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Cracow. Exhibition of works by Jacob Mertens at Wawel. Paintings and sculptures from 400 years ago on display for the first time

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Created around 1600, the works of Jacob Mertens, which have not been shown in museums before, will be included in the exhibition for the first time. Since Friday, over 30 paintings, sculptures and drawings by the Dutch artist working in Krakow can be seen at the Wawel Royal Castle. Mertens is described by experts as a “master of detail”, and one of his most important works – “The Annunciation” – will be the highlight of the exhibition.

On January 13, an exhibition titled “Jacob Mertens and Krakow’s painting around 1600” opened at the Wawel Royal Castle. The exhibition features over 30 works with religious motifs – paintings, drawings and ivory sculptures by the Dutch artist Jacob Mertens, who works in Krakow and comes from Antwerp.

The exhibition “Jacob Mertens and Krakow’s painting around 1600” at the Wawel Castle in KrakowPAP/Łukasz Gągulski

The master of detail for the first time at the exhibition

Most of the painter’s works presented have not yet been shown at museum exhibitions. The approximately four-hundred-year-old exhibits show the influence of Dutch painting on works created in the former Polish capital. – Works from hard-to-reach collections and collections will be shown – announced its co-author Krzysztof Czyżewski before the opening of the exhibition.

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The authorities of the Krakow castle inform that Mertens is considered a “master of detail”. At the exhibition you can see the effects of his skills. Particularly interesting, as the authors of the exhibition emphasize, is the altar, the most important part of which is the painting “Annunciation” signed by the artist from the prelate of St. Mary’s Church.

Among the works on display are also: “The Last Supper” from the church of St. Peter and Paul, “The Mother of God with the Child and Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist” from the Wawel Cathedral, “Vision of Saint Jadwiga in front of the crucifix” from the Church of Saint. cross. Curators also pay attention to other unique exhibits, such as a life-size group of Lamentations of Christ carved in wax and a design of a hanging candlestick with a statue of the Virgin Mary.

The exhibition “Jacob Mertens and Krakow’s painting around 1600” at the Wawel Castle in KrakowPAP/Łukasz Gągulski

Jacob Mertens. Artist unknown

As the Wawel Royal Castle informed in a press release, little is known about the artist’s life and work. We do not know the date and reason for Mertens’ departure from his hometown, but he undoubtedly decided to settle in Kraków permanently, since on 23 October 1589 he joined the local painters’ guild, and in 1595 he received the town charter. He died before June 26, 1609.

– I am convinced that the exhibition of works by Jacob Mertens will inspire exploration, drawing attention to unknown, though extremely significant threads in the European art history of the 17th century – said Professor Andrzej Betlej, director of the Wawel Royal Castle. The exhibition “Jacob Mertens and Krakow’s painting around 1600” will be open until April 16.

Main photo source: PAP/Łukasz Gągulski

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