Art Gallery buliding

Edward A. Raczynski’s Rogalin Gallery

The idea of creating a publicly accessible gallery appealed to Edward A. Raczynski from the very beginning of his time as a collector, at the end of the 1870s. Orders  for the first architectural projects didn’t take place, however, until 1896, i.e. shortly after the completion of the renovated works he inherited from his Rogalin ancestors.

Two of the three versions of the design submitted by Poznan architect, Stanisław Borecki, envisaged adaptating part of the stables located in the palace courtyard as a painting gallery. The third version, however, suggested erecting a freestanding building with eclectic externals, resembling the architecture of a theatre and a museum of the time. None of these projects were completed, which probably indicates that their form, and perhaps their size,  did not meet the collector’s expectations, especially in view of the following year’s  purchase of the great "Virgin of Orleans" by Jan Matejko. In the end, the gallery building was erected in 1910, designed by another Poznan architect, Mieczyslaw Powidzki. However, unlike Borecki’s  first two proposals, the style of which reflected the architecture of the palace,  Powidzki’s gallery was shaped like a "temple of art" clothed in a modernistic costume. Thus, both the founder and the architect demonstrated their understanding of the latest conservation doctrine, breaking with the need to adapt to the existing historic architecture.

This made it possible to erect a building that was in complete harmony with the style of the Polish and European paintings from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century that it was to exhibit. This style of gallery created an exhibition space which provokes an emotional response from visitors without causing fatigue and is typical for large museums. As a result, the Rogalin gallery can be considered, according to Z. Żygulski junior, as an artistic private museum, "which being an expression of the collector’s personal taste, and also a reflection of the taste of the era, is in itself a work of art and should be protected in its integrity. This integrity consists of both the material and the formal and, therefore, the appropriate buildings and interiors are filled harmoniously with well matched historical pieces" (emphasis by E. L.)

Author: Ewa Leszczyńska