The tombstone of Kryscy family in
Drobin near Plonsk



The tombstone of Wojciech Kryski and his parents: Pawel and Anna Szrenska is a masterpiece that perfectly represents the humanistic renaissance culture. It's absolutely exceptional that in north Poland, where in art dominates influences from north art we can find a good work of art which follows the example of Italian art. It's easier to understand example of Zamosc or Kraków in south Poland, closer to south influences, where worked artists from Italy, like Santi Gucci, Padovano and Canavesi but in a little town in the north part of Poland where artists were using northern patterns? That makes this occurrence really exceptional and that's why we want to tell you about the tomb from Drobin.The conception of this tombstone draws inspiration from Florentine art and from Polish, but it's absolutely genuine.

The tomb dates from the period of grown up renaissance. It was made during years: 1572-1576 and is situated in presbytery in parish church in Drobin.

It''s treated by Stanislaw Kryski, who was brother of Wojciech. Wojciech Kryski was a good friend of famous Polish humanists, for example of Jan Kochanowski the writer. Kryski was very well educated in many foreign universities. Because of studying in Bologna and in Padua he had a good chance to get to know the Italian art. Between many splendid Polish humanists he was an outstanding personality, and he is a hero of the story about ideal courtier written by Lukasz Górnicki under title "Polish courtier". Wojciech was a diplomat and politician, and the best proof of it is that in 1555 on the English Court he got the title "magnificus".

The tombstone:

The impression of harmony in Kryski's tomb is based on proportions, logically way of binding sculptures of people with architecture and by proper choice of ornaments and decorations on all the surface of the tomb, which is hammered into shape in the grey sandstone. It's composed from two parts: sarcophagus in front of the tomb with sculpture of lying Wojciech Kryski on the down part and in the back, upper there is the second part surrounded by double pilasters and with entablature with triangle top. In the middle there are two semicircular niches with sculptures of sitting people inside, looking like alive for the very first time in the Polish tombstone. Between lying and two sitting persons there are visible connection of feelings. Sitting persons, parents of dead Wojciech hangs their heads down looking at their son, and putting theirs hands close to the hart they show their love and sorrow. Putting lying figure of son in the down part makes impression, that this tombstone is a kind of Polish Sacra Conversazione. The son is depicted as a young man, the courtier resting on his left hand. The most interesting is the figure of mother. It was the very first plastic sculpture of sitting woman in Polish renaissance art. It's full of hidden expression and sorrow which is visible not only in face, but in gesture and it's so suggestive, that spectator can feel that the figure will alive, stand up and descent to her son lying under her feet.

What puts life to the tombstone of Kryscy is that figures and ornaments are hammered into shape in the way making light and shadow playing on its surface. Very important is, that there are not to many decorative motives, but they are rich like floral motives, twigged plants and plates with fruits on pilasters. Every vacant place on the tomb is used very wisely in agree with conception and image of this foundation. The deep decorative accent is the commemorative plaque on the plinth, which is surrounded by rolled ornament buckled on the top by head of genius of death with wings and by material interlacing rollwerks. On lateral walls of the plinth, two on each side, there are two oval cartouches with text about death written by Moses, David, Homer and Seneka. The tombstone of Kryscy family is a great example of Florentine school influences that were exerted on the Polish art. The analysis of each motive: architectural, decorative and figural shoves pioneer role of this tombstone from Drobin. The idea of architectural tomb is taken from Italian renaissance, but in changed form, because of figures of sitting people in niches. The most popular scheme in Italian tombs is the rectangle with niche with lying figure on the sarcophagus inside and with arcades as a decorative motive. Sitting figures in the tombstone from Drobin are in Polish tomb for the very first time. It's incredible that such occurrence happened exactly in little town in north Poland, not in heart of Polish renaissance - Kraków, or Zamosc where Italian influences on art had been something usual. How great personality was Wojciech Kryski, because of bringing Italian news to north full of north influences and no others!

Surely influences flow from art of Michelangelo. The founder of tomb from Drobin could bring influences from Michelangelo's sculptures, or maybe Wojciech did. It's possible, that the artist who made this tomb could have a book of Italian patterns or sketch-book with outlines of tombs and sculptures drawn by Michelangelo. Maybe Wojciech had brought the sketch-book from Italy. Following the example of this Italian artist is visible in Drobin, for example in putting legs of figures on different levels. The idea of sitting sculptures in niches is taken from work of Michelangelo from The New Sacristy in San Lorenzo. The new solution in woman's figure is that in the upper part her dress is tight, but the folds of down part of the dress don't hide her legs and they remind very much men's legs! Why is that so? It shoves that Polish artist followed the example of legs of Moses from the tombstone of Pope Julius the Second. If the Polish artist would take the inspiration from outlines of women by Michelangelo the figure would take too much space in niche. Because of taking pattern from figure of Moses the sculpture of woman in Drobin is suitable to the niche and her dress doesn't take too much space. Her gesture takes inspiration from figure of Sybilla from upper part of tombstone of Julius the Second by Michelangelo.

The idea of man's figure, Pawel, the father of Wojciech shown as a knight with barb is probably taken from figure of Cosimo Medici from The Medici Chapel in Florence based on project by Michelangelo. Binding new elements like sitting figures taken from Italy with old Italian, converted in the Polish way made the tombstone from Drobin a kind of paraphrase of upper part of tombstone sacrificed to Julius the Second. This kind of composition where two figures sit and one lyes, is the new solution in Italian art too. And this is the pattern used by the author of the tombstone of Kryscy family in Drobin.

Looking at ornaments on Polish tomb we can research, that "our" sculptor used some other inspirations. Decorations are very similar to such motives in creation of Santi Gucci, the main artist of Florentine mannerism. Surely he was the author of idea of using vase with three flowers or floral ornament with three poppy-heads as an ornament and he had been using those motives very often, when he was working in Poland. But this idea of decorations had to come to Drobin from Italy, because in Polish masterpieces of Santi Gucci they appear later than the tomb in Drobin was made.

Who was the author of tombstone sacrificed to Kryscy family? He had to be a great artist because of using so revolutionary solutions taken straight from Florence and gratted in Drobin. It's necessary to emphasize, that it's incredible occurrence that in north Poland full of north inspirations in little town something so great appeared! This shoves how outstanding personalities had the sculptor and Wojciech Kryski who brought "Italian news" to Drobin where he lived and died. This shoves, that he deserved to have such brilliant tomb reminding even today him as a great Polish humanist.

It's not easy to find out, who could be the author of tomb from Drobin. This masterpiece was made in '70 years of XVI age. In those years the best Polish sculptors were Michalowicz, Canavesi and Santi Gucci, but he came to Poland a little bit later. Jan Maria Padovano had his last period of creative work then. The problem is that there are not many works of those artists, which we can compare with this one, which is the subject of our searching. With no doubt we can look for author between artists working in Kraków and in region around this town, because there had been living artists from Italy, or educated there who knew very well Italian renaissance art. It's possible that there were two authors. One made the architectural conception and other made sculptures and ornaments. But for sure only one of them is an author of the idea.

The tombstone from Drobin is very rare example of following the conception of big Italian master in so straight way. It's also not usual to use so great pattern and to convert it in so creative way. Especially that this all happened in little town far away from range of big Italian art influences. That's why the tombstone from Drobin is so outstanding .