Plaquette with a profile of Adam Mickiewicz (1798–1855)
The image of Adam Mickiewicz, a poet, principal figure of Polish Romanticism, considered “national bard”, became a frequent motif in medallic art while the poet was still alive. The occasions included the anniversaries of his birthday, and later death, and notably bringing back of the bard’s remains on 4 July 1890 from the Montmorency cemetery near Paris to the Wawel Castle, and the 100th anniversary of his birthday.
Some portraits were modelled on a medallion from 1829 by French sculptor David d’Angers (1788–1856). Others referred to the imposing medallion from 1887 by Leopold Steinmann (1848–1897), Polish artist working at the Imperial Mint in Saint Petersburg. Others followed the models of Mickiewicz’s statues, raised in 1898 in Kraków by Teodor Rygier (1841–1913), and in Warsaw by Cyprian Godebski (1835–1909).
A special feature among the poet’s medallic images in the holdings of the Museum is a plaquette designed by the long-term artistic director of the State Mint in Warsaw, sculptor Józef Aumiller (1892–1963). The artist’s oeuvre includes numerous portrait plaquettes with images of notable figures of politics, culture and science, created between 1925 and 1939 in forty thematic series. He also designed a number of miscellaneous portrait medals. The vast majority of his works, modelled on official portraits, are characterised by tranquil compositions, flat modelling and heavily underscored drawing.
Adam Mickiewicz’s profile demonstrates a different style. It was created under the impact of Aumiller’s short-lived interest in Fauvism and post-Cubist tendencies in art. The artist created an austere geometrical synthesis of a portrait. The work emanates calm and dignity, producing a powerful aesthetic impression.
A plaquette with the image of Mickiewicz is a rarity. The State Mint in Warsaw produced such plaquettes, as well as larger ones, which could be fixed on walls, memorial plaques and monuments, upon individual commission. This item was probably created in more than a dozen copies. In 1935, it cost 50 zlotys (the monthly wage of an official was c. 120 zlotys). Equally rare are the punched miniatures of the plaquette, which in the case of other images reached high circulations of as many as several hundred or, sporadically, even three thousand copies.