The Biedermeier style, which took shape in the German-speaking part of the world shortly after the Congress of Vienna (1815) and thrived until the Spring of Nations (1848), left a strong imprint on all of Europe. More than 400 artefacts are featured in the exhibition — paintings, furniture, glassware, porcelain, textiles, clothing, jewellery and decorative objects — illustrating the German iteration of the style as well as its unique national varieties, with particular emphasis on the Biedermeier art of Polish lands: the Kingdom of Poland, the Grand Duchy of Poznań, Galicia and the Vilnius Region. For that reason, visitors to the exhibition will find the work of artists like Jan Chrucki, Aleksander Gryglewski, Rafał Hadziewicz, Wincenty Kasprzycki and Marcin Zaleski alongside works by the likes of Ferdinand Waldmüller, Domenico Quaglio, Carl Spitzweg and Moritz von Schwind.
The exhibition traces some of the most important phenomena to arise in the wake of the new social order that was sweeping through Europe. The conclusion of the era’s devastating liberation wars ushered in the higher status of the wealthy bourgeoisie and their value system. The yearning for “small stabilisation” meant ever greater importance of children and the family – thus the growing popularity of family portraits. Education and amusement became more of a priority and a sense of local and national patriotism swelled in the people. The growing regional pride meant increased interest in one’s immediate environment, its heritage and people, as well as in mementos reflecting the formation of national unity after the defeat of Napoleon.
As the art of the wealthy bourgeoisie, the Biedermeier style put a premium on comfort, translating to furniture and interior design that was functional and marked by a noble simplicity. The higher culture of everyday life brought with it a greater need for artisanal goods (glassware, silverware, porcelain and jewellery) in modern forms. It is no surprise that Biedermeier art also became popular among the gentry, as many examples in the exhibition attest. We trust that the exhibition can also capture the interest of Polish visitors, whose escalating wealth means an ever greater appreciation for style and quality in daily life.
The exhibition will be the first ever presentation of Biedermeier art in Poland, and a truly spectacular one at that, as it gathers the finest examples of the style found in Polish collections. In addition to pieces from the collection of the National Museum in Warsaw, visitors will find exhibits from the national museums in Krakow, Poznań, Szczecin, Gdańsk, and Wrocław, from the regional museums of Jelenia Góra and Konin, from the Folk Museum in Kolbuszowa as well as from historical residence museums including the Museum of King John III's Palace at Wilanów, the Castle Museum in Łańcut, the Castle Museum in Pszczyna and the Museum in Przeworsk. With such an impressive list of contributing institutions, there can be no doubt as to the quality and scope of the exhibition we have prepared.