Polska Akademia Umieje̜tności <Krakau> / Komisja Historii Sztuki [Editor]; Polska Akademia Nauk <Warschau> / Oddział <Krakau> / Komisja Teorii i Historii Sztuki [Editor]
Folia Historiae Artium — NS:16.2018

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Folia Historiae Artium
Seria Nowa, t. 16: 2018/PL ISSN 0071-6723

MAŁGORZATA SMORĄG RÓŻYCKA
The Jagiellonian University, Art History Institute

‘SHE BEGGED THE CHILD:
LET ME EMBRACE THEE, LORD!’
A BYZANTINE ICON WITH THE VIRGIN ELEOUSA
IN THE POOR CLARES CONVENT IN CRACOW*

Byzantine icons are extremely rare in Poland. A twelfth-
century miniature mosaic icon with the Virgin Hagioso-
ritissa, that has been kept in the Poor Clares Convent in
Cracow since the times of the Blessed Salomea (d. 1268),
unquestionably has a pride of place among them.* 1 Since
fairly recently we have known of yet another icon held in
the same convent, that was discovered during the prepa-
rations for the exhibition Pax et Вопит. Skarby Klarysek
krakowskich [Pax et Bonum. The Treasures of the Cra-
cow Poor Clares], presented in the Arsenal of the Czarto-
ryski Museum in September and October 1999. During
the conservation treatment of a Virgin and Child panel,
which until then was believed to be a Gothic picture re-
painted in the seventeenth century, a singularly beauti-
ful icon of the Virgin Eleousa [Figs 1-2], which displayed
stylistic features of the Palaiologan-era painting, emerged
beneath a few layers of repainting.2 * *
* I wish to express my deepest gratitude to the Most Reverend
Mother Abbess Barbara Dragon for her gracious consent to put-
ting the icon under scholarly examination, for making availab-
le to me primary source and iconographie materials and for allo-
wing for their publication. I convey my heartfelt thanks to Sister
Elżbieta OSC for her constant help and unfaltering friendliness
during my work on the present paper.
1 A. Różycka-Bryzek, Matka Boska Hagiosoritissa’, in Pax et Bo-
num. Skarby Klarysek krakowskich, ed. by A. Włodarek, exh. cat.,
Cracow, 1999, pp. 42-46; eadem. Mozaikowa ikona Matki Boskiej
Hagiosoritissy w klasztorze ss. Klarysek w Krakowie’, in ‘Magistro
et Amico amici discipulique’. Lechowi Kalinowskiemu w osiem-
dziesięciolecie urodzin, ed. by J. Gadomski et al., Cracow, 2002,
pp. 405-426.
2 The results of my initial identification of the style and iconog-
raphy of this icon were presented at the scholarly conference

The picture of the Virgin and Child, recorded in the
Catalogue of Historic Monuments in Poland in 1971, had re-
mained outside the scope of scholarly interest until 1999,
when Wioletta Malska revealed its original Byzantine
paint layer.3 In the catalogue of the Pax et Вопит exhibi-
tion it was tentatively described as an Italian painting from
the second half of the fourteenth century and illustrated
with a photo taken before the conservation.4 At the same
time, following my initial and rather cursory first-hand
examination of the original, I concluded that this painting
was an icon of the Virgin Eleousa executed around 1300
in the Balkan milieu of Byzantine art.5 Fr Michal Jano-
cha, who was the first to publish a photograph of the icon
after conservation, attributed it to Italo-Byzantine school

‘Sztuka w kręgu krakowskich franciszkanów i klarysek’ [Art in
the Milieu of the Cracow Franciscans and Poor Clares], organised
by the Art History Institute of the jagiellonian University and the
Franciscan Friary in Cracow, held on 21-23 May 2015. The paper
awaits publication.
3 See W. Malska, Konserwacja obrazu sztalugowego na podobraziu
drewnianym - ‘Matka Boska z Dzieciątkiem z klasztoru S.S. Klary-
sek w Krakowie, diploma work carried out under the supervision
of Prof. M. Schuster-Gawlowska at the Faculty of Conservation
and Restoration of Works of Art, The Jan Matejko Academy of
Fine Arts in Cracow, 2000. All references to this work in the pre-
sent paper are based on a copy kept in the Poor Clares convent
in Cracow.
4 Pax et Вопит, p. 47 (as in note 1).
5 M. Smorąg Różycka, ‘Kościół wschodni i jego sztuka na zie-
miach Rzeczypospolitej’, in Cerkiew - wielka tajemnica. Sztuka
cerkiewna od XI wieku do 1917 ze zbiorów polskich, exh. cat. Mu-
zeum Początków Państwa Polskiego in Gniezno, Gniezno, 2001,
p. 24, n. 35.


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