When people look through the history of European art, there is a variety of works from multiple countries. But has anyone ever heard/seen of art coming from Poland? Many haven’t. There are almost no devoted sections in textbooks representing the artwork(s) from Poland. Why is that? Personally, I think it’s because Poland, a very patriotic and Catholic country, is more invested in doing there own thing. In the midst of radical and revolutionary changes in art and art styles, Poland didn’t really worry about fitting in with a style but rather they created what they wanted. However, I could be wrong. It is possible that many artists contributed to the art movements and have not gained recognition.
Today, I want to bring attention to one of the most prized and valued artworks in Poland. This is the Our Lady of Częstochowa (Matka Boska Częstochowska), which currently resides in Jasna Góra Monastery in Częstochowa, Poland. This extravagant icon painting, to many Polish families, is the symbol of Poland (along with the Polish flag). Our Lady can be compared to the same cultural representation of Poland as the Statue of Liberty is to America.
Even so, there are some differences to the Statue of Liberty and Our Lady of Częstochowa. For one, almost everyone in Poland owns a copy of Our Lady. While most Americans don’t own a copy of the Statue of Liberty, though some do. Nonetheless, they’re both symbolic of their countries. The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of America’s freedom and liberty. Our Lady of Częstochowa is a symbol of Mary being Poland’s Mother, Queen, and Protector.
Two Fun Facts:
In 1655, there was a Siege of Częstochowa were 12,000 Swedish Protestant invaders tried to take over Poland, which included the Jasna Gora monastery. The Swedes took most of Poland, however, they were unable to get to the monastery. Father Augustine Kordecki took 300 men and 40 monks and went into action. They were constantly praying and fighting and they were able to protect the monastery and win back Poland.
Additionally, legend says that the two scars on Our Lady of Częstochowa’s face came from a group of Hussites, a pre-protestant christian movement, that tried to hurt the icon. In 1430, a group of Hussites under the leadership of John Hus, stole the image. As they tried to escape, their horses stopped and refused to move. Next, the men on the wagon took the image and threw it on the ground, crushing the image into three pieces. Another man took out his sword and created two deep cuts on Our Lady’s face. Attempting to slash it once more, he went into a painful seizure and died. There have been multiple attempts to repair the scars, but even when they were covered they magically reappeared again.
If anyone’s interested in more historical background on Our Lady of Częstochowa, click here and here.
I hope you guys enjoyed this!