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Uniwersytet Rzeszowski
Centrum Dokumentacji Współczesnej
Sztuki Sakralnej
pl. Ofiar Getta 4-5/35, 35-002 Rzeszów
tel. +48 17 872 20 98

Anna Siemieniec

Wrocław, University of Wrocław


After World War 2, Wrocław was one of the cities that received the Orthodox population of Poland, forcibly relocated from the eastern territories. Thus, a need arose to create parishes for the new inhabitants, in the existing Roman-Catholic or Protestant churches. In 1963, the old church of St Barbara was transformed into an Orthodox cathedral of the Nativity of the Holy Mother of God, while in 1970 an Orthodox parish of Sts Cyril and Methodius was created.

            The request to adapt the interiors of both churches to the needs of the Orthodox liturgy was directed to Adam Stalony-Dobrzański and Jerzy Nowosielski, Orthodox Catholic artists from Cracow. The results of their collaboration were comprehensive conceptions for the church interiors. Some of the concepts for the polychrome, iconostases or stained glass were never realized. The remaining traces are fragments of designs, sketches, mentions and iconographic descriptions.

            Adam Stalony-Dobrzański – a painter, stained-glass artist, graphic artist, art conservator, and lecturer at the Fine Arts Academy in Cracow – realized stained glass projects for church interiors in Poland from the 1950s. Also in Wrocław he committed to preparing stained glass designs for both Orthodox churches; only a few of the designs were actually realized.

            In the Orthodox cathedral, there are three stained glass windows by Stalony-Dobrzański: in the side chapel of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross there is a composition with scenes of Crucifixion Exaltation of the Holy Cross (1965); in the entrance door there is a stained glass window showing Mother of God Praying and the Evangelists (1964); and in the central window of the sanctuary, there is stained glass presenting Mother of God of the Sign with scenes from the life of Mary (1991).

            In the church of Sts Cyril and Methodius, up to 2011 there was a semi-circular stained glass window showing the Mother of God Eleusa (1958). The window was manufactured during the filming of the documentary Witraże Dobrzańskiego, by Jerzy Łomnicki, and was a replica of a section of a stained glass window produced by Stalony-Dobrzański for the Orthodox church in Gródek Białostocki.

            Stalony-Dobrzański’s works, still waiting to be more thoroughly examined and analysed, are original and recognizable, among others, owing to their association with the icon, the Byzantine-Ruthenian tradition and typology.


Key words: Adam Stalony-Dobrzański, Jerzy Nowosielski, sacred art, Orthodox church, Wrocław, stained glass, icon


Wrocław, the capital of Lower Silesia, has been marked by different cultures and religions over the centuries of its history. A sample of the exceptional character of the city is the District of Mutual Respect of Four Denominations,[1] where, within a distance of 300 metres, there stand: an Eastern Orthodox church, a Protestant temple, a Roman Catholic church and a Jewish synagogue. Their stories, seen against the centuries, for each of the denominations analysed at a different point in the city’s history, show the dynamics of the constant development of the city’s social structure. Wratislavia, Breslau, Wrocław – the very name of the capital of Lower Silesia capital reflects the changes in its national identity. The phenomenon is typical of frontier regions; in this case, it is the borderland between the Polish, German and Czech cultures.

            While examining the post-war sacred art in Wrocław – the development of which was marked by contributions from the likes of Adam Stalony-Dobrzański (1904–1985)[2] and Jerzy Nowosielski (1923–2011) – we could draw a “Wrocław icon route” on the map of the city, joining the Orthodox churches.[3] Yet, in a city whose architecture is dominated by West-European Gothic, it is futile to look for onion domes, characteristic of the Orthodox or Greek-Catholic temples. This is due to the unusual post-war history of Wrocław, the city of the Recovered Territories. After 1945, its whole population was replaced, which brought West and East together.[4] The result was the meeting of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque with the Byzantine-Ruthenian tradition – a meeting that occurred through the artists of the icon [fig. 1].

            Following the post-war resettlements, especially “Operation Vistula”, the terrains of Lower Silesia and Wrocław received Orthodox citizens – forcibly relocated from the eastern regions of Poland.[5] Thus a need arose to create parishes for the Orthodox community, and to adapt the interior of the temples to the Orthodox liturgy. Usually, the newly created parishes were assigned Roman-Catholic or Protestant churches, whose architecture and furnishing differed significantly from the architecture and interior of an Orthodox church.

            A request to help adapt the churches to the needs of the Orthodox liturgy was directed to Adam Stalony-Dobrzański and Jerzy Nowosielski, Orthodox artists from Cracow. They were invited by Bishop Bazyli (Doroszkiewicz), the ordinary of the Wrocław-Szczecin diocese since 1961.[6] What they had to offer was their experience of the art of the Christian East – the experience in icon painting. Thanks to those two artists, the icon entered two Orthodox churches of Wrocław: the Orthodox Cathedral of the Nativity of the Holy Mother of God (40, Św. Mikołaja st.), and the church of St Cyril and St Methodius (15, Św. Jadwigi st. on the Piaskowa island).

            The artists cooperated to create exhaustive conceptions of the church interiors: polychrome, iconostases, icons, stained glass, mosaics and liturgical paraphernalia. At present, analysing Stalony-Dobrzański’s and Nowosielski’s art in Wrocław, we face many difficulties in the attribution and dating of particular works. The problems result from the fact that work in particular churches were realized in stages, with ever-changing groups of co-workers. This situation was, on one hand, caused by the lack of sufficient financing to complete the commissioned work in the set time, and by prolonged formalities, connected with obtaining from the Wrocław Monuments Conservator the permits necessary to conduct adaptation works in historic churches. On the other hand, there were problems with the reception of the proposed solutions by the congregations; it was based on traditional Byzantine-Ruthenian iconography, yet its language of expression were modern art forms.

            For these reasons, among others, some of the projects for the polychrome, iconostases and stained glass were not realized. There are traces left: preserved fragments of designs, sketches, written notes of the planned work, iconographic descriptions in archival documentation, and the still living history, recounted by those who remember both artists’ activity in Wrocław.

            Even though Stalony-Dobrzański and Nowosielski collaborated in the same space and time, the division of labour, noticeable e.g. on the example of the Orthodox cathedral in Wrocław, proves that they were mutually aware of their strong and weak points. Nowosielski is more of a painter, operating with colour and colourful spots: in the cathedral, he focused on the polychrome and the iconostas. On the other hand, Stalony-Dobrzański used a strong, clear line, which allowed him to develop a mature artistic vision in stained glass work. Although he did create polychrome for the Wrocław Orthodox churches,[7] with figural scenes intertwined with numerous liturgical texts, it is the stained glass realizations in the Orthodox church space that demonstrate his innovative approach to stained glass work, and his awareness of the function that sacred art is supposed to fulfil in liturgical space.

            “I have not encountered any record of stained glass used in Belarussian Orthodox architecture before 1950. Probably the first artist to introduce this type of ornament into an Orthodox church was Adam Stalony-Dobrzański” – says Prof. Aleksander Grygorowicz,[8] who was involved in the works on the Orthodox cathedral in the architectural aspect.

            Stalony-Dobrzański turned to stained glass in 1945, when, collaborating with Ludwik Gardowski, he created a stained glass window presenting St Barbara, commissioned by AGH (Academy of Mining and Metalurgy) in Cracow. Yet it was the realization of stained glass for the church in Trzebownisk, in years 1950–1956, commissioned by Izabela Żeleńska, that directed the artist’s attention to stained glass.[9] From that moment until his death, he accepted commissions for stained glass windows for Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant temples.[10]

            The introduction of stained glass into Orthodox church space as a continuation of the content and meaning of polychrome suggests that Stalony-Dobrzański treated it like an icon.[11] Rev. Henryk Paprocki writes in an exhibition catalogue from 2011:

It is a peculiar modernity of Adam Stalony-Dobrzański’s art. A firework of colours, with a strong dominant of – depending on the composition – navy blue and red, or green and yellow, organizes a certain vision which quickly becomes understandable. Stalony-Dobrzański’s stained glass is simply an icon. This is its elementary function. Simply because it is an icon, each of his stained glass windows shouts with colours and shapes to everyone who is no longer a viewer but a participant – cause authentic art is an invitation to participate.[12]

The relation between the icon and the stained glass in Stalony-Dobrzański’s art is also indicated by Zbigniew Jaworski, who runs a stained-glass workshop “Pracownia Witrażu” in Wrocław: “His realizations are brilliant icons, written with light; everything combines in them: innovation in art, ingenuity and tradition”.[13]

            Eugeniusz Cebulski, a mitered priest, who was then a vicar in the Orthodox cathedral, recalls the moment when Stalony-Dobrzański and Nowosielski arrived in Wrocław: “Their appearance in Wrocław was connected with their activity in Gródek Białostocki and Michałów, near Białystok. Bishop Bazyli (later a metropolite) was the parish priest there at that time. He was building a church in Gródek, which was decorated by Adam Stalony-Dobrzański and Jerzy Nowosielski. That conception was realized mainly by Stalony-Dobrzański. Bazyli was satisfied with their work, and both the artists – Orthodox faithful, after all, immersed in spirituality and in church art – knew what would be expected of them in Wrocław”.[14]

            In the early 1960s, the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church started the procedure to take over St Barbara church in Św. Mikołaja street in Wrocław, and to make it an Orthodox cathedral, which happened on the 15th of June 1963.[15] When the building was obtained, works started on the renovation and furnishing of the church, to meet the requirements of liturgy.

            “For the Orthodox cathedral of the Nativity of the Holy Mother of God in Wrocław, Stalony-Dobrzański designed stained glass for all windows” remembers Rev. Eugeniusz Cebulski. “Yet, due to the shortage of finance, the only windows realized were: in the side chapel, in the door between the vestibule and the nave, and in the sanctuary”.[16]

            For the chapel of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which is annexed to the chancel from the north, Stalony-Dobrzański designed three stained glass works referring to the Passion. They were intended to be set in three chapel windows: two in the north wall and one in the east wall. Only the window in the east wall, behind the iconostas, was realized. It is exceptional among the artist’s works, due to its highly geometrical, abstract background of squares and rectangles, with two, relatively small (considering the size of the window) figural groups [fig. 2].


            In the stylistics of the background, based on abstract, geometrical forms, one could see the influence of Nowosielski. However, as Jan Pawlicki points out, “the background was based on the geometry of squares, because the windows were supplied with Gothic latticework, which had not been removed during the renovation. Stalony-Dobrzański adapted the composition of the background to the bars. If he had not, their lines, visible through the glass, would be in discord with the different rhythm of glass cutting and lead frames. Hence the – unusual for him – geometrical stylistics of the background”.[17]

            In the lower left corner of the window there is an inscription: “Through the efforts of His Excellency Bazyli the Bishop of the Wrocław – Szczecin Orthodox Diocese and his congregation and friends, this stained glass window was designed and manufactured by Adam Stalony-Dobrzański in the workshop of R. Ryniewicz in Cracow”.

            In the artist’s archive there is a cartoon painting for this stained glass window. In the lower left corner the artist’s mark is visible[18] and the date “1965”, which also suggests the time of manufacturing the glass panes. The cartoon shows how Stalony-Dobrzański planned the horizontal and vertical lines of the background, taking into consideration the outlines of the Gothic latticework, visible through the glass, which are marked in the project with more delicate lines [fig. 3].

            In the closing of the arch of the stained glass window, Stalony-Dobrzański placed the Eye of Providence and an inscription: ГДЬ БГ [Lord God]; below, he designed Crucifixion, with Mary, John the Evangelist, and three women standing beneath the cross, and also angels adoring Christ. Around that scene there are Greek texts: “IC XC”, “ΜΡ ΘΥ”, “NIKA”, and inscriptions in Church-Slavonic: “Son of God”, “King of Glory”, “God the Lord”, “Women”, and a fragment from a song of the Canon of the Matins on the feast of the Meeting of the Lord: “Lord, strength of those who hope in You, strengthen Your Church, which You have purchased with Your precious blood”.

            Below this scene, the artist presents the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, with St Macarius raising the Cross, with the accompanying deacons, St Helena and Constantine. Around this scene there are inscriptions: “Lord’s Cross” and a fragment of the hymn for the day of Exaltation of the Holy Cross, in Church-Slavonic: “Before Thy Cross we bow down in worship, O Master, and Thy holy Resurrection we glorify” [fig. 4].

            Thanks to the preserved project and the iconographic description[19] of the three planned stained glass windows we know the thematic programme and the colour design of the two unrealized works.

            The project, in 1:20 scale, signed by Stalony-Dobrzański and marked “AS-D” and the date “13 IV 1964”, was submitted to the Monuments Conservator in Bernardyńska street in Wrocław, and then, on the 7th of May 1964, approved for realization by the Chief Monuments Conservator of Wrocław, Dr. Engr. Olgierd Czerner [fig. 5]. The project shows the general colour concept for the stained glass and the iconographic programme, while information on the planned inscriptions was included in the iconographic description.

            The stained glass in the north window next to the west wall was intended to present the scenes of the Passion: Jesus prays in Gethsemane, Jesus kissed by Judas, Jesus before the High Priest, Jesus is whipped, Pilate washes his hands, Jesus carries his cross. The scenes were to be complemented by text fragments, as Stalony-Dobrzański says in the iconographic description, written in Church-Slavonic alphabet: „+ studnymi okalach duszu griechmi, no umiłosierdiś nado mnoju Christie… całowanijem nie priedam Tia… ni nadrugajusia nad Toboju… ni biju Tia Wsjebłagij… ni ruki moi umyju… no s radostiju i moj kriest priimu Gospodi i Boże Moi +”.[20] In the artist’s archive, charcoal sketches for the figural scenes in this stained glass work have been preserved. They show the scenes: Jesus is whipped, Jesus before the High Priest, Jesus carries his cross.

            The north window stained glass, on the side of the iconostas, was to present, from the top: a star with the initials of the Mother of God – ΜΡ ΘΥ, Jesus falling under the cross and Meeting his Mother and the holy women, Jesus is taken down from the cross, Mother of God crying, Jesus is laid in the tomb, and inscriptions: „+ Preswiataja Bogorodice spasi nas… Simieonom priedrieczennoje dnieś za ny sobystsia… i Błagoobraznyj Iosif s drewa sniem Jego preczistoje Tieło… nie rydaj Jego Mati… Syn bo Twoj w radost” woskresienija płacz Twoj prełożi… prizri na ny Prienieporocznaja Władczice +”.[21]

            The vestibule is linked to the nave by three pointed-arch door openings, with abstract, geometrical stained glass windows by Stalony-Dobrzańskiego. Composed of squares, rectangles and rhombuses, the patterns of red, blue, orange and transparent glass panes joined by clear lead frames create a geometrical checkerboard, as if corresponding to the background of the stained glass in the chapel. In the tympanum of the main entrance, the artist fitted a figural stained glass window, in the shape of a Greek cross, which shows Mother of God Praying and the Evangelists [fig. 6].

            The project for this work was prepared by Stalony-Dobrzański in 1961; it was originally intended for the Orthodox church of Mother of God in Neseber, Bulgaria. In his notes from 1981, the artist recalls the circumstances of his arrival in Neseber:


In 1959, I participated in a scientific group trip of architects, painters and writers to Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Crete, Constantinople, Yugoslavia […]. A little peninsula, Neseber. Wonderful; on every step – ruins of beautiful antique Orthodox churches. Only one is open. A holy man is the priest there – Todor Krstov. He says the mass every day. often with only his wife present – the two of them, but is it true! Is it beautiful! And just next to the church – the incessant, powerful sound of the sea. The Black Sea […]. When kissing the cross, I asked if I could visit the parsonage. I asked about the Orthodox churches in Neseber. The priest – about the Polish church in general, about my work in churches, when I said what my profession is, about our trip.[22]

Next, Stalony-Dobrzański describes how it happened that he created a stained glass window for the church and how he sent it to Neseber. “By word of mouth, through a tourist going there, I asked about the measurements, the diameter of the tiny round window, high in the apse. In 1961 I managed to send a small stained glass work for this little window high above the altar, in this only one open church. The window showed the Mother of God and the Evangelists beside her […]. Last year, in 1982 I learned that two panes were broken in this little stained glass window in the apse”[23] [fig. 7].

            The stained glass work in Wrocław was manufactured in 1964, which is evidenced by inscriptions in Church-Slavonic and in Polish, on the cross beam with the image of St Marc: “To the parson of the Orthodox church, Teodor Krstov Georgiev – Adam Stalony-Dobrzański, Kraków, Polska 1964”.

            The central section of the cross, in reference to the Patron of the church, shows the Mother of God Praying, with the image of Christ Emmanuel on her chest, and inscription ΜΡ ΘΥ. The beams of the cross show the Four Evangelists, holding unfolded scrolls with fragments of the Gospel that they wrote, in Church-Slavonic. The Evangelists are accompanied by their traditional symbols.

            St Mathew, accompanied by an angel, is holding a scroll saying: “Mary, his mother” (Matt 2, 11); St Mark, with a lion, has a scroll saying: “whoever does the will of God” (Mark 3, 35). St Luke, shown with an ox, is holding a scroll with the words of the Angelic Salutation: “Hail, full of grace” (Luke 1, 28), while St John is shown with an eagle and holding a scroll with the words that Jesus spoke to John from the cross: “Here is your mother” (J 19, 27) [fig. 8].

            The last window to be realized (in 1991 in the Stained Glass Workshop of the Paczka brothers – according to its sponsor, Jerzy Hawryluk) was that designed by Stalony-Dobrzański for the central window of the sanctuary.[24] It was produced, following the only (so far) known and preserved cartoon sketch design for the nave and sanctuary windows. According to Jan Pawlicki, in the beginning of the 1980s the cartoon was given to the workshop by the artist himself, with the intention of realizing the project. Only after his death, however, were sufficient financial resources obtained to actually produce the window [fig. 9].

            The iconography of this stained glass work refers to the patron of the cathedral and presents scenes from Mary’s life. In a letter to patriarch Bazyli (Doroszkiewicz), dated 8th August 1976, Stalony-Dobrzańskiego reports: “At last, I can inform you that I have finished drawing and will start colouring the cartoons for Wrocław”. Next he describes the cartoon: “Three sections of the middle vertical line are filled by a big silhouette of Mother of God Praying – Znamienije (the Sign), on the model of the icon of Great Panagia of Jaroslav. Above HER halo, there is the sign of the Holy Trinity. In the upper side sections – busts of Angels wearing the richly decorated loros, holding spheres”.[25]

            In the upper part of the stained glass window, the middle sections show Mother of God of the Sign. It is a traditional Byzantine representation of Mary Mother of God oranta, with her hands up, in the position of prayer. The inscription around her head reads “MP ΘΥ”. The medallion on her chest shows Christ-Emmanuel – as a child – with an inscription “IΣ XΣ” and letters “O ΩN” in the cross-nimbus. On both sides of the figure of Mother of God there are two angels holding mirrors through cloths; next to them there is a fragment of a prayer to Mary Mother of God (Gr. Aksion Estin), in Church-Slavonic: “Thou the true Theotokos, we magnify thee”. Around this image, in three columns divided into rectangular sections, the artist arranged thirteen scenes from Mary’s life, each of them complemented with a quote in Church-Slavonic.

            In the column on the right side of the figure of Mary, there are five scenes (from top to bottom): Nativity of the Mother of God, with a fragment of the corresponding troparion: “Brought joy to all the world”; Presentation in the Temple of Mary, Mother of God with a quote from the troparion for this feast: “She appears and foretells Christ to all”; Annunciation with a fragment of the Angelic Salutation: “Rejoice, thou who art full of grace! The Lord is with thee” (Luke 1, 28); Visitation, completed by the words with which Elisabeth greeted Mary: “Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb” (Luke 1, 42); Nativity and a fragment of the kondakion for this feast “The Virgin today gives birth to the Transcendent One”. In the middle column there are three scenes: Meeting of the Lord and a fragment of the troparion for this feast: “Rejoice, for from thee arose the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God”; Finding in the Temple with a quote from the Gospel: “kept all these things in her heart” (Luke 2, 51); Marriage at Cana and Mary’s words: “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it” (John 2, 5). In the column on the right side of the figure of Mary, there are five scenes (from top to bottom): Crucifixion with a fragment of the Gospel: “Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother!” (John 19, 27); Burial of Jesus and a verse from the 9th Ode of the Holy Saturday canon: “Lament not for me, Mother, beholding me in the grave, the son whom you have born”; Christ meeting His Mother and the words of the 9th Ode of the Pascha canon by John of Damascus: “you too rejoice, pure Mother of God, at the arising of him to whom you gave birth”; Ascension and a fragment of the kondakion for this feast: “I am with you and no one will be against you”; Dormition of the Mother of God and a quote from the corresponding troparion: “In falling asleep you did not forsake the world”.

            In the above-quoted letter to patriarch Bazyli, Stalony-Dobrzański includes information about the planned but unrealized stained glass for the window in the south chapel, under the tower: “since last year, I have a complete cartoon for the stained glass +JORDAN +BAPTIZING, for the right side chapel under the tower, in the cathedral. I showed the cartoon to his excellency Bishop Aleksy, when I was in Wrocław with Sotyris last month”.[26] The information about having finished the cartoon for “Baptism in the Jordan” was repeated by Stalony-Dobrzański in his typescript reporting the works performed in the cathedral until 1976.[27]

            Apart from the above-mentioned stained glass by Stalony-Dobrzański, in the cathedral there are three stained glass windows designed by someone else, realized in 1990s, corresponding to the Byzantine-Ruthenian iconography. The middle window of the west wall shows The Final Judgment, the window in the north wall shows Crucifixion, and the small, rectangular window above the main entrance presents the image of Mother of God Eleusa.

            Stalony-Dobrzański acted as the interior designer also in the other Wrocław Orthodox church – of Sts Cyril and Methodius. October 1970 saw the establishment of the very first Orthodox parish in Poland, in which Polish was the language of liturgy; it was created in the Baroque church of St Anna, located in 15, St Jadwiga st. on the Piaskowa Isle.[28] Its parson was Rev. Eugeniusz Cebulski, who participated in the renovation work in the Wrocław Orthodox cathedral. In the renovation and adaptation of the Baroque church for the Orthodox liturgical use, Rev. Cebulski cooperated mainly with Adam Stalony-Dobrzański, Jerzy Nowosielski, and Sotyris Pantopulos.[29]

            Stalony-Dobrzański intended to make stained glass for all the windows in the church. Unfortunately, they were not realized due to the lack of financial resources. In 1976 the artist created cartoons for those windows. He mentioned it in his report on the works conducted in the church, written in Cracow on the 22nd of September 1976 for Metropolite Bazyli:


I have already drawn cartoons /1:1/ for the stained glass for three altar windows. The middle one – MP ΘΥ, Oranta – All-Holy Mother of God accompanied by HER parents +Joachim, the old patron of the Polish Kingdom, and Anna, the patron of Silesia, and ++ Cyril and Methodius, the current patrons of this church, who brought Christianity in the Orthodox veil to our land. The stained glass in the side windows presents Archangels of Power +ARCHE+DYNAMIS+EXOICIE+KYRIOTITES. In the middle window +Pod Twoju milość pribiegajem and + pod twoją obronę uciekamy się… (We fly to Your protection…) in the side ones – also in Church Slavonic and in Polish +Nynie Siły Niebiesnyja s Nami… (Now the forces of Heaven with us…) In the windows of the nave I have planned the life of +MP +ΘΥ and church texts glorifying the Mother of God.[30]

The modern form of the stained glass and the difficulties some parishioners had understanding this kind of art are mentioned by Stalony-Dobrzański in one of his letters to Rev. Eugeniusz Cebulski: “Supplementing the «printed» letter, I must ask one more thing – if Mrs. Stefa from your generation asked me if Mother of God Oranta in the stained glass will have «green» face (I answered ‘blue’)”.[31]

            Another stained glass work is associated with the church of Sts Cyril and Methodius. It is a demi-circle section of a stained glass window, presenting the Mother of God Eleusa. The work was located in the lower chapel of Three Martyrs of Vilnius until 2011, when it was lent out to the exhibition “Creation of light. Stained glass by Adam Stalony-Dobrzański”.[32] The circumstances surrounding the creation and storage of this work were unknown until Rev. Cebulski recalled them.[33] The window was produced for the documentary Witraże Dobrzańskiego (Dobrzański’s stained glass), created by Jerzy Łomnicki in 1958 for the studio Wytwórnia Filmów Dokumentalnych i Fabularnych.[34] In the subject literature, the date of the creation of this window had been 1976,[35] the year in which Stalony-Dobrzański carried out most of the works for the church of Sts Cyril and Methodius. However, the actual date should be 1958, the year in which Jerzy Łomnicki realized his film [fig. 10].

            This documentary, which mainly showed the stained glass from Gródek Białostocki, realized in years 1953–1955,[36] was supposed to illustrate the relation between the stained glass and the icon, unique in Stalony-Dobrzański’s work, its Byzantine-Ruthenian iconography, and the technology of his stained glass production. Therefore in his film Łomnicki shows Stalony-Dobrzański, who – to illustrate the stages of stained glass production – arranges the already cut, colourful pieces of glass to form the face of the Mother of God Eleusa. These shots are intertwined with pictures of projects realized several years previously, for the church in Gródek – among them there is an image of the Mother of God Eleusa, once produced for that church. The cartoon for that stained glass was the model for the composition created during the shooting of the film, therefore sections of the stained glass from Gródek Białostocki and that from the church of Sts Cyril and Methodius are deceptively similar.

            However, conducting a comparative analysis of the two images of Mother of God Eleusa, we must notice clear differences in the stained glass manufacture, although it may be supposed that the artist based his works on one cartoon. The realized windows differ in colour of particular glass panes, and in their cut lines, which in turn results in different graphic patterns of the lead frames.

            Both works present Mary Mother of God Eleusa, modelled after the Theotokos of Vladimir, nesting the Child against her right cheek. Jesus hugs his mother with his left arm, laying a hand on her left cheek. The scene is complemented with words from akathist to the Theotokos: “We bring you the hymn of thanksgiving, oh Mother of God”.

            The differences in the colour of particular glass panes, sometimes very subtle, are best noticeable in the face of Christ. In the window from Gródek Białostocki, his face and hair are composed mostly of green glass pieces of different tones. Stalony-Dobrzański additionally used purple glass for the hair at the back of Christ’s head. On the other hand, in the window from 1958, the dominating colour in the face of Christ is orange, and the hair is composed of graphite and brown glass. Also Mary’s face in both windows shows differences in colour of particular glass pieces and their tone.

            In the general view, the most noticeable differences are to be found in glass cutting; in the second window, Stalony-Dobrzański applied sharp, straight-line cuts, reducing particular elements to regular geometrical figures. While in the window from Gródek Białostocki, Mary’s face is composed of irregularly cut glass pieces, resembling organic face shapes and features – which suggests protrusion of the nose and roundness of the cheek – in the later realization the artist applied a cubic simplification of the irregular shapes, replacing them with regular, polygon forms.

            The 1958 stained glass image of Mother of God Eleusa was presented to the newly established Orthodox cathedral in Wrocław in the 1960s, and then, in the 1970s, it was passed on to the church of Sts Cyril and Methodius.[37] It remained there until 2011, in the chapel of Three Martyrs of Vilnius, set in a specially made semi-circular iron frame. The artwork will return to Wrocław after the exhibition has closed.

            At the end of 1992, in the three windows of the apse, stained glass windows manufactured in the Art Institute in Lvov were installed. The windows show the Mother of God of the Sign, Archangel Michael and Archangel Gabriel.[38] Even though these iconographic representations were based on the Byzantine-Ruthenian tradition, they were stylistically very distant from the polychrome realized according to Stalony-Dobrzański’s project. Because those windows disturbed the aesthetic coherence of the church interior, a decision was made to remove them and store them in the parish, until perhaps they could be presented to another church.[39]

In their place, large-format pictures of Stalony-Dobrzański’s stained glass from Gródek Białostocki were installed. The photographs were printed on thick plastic panes imitating window glass panes. The photograph in the middle window of the apse presented selected scenes from the window which is placed in the nave transept’s south side: Mary with Little Jesus, Crucifixion, and Burial of Jesus.[40] The side windows display the pictures of the stained glass from the apse of the sanctuary, showing the archangels [fig. 11].

            In 1995, the middle window of the nave on the north was furnished with a stained glass work by a Wrocław-based stained glass artist Ryszard Więckowski.[41] The composition shows Sts Cyril and Methodius, and Sts Benedict of Nursia and Maxim of Gorlice.[42]

            A large-format picture of one of Stalony-Dobrzański’s stained glass windows was also used as a decorative element in the sanctuary of the lower chapel of the Three Martyrs of Vilnius. In 2012 the interior was adorned with a new polychrome by Michał Bogucki,[43] created with the help of a young iconographer, Michał Szwarc. It was then that the place previously occupied by the stained glass showing the Mother of God Eleusa was furnished with the picture of stained glass from the Warsaw Orthodox church of St Jan Kilmak, showing the scene of Deesis.

            Stalony-Dobrzański’s stained glass work was present in Wroclaw Orthodox churches only in isolated instances. The artist produced a greater number of works for the Catholic churches in Wroclaw and neighbouring towns. Stalony-Dobrzański and a team of collaborators: Ludwik Gardowski, Stefan Gałkowski, Mikołaj Kochanowski, Stefan Maciej Makarewicz and Jerzy Nowosielski were commissioned to create sixteen cartoons for stained glass windows in the Roman-Catholic cathedral of St John the Baptist on the isle of Ostrow Tumski; the commission included twelve windows in the presbytery, two windows in the chapel of Holy Cross, and two windows in the chapel of St John of Nepomuk. On the 10th of May, 1953, in Cracow, the artists signed a contract for the realization of the stained glass, co-signed by Prelate Jan Piskorz, the vicar general of the Wrocław Archbishop’s Curia.[44] The commission was not realized, but the thematic proposal for the windows was presented in a description, prepared by the artists before the contract was signed,[45] and in two surviving designs.[46]

            In 1958 Stalony-Dobrzański undertook the production of monumental stained glass windows for the church of St James and St Agnes in Nysa,[47] which was being reconstructed after its destruction during the war. He worked on the project until 1967.[48] Also in the 1960s, he designed stained glass windows for the Gothic church of St Hedwig of Silesia in Wrocław-Leśnica,[49] and in 1978 – for the church of St James in Skorogoszcz.[50]

            Stalony-Dobrzański, the stained-glass artist, drew mainly on the Cracow tradition. He was in direct contact with the realizations of Stanisław Wyspiański and Józef Mehoffer, whose lectures he actually attended.[51] As Zbigniew Jaworski points out, Stalony-Dobrzański was the artist in the history of modern Polish stained glass who stopped putting paint on glass, i.e. stopped treating stained glass as a regular painting, and returned to the Mediaeval way of thinking about this art type: “No painting on glass, but lead, glass, possibly contour line. This is it! Mehoffer understood this when he was working in Switzerland”.[52] Stalony-Dobrzański’s stained glass work technique is described by Michał Bogucki: “he did not paint on glass, but used the existing colours, on which he laid patina to add intensity, or took patina off the glass to add light. If he used paint, it was black contour paint, to mark the facial features or for slight hatching. He used wide, bold cuts, a bold line that gave shape to the drawing”.[53]

            Apart from his activity in the field of sacred art, Stalony-Dobrzański was an educator and ran the Chair of Typography at the Fine Arts Academy in Cracow. He was a master of letters writing. Inscriptions became an integral part of his stained glass windows, completing the content of the message of the image. The artist enriched iconography with fragments taken from Scripture and liturgical texts.[54]

            Analysis of the literature on the work of Stalony-Dobrzański and Nowosielski, two cooperating artists who drew on the Byzantine-Ruthenian tradition, reveals a gap in the knowledge about the life and work of the former – a gap evidently out of proportion with the whole artistic activity. Polish art history, presenting the connections between modern visual arts and the icon, mentions the name of Jerzy Nowosielski as the painter and iconographer whose work started the renaissance of icon painting in Poland, owing to the experience of modern art. Yet Stalony-Dobrzański’s realizations in Wrocław, especially the stained glass works, confirm the fact that the tradition of the Orthodox church art had been transferred to the ground of Polish modern visual arts before Nowosielski.[55] It is this source of inspiration that determined the originality of Stalony-Dobrzański’s art, which still – especially the monumental stained glass works – await in-depth examination and analysis.

            Stalony-Dobrzański’s stained glass works found their place in both Orthodox and Catholic churches, because in them, a synthesis takes place of the mystic experience in the sacred art of the Christian East and West: the mystery of light of the Gothic cathedrals and the mystery of the icon.[56] “Adam Stalony-Dobrzański searched for his path in a slightly different stained glass image, in certain mysteriousness […]. The stained glass itself holds a secret; it requires a skill to unearth it”.[57]


Translated by Anna Ścibior-Gajewska

[1] http://fundacja4wyznan.pl/index.php?str=2 [accessed 6 June 2014].

[2] E. Dwornik-Gutowska, Stalony-Dobrzański, in: Polski słownik bibliograficzny, vol. 41, Warszawa–Kraków 2002, pp. 497–499. This bibliographic note marks the most comprehensive source on the life and work of the artist. In subject literature, the title “Professor” is used, yet, despite his long years of educational work, the artist never officially obtained the title.

[3] During the “Wrocław Churches Night” (22 June 2014) a tour “Wrocław Icons Route” was conducted by Krystyna Czerni (Jagiellonian University of Cracow) and Anna Siemieniec (University of Wrocław). The tour started in the Orthodox cathedral of the Nativity of the Holy Mother of God, then proceeded to the Greek-Catholic cathedral of St James and St Vincent and to the parochial Orthodox church of St Cyril and St Methodius. During the Lower-Silesia Science Festival (24 Sept. 2013) a meeting “Icons and stained glass of Nowosielski – visiting Wrocław Orthodox churches” was conducted by Olga Demczuk (from Stowarzyszenie Edukacyjne Wieża Babel) and Anna Siemieniec. The tour included the Greek-Catholic and the Orthodox cathedrals.

[4] Cf. A. Radziukiewicz Architektura pogranicza, “Przegląd Prawosławny” 2004, no. 1 (223) (the journal’s internet archive at http://przegladprawoslawny.pl/articles.php?code=issue&issue_nr223&id=8, accessed: 6 June 2014).

[5] Bp. Jeremiasz (Anchimiuk), Na jubileusz 50-lecia parafii katedralnej we Wrocławiu, in: Katedra Narodzenia Przenajświętszej Bogarodzicy we Wrocławiu, ed. I. Rydzanicz, Wrocław 1996, p. 4.

[6] P. Gerent, Prawosławie na Dolnym Śląsku w latach 1945–1989, Toruń 2007, pp. 155–157.

[7] A. Siemieniec, Projekty i realizacje Adama Stalony-Dobrzańskiego dla cerkwi wrocławskich [in press].

[8] A. Grygorowicz, Witraże w cerkwiach białostocczyzny, in: Sztuka witrażowa w Polsce, eds. J. Budyn-Kamykowska, K. Pawłowska, Kraków 2002, pp. 193–194.

[9] J. Stalony-Dobrzański, Biografia, in: Stworzenie światła. Wystawa witraży Adama Stalony-Dobrzańskiego, exhibition catalogue, National Museum Sophia of Kiev, 20 Oct. – 30 Nov. 2011, ed. J. Stalony-Dobrzański, p. 117.

[10] The author of this article is working on the complete documentation and analysis of the stained glass designed by the artist. The research is a part of doctoral dissertation written in the University of Wrocław under the supervision of Professor Anna Markowska. Also, Stalony-Dobrzański’s work is documented and popularized by his grandson, Jan Pawlicki (in subject literature also known as Jan Stalony-Dobrzański), who runs the internet site of the artist: http://stalony-dobrzanski.info.

[11] For more information on relations between the stained glass and the icon, cf.: A. Siemieniec, Kanon ikony w sztuce witrażu Adama Stalony-Dobrzańskiego; a paper presented on 11 Oct. 2013 at II International Festival of Frontier Art In Przemyśl (Międzynarodowy Festiwal Sztuki Pogranicza w Przemyślu) – in press.

[12] Ks. H. Paprocki, Światło przemienione, in: Stworzenie światła…, cf. fn. 9, p. 41.

[13] Piękno rodzi się z pracy. Z szefem Pracowni Witraży we Wrocławiu Zbigniewem Jaworskim rozmawia Anna Radziukiewicz, “Przegląd Prawosławny” 2011, no. 11 (317), p. 33.

[14] Recording of a conversation with Rev. E. Cebulski (Wrocław, 5 June 2013), archive of A. Siemieniec. More on the activities of Stalony-Dobrzański in the temple in: Siemieniec (fn. 7).

[15] Gerent 2007 (fn. 6), pp. 214–215.

[16] Recording of a conversation with Rev. E. Cebulski (Wrocław, 5 June 2013), archive of A. Siemieniec.

[17] Personal communication, J. Pawlicki (5 Apr. 2014).

[18] Adam Stalony-Dobrzański’s signature, composed of his intertwined initials, was designed by the artist in reference to the form of Gothic house marks. The letters create the shape of Peter’s boat on the Greek cross. Cf. Stalony-Dobrzański 2011 (fn. 9), p. 118.

[19] Design and iconographic description, A. Stalony-Dobrzański’s archive, a copy in the archive of A. Siemieniec.

[20] Cf. fn. 19. The inscription in Church Slavonic is written down phonetically, as in Stalony-Dobrzański’s iconographic description. The following English version (as well as the quotation in fn. 21) is based on Polish translation by Rev. Grzegorz Cebulski: “I have idly stained my soul with sins, but You will have mercy upon me, Christ… I shall not betray You with a kiss… I shall not revile you… I shall not hit You, All-Benevolent… nor shall I wash my hands… but I shall gladly bear my cross, oh, my God and my Lord”.

[21] “Most holy Theotokos rescue us… Simeon’s prophecy has come true today… Joseph, who carries in him the image of God, took down from the tree Your body… Do not weep, His Mother… for Your son shall turn Your tears into the joy of resurrection… look upon us, oh Most Immaculate Queen”, cf. fn. 20.

[22] Adam Stalony-Dobrzański’s typescript describing his trip to Neseber, written after 1983, is stored in the artist’s archive; a copy is stored in A. Siemieniec’s archive.

[23] Ibidem.

[24] Information obtained by Rev. M. Oleśniewicz in a conversation with J. Hawryluk (5 Apr. 2014).

[25]A. Stalony-Dobrzański’s letter to Metropolite Bazyli, dated 8th August, 1976, A. Stalony-Dobrzański’s archive, a copy in the archive of A. Siemieniec.

[26] Ibidem.

[27] The report on the works completed in years 1963–1976, prepared by Stalony-Dobrzański, the archive of A. Stalony-Dobrzańskiego, a copy in the archive of A. Siemieniec.

[28] Gerent 2007 (fn. 6), pp. 332–337.

[29] For more information on Stalony-Dobrzański’s work in the church see: Siemieniec (fn. 7).

[30]The report on the works conducted in August and September 1976, prepared by Stalony-Dobrzański in Cracow (22 Sept. 1976) for Patriarch Bazyli, the archive of Rev. E. Cebulski, a copy in the archive of A. Siemieniec. In the letter, written mostly in Polish, there are several fragments in Church Slavonic, in Latin alphabet transcription.This is not visible in translation.

[31] A. Stalony-Dobrzański’s letter to Rev. E. Cebulski from 26th February 1978, archive of Rev. E. Cebulski, a copy in the archive of A. Siemieniec.

[32] A. Siemieniec, Stworzenie światła. Wystawa witraży Adama Stalony-Dobrzańskiego w Muzeum Narodowym Sofia Kijowska w Kijowie (20. X – 30. XI 2011), “Quart” 2012, no. 2 (24), p. 137.

[33] Personal communication with Rev. E. Cebulski (5 Apr. 2014).

[34] http://wfdif.com.pl/filmy-dokumentalne,7.html [accessed: 7 Apr. 2014]; Stalony-Dobrzański 2011 (fn. 9), p. 118.

[35] Siemieniec 2012 (fn. 32), p. 137.

[36] Stalony-Dobrzański 2011 (fn. 9).

[37] Personal communication with Rev. E. Cebulski (5 Apr. 2014).

[38] Gerent 2007 (fn. 6), p. 335; http://cerkiew,wroclaw.pl/index.php?option=com_content&wiev=article&id=102&Itemid=95 [accessed: 6 Apr. 2014].

[39] Personal communication with Rev. E. Cebulski (5Apr. 2014).

[40] Cf. A. Radziukiewicz, Gródek nad Supraślą. Z dziejów prawosławnej parafii, Gródek 2011, pp. 98–100.

[41] Personal communication with Rev. E. Cebulski (12 Apr. 2014).

[42] http://cerkiew,wroclaw.pl/index.php?option=com_content&wiev=article&id=102&Itemid=95 [accessed: 6 Apr. 2014].

[43] Michał Bogucki is currently the director of the Museum of Icons in Warsaw; in 2011 he was one of the curators of the exhibition of Stalony-Dobrzański’s stained glass, entitled “Stworzenie Światła” (Creation of Light) in the National Museum Sophia of Kiev, cf. Siemieniec 2012 (fn. 32), p. 134.

[44] Contract dated 10th May, 1953, A. Stalony-Dobrzański’s archive, a copy in the archive of A. Siemieniec.

[45] Description of the stained glass content, dated 4th April, 1953, A. Stalony-Dobrzański’s archive, a copy in the archive of A. Siemieniec.

[46]The designs are stored in A. Stalony-Dobrzański’s archive, a copy in the archive of A. Siemieniec.

[47] In this church, Stalony-Dobrzański also created the polychrome in the chapel of Our Lady of Częstochowa.

[48]Stalony-Dobrzański 2011 (fn. 9).

[49] In this church, the artist also intended to create the polychrome, but it was never realized.

[50] http://www.parafia-skorogoszcz.opole.pl/historia-parafii [accessed: 13 Apr. 2014]. In the church there is also a polychrome realized according to Stalony-Dobrzański’s design.

[51]K. Kuczman, Witrażownictwo, in: Stworzenie światła… 2011 (fn. 9), p. 23.

[52] Recorded conversation with Z. Jaworski (Wrocław, 22 Oct. 2013), archive of A. Siemieniec.

[53]Recorded conversation with M. Bogucki (Wrocław, 22 Oct. 2013), archive of A. Siemieniec.

[54]Siemieniec 2012 (fn. 32), p. 137.

[55] http:/kud-logos.si/2012/04/18/ikona-w-tworczosci-adama-stalony-dobrzanskiego/ [accessed: 6 Apr. 2014].

[56] Siemieniec 2012 (fn. 32), pp. 138–139.

[57] Recorded conversation with Z. Jaworski (Wrocław, 22 Oct. 2013), archive of A. Siemieniec.

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