World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th – 24th 2010

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16-Inspirations with the Mediterranean Culture in the Details and Ornaments of the Krakow Town Houses - Poster

· Institution: Krakow Universtiy of Technology

· Organizer: Beata Makowska

· Language: English

· Description: The culture of the Mediterranean countries influenced not only the neighbouring regions but also the Northern Europe. Reception of the Italian and Egyptian art has found its reflection in Krakow (Poland), in the details and ornaments of town houses of various periods. In the Renaissance the royal court in Krakow brought a team of architects and sculptors who transplanted Italian patterns in the spirit of the Florentine Quattrocento. The activity of monarch’s artistic patronage was followed by church and secular dignitaries who built magnificent town houses. Under the influence of the Italian humanistic thought the Renaissance details and decorations were adopted as facade decoration. Renaissance ornaments (ova, beads, dentils, cubes, acanthus leaves) were full of allusions. Apart from Italian inspirations that you can find in the architecture of Krakow and fascination with the Greek and Roman classical architecture, the more uncommon, early Egyptian motives, pyramid and obelisk used in sepulchral art or as a decoration of volutes in Baroque churches deserve particular notice. Reception of the Egyptian art can also be seen in the details and ornaments of the 19th century town houses. They reflected the memory of the European fascination with Egypt, invoked by the Napoleonic campaign and prints from the monumental book Description de l’Egypte. The best example is the so-called “Egyptian House” in Krakow (built in 1893 and rebuilt in 1929), the facade of which was flanked with quoins in the form of pylons. The cevetto cornice, characteristic for Egyptian architecture, was used in the coping of the ground floor and of the entire building and in the framing of the first floor windows, decorated also with the winged sun disc. The entrance portico of the town, supported by pillars, held up the cornice with two statues of sitting pharaohs and two sphinxes lying down next to them as well as obelisks located a bit further away. The entire length of the facade under the crowning cornice was ornamented with hieroglyphic inscriptions. Similarly, inside the town house, there were ornaments inspired by the early Egyptian art. The wooden door has been decorated with lotus and papyrus stalks as well as with sun discs with uraei. Motives of the winged sun disc and the scarab have also been used as decorative elements of the coping of the portal and the cornice which crowns several town houses dating back to the turn of the 19th and 20th century.