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Aurora

Jan Reisnercirca 1684

The Wilanów Palace Museum
The Wilanów Palace Museum

Jan Reisner's 'Aurora' adorns the ceiling of the Mirrors Cabinet at the Wilanów Palace. Painted in ca. 1684, it constitutes one of the most valuable and captivating pieces of the original decoration of the Palace dating from the times of Jan III Sobieski. Reisner's work is a typical Baroque crypto-portrait – Aurora, the goddess of dawn, borrows features from queen Marie Casimire Sobieska (née d'Arquien), while the three cherubs portray her sons: Jakub, Aleksander, and Konstanty. The eldest, Jakub, handles a vase, pouring water (the morning dew); Aleksander carries a basket filled with flowers, which Aurora throws onto the earth; the youngest, Konstanty, holds a torch, symbolising the radiance of the new-born day.
The painting is an allegory of the policy of the court. Marie Casimire's Aurora shines on the kingdom and its subjects and augurs the advent of sunlight, brought forth by the god Apollo (an allegory of king Jan III). At the same time, as queen-mother, she nurtures the Sobieski dynasty, in hope that it would retain the Polish throne in the future. The author of this exquisite work of art, Jan Reisner, was one of the most renowned artists employed for decorating the king's residence at Wilanów. Thanks to financial support from king Jan III, he was able to attend the Accademia di San Luca in Rome. He also possessed keen knowledge of French art. His paintings – representative of classical leanings of Baroque – are characteristically elegant, exquisitely and plainly coloured, faultlessly drawn, and immaculately composed.

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Details

  • Title: Aurora
  • Creator: Jan Reisner
  • Date: circa 1684
  • Location: The Wilanów Palace Museum

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