Lifelong Learning Programme

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Artists - ArtWorks

Name of the Artist / Artwork:

Stanislaw Samostrzelnik

Country: Poland
Century: 1500 - The 16th Century
Art Period:

The Polish Renaissance - The Miniature Painting

Artist / Artwork Description:

The material gives the precise analysis of the factors influencing the artistic size of the epoch and its trends. It can be used as a compendium, and a scope of ideas casting a light on the current masterpieces’ priorities.

Synthetic Chronology:

Stanislaw Samostrzelnik was born in 1480 or close to that date, died in 1541 in Mogila close to Krakow. He was a Polish painter of the Renaissance time. He was painting miniatures and wall pictures. He belonged to the Cysters’ Monastery.

The Context:

That kind of painting had a practical usage. Its function was to decorate books, pontificals, various collections of liturgical forms. It was for a good taste of consumption, treated in a highly evidenced mannerism routine. It was to express the decorum of their characters, unified with their nobility and the temporary nature of their life. The decorum was to enliven the persons presented, to show them in their routine manners, often in companionship of personal splendor, harmony with their status, and the parallelism with the features expected by the audience.


That period In Poland was rather anonymous as regards the creators. It was the time to glorify characters and vividness of life itself. The decorum was often reflecting in the painting, e.g. young faces of women often were appearing as the ornaments- in the kind of the oil forms covered on a plate.
For Poland, it was really the time of erupting humanism in its full bloom. The persons started to participate in satisfaction from the secular World, to take pleasure from their routines, therefore the celebration of oneself, the earthly privileges and covering those exempla with enriched ornaments was consequently finding its reflection in the art, and besides in its didactics is to say.

National Comparative:

The common element in the Polish trends was the dominant function of secular point of view, without religious influence. The overtones were rather so to express characters’ privileges. The miniatures’ role was glorifying the noblemen, but also the appraisal of craftsmen’s companies and the categories of their professional branches.
Crucial it was that even bishops, e.g. Piotr Tomicki (the Bishop of Przemysl, Poznan and Cracow, the vice Chancellor of the Crown, the Royal Secretary, 1464-1535) on Samostrzelnik’s portrait (temper on wood) were expressed in a secular tone. Marcin Kober ( a painter of portraits, servicing for two Polish Kings- Stefan Batory and Zygmunt III Waza, he came to Poland from Magdeburg) presented the Polish King Stefan Batory in a whole dignified posture, reflecting his rich clothes, well measured, with smart and precise shapes and colours, displaying also the deep realism of his face.

Artistic Analysis:

A lack of linear perspective, a moderate climate aroused around presented characters. The persons were to express their self- consciousness, their influence on the surrounding aura, basing on their realism and secular privileges, which consequently was leading to the mannerism’s overtones.
The important function was that commemorating one, and more detailed ornaments which were to betray certain status’s inclinations towards the eternity.

Transnational Comparative Analysis:

The mannerism presented on the Polish paintings, as with Samostrzelnik’s formula was featured with a dose of the Netherlands Renaissance. The ornaments and inspiration for expressing the secular posture of characters had influences from the German graphics.

Development of the artist's work through the years:

Samostrzelnik was at first a painter in the Cysters’ Monastery, later he was a creator for the dignified persons- possessing the power, as the Castles’ Governors and finally even the Great Polish Crown Chancellor Krzysztof Szydłowiecki. Corresponding to Szydlowiecki’s order he made a richly ornamented masterpiece-Liber Genesos Familiae Shidlovice. He founded a workshop In Cracow, making also works ordered by the King’s Court in Cracow.
He also left precious polychromes in Mogila ( city in Poland ), and in the St. Frank’s Monastery. From his workshop, there also come illuminations entailed in the Catalogus archiepiscoporum Gnesnensium; Vitae episcoporum Cracoviensium by Jan Dlugosz (1415-1480)- the author of the most famous Chronicle of Poland.


Stanislaw Samostrzelnik identified his masterpieces with spirit of the epoch, being a person responsible for precise setting in the ornamental virtues of the noble men’s splendour. He was close to them, to the temperament of those time, and he dignified his characters at the whole scale of the effects.
Samostrzelnik also took care of other imaginary effects, e.g. by waving beautiful ornaments in his Bishop’s infule- pearls, ornamenting pontificals, prayer books, adamask flags, etc.


Authors: Janina Bieniarzówna,Jan Małecki ; titel : Dzieje Krakowa TOM 2, Kraków w wiekach XIV-XV, Wydawnictwo Literackie (1984)
Adam Bujak - Królewski Kraków, Album (1996)
Joanna Daranowska - Łukaszewska - Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce, Instytut Sztuki PAN 1995

Web Based Resources: ,

Related Material:

Image available

File name: 117_Chrystus_Frasobliwy_s.jpg

Description of the material:

The material gives the precise analysis of the factors influencing the artistic size of the epoch and its trends. It can be used as a compendium, and a scope of ideas casting a light on the current masterpieces’ priorities.

Contextualisation Of the source:

The context which appears is the function of the miniature painting, its often didactic role, its participation in building up the Polish historic harmony with the privileges’ ornaments and its public perceptibility.

Interpretation of the source:

The source is to develop the imagination of the epoch in which the status of clergymen started to be balanced up with the secular orientation and connotations typical of mannerism and personal pathos woven in the significant ornaments.

File name: 117_samostrzelnik-portret.jpg

Description of the material:

The source is dedicated to the essence of understanding the portrait's art and its high quality careful performance by the artist: the realism, decorations, mannerism, noble aura, effigy, added elements, balance, occasional context, displaying the pathetic simbols, social range's attributes, etc.

Contextualisation Of the source:

The context is to direct one's attention to the specifity of the artistic orientation of the author and its further regular implementation, careful modelling the focus of the artist's compositions, the development of the motifs transparent with the epoch's established requirements and tendencies.

Interpretation of the source:

The portrait's idea is developed into the question of careful elaboration, social aspirations, and the cultural tendency expressing itself in speaking aloud, manifesting connections and environments, or honouring oneself, showing off one's access to certain privileges

Comments about this Artist/ArtWork

Michelangelo - Copyright 2008 - This project has been funded with support from the European Commission

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