The Portrait Gallery in Bad Warmbrunn

Published on: 13 / 12 / 2009

Authors of this entry:
  • Magdalena Palica

In 1784 Johann Nepomuk von Schaffgotsch commissioned the construction of the new family residence in Bad Warmbrunn (today's Cieplice). Four years later the building was finished and it was possible to start decorating its interiors. This impressive, three-story palace with three wings and spacious rooms, allowed the Schaffgotsch family to properly arrange a portrait gallery – an essential element of a nobleman's residence.

In 1943 there were at least 180 portraits in the palace in Bad Warmbrunn, which made the portrait gallery one of the biggest in Silesia. It contained not only portraits of the members of Schaffgotsch family, their kin and in-laws. Its crucial element were also pictures of monarchs from the Habsburg and Hohenzollern dynasties and other crowned heads of Europe, as well as members of the Silesian branch of Piast dynasty, the relation to which was often highlighted by the Schaffgotsch family.

The gallery in Bad Warmbrunn was a result of centuries-old tradition of collecting portraits. Its visible sign is a bas-relief from the beginning of the 16th century (today in the National Museum in Wrocław) coming from castle Kynast (today's Chojnik). Most probably it depicts one of the members of the Piast dynasty and it was supposed to emphasize its relation with the Schaffgotsch family.

Another 16th century work of art adding splendour to the gallery in Bad Warmbrunn was a group portrait of the Schaffgotsch family depicting Caspar von Schaffgotsch (who died in 1574), his wife Sabina von Tader, their sons, daughters and grandchildren (also in the National Museum in Wroclaw). The painting was secondarily adapted to exhibition purposes by marking the names of the depicted people below each person to allow their identification.

Little information concerning the history of the collection is available at present. It is known that most of the paintings were added to the collection in the 18th century. Among them there were two paintings by Anton Graff, depicting Johann Nepomuk Gotthard (today in the National Museum in Warsaw). The decoration works gave an impulse for enlarging the gallery. Anton Petz, participating in the decoration, painted a series of pastel portraits of members of the Schaffgotsch family. In 1800 king Friedrich Wilhelm III and queen Louise visiting the palace presented their portraits to the family. The gallery was successively supplemented with paintings until WW2. One of the newest works were the portrait of Friedrich Schaffgotsch in the hunting dress, dated 1929, and the portrait of his wife made two years later.

The inventory list from 1943, which has been the primary source for theoretical reconstruction of the gallery, is divided by rooms, what allows to reconstruct the layout of the paintings in respective rooms at that time. The longest exhibition row was the corridor of the first floor, where over fifty paintings were displayed (including paintings in both halls). The thematic dominant of the gallery was the eastern hall with portraits of the Piast dynasty. There were six en pied depictions of: Bolko I of Świdnica and Jawor, his three sons: Bernard of Świdnica, Henry I of Jawor, and Bolko II of Ziębice, as well as Bernard’s son, Bolko II the Small and his wife Agnieszka Habsburg. According to the inventory from 1943 over 80 from over 180 portraits displayed in Bad Warmbrunn depicted members of the Schaffgotsch family, beginning with one of the progenitors of the dynasty, Gocz II Schaff. His imaginary portrait was undoubtedly painted especially for the ancestors’ gallery and it was supposed to stress the importance of the genealogical lineage. The most distinguished members of the family were honoured with numerous portraits, e.g. Hans Ulrich, besides his famous portrait ad vivum, was also portrayed in the 19th century. A dozen or so paintings depicted the members of families distantly related with the Schaffgotsches (Maubeuge, Hatzfeld, Oppersdorf). About twenty portraits presented European crowned heads. Within this group two dynasties dominated: the Habsburgs and the Piasts. When Prussia had annexed Silesia the portraits of members of Hohenzollern dynasty: Friedrich II, Friedrich Wilhelm II, Friedrich Wilhelm III and queen Louise were added to the gallery.

Few names of artists who made portraits for the gallery in Bad Warmbrunn are known. A couple of canvases are signed. Two portraits of Johann Nepomuk Schaffgotsch were made by the famous Anton Graff, whose paintings decorated many Silesian residences. Other names appearing on the portraits are usually of Silesian painters of which not much is known in most cases(e.g. Georg Ledern from Greiffenberg, Daniel Drescher from Breslau, Daniel Darschmack from Prague, Johannes Kliemann and Johann David Grüson).

The portraits from the Schaffgotsch gallery were lent for exhibitions. In 1885 portraits of emperor Charles VI, Maria Theresia and king Gustav Adolf were sent to the exhibition of craft and industry in Görlitz alongside a big collection of arms. In 1942 Schlesisches Museum der bildende Künste organised the exhibition “Friedrich der Grosse – Maria Theresia und ihr Kreis in Bildnissen der Zeit”. Two paintings from the Schaffgotsch collection were displayed there: portraits of Johann Nepomuk by Anton Graff. The paintings from the collection were restored in the museum in Breslau and its employees, e.g. its last director Müller-Hofstede helped in identifying people depicted in them. During the stock taking of the collection in 1943 it was planned to carry out research to identify the persons in unknown portraits after the end of the war. Under the descriptions of a few paintings one can read: “Die genaue Feststellung kann erst nach Kriegsende versucht werden” ("Exact identification can only be attempted after the war"). It never happened, as two years later the collection was dispersed. The biggest group of paintings from the late collection is stored today in the National Museum in Wrocław. It consists of a dozen or so paintings that were acquired by the Museum in various ways (donated by The Ossolińskis National Institute, from the collecting point in Kozłowka by Lublin, bought from private owners). In 1961 two paintings were bought by the National Museum in Warsaw from a private owner in Cracow. Seventeen paintings (previously stored in the props department of Lodz Film Factory) were moved to the Museum of Art in Lodz in 1973. The fate of the other over 120 paintings remains unknown.

The text contains fragments of the article: Magdalena Palica, Die Portraitgalerie im Warmbrunner Palais Schaffgotsch, in: Materials of the conference "Das Haus Schaffgotsch – Konfession, Politik und Gedächtnis eines schlesischen Adelsgeschlechts vom Mittelalter bis zur Moderne“ (in print)

Project co-financed by Ministry of Labour and Social Policy under Government Project – Civic Benefit Fund.
All information published under license: Creative Commons