LEON RZEWUSKI, THE CURATOR OF THE PODHORCE COLLECION (Leon Rzewuski kustosz kolekcji w Podhorcach)
The palace in Podhorce, located east of Lviv on a route between Zloczow and Brody, is among the most splendid magnate residences from the seventeenth-eighteenth century. In the years 1725-1864, the most interesting period in its history, the monument belonged to the Rzewuski family. Already during the nineteenth century, Podhorce became known for its original Baroque interiors and an impressive collection of paintings and militaria assembled in the previous century by Hetman Waclaw Rzewuski. The locality was celebrated as a repository of national culture, a rank it enjoyed up to the first half of the twentieth century when, as a result of wars, the collections became dispersed and the interiors were destroyed by a fire. Leon Rzewuski (1808-1869), the last representative of the family in Podhorce and the grandson of Waclaw, was a soldier, an enthusiast of historical souvenirs, and a political man of letters propagating socialism. His main contribution consisted in saving the property from progressing devastation. Aware of the historical and artistic value of the palace, he undertook the challenging and expensive task of restoring its former splendour. Leon arrived in Podhorce following the failure of the November Uprising. Having found the palace neglected and plundered by dishonest administrators, he decided to salvage the heritage of his ancestors and embarked upon general renovation. He also began arranging the impressive family archive and library. Leon Rzewuski bought back the looted heirlooms and subjected damaged art works to conservation. The greatest effort was devoted to rescuing the collection of his great-grandfather. The Podhorce art and historical collection encompassed several hundred paintings: portraits of family members, distant relatives or important figures, religious or genre scenes. It also included numerous souvenirs connected with historical figures or events. The equally impressive family armoury featured countless war trophies: hussar armour, sets of horse tacks, Swedish and Tartar banners, lances, Turkish tents from the siege of Vienna, and many others. With such extensive collections at his disposal, Leon Rzewuski created new exhibitions in the palace halls and restored the old ones, careful to recreate the original order obliterated in the course of years. Opening the halls and chambers to the public served the purpose of evoking the memorable past of the country and manifesting the power and grandeur of the Rzewuski house. In 1864 Leon Rzewuski sold Podhorce to Wladyslaw Sanguszko, first ensuring a declaration that the estate revenue would be used for maintaining the palace in a suitable state. For decades, the Sanguszko family continued the work of the last Rzewuski.
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