The neoclassical-style Palace on the Isle in Warsaw, Poland, reflects the last king of Poland’s love of art and architecture. The palace sits on an artificial lake (seen above). The king used the arts to convey morals, patriotism, and the values of good governance at a time when Poland was occupied for most of his reign. (Royal Lazienki Museum)
WARSAW, Poland—In 1764, King Stanislaw August Poniatowski bought a baroque bathhouse pavilion along with a surrounding estate to build his summer retreat in Warsaw.
The bathhouse, originally designed by Dutch architect Tylman van Gameren, was extended to make the king’s neoclassical-style summer retreat, the Royal Lazienki Palace. Some of the original bathhouse décor remains inside the palace, which is more commonly known as the Palace on the Isle.
The palace sits on about 180 acres that include several neoclassical buildings and vast English-style gardens. Court architects Domenico Merlini (Lake Como, Italy) and Johann Christian Kammsetzer (Dresden, Saxony) took their inspiration for the palace from various eras of Italian architecture, including the mannerist style of the Villa Medici, the baroque style of the Villa Ludovisi, and the neoclassical style of the Villa Albani.
The vast gardens reflect the king’s love of the English gardens that he’d seen on his Grand Tour, in particular the Stowe Gardens in southeast England, designed by the eminent head gardener Lancelot “Capability” Brown.
Among the estate’s notable neoclassical buildings are the Myslewicki Palace, the Old Orangery (which contains the Royal Sculpture Gallery and the Royal Theater, home of the Polish Royal Opera and one of the few surviving 18th-century court theaters), and the White Pavilion, the dining room of which contains the first Polish grotesques (murals of flora, fauna, and fantastical creatures).
The king was an avid art collector, a hobby he’d picked up in the Netherlands after he was inspired by the work of Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck. The art and architecture throughout the king’s buildings promote religious and moral values and the Republic of Poland.
Lorraine Ferrier writes about fine arts and craftsmanship for The Epoch Times. She focuses on artists and artisans, primarily in North America and Europe, who imbue their works with beauty and traditional values. She's especially interested in giving a voice to the rare and lesser-known arts and crafts, in the hope that we can preserve our traditional art heritage. She lives and writes in a London suburb, in England.