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Information Text: Krakow - Renaissance - Patrons

For Kraków, the times of Renaissance were undoubtedly the times of its enormous and, most of all, comprehensive development closely influenced by the national, religious and cultural character of its inhabitants. If we want to talk about the culture of Renaissance Kraków, we need to take a closer look not only at its “authors”, i.e. patrons, but also at artists and their architectural works, literature, music, painting and sculpture. Only through the prism of the above mentioned variety, can the richness of the Renaissance city constituting the seat of the royal court and the monarch capital be fully appreciated and understood.

We owe to Prince Zygmunt I, the later king of Poland, the transplanting and disseminating of the ideas of the Italian Renaissance in Poland. In 1502, he commissioned Franciszek Florentczyk, an outstanding Italian architect, to leave Buda and come to Kraków. Zygmunt I and his second wife, Bona Sforza, soon became the most prominent patrons of Renaissance artists. Such magnificent works as the Zygmunt Chapel, the rebuilding of Wawel and restoring of Sukiennice (the Cloth Hall) resulted from their initiative. Soon, others followed their example.

Among the imitators and supporters of new ideas, there were numerous Catholic Church dignitaries such as:

- Piotr Tomicki – a famous collector and bibliophile. His art collection included embroidery works, fabrics, carpets and Eastern belts. His book covers were exquisite examples of the Renaissance art. Moreover, the Bishop had his own agent in Rome, Stanisław from Rzeczyca, organizing and supervising his commissions of artistic church vestments.

- Samuel Maciejowski – scientific and literary discourses carried out at his Prądnik Court were recorded by Łukasz Górnicki in his work entitled “Polish Courtier” (“Dworzanin polski”).

The chancellor, Krzysztof Szydłowiecki, and the Tęczyński family were among the most distinctive secular patrons in Kraków.

Moreover, the German part of the Kraków patriciate played an important role in supporting Renaissance ideals:

- Jan Boner commissioned Jan Kulmbach from Nuremberg to adorn the Holy Spirit Chapel in the St. Mary’s Basilica in Kraków with his paintings.

- Seweryn Boner, the administrative supervisor of the construction works on Wawel Castle made contracts with artists. Like his relative, Jan Boner, he maintained close and regular contacts with Nuremberg, from where he imported art objects for the Zygmunt Chapel, as well as ordered his bronze tombstones.

- Justus Ludwik Decjusz from Alsatia (Jan Boner’s bookkeeper, and then Roman count and the King’s secretary,) employed an Italian to build a Renaissance villa. In this way, works of art arrived for good not only at the palaces of the nobility, but also at the burgher residences.


A patron of the art/maecenate (patronage)  - one that supports and protects someone or something, a sponsor or benefactor. The term comes from Gaius Maecenas, an important patron for artists in ancient Rome.