TWO RICH NOBLEMEN FROM GREAT POLAND IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE 18TH C. IN THE LIGHT OF INVENTORIES AND DIARIES (Dwoch przedstawicieli zamoznej szlachty wielkopolskiej z drugiej polowy XVIII wieku w swietle inwentarzy i relacji pamietnikarskiej (Leon R
In the 18th c. drawing up inventories of movables became very popular among Polish nobility. There are two very interesting and extensive sources of that type from Great Poland, concerning Leon Raczynski, castellan of Santok (1698-1755) and his son-in-law Józef Radolinski (d. 1782). The inventories show what objects were most valued by the owners, not only in the material but also in the mental dimension. The inventories are supplemented in a very interesting manner with a diary written in French by Wirydianna Fiszerowa née Radolinska, daughter of Józef Radolinski. Confronting the perspective of the two types of sources gives the resulting picture more clarity. A detailed analysis of the inventories and the diary reveals personalities whose lifestyle was rather exceptional in provincial Great Poland. Information about Leon Raczynski confirms the tendency to accept Western fashion, characteristic of the epoch. As is indicated by the diary, Raczynski was primarily fascinated with German culture (books, clothing), which was not easily understood by many of his contemporaries. His extensive library, with half of the volumes being German and French books, as well as china and faience are evidence of Western culture and Enlightenment influences in Great Poland. It was fashionable to drink coffee, tea, and as is evident from Józef Radolinski's inventory, also chocolate. Even more importantly, the diary allows us to reconstruct the personalities of the two noblemen. Leon Raczynski is presented as an impressive individual with a strong character. Józef Radolinski, despite his high social status evidenced by the inventory, features in his daughter's relation as a weak man addicted to gambling, unfit for a political career, although affluent and well-educated. Thus, by combining the two excellent sources it is easier to discover and describe the lifestyle and mentality characteristic of the noblemen of that epoch, as well as the symbolism of artifacts that they valued.
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