainly by making purchases. He also inherited many priceless objects from his childless uncles Xawery and Wandalin, and from his father-in-law Piotr Moszyński (a well-known collector of Polish-related materials). As a result of further divisions of property, Zygmunt inherited several palaces in the Antokol (now Antakalnis) district of Vilnius, while both brothers shared a joint ownership of the Czarkowy sulphur mine until 1885. In 1888, from his aunt Julia Pusłowska née Drucka-Lubecka, Zygmunt inherited some furniture, porcelain and silverware as well as twenty-two paintings; the two most valuable of them being Venus and Amor by Jan Massys and Hamlet Sees the Ghost of his Father by Eugène Delacroix.

In 1870, Zygmunt Pusłowski married Maria Moszyńska, daughter of Anna née Malinowska and Piotr Moszyński – a well-known Cracovian patriot, widely respected for having survived political exile in Siberia, a famous collector, patron and social activist, the last president of the Free City of Kraków.

After getting married, the Pusłowskis lived in France for many years. It was there that they had four sons: Emanuel (1871-1915) – an outstanding mathematician (studied at the Sorbonne, in the Paris École Centrale and in Zurich), Stanisław (born ca 1873), who died in early childhood, Franciszek Xawery (1875-1968), and their beloved son Włodzimierz (1877-1899), who committed suicide. This tragic death cast a shadow over the fate of the whole family.

During trips to Poland, the family stayed in their Warsaw home at 15 Nowy Świat Street or in Kraków in the Moszyński family palace, close to the railway station (a post office was located there until recently). With time, they increasingly often stayed in Czarkowy (then in the Russian-occupied sector of partitioned Poland), located about 70 km from Kraków. It wasn't until the 1880s that Zygmunt, at the instigation of Maria, decided to move permanently to Poland.

In 1885, he bought a house from Franciszek Demmer at 10 Kolejowa Street and redeveloped it into a Genoese-style palace which was to combine the purposes of a residence with those of a museum. In 1900, he transported the second part of his collection from France to the palace in Czarkowy, which he had thoroughly rebuilt, leaving only the outer walls of the former residence intact. Zygmunt personally supervised all renovation works.  

After his death in 1913, the collection was taken over by his eldest son Emanuel, while the priceless tapestries after the Marquis de Créqui, created according to designs by Charles Le Brun, went to Franciszek Xawery. In 1915, Emanuel died in the war, in Kornice near Sambor. The collections became the property of Xawery, the last Pusłowski from Zygmunt’s line, who lived in Kraków at Westerplatte Street until his death in 1968. 


Translated by Ianina Iurkivska

Reviewed by Olga Mastela, PhD

Chair for Translation Studies, JU

Katedra Przekładoznawstwa

Wydział Filologiczny UJ