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

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.


“The First Piotr Skarga Exhibition of Polish Contemporary Church Art” was opened in the Palace of Fine Art belonging to the Friends of the Fine Arts Society (Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Sztuk Pięknych) in Cracow on 7 December 1911.[5] It was indeed one of the first[6] in history, but, as one of its organizers Fr. Jan Pawelski noticed, the efforts to introduce “genuine” religious art into churches, which would maintain high artistic quality while fulfilling the requirements of religious worship at the same time, had been mounted in Cracow previously; such was the aim e.g. of St Luke’s Society founded for the purpose of “uplifting church art” and the magazine published by it “Przyjaciel Sztuki Kościelnej” [A Friend of Church Art].[7]

The exhibition was prepared very carefully. Already in February 1911 “Krakowski Miesięcznik Artystyczny” (the magazine published by the National Museum, the Society for the Beautification of the City of Cracow and the Friends of Fine Arts Society, which was the organizer of the exhibition) brought news about the planned show, its detailed programme as well as the rules for exhibition participation and artistic competitions connected with it.[8] The presentation was divided into six parts: I – painting, subdivided into “the works for the purposes of religious worship” and “religious/genre works, appropriate for decorating Christian homes”; II – decorative art (including stained glass); III – engraving; IV – figurative sculpture (including objects destined for churches and devotional items such as medals and similar “small forms”); V – architecture (“church projects and designs for the decoration of church interiors”) and VI – handicraft.[9] The works included in the exhibition were going to be qualified by the artistic committee, which was also “at the same time an agency for artistic advice and from the moment of announcing the programme evaluated the projects of the works submitted for the exhibition”, while “the liturgical advice was given by Fr. Gerard Kowalski, a Cistercian from Mogiła”.[10]

There were going to be four competitions: 1. for a plaque with the Virgin Mary in low relief; 2) for the altar painting of the Heart of Jesus (due to the great popularity of this devotion at that time[11]); 3) for the statue of the Virgin Mary (“Immaculata”, for the May devotions) and 4) for a religious painting on any subject (“recommended subjects include miraculous pictures from Poland and the Holy Patron Saints of Poland”), which would be then reproduced; the results of the competition were going to be announced initially in May 1911, but later the closing date of the painting competition was postponed to January 1912.[12]

Feliks Kopera and Fr. Gerard Kowalski, in the “programme” article of the exhibition, writing on behalf of the organisational committee, named the most important purpose of this undertaking, that is creating a place for communication and mediation between artists and the clergy, and at the same time winning back the Polish market from foreign companies, which produced inexpensive but artistically worthless objects of the religious worship.[13] A particular emphasis was laid on the achievements of Polish art in recent years, which proved great talents of local artists and their interest in religious subject-matter (seen, for instance, in the subjects of the works exhibited at “general” art exhibitions), and justified taking such a step as organizing this exhibition (it was also mentioned that the competition for the project of the church at Limanowa in 1908 attracted strong interest).[14]

In the period before the exhibition the consecutive issues of “Krakowski Miesięcznik Artystyczny” carried articles on the forthcoming event and accompanying competitions.[15] The aim of these texts was probably to help the artists who considered participating in this event to understand the rules of religious art, and reconciling their art with the requirements posed by worship. Gerard Kowalski tried to dispel any possible anxieties on their part, writing:

The Church does not require of an artist to kill his individuality, and does not prescribe any forms. To demand from a contemporary artist to paint in the spirit of the Quattrocento would mean asking him to execute a base forgery. The contemporary works of Christian art should reflect the sound artistic directions of today.[16]

The exhibition presented about 250 objects, and included several dozen of artists, both those with renowned names and unquestioned status, as well as lesser-known ones. This is not the place to list and discuss more or less successful works (known in part only from the photographs or descriptions). However, a few things have to be noted. The Cracow exhibition of church art was the first one at which the works of the “Association A.R.M.R.” (Architektura [Architecture], Rzeźba [Sculpture], Malarstwo [Painting], Rzemiosła [Craft]) were exhibited. The group exhibited a fragment of the church interior (a chapel) with complete furnishings. The architectural project was designed by Adolf Szyszko-Bohusz, stained glass and the designs for “interior polychromy” – by Wojciech Jastrzębowski; Włodzimierz Konieczny was the author of the altar sculpture and the antependium; Henryk Kunzek designed the font, the confessional and the decorative plaques; Kazimierz Młodzianowski composed the mural paintings. The project included also the chasubles (Maria Młodzianowska-Szymonowiczowa), the appropriate bindings of the liturgy books (Bonawentura Lenart); the candlesticks and the sanctuary lamp were designed by Jan Rembowski; the kilim was projected by Józef Blicharski. Moreover, Jan Skotnicki exhibited the “home shrine” (equipped mostly with wooden sculptures and tapestries, executed in the craft school at Zakopane).[17] The views on the artistic quality of this set of works (and its style definition) were strongly divided among critics. Some appreciated the fact that “a joint effort of several artists created a truly beautiful entity”[18], and compared Młodzianowski’s paintings to “Beuron school” works, which was meant as a compliment[19]; others, such as Jan Tarczałowicz writing for a Lviv magazine “Sztuka”, outdid one another with caustic remarks.[20] This critic summed up the whole exhibition with the sentence: “the exhibited works were generally of such mediocre quality that every unprejudiced person has to prophesy the saddest future for this art, if it should follow in this direction”.[21]

The organizers themselves perceived the results of the whole undertaking in a very level-headed and matter-of-fact way. Gerard Kowalski could admit that the chapel of the “Association A.R.M.R.” did not fulfil its role of teaching “the general public what the interiors of our churches should look like”, adding that “Mr. W. Konieczny’s altar is a complete misunderstanding from the religious point of view”.[22] However, the aesthetic judgements were not of prime importance in this respect. The very fact of organizing such an exhibition, unprecedented in Poland, is worth emphasizing. The second important aspect of this event – both from the artistic and the liturgical point of view – was engaging all kinds of artists in the work on the decorations of the interior in the exhibited chapel – not only painters, but also sculptors, carpenters, fitters and furnishers, metalworkers, book artists, bookbinders and tapestry makers – or, in contemporary parlance, designers and interior designers. One could think that such a piece of work should have come as no surprise, appearing as it did at the heyday of the Arts and Crafts Movement, and being executed in Cracow, near Muzeum Przemysłowe [Handicraft Museum] and the birthplace of the association “Polska Sztuka Stosowana” [Polish Applied Art], which was flourishing at this time. However, it was exceptional, as the words of the exhibition organizers themselves prove:

[…] it has not been the custom with us so far to take into account this important desideratum for the harmonious cooperation in the furnishing of the church interior between the architect, the sculptor and the painter. Actually, not even the smallest attempt was made to furnish the interior according to its intended use. Each piece was commissioned at a different place, each wanted to stand out and differ from the rest. The group of artists decorating the hall [in the Palace of Fine Arts, where “the chapel” was located], guided by the idea of creating harmonious unity, had this very didactic purpose in mind. One can criticise the details, but the general idea has to be applauded, as it revives the good tradition of the centuries past, when, after the building was completed by the architect, it was taken over by the sculptor or painter working on the decorations.[23]

Evaluating the exhibition in hindsight, one cannot put in doubt the observation of Kowalski quoted above, but this attempt to turn the church interior into a unified entity, known also under the fashionable moniker Gesamtkunstwerk, should be especially emphasized.[24] It includes, in my opinion, much more than just the elements included in the traditional definition of “the synthesis of the arts”, that is painting, sculpture and architecture. Regarding church art, the most important criterion or rule for combining various arts into a harmonious group (both “fine” and “applied arts”) was not only the aesthetic one. In this case, the thing that had to be taken under consideration was the integrated furnishing and decoration of the church – not only its interior furnishing (paintings, sculptures, furnishings such as altars, confessionals etc., wall decorations, stained glass, or even candlesticks, lamps, fittings etc.), but also providing the church with the objects used for worship, such as liturgical vessels and vestments or book bindings and decorations, of high artistic quality and harmonized stylistically with the rest of the furnishings. After all, it was not a totally new idea, but in Poland it was just beginning to strive for acceptance (and for that reason the texts inspired by the exhibition mention the didactic value of this not entirely successful chapel, since the organizers did not aim so much at individual artistic successes as at the change of habits, and making the general audience aware of the duties, needs, and requirements of church art[25]).

In the movement for the renewal of religious art, which went back to the early 19th century, such an approach to church art was advocated by the monks of Beuron.[26] Even though in the history of art they are mostly recognized as the creators of monumental mural paintings or architectural works, the German Benedictines approached with equal seriousness huge decorative paintings and small gold-works, embroidery and liturgical books (with regard to this last medium, going back to the proverbial Benedictine loving care in creating miniature works of art). They paid attention to decoration and the dignified appearance of every object or room used for worship, since such an approach was rooted in the rules of liturgy and the rules of liturgical art ensuing from them. This liturgical art was revived nowhere else but in the Benedictine monasteries, first in France, and then in Germany and other European countries from the mid-19th century on, in accordance with the maxim recorded also in St Benedict’s rule: Ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus.[27]

More attention also should be paid to the exhibited “polychrome” designs, especially since, according to the contemporary reviewers, several interesting examples of this branch of art were presented. Kowalski wrote that the properly defined decorative painting in the church “does not fill the walls only with ornaments, but includes also religious scenes, which should dominate in church polychromy. The ornaments should be used only as a supplement to figurative scenes”.[28] Referring to the exhibited designs of mural paintings, he summed up:

The scarcity of figurative religious paintings throws into relief the designs of church polychromy. The Exhibition includes the designs of Messrs. Bukowski, Maszkowski, Mehoffer, Trojanowski, Uziembło, all of whom enjoy a well-deserved renown. The one that comes to the fore among others is Bukowski’s project of the polychromy in the parish church in Bochnia. Its considerable advantage is the fact that the artist fills all the larger wall spaces with figurative scenes framed with the most exquisite ornaments, thanks to which the whole is connected in a very artistic way. We can only congratulate the Collegiate Church of Bochnia on this project. Once it is executed, it may well be the most beautiful polychromy in Poland. Other polychrome designs are usually marked by their richness of ornamentation, and if any figures appear in them, they also play a decorative role.[29]

Unfortunately, the case of Bukowski’s project for Bochnia, which was not realized (just like two other projects awarded in the competition for the paintings for this church: the first place was won by the design of Karol Frycz, the third award was received by Karol Maszkowski; Bukowski’s project was awarded the second place) – is typical of most of good mural projects made in the period before World War I, when there was an abundance of talented artists working in this medium.[30] Despite the competitions (the organization of which was not easy because of the usually limited financial means of the commissioning institutions) the awarded projects usually were not realized. A very telling illustration of the prevailing customs is the story of a number of designs by Mehoffer (the decorations for the Wawel Royal Castle treasury, the Płock cathedral, the Armenian cathedral in Lviv and the slightly later, awarded but unrealised design for the Kahlenberg chapel) or the farcical competition for the decorations of the Armenian cathedral, announced by Archbishop Teodorowicz in 1910 after resigning from Mehoffer’s project (the resignation turned out to be a temporary one).[31]

The model for church polychromy was developed by Jan Matejko in the late 19th century in his decorations of St Mary’s Church in Cracow.[32] As Eligiusz Niewiadomski put it eloquently:

Matejko, painting [in] 1890 St Mary’s Church was a patriarch, paving the way for the following generations. His polychromy thunderstruck the painting world, showing what magnificent results can be achieved through quite simple means, and what charming opportunities present themselves for art here. The irresistible charm of this work possessed the painters. Every one who had at least a spark of decorative taste dreamt about interior painting. During the following 25 years a number of eminent artists seized the churches and executed over a dozen beautiful polychromies.[33]

Matejko’s model was modified by his disciples, Stanisław Wyspiański and Józef Mehoffer, and in the early 20th century it received its “Art Nouveau” and “folk” versions, developed by Włodzimierz Tetmajer (1862–1923).[34] Having achieved the approval of both the clergy and the congregations, it became very popular and survived until the 1920s.[35] It was cultivated both by direct heirs of Matejko (e.g. the aforementioned Jan Bukowski, Tetmajer’s student and partner) as well as by house painters, decorating hundreds of churches, not only the country ones, employing the increasingly modernized forms (which, judging from the artistic point of view, meant barbarized and trivialized).[36] Niewiadomski was probably right when he wrote that among hundreds of realizations, there were only about a dozen “beautiful” polychromies.

Later on, even though the modifications of Matejko’s original were discernible, they were still made within a certain established formula. Among the Young Poland authors of mural paintings (whose work was also imitated) the outstanding ones are Karol Frycz[37] and the aforementioned Tetmajer. In turn, the monumental paintings of Wyspiański fascinated Jan Bulas, a prematurely deceased painter (1878–1917), the author of the paintings at Rzepiennik Biskupi (1912), whose projects were shown at the Cracow exhibition in 1911.[38]

The wall paintings of Eligiusz Niewiadomski (1869–1923) completely departed from the “historicizing” Matejko school formula and from the Young Poland, folk-decorative stylistics.[39] I refer here to his paintings in St Bartholomew’s Church in Konin (1908–1910), which have little to do with the tendencies described above, but are sometimes compared with the work of Maurice Denis.[40]

However, one of the most prolific authors of church mural paintings, active during both periods discussed here – before World War I and after it, seems to be Jan Bukowski (1873–1943).[41] The artist, whose style was rooted in Art Nouveau, in the interwar period tried to modernize it through introducing more geometrical forms into the originally floral ornaments. This trend, in my view, was the inspiration for the work of a next generation artist, Zygmunt Milli (1898–1963).[42] Fr. Tadeusz Kruszyński described the artist, who created decorations consisting of strongly geometricized plant motifs, rarely enriched by single figurative motifs, as the one who “while not neglecting the old church symbols, introduces new forms”.[43] In a similar vein worked Mieczysław Różański, also clearly alluding to Bukowski’s work in his interesting stained-glass windows and mural paintings in the church at Świątniki Górne,[44] which was described by Jan Bukowski himself as the work of “moderation, good taste and understanding of the character of the decoration which remains dignified, despite its lush and ornate cover”.[45] According to Bukowski “the skilfully executed polychromy, emphasizing the organic parts of architecture with dense mass of decorative elements contrasting their plant and geometrical ornaments with plain spaces, creates aesthetically pleasing and noble atmosphere of the interior”.[46]

In 1927 Franciszek Siedlecki repeated almost word by word the recommendations for church mural paintings formulated by Gerard Kowalski:

The religious painting, or, to be more precise, church polychromy, is currently in the state of transition, just like the whole European art. Treating church interiors in a purely decorative way, using only ornaments to the detriment of figurative composition, the entire abandonment of religious symbols and liturgy by almost all painters does not withstand criticism and does not meet the requirements of the modern age. And even though there have been attempts to refresh church polychromy through introducing folk motifs into the ornaments and juxtaposing colours from the colour range used in folk paintings, they have not solved the question of modern church polychromy.[47]

Among the painters who contributed significantly to church painting (apart from Wyspiański and Mehoffer) Siedlecki mentioned also Edward Trojanowski (1873–1930), Karol Frycz, Antoni Procajłowicz (1876–1949), Franciszek Bruzdowicz (1861–1912), Karol Maszkowski and Tadeusz Noskowski (1876–1932).[48] It is symptomatic that the article emphasizes the importance of religious symbolism, liturgy and the necessity of including figurative compositions as the elements which should constitute the foundations of “new” church painting. Siedlecki believed that “new” painting was going to be created, while in practise the demand from churches even for ornamental paintings was declining, not to mention larger figurative cycles.[49]

Among the authors of church mural paintings in the period between the wars we should also mention Zdzisław Gedliczka (1888–1957), who in the 1930s executed the paintings in the churches at Czernichów, Łagiewniki, Niegardów and Biała; Julian Makarewicz (1855–1933), combining his work as an art conservator with his own mural paintings, and another conservator and decorative painter – Józef Edward Dutkiewicz (1903–1968).[50] This approach was also chosen by Kazimierz Smuczak (1906–1996), the author of about thirty monumental church decorations (about half of which were done in the interwar period).[51]

The artists who undertook the task of producing decorative paintings inside churches in the 1920s and 1930s and followed the established route of the stylistic modes admissible in churches, faced the following choice: they could execute one more variation on the theme of Matejko’s paintings or the folk-style decorations (or Tetmajer-style folk-historical paintings with patriotic accents). They could also (although it was not widely accepted) execute their paintings in the avant-garde style, which usually meant a paraphrase of the Formist paintings (geometricized forms) or limiting themselves only to ornamental decorations. The works of Zofia Baudouin de Courtenay (1878–1969), a painter active also in the post-WWII period, are exceptional in this context through their primitivized forms.[52] Another painter working outside the described canon was Jan Henryk Rosen (1891–1982), who gained fame thanks to his decorations of the Armenian cathedral in Lviv,[53] and who before leaving the country in 1937 made a few groups of mural paintings in churches and chapels.[54]

When discussing the subject of church mural paintings in Poland between the wars, one must not overlook the artistic group “Fresk” [Fresco] created around 1929.[55] Its founder was a Warsaw painter Blanka Mercère (1885–1937),[56] who brought together a group of students from the school of fine arts she ran. She cared very much about popularizing the fresco technique, after which the group was named. It seems that the fresco technique was for Blanka Mercère almost inseparable from religious subjects. As Witold Bunikiewicz wrote, the artist “strived to bring about the rebirth of the monumental fresco, which she considered to be the noblest expression of church painting”.[57] Only one of her attempts at the religious compositions intended to be executed in the fresco technique is known: the paintings depicting the scenes from St Barbara’s life in the church hall belonging to the Warsaw church dedicated to this saint (1937).[58] The artist’s initiative, however, did not survive; after her death the group was scattered, and the attempts to “revive” fresco painting were abandoned.

Another promising (if the contemporary critics are to be believed) practitioner of fresco painting was in the interwar period Jerzy Winiarz (1894–1928),[59] a student of Mehoffer, Malczewski and Weiss in the Cracow Academy of Fine Arts. Believing that “Poland, raising itself from the ruins, needs people of the New Renaissance, who would be able to decorate the new buildings with paintings of monumental technical quality”,[60] he went to study in Florence in order to acquaint himself with fresco technique. His projects of the fresco decoration for “the knights hall” at Wawel Royal Castle were rejected. Instead, he left a few groups of stained-glass windows (e.g. in the President’s chapel in Spała, in Łódź cathedral and the projects of glazing for Częstochowa cathedral).

Contrary to Winiarz’s beliefs (and in contrast to other European countries at that time), in Poland in the interwar period the demand for monumental decorations of architectural works was relatively small. The government programmes of decorating city spaces or public buildings with large mural paintings were not launched, either.[61] The isolated cases of state sponsorship are the decorations of the Wawel Castle,[62] which was then undergoing a renovation (the decorations were made, as it is generally known, mostly on canvas and not using monumental techniques) and in the newly-built Parliament building. This branch of art was then just developing and, as the unrealized projects indicate, the execution of many plans in public buildings was thwarted by the outbreak of World War II.[63]

The only major undertaking in the field of monumental church painting in the interwar period (a matter of state importance, since it was financed by the National Culture Fund) was the “competition for the projects of polychromy in the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary (the former Greek Catholic Cathedral)” in Chełm Lubelski.[64] No fewer than 43 projects were submitted then. The first award was won by the project by Felicjan Szczęsny Kowarski and Jan Sokołowski, but neither this, nor any of the four other awarded proposals were realised.[65] According to Wojciech Skrodzki, the most interesting project (even though it received only the third prize) was presented by Leonard Pękalski working in collaboration with Adam Kossowski.[66] The work was “a proposal for a work which would be the crowning achievement of polychromy in the interwar period”. Judging by the reproductions, the paintings were going to match the style of the church and refer “to large monumental fresco compositions of mature Baroque”.[67] In Skrodzki’s opinion, “the end of the interwar period could have been the beginning of the new heyday of church polychromy in Poland – there were favourable circumstances and creative capability. However, it was cut short by the times, which inhibited the continuous development, especially regarding religious art”.[68]


In 1931 the building of the Silesian Parliament in Katowice housed the Exhibition of Religious Art (opened on 30 April, lasted until mid-July). It was organized by the Association of Silesian Artists in order to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the return of Silesia to Poland.[69] The exhibition featured 956 works by over one hundred artists. As the contemporary journalists wrote, “it was undoubtedly the biggest religious art exhibition in Poland so far” and was visited by over fifteen thousand guests.[70] The purpose of the organizers was the same as of the authors of the Cracow exhibition from 1911, that is “not only showing our great and impressive achievements in this field [sc. religious art] in the recent decades, but also stimulating the interest of the appropriate bodies (church patrons, committees, priests) in Silesia in Polish religious art and Polish craft industry”.[71]

The volume published in 1932 documenting the exhibition and titled O polskiej sztuce religijnej [On Polish Religious Art] (edited by Jerzy Langman), included, apart from the list of the artists and the exhibited works, interesting essays discussing various genres of religious art by the most eminent specialists in a given field at that time.[72] In the article published in this volume Wojsław Molè emphasized the view – appearing also in previous years in the critique of religious art (including the texts referring to the Cracow exhibition of 1911) – that church art should not be confined to traditional forms or imitations of historical styles, but to “move with the times”:

Church art at its heyday was always contemporary, which made it vital and genuine. This rule should be followed also by new church art, since without it undoubtedly there will not be any revival. It does not mean at all that all new churches should be built of reinforced concrete, Picasso should turn a church painter and all tradition should be abandoned. […] An artist who refers to it, and knows where the essence of contemporary religiousness lies (not the superficial but deeply-felt one) and who keeps on working in the spirit of contemporary artistic achievements, only such an artist creates a really new church art. Everything else is just a more or less skilful surrogate.[73]

When we recall in addition the words of Fr. Rokoszny, which were quoted with reference to the Katowice exhibition, but written as far back as in 1913,[74] the attitudes were quite close to the famous “appel aux grands” (“an appeal to the great [artists]”) made by Fr. Couturier in the 1950s postulating giving the church commissions to renowned artists, regardless of their denomination and attitudes to religion instead of giving them (because of the alleged inappropriateness of producing church art by unbelievers or infidels) to the mediocre but loyal artists only because they were Catholics.[75] Rokoszny wrote:

[…] let us address our foremost artists, let us give the work in our churches to them. By giving them work in our churches, we are going to direct their thoughts and their work towards the once triumphant progress of church art. And […] they will investigate even more vigorously these wonderful ways, they are going to educated themselves on the best models from the glorious past. They are going to become slowly acquainted with its noble spirit. And they themselves, according to their individual modern talents, will give us for our churches things truly religious, raising the souls of contemporary generations to God. In this way we will pick up the broken thread of great church art.[76]

However, in practice things were different from ideals and declarations. The next exhibition of religious art, titled “Polish church art in the 18th, 19th and 20th century”, this time including also a large section of “ancient art”, held at the building of the Society for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts (Zachęta) from 11 June to 6 September 1932, was accompanied by a competition for works of contemporary religious art.[77] The patrons of the exhibition were most Polish hierarchs (including the nuncio) and the Ministry of Religion and Public Enlightenment. The “contemporary section” of the exhibition, which included the pieces taking part in the competition, contained the works of over seventy artists. Two prizes, awarded by the Polish Episcopate and Warsaw clergy, went not to the well-known and renowned authors, but to the ones who were neither recognized in the interwar period nor are they appreciated now – respectively, to Antoni Polkowski (for his sculpture The Virgin Immaculate) and Władysław Szyndler (for the painting Saint Sebastian).[78] Other awards were also announced (sponsored among others by the Society for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts, the City of Warsaw and the Ministry of Religion and Public Enlightenment) for the works which, “although they could not be considered church art”, were of “high artistic quality and on religious subjects”.[79] In this case, the names of the awarded artists would be easier to find in the studies of Polish art in the interwar period, since the awards were given to: Fryderyk Pautsch, Antoni Michalak, Antoni Grabarz, Zofia Trzcińska-Kamińska, Stanisław Zawadzki and Wiktoria Goryńska.[80]

According to the religious criteria adopted by the competition jury (which seemed to be thoroughly imbued with the Tridentine spirit, not to mention the fact that a part of their wording was quoted directly from the appropriate passages of the decree On Sacred Images) probably few works of art, even those already existing in churches and widely appreciated – could deserve the name of “church art”.[81] The guidelines of the jury were far removed from the ideas on religious art (called already “liturgical art”) expressed at that time by e.g. Fr. Konstanty Michalski.[82] The Polish Episcopate showed that it did not keep up with the changes which were taking place at that time, not only in art. But they were noticed by the artists who showed freely their works at international exhibitions, where they were unvaryingly recognized. Even though the works by Poles differed from radical modernity of Germans, even though “local” folk inspirations still played a big role (e.g. Szczepkowski’s sculpture, or the whole Polish printmaking school led by Władysław Skoczylas), they were modern, original and of high artistic quality. Nowhere were they accused of being incompatible with the requirements of church art. What is more, artists seemed to be more knowledgeable when it came to liturgy and its contemporary transformations than the clergy judging the competition works.

A highly knowledgeable artist in this field was certainly Zofia Trzcińska-Kamińska (1890–1977), a sculptor and one of the authors of the works which the competition jury could not consider to be church art. It is proven by a letter from the sculptor to Józef Mehoffer, dated as early as 1929:

I have been taking strong interest in the revival of religious art for the last few years and I follow its development abroad where, especially in Belgium and Holland, efforts in this direction have started. Mostly one encounters dead eclecticism or anaemic religious aestheticism. The feeble attempts to express the feeling of personal piety through emotionally impressionistic forms – the resulting works are disagreeable (the association of Catholic artists “Pelgrim”[83]) despite the pretty postulates of the artists who as a result, after centuries of art being indifferent to religion, cannot bend the anarchic forms of personal emotions to its spirit. Your art, Professor, stands in the midst of Europe like a lonely colossus, little understood especially by Poles, who have no love for logical thought and form, who live more in the realm of emotions than spirit, i.e. their attitude towards the Church is based more on sentiment than on the honest intentions of becoming acquainted with its spirit, its forms of liturgical life and tradition. I am writing this in order to explain the motivations for my request to you. I would like to receive photographs of your stained-glass windows or other church works in order to prepare materials for my transparencies, which I collect for the illustrations for a lecture on contemporary religious art. […] I would like to spark interest in religious art, so neglected here, attract young […] souls to the beauty of liturgy and to say the little I know, that is most of all what religious art consists in, and why most of contemporary paintings on religious subjects are not religious works. Why churches have to resort to outdated forms poorly adapted, not being able to use the pictures even painted by good artists, but not allowed inside a church. What role is played by formal knowledge, liturgical content, craftsmanship, the “finishing of the work”, since our worship requires finished forms in everything. […][84]

Regarding Mehoffer, then already a doyen of Polish artists, particularly distinguished in the field of religious art, the absence of his works, among others, at the exhibition, was pointed out to the organizers by critics, who wrote with reproach: “Mehoffer, probably the most eminent living church artist in the world, is represented at the exhibition only by one small sketch”.[85]

Mieczysław Skrudlik, a critic famous both for his uncompromising attitude, but also his great knowledge of church art, published a separate pamphlet on the exhibition at Zachęta, in which he tore it to shreds. Conversely, about the “simplified but expressive in form and subject” Stations of the Cross by Trzcińska-Kamińska he wrote that in comparison with other works “they are practically the only exhibit conforming to the requirements of church art”.[86] He summed up Szyndler’s awarded painting (“large but not intended for the altar”) with the following words “with a pretty good head, the body is terribly drawn, while the colours are bland and inexpressive”.[87] He was much gentler with the other awarded work, claiming that “ ‘The Virgin Immaculate’ by Antoni Polkowski, even though her robes have wide undefined spaces, is a serious work” (the word “serious” used with reference to religious works was for Skrudlik a compliment). To sum up, the reviewer called the exhibition “regarding the worship requirements and the needs of our churches, a nonsense! […] What kind of ‘Church Art’ exhibition is it, if it does not include architecture, furnishing and interior decoration?!”.[88]

How is it possible, then, that the review of the critic following the guidelines of church art and pointing out the mistakes and abuses of tradition and dogma in many discussed works was so contrary to the jury’s verdict or the intentions of the organizers (who worked under the aegis of the highest-ranking dignitaries of the Polish clergy)? This situation confirms the otherwise known condition of the Polish church at that time. Undoubtedly, the faithful active in the circles or organizations of progressive educated Catholics, or the artists with questioning minds, such as e.g. Zofia Trzcińska-Kamińska, were on the margins of church life. On the other hand, even though they were a minority, they were mostly members of the intelligentsia and academics from major urban centres. It would seem that at Zachęta, under the auspices of cardinals and bishops, these tendencies – which in the 1930s were already not so new, should be displayed more openly. However, the juror priests Wincenty Trojanowski and Mieczysław Węglewicz, were apparently not that progressive.

However, one really cannot criticise Polish clergy in the situation when the recommendations of the Holy See on art were ambiguous, to say the least. The most recent papal document on church art at that time was the inaugural address of Pius XI delivered at the opening of the new Vatican Pinacoteca on 27 October 1932. Condemning the modern art which “seems to present the sacred only to deform it and make it a caricature, a true profanation”, the Pope at the same time assured: “instead, let us open the doors and give a warm welcome to everything that represents an upright and progressive development of good and venerable traditions”.[89] But a typical parish priest was at that time brought up on the 19th-century church art, accustomed to mass-made sculptures and chromolithographs, the Revivalist architecture of churches and altars. How should he know which traditions are “good” or “venerable”, or what kind of development could be considered “upright and progressive”? These are questions which the papal address does not answer. What is more, one could sense that the speech was on purpose formulated in such a diplomatic way as not to offend the supporters of the fossilized tradition on the one hand, and not to discourage modern artists from their interest in religious art on the other hand, in order to ward off the suspicions, harboured presumably by a narrow circle of Catholics demanding new art, that the Holy See closed itself against progressive artistic currents.

Skrudlik was not the only one criticizing the exhibition at Zachęta. Negative comments were widespread.[90] They referred both to the “retrospective section”, which contained a random collection of works which were not even prepared for the exposition (uncleaned and in bad condition) as well as even more to the section of contemporary art discussed above.

Such a visceral reaction of critics to the Warsaw exhibition could be explained by a vivid contrast between the Zachęta presentation and a slightly earlier, very well-publicized Katowice exhibition. Moreover, there were still fresh memories of the success of Polish art at the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts in Paris in 1925 (among others thanks to Jan Szczepkowski’s shrine with the Nativity altarpiece) and of mostly favourable reviews of the Polish section at the Exhibition of Religious Art in Padua, organized on the 700th anniversary of the canonization of St Anthony in the summer of 1931.[91] The Italian exposition was prolonged until July 1932,[92] so the objects which were according to the critics most valuable, were missing from the exhibition at Zachęta, because they were still in Padua. Wacław Husarski, the organizer of the Polish presentation in Padua was even accused of not being selective enough, which resulted in the exhibition’s being overloaded with works, and this all in all could give a negative impression. However, the critics of the Warsaw exhibition referred not so much to the absence of some works, but to the general quality of the presented works.

The next opportunity to discuss church art was the Exhibition of Church and Religious Art in Częstochowa (June – September 1934),[93] which was going to start cyclical shows of this kind of art in this city, which was described as “the centre of religious pilgrimages” and also (let this author add) the centre of church kitsch, a genre probably inextricably connected with the places of thriving religious cult, especially sanctuaries.[94] Again, the purpose was to establish contacts between the artists and the audience, or even more importantly, potential employers. For the first time a clear-cut division was made between the religious art and the church art, which was reflected in the name of the exposition. In the introduction to the exhibition catalogue Fr. Szczęsny Dettloff especially emphasized differences between both genres and attempted to define them; as he mentioned, he was inspired to do it by his experiences of the previous similar exhibitions:

Church art has its own rules, dictated and clearly defined by Church tradition, the requirements of liturgy and, what is especially important, the need to speak to the wide audience of believers and to be understood by everybody in terms of its composition, form and spiritual expression.[95]

Dettloff did not mean, however, the art which “should pander to the tastes disfigured by the long imprisonment in the hands of the greedy international trade”. He meant the individual artistic work (in contrast with the previously mentioned mass-made products), of high quality both in terms of its form and content, while the latter should remain within the traditional church iconography, which should probably guarantee its being understood by “the wide audience of believers”. From the artistic point of view, the most important thing was that – as Dettloff assured – “the composition and form can express themselves freely too”. Religious art was different:

Religious art […] intended for private devotion and directed mostly towards the serious audience acquainted with art in general, could afford some experiments more closely connected with modern creative or even revolutionary currents, as long as these experiments do not kill the actual religious spirit of the piece. Why should religious art be forbidden to speak in a language understandable only for the chosen ones?[96]

This crucial distinction in a way sanctioned letting new art and modern artists into churches or at least did not negate (as was commonly the practice) the sense of existing church art in contemporary forms. Dettloff seems also to have broken with a kind of hypocrisy widespread in church circles which prevented them from noticing the diversity of church art audience. Some of them (the clergy and secular reformers), who were trying to elevate church art deluded themselves that they could raise a generation of believers accepting only good art of high artistic quality (meaning the modern one), while others, who were in the majority, assumed that they had to deal with a uniform “flock” which would like to be “fed” with sweet and beautiful pictures, the embodiment of the ideal divine kindness revealed in beauty – that is, art called “Saint-Sulpice”, “Barclay Street”,[97] or simply religious trumpery or rubbish. It would seem that Dettloff found a diplomatic solution which could respond to the grandiose (in comparison with the quality of the works of art actually found in churches) ambitions of artists and this part of the audience which craved modernity, without transgressing the existing official rules of church art. However, his valuable remarks characterized the “good” art, both church and religious one, only in very general terms. Was Dettloff (both a clergyman and an experienced art historian) more aware, then, than other theoreticians studying this subject, that there were not ready-made prescriptions or canons of religious or church art which would guarantee the success of the works made in accordance with them?

However, the attempts to achieve an understanding between the Church and artists were not given up. To end this review of opinions on art in “God’s houses” and the accompanying voices of critics and journalists, one must not omit one more important statement inspired by the Częstochowa exhibition: an article by Kazimierz Mitera (1897–1936).[98]

Mitera, although relatively young, had a quite extensive knowledge of the attempts to raise the quality of church art in Poland. At the end of the note on the exhibition in Częstochowa published in “Głos Plastyków” he summarized the most important information on the Cracow exhibition of church art from 1911, emphasizing its professionalism and scope with which, as he himself admitted, the organizers of the Częstochowa exhibition could not compete.[99] He was himself associated with the Polish Applied Arts Society and he pointed to the attempts made by this movement (precisely at the Piotr Skarga exhibition) to revive church art, unfortunately at that time misunderstood by clergy. At the time of writing the discussed article, that is in the 1930s, the roles were, according to Mitera, reversed: “The Church tries to raise and revive religious and church art, while artists seem to take a wait-and-see attitude”.[100] Without entering the discussion whether he was correct (for instance, the results of the competition from the Warsaw exhibition in 1932 seem to indicate otherwise), it is worth considering more closely the further arguments of this artist and critic.

Dettloff’s opinions quoted above (and reprinted in extenso by “Głos Plastyków”) were enthusiastically greeted by Mitera – as a signal from the clergy to artists encouraging their quest in the field of modern art, also in church art. Here again it has to be noted that Dettloff’s views cannot be considered representative of general attitudes of the Polish clergy or the official stance of the Church. It should be rather considered to be an honourable and enlightened exception, even despite the high-flown declarations of Bishop Kubina at the opening of the Częstochowa exhibition, speaking about the eternal mutual ties between religion and art as well as the bishop’s hope for continuation or renewal of this “collaboration”.[101] Mitera himself also realized that Dettloff’s views

are shared by very few enlightened individuals among the clergy, while a vast majority refuses to grant contemporary art the right to express itself in the realm of religion. One speaks about tradition – but which one? It is defined solely as an imitation of dead forms as the only permissible ones in the church. As a consequence of this attitude which has been taken for over one hundred year – the important, independent and creative artists have been completely outstripped by the imitative ones, or even people who had nothing to do with art at all. The name of a church artist became synonymous with banality and cheapness. Creative art was replaced with forgeries and imitations which had been unthinkable in previous eras. We are overrun by lack of taste, gushiness, sweetness and embellishments – the symptoms unheard of in the ages of deep faith and true piety, in the heyday of Christian art. The situation created in the name of tradition is completely at odds with it. The falsely defined tradition made church art coarse and brought it to the brink of the downfall.[102]

A remedy for this situation should be also tradition, but a properly interpreted one:

Tradition plays a pivotal role in church art, and for that reason the attitude to tradition should be revised and its proper role should be restored, because tradition is not a ready-made form, but the sum of experience derived from these forms. Tradition is not the form but the essence of things, not a prescription but a method of work and realization, captured in the legacy of previous generations.[103]

Mitera added, however, that apart from having respect for tradition and being inspired by it, the artist deserves some amount of freedom, and especially trust in his “creative instinct”.[104] Since the artist wants “to speak in our times just like the Gothic or Renaissance artist spoke in his times – even though this art should be as new as Gothic was new with regard to Romanesque art and seemingly contrary to the well-established tradition, just like St Peter’s dome was contrary to the soaring arches of St Denis or Chartres”.[105] He also did not promise immediate effects; he advised patience and persistence in the attempts to create new church art.

Mitera showed great sensitivity and freshness of approach considering in a side remark the potential effect of Claude Monet’s Water Lilies, a cycle of large canvases exhibited since 1927 in the Orangerie in Paris, if they had been created as church paintings and placed in a sacred interior:

As I was looking at the decorative panneaux by Claude Monet, the founder of impressionism, gracing the walls of the Orangerie in Paris, it often occurred to me how beautiful, how atmospheric a similar decoration could be in a chapel or a church, if anybody gave Monet such a commission. The wonderful symphonies of colours, lights and shadows scintillating and shimmering on the surface of water where water lilies bloom, in which sky, clouds and green trees are reflected – they are a doxology for the beauty of creation, so close to the songs and heart of St Francis of Assisi – and although the artist’s motivation is a completely secular one, it evokes moods similar to the ones created by the coloured symphonies of Gothic stained-glass windows.[106]

Water Lilies did not find their way to a chapel because – as Mitera surmised – there was no enlightened patron who could give Monet such a commission. And it was patronage which was, in his opinion, the factor which could awaken artists’ dormant vocation for creating religious art and move their work in this direction (sc. church art). As an example he cited Józef Pankiewicz’s panneaux commissioned by the Wawel rebuilding committee for the chapel of Sigismund III Vasa during the renovation works mentioned above. Not only the Church patronage (“the enlightened one” that is, as Mitera wrote, the one “which would replace contemporary pietistic petite-bourgeois mass amateurism”) but also a new, more democratic one (understood perhaps rather as an influence of the public opinion acting in an advisory capacity to the clergy) should be revived. The patrons should also include the representatives of the educated elites, knowledgeable and engaged in matters of religion.

A kind of institutional support for this new movement could be a cyclical or permanent exhibition in Częstochowa.[107] Mitera took this opportunity to speak about church polychromies as well. He believed that they were greatly overused at the expense of other elements of furnishing and decoration: “it is commonly thought with us that it is enough to create church polychromy (and it absolutely has to be rich) in order to give it an appropriate aesthetic appearance. Indeed, much money is spent for this purpose, mostly with quite problematic results”.[108] What is more, as Mitera argued, while he did give credit to polychromy in enlivening or even in formerly modernizing church interiors – mural paintings are neither durable, nor do they guarantee achieving the intended artistic effect. When they are overused, “the efforts to keep up the aesthetic appearance of the church are one-sided and detrimental to the rest of its interior”.[109] The critic’s postulates, trying to change this situation, are in accordance with the methods of decorating church interiors which had been used at that time for almost two decades in Western Europe, e.g. in the churches of Romance Switzerland. Motivating his proposal also by financial limitations in the times of the economic crisis, Mitera advised “limiting polychromy to smaller decorations, while paying more attention to the individual objects and pieces of furniture, altars, paintings, figures, stained-glass windows, fonts, banners, processional images, baldachins, chasubles, chalices, monstrances etc.”[110]

The outbreak of the war made it impossible to meet the demands, not only the ones listed above, but also many others regarding the revival of church art in Poland. In 1939 many churches were under construction or were about to be decorated and furnished, probably in the spirit of Mitera’s recommendations. In the late 1930s, the interior decorations forming a harmonious whole, modest but well-thought-out, were already a norm, not only in the newly built churches, but also (where circumstances allowed) in the modernized or renewed older and historical buildings. Among the larger and more important churches planned before World War II but not built or not completed until 1939, the ones worth mentioning are: the Church of Providence in Warsaw,[111] the Maritime Basilica in Gdynia,[112] the cathedral in Katowice[113] and the Church of Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn in Lviv.[114]

Art in the reborn Poland – also religious and church one – was developing, then, as this article has been trying to prove, very dynamically; every effort was also made to improve constantly its quality. When it comes to religious art, in 1936 an artist association “Ars Christiana” was even formed, which brought together the artists who were aware of the liturgical requirements of church art and who wanted to create art in accordance with these requirements.[115] It can be surmised that, as in many other areas of life and work – had it not been for the outbreak of the war, the development would have continued, bringing most satisfactory results. Nevertheless, undoubtedly no agreement would have been reached regarding what religious art should look like, or rather, what its essence is. Despite the development of church art, or at least the clearly visible efforts in this direction, in the late 1930s Mieczysław Skrudlik (who was already quoted here several times) believed firmly that the condition of church art was terrible, and he wrote about it in no uncertain terms, usually talking about its “downfall” and the connected with it “tragedy” of church art, or – under the influence of contemporary events in Spain, Mexico and the Soviet Union, where the Catholic church was persecuted and oppressed, while the works of church art were deliberately destroyed together with whole churches – he wrote about “martyrdom of church art”.[116]

Despite the sustained effort to codify the rules of religious art and a sea change in history and society which had been taking place since 1911, in the 1930s the following remarks of a critic, embittered by the complaints of the reviewers after the Cracow church art exhibition in 1911 were still valid (as they are also partly valid today):

Messrs. Reviewers, you are telling us that “artists lack Christian piety”, “religious practices”, “religious spirit”, “being well-read in church texts” etc. – apart from the fact that you could learn a thing or two about the moral lives of church artists from historians, one should give credit where credit is due and say that among us there are also devout Catholics, including priests, whose works do not find any favour with you either. A question arises, then: does not the reason lie elsewhere, perhaps in you, since do you yourselves know what your demands and desires are? Neither of you, when asked, answered satisfactorily my question what the essence of religiousness in a work of art is [emphasis mine – J.W.]. You mostly demand the imitation of ancient monuments of church art, but you cannot agree even on that, because everyone wants something different. One of you praises the sensual italian [!] Correggio, another prefers the Brabant master Rubens, another supports the bloody spaniard [!] Ribera, yet another craves the sweet Murillos, philosophical germans [!], light fashionable french [!]. It is a veritable catalogue of the ancient masters of all nations and times! almost always excluding Polish art. Each follows his own taste – there are almost as many tastes as critics in Poland! Neither of you allows the artist to be honest, to be himself. Exceptions are rare. And when you ask him later to tell you what religious mood in a work of art means – no one will tell you, but will be offended that you do not know that. He himself does not know that, because he never considered that the mood is born in his mind, that it is created mostly by later influence of church surroundings, faith and tradition, tales and fantasies, the mutual suggestion of society. The image of the Virgin Mary of Kalwaria is miraculous although it is not a work of art, but possibly a painting by a village artist, but it still is and always will be miraculous, religious. The stone crucifix in the bourgeois St Mary’s Church in Cracow, on the other hand, is a wonderful work of art and at the same time a miraculous image, meaning also a religious one.[117]

The assessment of church and religious art is then very difficult and subjective, as with every kind of art. However, in the case of the works created for worship purposes, or which potentially could be used for these purposes, there are many more factors at play, as has been shown, than the ordinary aesthetic criteria, which makes the assessment even more difficult. Also today we can find much too many proofs that for over one hundred years little has changed in this matter; the opinions of critics, and even ordinary viewers, are divided and it is very difficult to reach an understanding regarding what is religious or church art and what is not. A telling (and sad) example of that could be the fate of some works by Jerzy Nowosielski, intended for a number of churches, not only the Orthodox and Greek Catholic ones – many projects were not realized or rejected due to the opposition of the congregation, or the realized projects were destroyed or removed from churches for the same reason.[118]

Such misunderstandings are not new either. As far back as one hundred years before Nowosielski’s realizations a member of St Luke’s Society, which tried to act as intermediaries in commissioning valuable artworks for churches, said regretfully “[…] sometimes when a painting commissioned by us is really well-done and we are happy to be able to send such a beautiful thing, we receive a return package with the letter that the painting does not appeal to the recipients at all and that it cannot be accepted. Another time, when the commissioned painting did not turn out well and we hesitate whether to send it at all, and in the end we send it, we receive the heartfelt thanks for fulfilling our commission so well”.[119]


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.

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