“Towards the revival of religious art”.[1] The revival efforts for church art in Polish Lands between 1900–1939 (with particular emphasis on wall-paintings)

Joanna Wolańska

Cracow (independent scholar)


For over 200 years now, that is, at least since the French Revolution, religious, or church art has been plagued with the notion of its inadequacy to the expectations of the faithful and the resulting need for the “eternal resurrections of sacred art” (les éternelles résurrections de l’art sacré). The present paper looks at such attempts undertaken on the Polish ground roughly in the first forty years of the 20th century, particularly in the period spanning the two decades between two major exhibitions of church art, held in Cracow in 1911 and in Katowice in 1931, and church mural paintings as the form of art that was famously flourishing on the Polish lands in the 1890s, that is at the beginning of the period under discussion.

The critical appraisal of the attempts at the renewal of church art, presented on numerous examples in the paper, based on contemporary press and literature, is aimed at showing the futility of such efforts, as the sphere of the sacred seems to defy any rationalised measures taken to “revive” or “renew” it.

Keywords: mural painting, religious art, church art, 19th c., 20th c., Poland, art criticism, exhibitions


The end of the 19th century can be perceived, in hindsight, as heyday of the religious art[2]. It was at that time when Matejko created the mural paintings in St Mary’s Church in Cracow, which for many decades became the model or even “the archetype” of the decorative painting in church interiors. It was constantly invoked in theoretical discussions, and imitated on numerous occasions to a differing degree, both in urban and provincial churches, with various degrees of artistic success. Matejko’s work made the polychrome walls – mural painting[3] – so popular that the vogue for decorating church interiors in this way survived long into the 1920s and 1930s. Monumental mural painting in churches was a part of the broader genre of church art and it would be difficult to isolate this kind of religious art from its natural context, especially as in the 1920s the complete groups of mural paintings were already going out of fashion under the influence of modern avant-garde art trends. In that period, complete painted wall decorations, associated with the 19th-century (i.e. outmoded) practice, were mostly given up in favour of simple and sparse decorations (associated with modernity). As a result of such an approach, church walls were usually left undecorated, or covered only with small, mostly geometrical ornaments.[4] A greater role in the church interior was played by decorations in low relief (altarpieces, Stations of the Cross etc.) or modern church fittings themselves became decorations through their carefully executed forms (altars, confessionals, the pulpit, balustrades, doors etc.). However, it has to be noted that this description applied only to newly-built churches. But saying that only new churches received modern decorations, while in old churches the historical styles in traditional conservative forms were preserved in order to keep up a sort of decorum, would be an oversimplification. Nevertheless, a decoration consisting of an extensive programme of figurative mural paintings would have been at that time rather unthinkable in a new church built from scratch.

Two events – two great exhibitions of sacred art – seem to be very significant for the history of Polish religious and church art between 1900–1930: the first one, shown in Cracow in 1911, and the second, organized in Katowice twenty years later, in 1931. Thanks to these exhibitions (and a few other presentations of Polish church art, e.g. in Warsaw and Padua in 1932 or in Częstochowa in 1934) we can now appraise the potential of our artists working in this genre and their efforts to make the audience more sensitive to this area of artistic creation. Most importantly, the works shown in these exhibitions allow us to see the great development which took place in this field within the short period of the twenty years of Poland’s independence (or even thirty years, counting from the beginning of the century) and let us observe the dramatic changes in defining the role and character of church/religious art since it was perceived differently around 1900 (and earlier), or even in 1911, and completely differently in 1931. This change of attitude and expectations connected with the cult of artistic creativity can be best illustrated by the results of the competition for a work of church art accompanying the Warsaw exhibition of 1932.

Translated by Monika Mazurek

[1] The title of the article by K. Mitera, Ku odrodzeniu sztuki religijnej [Towards the revival of religious art], “Głos Plastyków”, 1934, nos. 9–12, pp. 139–143.

[2] Following the customary practice, and most importantly, the naming convention used for this art genre in the discussed era, both adjectives are used in this article interchangeably. I am aware of the fact that the name “religious art” has a broader meaning than “church art”, which refers to works of art but also handicraft objects, used directly for cult purposes, and included in the church fittings). This assumption basically follows the definitions of these ideas given by Skrodzki (W. Skrodzki, Polska sztuka religijna 1900–1945, [Warszawa] 1989, pp. 8–9). It is worth noticing that in 1911 people spoke and wrote about “the first exhibition of Polish contemporary church art” (a little bit earlier in 1883 the magazine “Przyjaciel Sztuki Kościelnej” [“A Friend of Church Art”] was founded, and it was at that time the only Polish journal dedicated to the subject indicated in its title), and twenty years later a similar event was already called “the exhibition of religious art” (cf. below, emphasis mine – J.W.). In Poland the name “liturgical art”, used in the West to denote church art connected directly with the forms of worship, and used mostly among those “liturgically aware”, did not gain popularity. The expression “sacred art” will not be used here consciously and on purpose, because this expression, perhaps under the influence of the French term “art sacré” and the very influential journal under the same title (created in 1935 by Joseph Pichard, after World War II led by the Dominicans: Pie-Reymond Régamey and Marie-Alain Couturier, two most important popularizers of modern church art), or perhaps as a free translation of the Latin ars sacra – is, as I believe, characteristic rather of the religious art being created after World War II, in the 1950s, and in particular after the reforms of Vatican II, until contemporary times. One could be even under impression that nowadays it is overused. On the philosophical sources of this expression cf. W. Bałus, Sztuka – idea – sacrum. Uwagi o XIX-wiecznych korzeniach współczesnej sytuacji sztuki sakralnej, “Znak”, 1991, no. 439 (12), pp. 53–65.

[3] I differentiate between “polychromy” and “mural painting”, according to the definition suggested by Jerzy Gadomski: “mural paintings are autonomous, they organize the wall space through their own means, while polychromy in a way supplements the spatial form, for instance”, cf.: J. Gadomski (głos w dyskusji), in: Gotyckie malarstwo ścienne w Europie środkowo-wschodniej, ed. A. Karłowska-Kamzowa, Poznań 1977, p. 171. The name “polychromy” for decorative mural paintings is traditional and, technically speaking, incorrect, but almost inextricably connected with Matejko’s paintings in St Mary’s Church. However, contemporary authors tend to avoid this word, or at least not to overuse it (cf. e.g. J. Nykiel, Technologia dekoracji malarskiej Jana Matejki oraz jej wpływ na kondycję i estetykę po renowacjach i konserwacji, in: O konserwacji prezbiterium kościoła Mariackiego w Krakowie. Materiały sesji zorganizowanej przez Oddział Krakowski Stowarzyszenia Historyków Sztuki oraz Archiprezbitera Bazyliki Mariackiej ks. Infułata Bronisława Fidelusa, Kraków 1998, pp. 79–103; in the footnote 3 the author declares that in the following text he is going to avoid the word “polychromy” and quotes the definition of this idea formulated in 1890 by Władysław Łuszczkiewicz). Regarding St Mary’s decorations, the word “polychromy” could be applied only to the paintings on the construction elements (the profiles of ribs, pillars and responds), or possibly only to the ornamental paintings in the bricked-up window spaces. It is more difficult to decide whether the pattern of “bricks” stencilled in the chancel and especially in the nave should still be called a polychromy or already mural painting.

[4] “World War I put an end to the already waning fashion for polychromy in church interiors. The divergent artistic currents, shaping the cultural climate of Poland in the interwar period, together with modernizing tendencies, were not favourable to reviving this genre of religious art” (Skrodzki 1989 (fn. 2), p. 48). It is worth noting that the interwar period (particularly the 1930s) was in Europe the era of the rebirth of mural paintings, not the sacred but secular ones (especially in public buildings, but also in private interiors); the technique of fresco painting, or at least painting directly on the plaster was very emphasized (as opposed to the technique often used in the 19th century, called toile marouflé or marouflage, that is paintings on canvas affixed to walls, made e.g. by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes). Cf. G. Varenne, La peinture à fresque moderne, “Revue de l’Art ancien et moderne”, vol. 54, 1928, pp. 137–151; on the techniques of mural painting see C. A. P. Willsdon, An Art extraordinaire, in: eadem, Mural Painting in Britain 1840–1940. Image and Meaning, Oxford 2000 (=Clarendon Studies in the History of Art), pp. 1–26 and Appendix A, eadem, pp. 393–395; eadem, Mural. Europe, c. 1810–c. 1930, in: The Dictionary of Art, ed. J. Turner, vol. 22, London 1996, pp. 328–331.

[5] Fr. J. Pawelski, T.J., Na otwarcie wystawy sztuki kościelnej w Krakowie, in: Pierwsza Wystawa współczesnej polskiej sztuki kościelnej im. Piotra Skargi w Krakowie, Kraków 1911, p. 3. It is hard to say why Father Skarga was chosen to be the patron of the exhibition. It was perhaps the doing of Fr. Pawelski, a Jesuit, who propagated the cult of his fellow Jesuit preacher (L. Grzebień, Pawelski Jan, in: Polski Słownik Biograficzny, vol. 25, Wrocław 1980, pp. 361–362). The members of the organising committee were, among others, Feliks Kopera (the then director of the National Museum), Leonard Lepszy, and the artists: Jan Bukowski, Karol Frycz, Henryk Kunzek, Karol Maszkowski, Franciszek Mączyński, Sławomir Odrzywolski, Piotr Stachiewicz, Henryk Uziembło, Jerzy Warchałowski and Stanisław Żeleński (Pierwsza Wystawa… 1911, p. 19). Among the members of the artistic committee were also: Konstanty Laszczka, Jan Szczepkowski and Stanisław Tomkowicz. The exhibition catalogue (with the typography designed by J. Bukowski) included among others the following texts: Fr. G. Kowalski, Zadania współczesnej architektury kościelnej [The Tasks of Contemporary Church Architecture], pp. 21–23; Fr. W. Górzyński, Zadania współczesnego malarstwa kościelnego [The Tasks of Contemporary Church Painting], pp. 30–34.

[6] Fr. Józef Rokoszny mentioned also two other earlier exhibitions of church art: the “Marianist” one in Warsaw in 1904 and the one organized in Lviv in 1910 (Fr. J. Rokoszny, Z dziedziny sztuki kościelnej. Karol Frycz, Warszawa 1913, p. 5). In the latter case he probably meant “The Church Exhibition” which took place in Lviv in 1909 (cf. O. Rudenko, Wystawa Liturgiczna we Lwowie 1909 roku wobec współczesnej sztuki kościelnej, “Teka Komisji Polsko-Ukraińskich Związków Kulturowych”, 2007, pp. 53–64).

[7] Pawelski 1911 (fn. 2), pp. 4–5. For information about the Society and its publications see: J. Wolańska, Towarzystwo Świętego Łukasza w Krakowie i „Przyjaciel Sztuki Kościelnej”, in: W. Bałus, E. Mikołajska, J. Urban, J. Wolańska, Sztuka sakralna Krakowa w wieku XIX, part I, Kraków 2004 (=Ars Vetus et Nova, ed. W. Bałus, vol. 12), pp. 39–87. One of the co-founders of the Society was Stanisław Tomkowicz, a member of the artistic committee of the 1911 exhibition.

[8] Program wystawy współczesnej polskiej sztuki kościelnej, “Krakowski Miesięcznik Artystyczny” (later quoted as KMA) 1, 1911, no. 1 (February), pp. 1–2; Konkursy będące w związku z wystawą kościelną, ibidem, p. 2; X. G. Kowalski, F. Kopera, O sztukę kościelną, ibidem, p. 3.

[9] Program wystawy… 1911 (fn. 5), p. 1.

[10] Ibidem, p. 2. Fr. Gerard Kowalski seems to have been a highly suitable juror and adviser; apart from having received theological education at the universities of Graz and Cracow, he was also an art expert: he studied the auxiliary sciences of history and art history at the Jagiellonian University (under Marian Sokołowski); since 1905 he was a librarian and archivist in the monastery at Mogiła; he took interest in the condition of the churches in the Cracow diocese, he advised parish priests on the renovation of churches and liturgical objects, and in 1917 he became the diocesan conservator of historic works (G. Schmager, Kowalski Wojciech, imię zakonne Gerard, in: Polski Słownik Biograficzny, vol. 14, Wrocław 1968–1969, pp. 547–549). In July 1911, at the Convention of the Friends of National Monuments of History and Art, he delivered a lecture Kościoły i ich konserwacya. Nowe i dawne kościoły wiejskie [Churches and their conservation. New and old village churches].

[11] On the development of the worship and iconography of the Heart of Jesus, cf. E. Klekot, Najświętsze Serce Jezusowe – sceny z życia symbolu, “Konteksty” 51, 1997, nos. 3–4, pp. 55–66 (I am indebted for the information about this article to Ms Helena Małkiewiczówna).

[12] Program wystawy… 1911 (fn. 5), p. 2; Kowalski, Kopera 11 (fn. 5), p. 3: “[...] our aim is to bring Polish art under lowly roofs, and to put on their whitened walls the painting of the Virgin Mary, or one of the holy patron Saints of our nation, which would be the works of Polish artists reproduced in the best way available”. The same aim was pursued thirty years earlier by the St Luke’s Society mentioned earlier, cf. J. Wolańska, „Obrazki religijne zalecające się taniością i dobrem wykonaniem” wydawane przez Towarzystwo Św. Łukasza w Krakowie, in: Sztuka sakralna Krakowa w wieku XIX. Część III, eds. W. Bałus, J. Wolańska, Kraków 2010 (=Ars Vetus et Nova, vol. 30), pp. 43–59. The competition was prolonged, since no work “had such artistic merits which would earn it the first prize” – Wystawa kościelna. Rozstrzygnięcie konkursów religijnych z zakresu malarstwa, KMA 1, 1911, no. 9 (November), p. 104.

[13] Kowalski, Kopera 1911 (fn. 5), p. 3; this aspect of the exhibition was also mentioned by Pawelski 1911 (fn. 2), p. 5.

[14] Kowalski, Kopera 1911 (fn. 5), p. 3.

[15] G. Kowalski, Z powodu konkursów religijnych Towarzystwa Przyjaciół Sztuk Pięknych, KMA 1, 1911, no. 2 (March), p. 24, and KMA 1, 1911, no. 3 (April), pp. 27–29; Wystawa Współczesnej Sztuki Kościelnej, KMA 1, 1911, no. 6 (July), p. 71; Wystawa współczesnej polskiej sztuki kościelnej im. Piotra Skargi, KMA 1, 1911, no. 9 (November), p. 103; Kronika wystaw, KMA 1, 1911, no. 10 (December), p. 111; Rozstrzygnięcie konkursu na posąg Immaculaty, KMA 1, 1911, no. 10 (December), p. 113.

[16] Kowalski 1911 (fn. 15), p. 24.

[17] Pierwsza wystawa „Związku A.R.M.R.”, in: Pierwsza wystawa… 1911 (fn. 5), pp. 24–26; on the Skotnicki chapel, p. 27.

[18] Wystawa sztuki kościelnej w Krakowie, “Tygodnik Ilustrowany”, 1911, no. 51 (23 Dec), p. 1024.

[19] Fr. G. Kowalski, Znaczenie I Wystawy Współczesnej Sztuki Kościelnej, KMA 2, 1912, no. 2 (February), p. 10.

[20] J. Tarczałowicz, „Zamknąć okna”. Garść uwag z powodu wystawy kościelnej w pałacu Sztukiw Krakowie, “Sztuka” 2, 1912, pp. 30–39. Tarczałowicz – an ultraconservative, revering “sweet” Madonnas by Dolci and Maratta – in his review, full of dramatic turns of phrase and rhetorical figures, showing aversion to the “Zakopane style” and its creator, Stanisław Witkiewicz (who opened the titular windows of Polish art to – modern, but also deleterious – influences from the West), compared most architectural projects with the “Zakopane style”, which he considered to be a misunderstanding and refused to grant any usefulness or value to the ideas lying at its origins.

[21] Tarczałowicz 1912 (fn. 20), p. 34. At the same time, the reviewer of “Tygodnik Ilustrowany” wrote that the exhibition “surprised [...] even the optimists, since it exhibited such a lively, original and homely art of our artists in the field of the church art that it really does not seem fitting to talk about the customary ‘difficult beginning’, even though it is really just a beginning” – Wystawa sztuki kościelnej w Krakowie, “Tygodnik Ilustrowany”, 1911, no. 51 (23 Dec), p. 1024.

[22] Kowalski 1912 (fn. 19), p. 10. Summing up the article quoted above, Kowalski wrote: “Each exhibition should be measured not only by the quality of the presented works, but also by the quality of the promoted ideas. It can be said without exaggeration that the present church exhibition propagates the ideas which are very important for church art. May they be implemented in a multiplicity of ways” (p. 12).

[23] Ibidem, p. 10.

[24] The predilection for including in his projects the idea of “the synthesis of the arts”, Gesamtkunstwerk, is usually emphasized especially with regard to the work of Franciszek Mączyński, cf. R. Solewski, Franciszek Mączyński (1874–1947) krakowski architekt, Kraków 2005 (=Akademia Pedagogiczna im. KEN w Krakowie, Prace Monograficzne, no. 421), p. 76. This part of the artist’s oeuvre includes undoubtedly the Jesuit Church in Cracow (ibidem, pp. 61–65). Nevertheless, the authors of the discussed exhibition meant rather the unity of the arts in the ideological terms (in the sense of the central theme and the liturgical needs and requirements) than only in the aesthetic terms.

[25] Kowalski 1912 (fn. 19), p. 9.

[26] Examples of the Beuron church craft are shown, among others, by H. Krins, Die Kunst der Beuroner Schule. Wie ein Lichtblick vom Himmel”, Beuron 1998, pp. 94–106 (chalices, liturgical vestments, tabernacles, candlesticks, the illuminations of the Gospel books, the projects of the abbot’s throne, stained glass, banners, and even the floor mosaic); cf. also H. Čižinská, Beuronská umělecka škola v opatství svatého Gabriela v Praze / Die Beuroner Kunstschule in der Abtei Sankt Gabriel in Prag, Praha 1999, pp. 64–71, and G. Prezzolini, La teoria e l’arte di Beuron (part I: La teoria), “Vita d’arte” 2, 1908, no. 4, pp. 216–217, 220. On the influence of the Beuron School on Polish art cf. Wolańska 2004 (fn. 7); recently the subject has also been discussed by: D. Kudelska, Karola Lanckorońskiego Nieco o nowych robotach na Wawelu”, in: Mit – Symbol – Mimesis. Studia z dziejów teorii i historii sztuki dedykowane Profesor Elżbiecie Wolickiej-Wolszleger, eds. J. Jaźwierski, R. Kasperowicz, M. Kitowska-Łysiak, M. Pastwa, Lublin 2009, pp. 256–257; and M. Kurzej, „Beuronizacjalwowskiego kościoła benedyktynek, in: Sztuka Kresów Wschodnich, vol. VII, eds. A. Betlej, A. Markiewicz, Kraków 2012, pp. 117–140 (includes earlier literature).

[27] “[...] the art, which is God’s service, which forms a part of liturgy and whose purpose is to glorify. [...] Praising God through art, that is the basis of the Beuron school, continuing the liturgical traditions of the Benedictine order”, Prezzolini 1908 (fn. 26), p. 215 [re-translated from the Polish translation of the author – translator’s note].

[28] Kowalski 1912 (fn. 19), p. 10.

[29] Ibidem, p. 11; the reviewer of “Tygodnik Ilustrowany” wrote about the “polychrome” designs in the similar vein – Wystawa sztuki kościelnej w Krakowie, “Tygodnik Ilustrowany”, 1911, no. 51 (23 Dec), p. 1024. The advice of Kowalski was repeated by Fr. Władysław Górzyński, writing that “it is a mistake to approach the interior walls of Lord’s temples only as a medium for decorations”; he also added that the paintings should include “nationalist motifs” and the scenes from “the lives of Polish patron saints”, painted in “a local manner”, against “local landscapes” and employing “folk decorative elements” (Górzyński 1911 (fn. 5), p. 34). Władysław Górzyński (1856–1920) was a priest in the Kujawy-Kalisz diocese, who rendered considerable services to church art; it was due to him that in his diocese the first Artistic Committee in the Russian partition of Poland was created. Its aim was to judge the works of church art (especially the projects of new churches); he was the first lecturer of the history of Christian art and the actual organizer of the Diocesan Museum in Włocławek; he published in “Ateneum Kapłańskie” and “Architekt” (Fr. St. Librowski, Górzyński Władysław, in: Polski Słownik Biograficzny, vol. 8, Wrocław–Kraków–Warszawa 1959–1960, pp. 459–460).

[30] In the end, the decorations of the Bochnia church were painted in 1912 by Leonard Winterowski (1886–1927) – a painter with no experience or significant body of work in the field of monumental painting – and Michał Tarczałowicz; the artistic quality of their work can be judged by the fact that in 1965–1967 it was replaced with new paintings by Wacław Taranczewski (1903–1987). Cf. J. Wójtowicz, Kościół parafialny w Bochni, Bochnia 1983, pp. 97–98; J. Wyczesany, Wystrój artystyczny kościoła św. Mikołaja w Bochni, Bochnia 1988, pp. 13, 46–47.

[31] L. Kuchtówna, Karol Frycz, Warszawa 2004, pp. 128–129; J. Wolańska, Katedra ormiańska we Lwowie w latach 1902–1938. Przemiany architektoniczne i dekoracja wnętrza, Warszawa 2010, pp. 98–100.

[32] On the provenance of Matejko’s composition from the European art of the earlier decades of the 19th century cf. W. Bałus 2007 (fn. 3), chapter I: Kościół Mariacki (subchapter: Kontekst europejski).

[33] E. Niewiadomski, Malarstwo polskie XIX i XX wieku, Warszawa 1923, p. 299.

[34] J. A. Nowobilski, Sakralne malarstwo ścienne Włodzimierza Tetmajera, Kraków 1994.

[35] The durability of the 19th-century models in the artistic practice of church painters was not a specifically Polish thing, as shown in the work of S. Wettstein, Ornament und Farbe. Zur Geschichte der Dekorationsmalerei in Sakralräumen der Schweiz um 1890, [Heiden] 1996. The book covers the period 1840–1930 and is a valuable (since rare) instance of a study on a genre of church art which is usually treated rather disdainfully, and whose numerous examples, especially after the reforms of Vaticanum II and the following refurbishments of church interiors were not preserved.

[36] Interesting and apt observations on the revival of church decorative painting in the late 19th and early 20th century can be found in T. Chrzanowski, M. Kornecki, Sztuka Ziemi Krakowskiej, Kraków 1982, pp. 545–550. On the subject of the imitations of Matejko’s paintings, the above authors say “one of such continuators of master’s style was, among others, Stanisław Bocheński (or Bochyński), the author of the extant paintings in Ludźmierz and not extant paintings in the Jesuit church in Nowy Sącz. In the contract for the latter it is stated clearly that they have to be executed ‘in Matejko’s style, as in St Mary’s Church in Cracow, according to the directions of Prof. Łuszczkiewicz’ ” (ibidem, pp. 545–546; A. Melbechowska-Luty, Bochyński (Bocheński) Stanisław, in: Słownik Artystów Polskich, vol. 1, Wrocław 1971, p. 191). Among other imitators of Matejko the authors of the cited study list i.a. Piotr Niziński (the decorations of the church at Szczurowa, 1893; M. Biernacka, Niziński Piotr, in: Słownik Artystów Polskich, vol. 6, Warszawa 1998, pp. 94–98). In turn, Józef Mikulski executed on the basis of Matejko’s project the paintings in the church at Ujanowice near Limanowa (J. Derwojed, Mikulski Józef, in: Słownik Artystów Polskich, vol. 5, Warszawa 1993, p. 556). A detailed survey and subsequent catalogue could bring up many more names of painters and paintings imitating Matejko’s work. Since they were usually works of low artistic quality (and mostly executed in the late 19th or already in the 20th century), they are not mentioned in the existing catalogues of historic monuments, which makes reaching a reliable basis for these general conclusions very difficult. Undoubtedly, the musician angels were most often imitated (Tetmajer painted on the ceiling of the monastery church at Kalwaria Zebrzydowska angels holding the banderoles with the petitions of The Litany of Loreto). The influence of Matejko’s paintings reached even places relatively distant from Cracow. Tomasz Zaucha describes the fragments of the paintings in the parish church at Stojańce as “patterned on Matejko’s polychromy in St Mary’s Church in Cracow”, cf. T. Zaucha, Kościół parafialny p.w. Matki Boskiej z Góry Karmel w Stojańcach, in: Kościoły i klasztory rzymskokatolickie dawnego województwa ruskiego, vol. 3, Kraków 1995 (=Materiały do dziejów sztuki sakralnej na ziemiach wschodnich dawnej Rzeczypospolitej, part I, ed. J. K. Ostrowski), p. 184, fig. 268 – indeed, the angels seem to be painted exactly according to Matejko’s cartoons; the figures of the angels on the chancel ceiling in the church at Wyżniany are described similarly by Aneta Gluzińska (Kościół parafialny p.w. św. Mikołaja w Wyżnianach, in: Kościoły i klasztory…, vol. 11, Kraków 2003, p. 338, figs. 549, 561–562). Also the general outline of Matejko’s polychromy was imitated; it was followed even in the apparently common, neogothic decorative motifs, e.g. in the church at Gródek Jagielloński (J.K. Ostrowski, Kościół parafialny p.w. Podwyższenia Krzyża Świętego w Gródku Jagiellońskim, in: Kościoły i klasztory…, , vol. 8, Kraków 2000, pp. 97–98, figs. 150–153); most importantly, there were plans to renovate the (Roman-Catholic) cathedral in Lviv. Many similar examples could be quoted. On the meaning of Matejko’s paintings as the model cf. also Skrodzki 1989 (fn. 2), p. 35.

[37] A separate pamphlet discussing Karol Frycz and his paintings and designs of church paintings (among others for Szczucin, Bochnia, Sandomierz) was written by Józef Rokoszny (cf. fn. 6).

[38] Chrzanowski, Kornecki 1982 (fn. 36), p. 547; Pierwsza wystawa… 1911 (fn. 5), p. 38, catalogue no. 56; Z. Baranowicz, Bulas Jan, in: Słownik Artystów Polskich 1971 (fn. 36), p. 27 (the artist was the author also of the paintings and the Stations of the Cross in the parish church at Niedźwiedź near Limanowa).

[39] M. Leśniakowska, Niewiadomski Eligiusz, in: Słownik Artystów Polskich 1998 (fn. 36), pp. 77–82.

[40] Skrodzki 1989 (fn. 2), pp. 46–48.

[41] K. Czarnocka, Bukowski Jan, in: Słownik Artystów Polskich 1971 (fn. 36), pp. 274–276. The informations on the monumental works of Bukowski in this entry are incomplete; recently the decorations of the parish church at Kłodno Wielkie were added to the artist’s œuvre (cf. J. Skrabski, Kościół parafialny p.w. Podwyższenia Krzyża Świętego w Kłodnie Wielkim, in: Kościoły i klasztory… (fn. 33), vol. 8, Kraków 2000, pp. 150, 152, figs. 283–289); as has been mentioned, the artist did not realise his project for the church in Bochnia. Cf. also: Chrzanowski, Kornecki 1982 (fn. 36), pp. 547–548. The most recent and so far the most complete information on the subject is included in the unpublished thesis of I. Buchenfeld-Kamińska, “The sacred mural paintings of Jan Bukowski”, Kraków 2002 (M.A. thesis supervised by Prof. W. Bałus in the Institute of Art History at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow).

[42] H. Bartnicka-Górska, Milli Zygmunt, in: Słownik Artystów Polskich 1993 (fn. 36), pp. 566–568; Chrzanowski, Kornecki 1982 (fn. 36), pp. 549; Fr. T. Kruszyński, Polichromje kościelne Zygmunta Milli’ego, “Rzeczy Piękne” 9, 1930, nos. 4–6, pp. 79–84. The artist was the author of the paintings in St John’s Church, the Vincentian Church at Nowa Wieś and at Piaski Wielkie in Cracow as well as in the parish church at Luborzyca.

[43] Kruszyński 1930 (fn. 42), p. 79.

[44] J. Bukowski, Prace dekoracyjne Mieczysława Różańskiego, “Rzeczy Piękne” 7, 1928, nos. 1–3, pp. 11–12; Chrzanowski, Kornecki 1982 (fn. 36), p. 548 (here the artist’s first name was mistakenly listed as Stanisław).

[45] Bukowski 1928 (fn. 44), p. 11.

[46] Ibidem.

[47] Arf. [F. Siedlecki], Malarstwo religijne w Polsce, in: Polski przewodnik katolicki I, ed. A. Szymański, Warszawa 1927, p. 419. The examples of Siedlecki’s paintings are listed in the catalogue Śladami prerafaelitów. Artyści polscy i sztuka brytyjska na przełomie XIX i XX w., exhibition catalogue, Muzeum Pałac w Wilanowie, Warszawa 2006, catalogue nos. 54–63, pp. 69–74. Siedlecki painted mostly religious or parareligious pictures. He knew personally Rudolf Steiner and he was familiar with his doctrine of anthroposophy; many of Siedlecki’s paintings are chromatically similar to Steiner’s “eurythmic” colour ranges (based in turn on Goethe’s Farbenlehre), used e.g. in the decoration of his Goetheanum in Dornach near Basel (cf. e.g. H. Biesantz, A. Klingborg, Das Goetheanum. Der Bau-Impuls Rudolf Steiners, Dornach 1978).

[48] These painters are also listed by Niewiadomski 1923 (fn. 33), pp. 303–305, 309–310); R. Biernacka, Procajłowicz Antoni, in: Polski Słownik Biograficzny, vol. 28, Wrocław 1984–1985, pp. 466–468; T. Mroczko, Bruzdowicz Franciszek, in: Słownik Artystów Polskich 1971 (fn. 36), p. 252; Bruzdowicz’s painting depicting his decorations of the church at Cimkowicze made in 1908 was reproduced in the catalogue Śladami prerafaelitów… 2006 (fn. 47), catalogue no. 166, p. 151; J. Derwojed, Noskowski Tadeusz, in: Słownik Artystów Polskich 1998 (fn. 36), pp. 151–153. The painted decorations of churches were also designed by Karol Tichy (cf. Śladami prerafaelitów…, catalogue nos. 38–40, pp. 55–57).

[49] This belief was stated not only in the text quoted above, but also in another article published in the same book: F. Siedlecki, O malarstwie religijnem, in: Polski przewodnik… 1927 (fn. 47), pp. 415–418.

[50] Chrzanowski, Kornecki 1982 (fn. 36), pp. 549–550 (the authors mention also Feliks Wygrzywalski and Tadeusz Terlecki). The go-to man for church mural paintings (usually of low quality and also heavily relying on Matejko’s model) in the first half of the 20th century (c. 1904–1953) for Galicia, and later mostly eastern Małopolska was a painter Julian Krupski (1871–1954). Słownik Artystów Polskich notes several works by this artist, but the list is certainly incomplete (E. Szczawińska, P. Chrzanowska, Krupski Julian, in: Słownik Artystów Polskich, vol. 4, Wrocław 1986, pp. 277–279). The entry does not mention e.g. Krupski’s paintings in the parish church at Kochawina (1928–1929), cf. J. K. Ostrowski, M. Wójcik, Kościół parafialny p.w. Wniebowzięcia Najświętszej Panny Marii w Kochawinie, in: Kościoły i klasztory… (fn. 33), vol. 9, Kraków 2001, p. 69–70, figs. 66, 71, 73. In the Sandomierz region a renowned church decorator was Teofil Śliwowski (cf. B. E. Wódz, Teofil Śliwowski (1877–1965) sandomierski malarz-dekorator, “Zeszyty Sandomierskie” 8, 2001, no. 14, pp. 37–41), and in the Płock and Chełmno dioceses Władysław Drapiewski (1876–1961), the author of, among others, the decorations of the cathedral in Płock (H. Kubaszewska, Drapiewski Władysław, in: Słownik Artystów Polskich, vol. 2, Wrocław 1975, pp. 95–96).

[51] Ȗ. Smìrnov, Kazimir Smučak – učen’ ì poslìdovnik Ȃna-Genrika Rozena, “Galic’ka Brama” (the original text in Ukrainian), 1999, nos. 11–12 (59–60), pp. 12–15. On one of the earlier independent paintings by this artist produced in the 1930s (The Beheading of St John the Baptist in the group of paintings in the Resurrectionist Church in Lviv) it was written – perhaps slightly exaggerating – that it “belongs to one of the most successful attempts of this kind [sc. in the field of church mural painting (?)] in the art of interwar Lviv”, cf. A. Betlej, Kościół p.w. Zmartwychwstania Jezusa Chrystusa oraz klasztor, seminarium i Internat RuskiKs. Zmartwychwstańców in: Kościoły i klasztory Lwowa z wieków XIX i XX (=Kościoły i klasztory… (fn. 33), vol. 12), Kraków 2004, pp. 110–111, fig. 261. Slightly earlier in 1924–1926 the mural paintings in St Hubert’s chapel in St Elizabeth’s Church in Lviv were created by Kazimierz Sichulski (cf. P. Krasny, Kościół parafialny p.w. Św. Elżbiety in: Kościoły i klasztory Lwowa…, figs. 504, 505, 522; E. Houszka, Kazimierz Sichulski, the exhibition catalogue, Muzeum Narodowe we Wrocławiu, Wrocław 1994, pp. 18–19 and the catalogue nos. 189–190). Among the monumental decorative church paintings in the former eastern regions of Poland the ones worth mentioning are the paintings in the parish church at Felsztyn from 1932, designed by Witold Rawski, and executed by Bronisław Gawlik and Maria Schworm (M. Walczak, Kościół parafialny p.w. Św. Marcina w Felsztynie, in: Kościoły i klasztory… (fn. 33), vol. 5, Kraków 1997, p. 77, figs. 132, 141–143) and in the chancel of the church in Żydaczów, made by Tadeusz Łaziej (?) and Tadeusz Wojciechowski in 1938 (J. K. Ostrowski, Kościół parafialny p.w. Wniebowzięcia Najświętszej Panny Marii w Żydaczowie in: Kościoły i klasztory… (fn. 33), vol. 9, Kraków 2001, p. 326, figs. 425–429). Tadeusz Wojciechowski (1902–1982), a member of the group “Artes”, after the war worked mostly in stained glass (Politechnika Lwowska 1844–1945, ed. R. Szewalski, Wrocław 1993, p. 515).

[52] Skrodzki 1989 (fn. 2), pp. 88, 95.

[53] Wolańska 2010 (fn. 31), pp. 169–310.

[54] He made paintings in the chapels of the seminaries in Lviv and Przemyśl, in the churches at Przytyk, Podkowa Leśna, Krościenko Wyżne and Lesko, as well as a few sets of stained-glass windows (M. Zakrzewska, Rosen Jan Henryk, in: Polski Słownik Biograficzny, vol. 32, Wrocław 1989–1991, pp. 56–57). From 1937 until his death Rosen lived and worked in the USA.

[55] T. Seweryn, O fresku i grupie Fresk”, “Rzeczy Piękne” 10, 1931, nos. 1–3, pp. 19–21.

[56] W. Bunikiewicz, Blanka Mercère (jej życie i dzieło), Warszawa 1938; I. Żera, Mercère Blanka, in: Polski Słownik Biograficzny, vol. 20, Wrocław 1975, p. 437; I. Bal, Mercère Blanka, in: Słownik Artystów Polskich 1993 (fn. 36), pp. 485–486.

[57] Bunikiewicz 1938 (fn. 53), p. 31. Despite the fact that she made few religious works, Bunikiewicz assured that “she directed her special attention to religious painting, in which she could express the ecstasy of her spirit through the symbols of human shapes and actions. And she considered fresco painting to be the best form of expressing these emotions”.

[58] Bal 1993 (fn. 56), p. 486. The six developed projects were not (?) realized; the caption under the illustration in Bunikiewicz’s book (fn. 53, unpaged) describes one of the scenes of the St Barbara cycle as “a fresco from the Catholic Home in Warsaw”. Perhaps it was only this particular scene that the painter managed to execute before her death?

[59] T. Seweryn, Jerzy Winiarz (18941928), “Rzeczy Piękne” 7, 1928, no. 10, pp. 113–115. Winiarz’s obituary in Sprawozdanie Towarzystwa Zachęty Sztuk Pięknych za rok 1928, Warszawa 1929, lists the birth date of the artist as 1892. Winiarz published theoretical articles on the fresco technique: J. Winiarz, O fresku jako malarstwie monumentalnem, “Tygodnik Ilustrowany”, 1922, no. 19 (6 May), pp. 297–298; idem, Znaczenie fresku w dekoracji ściennej, “Sztuki Piękne” 4, 1927, no. 2, p. 18 (a longer article on the subject by Winiarz was going to be published in “Wiedza i Życie”).

[60] Seweryn 1928 (fn. 55), p. 113.

[61] The problem of monumental painting decorations in architecture was growing at that time in importance, as can be proven by the fact that the Alessandro Volta Foundation organized a colloquium on this subject in Rome in 1936. The participants were painters, architects and art theoreticians from all over Europe, including Maurice Denis, Alexandre Cingria, Jose-Maria Sert, Le Corbusier, Gino Severini and Filippo Tommaso Marinetti; the Polish delegate was Wacław Husarski. The records of the lectures and discussions were published in the following year in the conference volume Rapporti dell’architettura con le arti figurative. Convegno di Arti, 25–31 ottobre 1936, Roma 1937 (=Reale Academia d’Italia, Fondazione Alessandro Volta, Atti del Convegni, vol. 6).

[62] F. Fuchs, Z historii odnowienia wawelskiego zamku 1905–1939, Kraków 1962 (=Biblioteka Wawelska, I), p. 87 and the footnotes 125–127. While the Renaissance friezes were filled in directly on the wall, and the new ones were painted with reference to them and using similar technique (Leonard Pękalski), the plafond and frieze decorations in the “Baroque” part of the castle (northern wing, 1929–1937), modelled on the plafonds from the Podhorce castle, were painted on canvas (their authors were Lucjan Adwentowicz, Felicjan Szczęsny Kowarski, Józef Pankiewicz, Zbigniew Pronaszko, Zygmunt Waliszewski, Janina Muszkietowa). Cf. also P. Dettloff, M. Fabiański, A. Fischinger, Zamek królewski na Wawelu. Sto lat odnowy (1905–2005), Kraków 2005, pp. 70–71; the projects of the decorations (including also the painted ones) in the Hall of Polish Cavalry at the castle are reproduced in the catalogue Polski korona. Motywy wawelskie w sztuce polskiej 1800–1939, exhibition catalogue, Zamek Królewski na Wawelu, July – October 2005, Kraków 2005, catalogue nos. V, 2–6, V, 8–9, V, 17, V, 19–21; U. Kozakowska, Plafony wawelskie, Kraków 2000 (M.A. thesis written under the supervision of Prof. W. Bałus in the Institute of Art History of the Jagiellonian University in Cracow, especially chapter Plafony wawelskie a polskie malarstwo monumentalne w dwudziestoleciu, pp. 55–61).

[63] Such an unrealized project was e.g. the decorations of the Main Railway Station in Warsaw (St. Woźnicki, Dekoracje monumentalne pawilonu polskiego na wystawie w Nowym Yorku i Dworca Głównego w Warszawie, “Nike” 3, 1939, pp. 163–169).

[64] The results of the competition were published by the magazine “Nike” 1, 1937, pp. 253–254; its conditions were listed among others in “Głos Plastyków”, 1934, nos. 9–12, pp. 186–187.

[65] The projects are now exhibited in the church (the information from Katalog zabytków, kindly verified by Prof. Piotr Krasny). Cf. Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce, vol. VIII: Województwo lubelskie, eds. R. Brykowski, E. Smulikowska-Rowińska, book 5: Powiat chełmski, Warszawa 1968, pp. 15–19.

[66] Skrodzki 1989 (fn. 2), p. 95.

[67] Ibidem.

[68] Ibidem, p. 104.

[69] A. Waśkowski, Wystawa polskiej sztuki religijnej na Śląsku, “Przegląd Powszechny”, 1931, vol. 191, nos. 571–572, p. 194; A. Schroeder, Wystawa sztuki religijnej w Katowicach (maj – czerwiec 1931), “Sztuki Piękne” 7, 1931, pp. 406–410.

[70] M. Gładysz, Wystawa sztuki religijnej w Katowicach, in: O polskiej sztuce religijnej, ed. J. Langman, Katowice 1932, p. 198.

[71] Waśkowski 1931 (fn. 69), p. 195.

[72] Among others F. Kopera, Polskie malarstwo religijne in: O polskiej sztuce… 1932 (fn. 70), pp. 17–32; Ostoja Janiszewski, O rozwoju polskiej sztuki religijnej w ostatnim czterdziestoleciu. (Wstęp do katalogu wystawy), pp. 33–48; V. Molè, Nowa sztuka kościelna a historja sztuki, pp. 65–76; T. Kruszyński, O polichromjach kościelnych, pp. 77–84; H. d’Abancourt de Franqueville, Witraże w sztuce religijnej, pp. 97–144; K. Homolacs, Sztuka religijna a przemysł artystyczny, pp. 85–96; J. Langman, O polskiej rzeźbie religijnej, pp. 145–192.

[73] Molè 1932 (fn. 72), p. 75.

[74] They were recollected by Władysław M. Ostoja Janiszewski in his text published in the provisional catalogue of the Katowice exhibition: Wystawa polskiej sztuki religijnej na Śląsku (katalog tymczasowy), Katowice 1931, p. 6.

[75] A staunch opponent of giving church commissions to non-Catholics was Mieczysław Skrudlik, a discerning critic and art historian, whose observations on church art often are quite perceptive, but for the most part they are strongly coloured by their author’s chauvinism. In 1936 Skrudlik accused contemporary artists of being interested only in the problems of form, calling their art “devoid of ideas” which, as he claimed, caused “the extinction of the artist’s moral responsibility, and of the harmony between their works, their worldviews and their consciences”, and, as a consequence, led to the situation in which “the artistic needs of our churches are met by painters and sculptors religiously indifferent, or even connected with Free Masonry, free-thinking organizations or infidels, Jews including” (M. Skrudlik, U źródeł tragedii sztuki kościelnej, “Kultura”, 1936, no. 5, p. 4).

[76] Rokoszny 1913 (fn. 6), p. 8.

[77] Sprawozdanie Towarzystwa Zachęty Sztuk Pięknych za rok 1932, Warszawa 1933, p. 5 (Wielka wystawa »Polska sztuka kościelna, wiek XVIII, XIX, XX«). The exhibition was accompanied by a catalogue: Polska sztuka kościelna, wiek XVIII, XIX, XX w. Malarstwo, rzeźba, grafika, [Warszawa] 1932 (= Przewodnik TZSP nr 75); cf. also Polskie życie artystyczne w latach 1915–1939, ed. A. Wojciechowski, Wrocław–Warszawa–Kraków–Gdańsk 1974, p. 280. Before the opening of the exhibition “Sztuki Piękne” 8, 1932, p. 134, announced that it was going (as usual!) to “present our achievements in this field [sc. of church art], encourage artists to develop church art further, to forge a connection between clergy and church committees on the one hand and the contemporary Polish art of true artistic value on the other hand”.

[78] Sprawozdanie… 1933 (fn. 77), p. 6.

[79] Ibidem.

[80] Ibidem, p. 7.

[81] The competition jury justified its verdict in the following way: “[...] the awarded works [...] while showing outstanding artistic quality, do not belong to church art for the following reasons: 1) The Catholic Church does not bind the artists with special requirements regarding the artistic form; however, its art should conform to faith, the Holy Scripture and tradition; 2) A work of church art is like a book from which the congregation should learn God’s law, which is why a work of church art should conform perfectly to the dogmas and historical truth. (One must not, for instance, portray a saint wearing the robes of a religious order of which he was not a member, or the folk costume of the nation he did not belong to); 3) When depicting the supernatural world in church art, the contents should follow closely the Christian Revelation; 4) The pictures whose ideas or motifs are based on invented stories, poetry or folk tales, cannot be considered religious; 5) A religious picture, generally speaking, should not contain anything brutal, vulgar, sensual, cynical. On the contrary, a work of religious art should be characterized by moral purity and the cult of virtue; 6) The depictions of holy figures should be marked in art with a halo denoting the cult of a given personage, according to the rules of iconography” (Sprawozdanie… 1933 (fn. 77), p. 6).

[82] “If art should be religious, it should become orans, praying. [...] Either the artist can recognize God’s signs and traces in the world, or not, if he can, then God’s signs and traces will be in his works, changing them into a religious psalm. [...] As there is a difference between the private prayer and the liturgical one, arising from the altar on behalf of the whole Church, so there should be a difference between religious art speaking to us from the walls of private homes to the one speaking through church architecture, sculpture and polychromy. Art should aim to be united in churches with the idea of liturgy and the life of the Church defined as Corpus Christi Mysticum. The art which rather leads away from the altar than leads towards it cannot be called liturgical” (Fr. K. Michalski, Słowo wstępne, in: O polskiej sztuce1932 (fn. 70), pp. 9–10). The author of the above words, Konstanty Michalski, one of the most distinguished Polish Thomists of the interwar period, wrote later a separate long treatise on religious art from liturgical point of view: K. Michalski, Ars Christi oratio Corporis Christi Mystici, “Teologia Praktyczna” 1, 1939, no. 2, pp. 94–114 (reprinted in Ars sacra in: idem, Nova et Vetera, Kraków 1998 (=Studia do Dziejów Wydziału Teologicznego UJ, vol. 9), pp. 328–344).

[83] Actually “De Pelgrim” (Pilgrim), The Association of Flemish Catholic Artists, cf. “L’Artisan Liturgique”, 1929, no. 3 (July – September), pp. 266–288 (the whole issue of the quarterly was dedicated to the association). Trzcińska-Kamińska wrote to Mehoffer probably with the impressions after reading this issue of the magazine still fresh in her mind.

[84] Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich in Wrocław, Manuscript Collection, inv. no. MS Ossol. 14040/II: J. Mehofferowa, Znajomi, koledzy, przyjaciele J. Mehoffera z lat 1891–1939, pp. 369–371: Zofia Trzcińska-Kamińska to J. Mehoffer, 14 Oct 1929. The artist’s deep understanding and reflections on religious art can be seen also in one of her statements on the subject from the last years of her life: Zofia Trzcińska-Kamińska o sztuce religijnej i sakralnej, “Więź” 23, 1980, no. 3 (263), pp. 65–72; cf. also Skrodzki 1989 (fn. 2), p. 125, and Katalog rzeźb religijnych Zofii Trzcińskiej-Kamińskiej, Warszawa 1933.

[85] W. Husarski in “Tygodnik Ilustrowany” (2 July 1932), quoted after “Sztuki Piękne” 8, 1932, p. 279. Mehoffer was working at that time i.a. on the Stations of the Cross for the Chapel of the Passion in the Franciscan Church in Cracow, cf. Józef Mehoffer [the jubilee exhibition], Towarzystwo Zachęty Sztuk Pięknych, June – August 1935, Warszawa 1935, p. 37, catalogue nos. 336–350 (sketches; 1931) and p. 38, catalogue nos. 368–373 (paintings; 1930–1935).

[86] M. Skrudlik, Prawda o wystawie „Polskiej sztuki kościelnej” w „Zachęcie”, Warszawa 1932, p. 22. The reviewer did not spare also other works which were awarded together with Trzcińska-Kamińska’s sculptures, finding a relatively kind word only for Pautsch’s triptych (pp. 15–16) and the works by Wiktoria Goryńska (p. 21).

[87] Ibidem, p. 17.

[88] Ibidem, p. 3.

[89] Przemówienie Ojca św. o stosunku Kościoła do nowoczesnych prądów w sztuce religijnej, “Kurenda Kurji Metropolitalnej Obrządku Łacińskiego we Lwowie”, 1933, no. 1 (1 January), p. 1 [emphasis mine]. To be fair regarding the Pope’s directives, it should be added that it was accompanied by practical guidelines, explicitly forbidding any sort of interference with the artistic form of churches and their furnishings without a previous consultation and an acceptance from the bishop; it was expressly forbidden to put chromolithographs in churches or to import liturgical and decorative objects from abroad without curia’s permission (p. 2). Also Fr. Emil Szramek noticed that although the Church advises artists to follow “the rules of church art” (ut in aedificatione vel refectione serventur formae a traditione christiana receptae et artis sacrae leges, can. 1164 of the Code of Canon Law), but “what these rules of artis sacrae are, the law does not say” (E. Szramek, [Introduction], in: Wystawa współczesnej sztuki religijnej. Sekcja Plastyków Religijnych im. Brata Alberta, exhibition catalogue, June – July 1939, Kraków 1939, p. 9). The address of Pius XI was widely reported in the press (i.a. Ojciec Święty o sztuce religijnej, “Sztuki Piękne” 9, 1933, p. 158); it is also mentioned in the wider context of the guidelines of the Holy See on church art by Nowobilski 1994 (fn. 34), pp. 119–120.

The Holy See was “succoured” in its task of working out the views on new currents in art and their role in religious art by a Swiss artist and art theoretician Alexandre Cingria, who published a pamphlet Le Vatican et l’art religieux moderne, Genève 1933. In this text he criticised Vatican’s condemnation (mostly through “L’Osservatore Romano”) of religious art made at that time in Germany, as it may be surmised, he referred to expressionist art.

[90] Cf. Polskie życie… 1974 (fn. 77), p. 280. The review of the exhibition in “Sztuki Piękne”, 8, 1932, pp. 279–281, practically repeated Skrudlik’s criticism (which was called “scathing but valid”). Critical opinions on the exhibition were also published in i.a. “Tygodnik Ilustrowany” (2 July 1932, W. Husarski), “Kurier Warszawski” (no. 182, J. Kleczyński), “Gazeta Polska” (17 June 1932, Wł. Skoczylas), “ABC” (no. 203, M. Skrudlik).

[91] W. Husarski, Wystawa Sztuki Religijnej w Padwie, “Sztuki Piękne” 7, 1931, pp. 452–459 (on the Polish section, pp. 458–459) and Polskie życie… 1974 (fn. 77), p. 263.

[92] “Sztuki Piękne” 8, 1932, p. 215.

[93] Cf. km [K. Mitera], Częstochowa. Wystawa Sztuki Religijnej i Kościelnej, “Głos Plastyków”, 1934, nos. 9–12, p. 185.

[94] The locus classicus of the criticism of religious kitsch, the notorious bondieuseries, “St Sulpice art” and the devotional objects with which the pilgrimage sites abound, is the book by J.-K. Huysmans, Les foules de Lourdes, Paris 1906 (especially chapter VI; in the edition Paris 1923, pp. 89–101). This issue is further discussed by D. Gamboni, De „Saint-Sulpice” à l’„art sacré”. Qualification et disqualification dans le procès de modernisation de l’art d’église en France (18901960), in: Crises de l’image religieuse / Krisen religiöser Kunst, eds. O. Christin, D. Gamboni, Paris 1999, p. 243. On church kitsch see also M. Poprzęcka, O złej sztuce, Warszawa 1998, pp. 272–279.

[95] Fr. Sz. Dettloff, Ad majorem [sic!] Dei Gloriam [reprinted in:] “Głos Plastyków”, 1934, nos. 9–12, p. 186 (published originally in the catalogue of the exhibition of religious art and church art in Częstochowa).

[96] Ibidem. Witold Dalbor challenged the differentiation between church art and religious art, believing that such a division was artificial, ahistorical and sometimes even impossible to make (W. Dalbor, [Introduction], in: Wystawa sztuki religijnej grupy artystów wielkopolskich „Plastyka”, exhibition catalogue, Poznań, April – May 1934, Poznań 1934, p. 8).

[97] This is the American equivalent of “Saint-Sulpice art”, with similar etymology Barclay Street in New York was the centre of trading in devotional objects of the worst sort.

[98] Kazimierz Mitera [obituary], Sprawozdanie Towarzystwa Zachęty Sztuk Pięknych za r. 1936, Warszawa 1937, p. 12. Mitera was a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow, he worked briefly as a drawing master. He was interested in applied art and stained glass, and “as a painter, he was subject to new currents in art”. In 1934–1936 he published in “Głos Plastyków” many valuable articles (apart from the one quoted here) on contemporary art. Cf. also I. Trybowski, Mitera Kazimierz, in: Polski Słownik Biograficzny, vol. 21, Wrocław–Warszawa–Kraków–Gdańsk 1976, pp. 379–380, and H. Kubaszewska, U. Leszczyńska, Mitera Kazimierz, in: Słownik Artystów Polskich 1993 (fn. 36), pp. 596–597.

[99] Mitera 1934 (fn. 93), p. 185.

[100] Mitera 1934 (fn. 1), p. 139.

[101] Ibidem, pp. 139–140.

[102] Ibidem, p. 140.

[103] Ibidem. Similarly “the study of ancient religious art, not in order to imitate it but to discover its rules and unlock its secrets” was recommended by Witold Dalbor (fn. 96, p. 8).

[104] Mitera 1934 (fn. 1), p. 140.

[105] Ibidem, p. 141.

[106] Ibidem. At the time of writing this article such associations were not common, but when in the 1950s the attitude towards religious art (then already rather called “sacred”) changed, and when Monet’s works started to be seen as the foundations of abstract painting, which in turn was perceived as possessing a spiritual element, the impressionist paintings (especially the mentioned group from the Orangerie as well as the cycle Rouen Cathedral) were often interpreted as works of sacred art. The Orangerie is sometimes even called (stretching a little bit the well-worn comparison) “the Sistine Chapel of Impressionism”. Even Monet’s contemporaries wrote about him during the exhibition of the series of his Haystacks that the painter is “un grand poète panthéiste” (G. Geoffroy, 1891, quoted after M. Rzepińska, Historia koloru w dziejach malarstwa europejskiego, vol. 2, Warszawa 1989, p. 515) – and there is quite a short way from such a statement to religion. On Monet’s Water Lilies in the Orangerie as “late Impressionist art as an alternative channel of spiritual mediation”, and the Orangerie compared to a Catholic chapel cf. J. D. Herbert, Matter and Mass at Monet’s Orangerie, in: College Art Association 95th Annual Conference, New York, February 14–17, 2007. Abstracts 2007, New York 2007, pp. 78–79. On the Water Lilies see also N. Watkins, The Genesis of a Decorative Aesthetic in: Beyond the Easel 2001 (fn. 4), p. 24.

[107] Mitera 1934 (fn. 1), p. 141.

[108] Ibidem, p. 142–143.

[109] Ibidem, p. 143. The misgivings about the durability of mural paintings could be dictated perhaps by the widely-known problems with the maintenance of Matejko’s polychromy in St Mary’s church, where the paint began to flake. In the early 1930s a wider debate about the possible ways and technology of protecting Matejko’s paintings was taking place (the subject was discussed in i.a. “Sztuki Piękne” 9, 1933, pp. 73–74); on the subject see also Nykiel 1998 (fn. 3), pp. 79–103.

[110] Mitera 1934 (fn. 1), p. 143.

[111] The project accepted for realization was by Bohdan Pniewski. More on church architecture in the interwar period in the latest study by F. Burno, Świątynie nowego państwa. Kościoły rzymskokatolickie II Rzeczypospolitej, Warszawa 2012.

[112] Bohdan Pniewski’s project was selected in the second competition in 1934 (M. Sołtysik, Gdynia – miasto dwudziestolecia międzywojennego: urbanistyka i architektura, Warszawa 1993, pp. 367–370). The church project was described at that time as “a successful attempt to reconcile modern currents in architecture with Church tradition”; “[t]he questions of church symbolism, architecture, construction and even common practical factors, all of these found their perfect solutions” (Projekt Bazyliki Morskiej w Gdyni, “Sztuki Piękne” 9, 1933, p. 337).

[113] The competition was launched in 1925; the winning project by Franciszek Mączyński and Zygmunt Gawlik was completed only after the war, in a significantly modified form. Cf. E. Chojecka, Konkurs na budowę katedry w Katowicach w 1925 roku. Propozycje i polemiki, in: Śląskie dzieła mistrzów architektury i sztuki, ed. E. Chojecka, Katowice 1987; J. Zawadzki, Architekt Zygmunt Gawlik, “Rocznik Muzeum w Gliwicach”, vol. 10, 1994, pp. 212–233; F. Burno, Zygmunt Gawlik (1895–1961) architekt katedry katowickiej, Katowice 2003 (=Biblioteka Katowicka, vol. 14).

[114] The construction was taking place in 1932–1938, but the church was not completed before the outbreak of the war. The author of the project was Tadeusz Obmiński. Cf. A. Betlej, Kościół wotywny p.w. Matki Boskiej Ostrobramskiej na Łyczakowie, in: Kościoły i klasztory Lwowa… 2009 (fn. 51), pp. 261–278.

[115] S. I. Łoś, Ars Christiana, “Gregoriana”, 1936, pp. 132–134. Similar associations were formed simultaneously and even earlier in France, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, and other countries. A group worth recalling at this point, and probably first such association in Poland was the group “A.R.M.R.”, founded at the time of the Cracow exhibition of 1911. It could be added that Sr. Imola Łoś, the author of the article on the association “Ars Christiana”, was herself a painter and a promotor of modern liturgical art (Sr. I. Łoś, Kilka uwag o sztuce współczesnej, “Ziemia Wołyńska”, 1938, nos. 111–113).

[116] Skrudlik 1936 (fn. 75); W. Służałek, M. Skrudlik, Męczeństwo i upadek sztuki kościelnej, Poznań 1938. Skrudlik practically repeated here only many of his earlier thoughts, present already in his review of the exhibition at Zachęta in 1932 (as in the footnote 86).

[117] J. Kr., Krytyka krytyk o wystawie współczesnej sztuki kościelnej, KMA 2, 1912, no. 3 (March), p. 23.

[118] K. Czerni, Jerzy Nowosielski, Kraków 2006, especially Katalog projektów i realizacji sakralnych Jerzego Nowowsielskiego, pp. 209–215. On the congregation’s misunderstanding and lack of acceptance for the work of Nowosielski in the Greek Catholic church in Lourdes (mural paintings, not executed completely according to the original project; 1984) and the tragedy of the insolvable issue, cf. K. Czerni, „A czto to takie czorne?Historia powstania i recepcji polichromii Jerzego Nowosielskiego w cerkwi greckokatolickiej pw. Zaśnięcia Najświętszej Marii Panny w Lourdes (1984), in: Mit – Symbol – Mimesis 2009 (fn. 26), pp. 359–391 (especially pp. 380–382).

[119] A statement by Fr. Eustachy Skrochowski at the general meeting of St Luke’s Society, 2 July 1885, cf. Wolańska 2004 (fn. 7), p. 49–50.

The full text of the article was published in the pages of "Sacrum et Decorum" . Please send your orders to the University of Rzeszów Publishers or activate an electronic subscription.