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Emblematyczna dekoracja fasad kolegium jezuitów w Toruniu (1701). Antyprotestancki program według "Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesu" (1640)

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Emblematic decoration of facades of the Jesuit College in Toruń (1701). Anti-Protestant programme by "Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesu" (1640)
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The article presents the emblematic decoration of the facades of the Jesuit college in Toruń (1701), which is known exclusively from iconographic sources (drawings by George Friedrich Steiner, 1744). The author of 24 emblems painted in cartouche al fresco was the Jesuit Jakub Willant (1658–1703). The decoration was made at the end of the construction of a new building (1699–1702), founded by the bishop of Kuyavia (later the bishop of Cracovia) Stanisław Dąmbski. Almost all emblems (22) directly came from the work commemorating one hundred years of the Flandro-Belgian province of Jesuits "Imago primi saeculi Societatis Iesu a provincial Flandro-Belgica eiusdem Societatis repraesentata" (Antwerp, Officina Plantiniana of Balthasar Moretus, 1640, drawings attributed to Cornelis Galle the Elder), connected with Jan Bolland and Jan de Tollenaer. The book was used by Jesuits (also in Poland) as a pattern and manual of emblem studies. The anonymous creator of the programme of the Toruń decoration took over from it the idea of commemorating one hundred years of the foundation (1593), as well as up-dated compositions enabling to present the specific character of the mission in Protestant Toruń. The emblems showed the fight with enemies of the Order and the future glory of the persecuted. They manifested how groundless and ineffective the Protestant attacks towards the College were, representing the vision of the “bulwark of religion” defended by Jesuit priests, military chaplains and teachers. Willant’s work demonstrated the denominational situation in Toruń predicting more conflicts in the future. The emblem decoration from Toruń did not have any equivalents in artistic realizations in Europe of that time as far as composition (the way of distributing cartouches on the building’s facades) and the bluntness of the propaganda were concerned. The emblem programme inspired by the Antwerp collection, and perhaps also by Toruń’s Protestant decorations (the Town Hall, Academic Gymnasium), constituted a creative association with the tradition of Jesuit emblems (comp. affixiones) and occasional art with its rhetorical rules and local specific character.
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  • Instytut Badań Literackich, Polska Akademia Nauk
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