Ikonografia antykizujących wizerunków władców w pierwszym wydaniu Kroniki wszytkiego Świata Marcina Bielskiego (1551)
ICONOGRAPHY OF THE RULER'S IMAGES IN THE FIRST EDITION OF KRONIKA WSZYSTKIEGO SWIATA OF MARCIN BIELSKI (1551)
In the typographical resources of the first edition of Marcin Bielski's (1495-1575) Kronika wszystkiego swiata ('Chronicle of the whole world'), which appeared in 1551 in Krakow in the printing house of Helena Unglerowa, we find rulers' images in woodcuts in the all'antica style. This group is dominated by the profiled representations extracted - in the spirit of the Italian Renaissance woodcut - from a black background and incorporated into medallions surrounded by decorative wreaths. The placing in Bielski's 'Chronicle' of images of rulers, related to Roman monetary prototypes, made on the basis of Strasbourg woodcuts from the Craton Mylius publishing house, may be regarded as one of the first accurate uses of the ancient style for the portraits of Roman emperors in the history of the fine arts in Poland. The medium through which ideas inspired by the ancient portraits of the emperors came to Bielski's work, is De Caesaribus atque Imperatoribus Romanis opus insigne published by Johannes Cuspinianus in 1540 in Strasbourg by the publishing house of Craton Mylius. The graphic content of De Caesaribus, enriched by several new images, was taken from the Chronicum abbatis Urspergensis by Konrad of Lichtenau, published in the same publishing house three years earlier. The iconographic elements of this edition were indirectly derived from the Illustrium imagines by Andrea Fulvio, published in 1517 in Rome. This work contained images in medallions from which the printer Wolfgang Köpfel in Strasbourg later drew heavily, using the arrangement and workmanship of images of the Roman emperors and their family members. Subsequent illustrated editions of the emperors' biographies by Johannes Huttich (1525-1534). gained an enormous popularity. In Krakow's intellectual environment not only was the chronicle of Konrad of Lichtenau, published by Mylius, known, but also graphic patterns popularised by Fulvia and Huttich, a perfect example of which is the frieze with busts of Roman emperors, empresses and princesses in medallions, which decorates the galleries of the castle on Wawel and which bestow the decorations with a specific ideological meaning. Antique coins, imported from Italy, had the same effect, as did those that in ancient times were in abundance at Barbaricum sites, including the Polish lands, and were discovered for example in Galicia, but especially in the vicinity of Krakow, creating a part of various private collections. One can assume that placing a recognized monetary iconography of antiquity in Bielski's work would have generated great interest in Krakow.
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