Pałac „jakoż nigdzie w Polsce nie masz”. Saskie inspiracje w architekturze warszawskiej rezydencji marszałka wielkiego koronnego Józefa Wandalina Mniszcha
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The raising of the residence of Józef Wandalin Mniszech (1670-1747) in Senatorska Street was one of the major constructing projects in Warsaw in the 1720s. The office of the Grand Marshal of the Crown held by Mniszech, the palace’s owner, stipulated the necessity to create ceremonial space. The genesis and importance of extremely novel architectural forms of the facility, including e.g. mansard roof, become justifiable once the political impact of the palace’s owner and his broad intellectual horizons, the alterations of royal residences undertaken in the period, as well as a wider European context, are taken into account. What emerges as the main reference point is the architecture of Saxony. Interestingly, craftsmen working simultaneously for Augustus II and his projects, were employed to work on the Marshal’s residence. The analysis of the preserved archival records allows to unequivocally affiliate the construction with General Burkhard Christoph von Münnich, who being a hydraulic engineer and architekt militaris served at the court of Augustus II. Let us remind that the Count won fame as the builder of the Peter and Paul Fortress where in 1734 he continued its construction after the death of Domenico Trezzini. Contrary to the generally ascertained view, Münnich did not leave Warsaw for good in 1721. On 25 April and 16 May 1735, he hosted dinners in Warsaw; the latter was held to celebrate the coronation of Empress Anna. The architect may have met with Mniszech in Saxony where the Grand Marshal travelled regularly. The main part of the project had been implemented by 1718, however the finishing off works still continued in the latter half of the 1720s. The Mniszech Residence was highly appreciated by the contemporary and ranked among the most sumptuous magnate residences; it was painted in the panoramas by F. C. Hübner and F. C. Schmidt respectively, and following the reroofing conducted by Józef’s son Jerzy August Mniszech, it was immortalized in the famous painting by Canaletto. Letters from 1717-18 addressed to Mniszech by Sebastian Rybczyñski heading the construction works illustrate the complicated process delaying the completion of the project, such as, e.g.: difficulties with obtaining lime due to low water level and shortage of bricks purchased by other Warsaw‘factories. Assuming the function of the Grand Marshal of the Crown was possible only by the wealthiest magnates: representation expenses were high. One of these was the ample sum to be paid for the palace in Senatorska Street. The Germans employed to do the construction works expected much higher payment than Polish craftsmen; not only did they demand fees higher than those paid by senators for whom residences were at the time raised in Warsaw, but also those paid for royal projects. The most novel solution applied in the Mniszech Palace in Senatorska Street was the introduction of the mansard roof testifying to Münnich’s designing talents and the owner’s aspirations. What is worth emphasizing is the awareness of the fact that the structure was precursory. Rybczyñski often reported in his letters that a foreign fashion was visible in the facility, while the construction was conducted following the Saxon mode. The roof may have been the first instance of such a structure in Poland’s capital, preceding the roofs on the Blue Palace across the street, the Bieliñski residence, as well as on the Brühl and Primate’s Palaces. The character of the mass and spatial composition of the residence of Józef Wandalin Mniszech confirm the role Saxony and stonemasons coming from there played in the development of art in Warsaw under the House of Wettin, being justified in the sphere of politics and cultural interests of the magnates. Thanks to novel structural solutions the Palace became an essential example of the reception of Dresden architecture in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
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