From the English-language catalogue of the Amsterdam exhibition
Tilman van Gameren, one of the foremost Polish architects of the 17th century, was born in Utrecht in 1632. In 1661 he was working in Venice, reportedly as a painter of battle scenes. In that year he was invited to come to Poland by Prince Jerzy Sebastian Lubomirski. He spent the rest of his life in the service of the Lubomirskis, one of the most important of Polish magnate families, whose economic power and political influence allowed them on occasion to act in complete disregard of the weakened elective Crown. Van Gameren’s first designs in civil architecture are dated to the end of the 1660s, although he seems to have been primarily concerned with military architecture at the time.
During the 40 years he lived in Poland, van Gameren designed several dozen architectural works. In principle, he prepared projects to be executed by other architects. Prior to 1939, over 1,000 folio drwaings by him were preserved in the Drawings Department of the University of Warsaw Library. About 200 were lost in the war. The numerous sketches he made for each work document the progress of his projects from the initial idea to the design ultimately intended for execution.
An increasing number of commissions and a growing clientele assured van Gameren of a handsome income. His high social status was confirmed by a decree issued by the Seym (a parliament of the nobility) in 1685, formally acknowledging him as a Polish nobleman. By the time of his death in 1706, during the Northern War, van Gameren was a wealthy and distinguished architect.
K.A. Ottenheym, E.J.H.P. Goossens and Yvette Rosenberg, Tilman van Gameren 1632-1706: a Dutch architect to the Polish court, Amsterdam (Amsterdam Royal Palace Foundation) 2002. 144 pages.
Royal Palace, Amsterdam (summer of 2002).