The Royal Łazienki Museum is celebrating Rembrandt Year 2019 by holding an exhibition at the Łazienki Palace—King Stanisław August’s summer residence—of Rembrandt’s masterpiece Landscape with the Good Samaritan from the Princes Czartoryski Museum in Kraków.
In this splendid landscape, painted in 1638, Rembrandt has masterfully included a scene from one of the parables set in an unusually expressive and dramatic vision of nature. The passing storm and the sun’s rays shining through the dark clouds evoke a mood which parallels the drama of the events taking place in the human world. Landscape with the Good Samaritan (c.1638) from the Princes Czartoryski collection, is one of only three undisputed works by the master still in Polish collections today. The other two—Girl in a Picture Frame and Scholar at his Writing Table (both painted in 1641), coming from Stanisław August’s gallery at the Łazienki Palace, today are the property of the Royal Castle in Warsaw.
The name of their renowned painter is not the only common feature connecting these three works of art; they were brought to Poland at almost the same time—within three years of each other—as the fruits of labour of ardent collectors, who came from the same circle of Enlightened art lovers.
Landscape with the Good Samaritan was brought to Poland in 1774 by Jean-Pierre Norblin de la Gourdaine, a French artist and draughtsman, who was himself a collector at that time, or so it would seem. He had purchased the painting in Paris, just in advance of his departure for Poland, where he worked for the next thirty years of his life as court artist to Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski—uncle to King Stanisław August—and his wife Izabela née Flemming. The collection built up in Puławy from c. 1800 by Izabela Czartoryska in the Temple of the Sibyl and the Gothic House laid the foundations for the future Czartoryski Museum in Kraków. Norblin also moved in royal circles and received commissions from Stanisław August and other representatives of the Polish aristocracy. Norblin was fascinated by Rembrandt’s work, which can be proved by the fact that many examples of his own oeuvre, in particular engravings, were maintained in the spirit of the Dutchman’s work. The painting remained the property of Norblin until he left Poland in 1804; it is most likely that he kept it in his workshop in the Old Town in Warsaw and that it was a source of inspiration for both the artist and his pupils. Stanisław August—also a great admirer of Rembrandt’s work—in whose residence at the Łazienki Landscape with the Good Samaritan is being exhibited in April 2019, undoubtedly knew the painting well since we know the king used to visit Norblin in his workshop in Warsaw.
A brochure is being published to accompany the exhibition (in Polish and English) with texts by curators Dorota Dec (Czartoryski Museum) and Dorota Juszczak (Royal Łazienki Museum), members of CODART:
D. Dec, Rembrandt’s Landscape with the Good Samaritan
D. Juszczak, Rembrandts at the Łazienki
The exhibition will be accompanied by a broad educational programme and a series of three expert lectures (in Polish):
- Thursday, 4 April 2019, 6 p.m. – The Rt. Revd. Prof. Michał Janocha, ‘Rembrandt’s Landscape with the Good Samaritan. Iconography and theology’
- Thursday, 11 April 2019, 6 p.m. – Dorota Dec (National Museum in Kraków), ‘Rembrandt’s landscape from the collection of the Princes Czartoryski – its history and an attempt at an interpretation’
- Tuesday, 16 April 2019, 6 p.m. – Prof. Antoni Ziemba (National Museum in Warsaw), ‘Rembrandt’s landscapes: the psychologization of nature, workshop studies or goods for sale?’
For more information see www.lazienki-krolewskie.pl/en