Gray Sundays in Warsaw: Medievalpalooza at the National Museum

Photo from Wikipedia.
Photo from Wikipedia.

We’re settling into a routine here, of yummy Sunday lunches (pumpkin soup! poppy seed torte!) followed by a museum visit. Survival skills for northern climes, what can I say.

The National Museum in Warsaw doesn’t look like much from the outside. Completed in 1938, the building is your basic between-the-wars-box. But such cool stuff on the inside! Even after methodical looting by the Nazis. The current collection includes recovered items as well as items declared as “abandoned” by the Soviets. I’m not going there. I’m a tourist, it’s my job to enjoy!

How weird is it that I love both medieval Christian and Socialist Realist art? Not that weird, really. Both genres are basically graphic novels, meant to tell a story. We were going to start at the top of the museum and work down, but my husband knew, as soon as I got a glimpse of the medieval gallery, that’s all she wrote. I can’t get enough of the stuff.

Medieval Christian art is totally over the top. It runs the gamut from gorgeous to gruesome, often simultaneously. It’s not at all subtle, but it is complicated. I had a couple of art history classes back when dinosaurs roamed the earth that give me some understanding of the symbolism involved. I’d like to know more. Winter project?

Isn't she beautiful?
Mary holds the church in her hand. Isn’t she beautiful?
A heavenly chorus.
A heavenly chorus.
Elaborate carved wooden altarpiece.
Elaborate carved wooden altarpiece. I believe this is one of the many items in the collection that were salvaged from churches in Wroclaw.
A whole procession! OK, looks a bit like the Walking Dead, but how cool is this?
A whole procession! OK, looks a bit like the Walking Dead, but how cool is this?
Pretty angels.
Lovely angels.
Various nasty things being done to a saint.
Various nasty things being done to a saint.
Satin Stanislaus in bits and pieces thanks to King Boleslaw the Bold of Hungary.
Satin Stanislaus in bits and pieces thanks to King Boleslaw the Bold of Hungary.
Swords are cool.
Swords are cool, yep.
Center panel of an amazingly detailed triptych.
Center panel of an amazingly detailed triptych.
Christ carrying the cross.
Christ carrying the cross. So much going on here, even in the composition.
Laying Christ to rest.
Laying Christ to rest. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect those are the patrons of the altarpiece in the background, being “present” at the scene.
This beautiful little angel is only about ten inches tall.
This beautiful little angel is only about ten inches tall.
Saint Agatha, I think. Good grief.
Saint Agatha, I think. Good grief.
Mary Magdalene as a pagan "wild woman?" Not sure, but this is actually a thing. Google it.
Mary Magdalene as a pagan “wild woman?” Not sure, but this is actually a thing. Google it.
Wrapping up on a light note: isn't she sweet?
Wrapping up on a light note: isn’t she sweet?
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s