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"Medicis for the Fatherland"? Artists and Cracow, 1879-1910

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Abstract: This article focuses on the fascinating role played by several Polish artists in several Polish historical commemorations. These celebrations, held in the city of Cracow, took place in the last decades before the reestablishment of an independent Polish state. Painters felt moved to enter the public sphere during this period; in the process they became, or attempted to become, benefactors ("Medicis") of the nation. Although three artists - Henryk Siemiradzki, Jan Mate- jko, and Jan Styka - figured prominently in three large public commemorations of Polish historical anniversaries of the period (the 1879 jubilee of Jozef Ignacy Kraszewski, the 1883 bicentennial of the Relief of Vienna, and the 1910 quincen- tennial of the Battle of Grunwald, respectively), their projects did not always have the support of the Cracow notables, who seemed to place the interests of the municipality over those of the nation at large.


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