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The Things of Warsaw / Room of Postcards

Pocztówka z pałacem Staszica, AI 4928 [1]

Postcard with the Staszic Palace

The postcard with a night view of the Staszic Palace was printed at the turn of 1905. The publisher from London depicted the Palace in a way that differed from its real appearance at the time. Raised in the 1820s in the classicist style upon the initiative of Stanisław Staszic (1755–1826), social and political activist, one of the leading figures of Polish Enlightenment, according to design by Antonio Corazzi (1792–1877), and intended as home of the Royal Society of the Friends of Science, the edifice was transformed towards the end of the 19th century in a Byzantine-Russian style, characteristic of the Russian partitioning power. It became home to the Male Gymnasium and Saint Tatiana of Rome Orthodox Church. The classicist facades were restored only in the years 1924–1926, after Poland regained independence in 1918, and the Palace became a seat of various cultural and scholarly institutions.

The postcard is distinguished also by its theme and technique. A night view of Warsaw was a rarity during that period. Insofar as many publishers experimented with different techniques, the final results were not always successful. In the case of this series, little holes were cut in appropriate places in the paperboard with the view and yellow paper was laid underneath to produce the effect of glowing windows, streetlamps and the moon.

This series of postcards with night views of the city was chosen by a woman from Warsaw for mail correspondence with her ailing daughter. Over the period between mid-February and April 1905, she sent eighteen postcards to “Beloved Lila,” resident of a manor house in Jeżewice near Tarczyn. As we read her letters brimming with tension, concern and tenderness, we follow Alicja’s recovery as well as discover a list of products and sweets shipped by her caring mum. The card of 5 March (AI 4926) reads: “Friday / My beloved Lila, today is the first day / without a card, but I want to believe / it is all right. I’m sending you some / caviar, 2 fresh hazel grouses, / some chocolates and crescents, because / the stock is likely empty. / … /. Warm embraces / from / Mum.”

One hundred years have passed since those days. The manor house in Jeżewice experienced other dramatic moments – it does still exist albeit in ruins, whereas the postcards were likely purchased for the Museum from Alicja’s son at the beginning of the 1980s. The Museum’s holdings comprise a total of twenty-two cards released by the publishing house S. Ros London, of which two are replicated, therefore the collection comprises twenty night vistas of the city in a single series. More than a dozen of them are displayed in the exhibition, including four reverses with letters to Jeżewice.

Postcard with the Staszic Palace
AI 4928
9 × 13,7 CM

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