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A new addition to the Amber Collection

The Malbork Amber Collection has been supplemented with another wonderful work, an altar from the Gdańsk workshop dating from around 1670 with a preserved case from the period, purchased from the Kunstkammer Georg Laue in Munich.

The new acquisition is the result of the visit of employees of the Department of Arts and Crafts of the Malbork Castle Museum at the largest art fair TEFAF in Maastricht in June 2022.

Ustawianie zabytkowego ołtarzyka w gablocie.
The official transfer of the altar with the case by Georg Laue to the collection of the Castle Museum in Malbork

 

The official presentation of the new exhibit took place on April 17, 2023 in the Corner Hall of the Middle Castle in the presence of Dr. Jarosław Sellin, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, General Conservator of Monuments.

dr Jarosław Sellin, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, General Conservator of Monuments

 

The altar is an example of the highest craftsmanship of amber art which was achieved in craft workshops in the 17th century. It is distinguished by the class of workmanship, extensive iconographic program, completeness (all sculptural elements and cases from the era have been preserved) and the quality of the materials used and their processing.

The architectural form of the altar is 60 cm high and consists of three parts: mensa, retable and cross. It is decorated with: ivory plaques referring to the Passion of Christ (Carrying the Cross, Scourging, Prayer in Gethsemane, Salvator Mundi), images of the holy martyrs (Saints Barbara and Catherine) and sculptures made of the same material (Saints Peter and Paul, angels , Christ Crucified). Inside the mensa of the altar there is a figure of Christ in the Ecce homo type, made out of amber.

Another interesting element of this piece wooden case from the period in the form of a cabinet repeating the shape of a crucifix, with a decorative frame – tanned leather on the outside and burgundy velvet on the inside.

Katarzyna Kita, opiekunka kolekcji bursztynu w MZM, przemawia podczas uroczystości prezentacji nowego zabytku w zbiorach muzeum.
Katarzyna Kita, guardian of the amber collection

 

Altars in such a good state of preservation and richness of form are rare; objects of similar size can be found at Weißenfels Castle (private collection of Count Schönborn) and at the Museo degli Argenti in Florence (Medici collection).

The purchase of this new object for the collection of the Malbork Castle Museum was supported by the Ministry, the director’s request was very convincing, we appreciated the importance of the plan to purchase this work, the prestige of the most important amber collection in Poland, a collection that is appreciated by researchers from around the world, but also by hundreds of thousands of tourists who come to Malbork especially to admire the permanent amber exhibition. I am very happy with this new acquisition, which in this collection will please our eyes, our aesthetic sense – I trust – for centuries. – says Dr. Jarosław Sellin, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, General Conservator of Monuments

 

The exhibit was purchased with the support of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in the amount of EUR 290,000.

The altar with the case, purchased for the collection of the Castle Museum in Malbork, is the second object of this type in public collections, next to the Kunsthalle Würth in Schwäbisch Hall. Thus, it is among of the most valuable works in the Malbork collection, next to the works of Gdańsk masters Christoph Maucher and Michel Redlin, or the royal objects of Stanisław Leszczyński’s chest and Stanisław August Poniatowski’s cabinet.

To answer in a few words the question “Why do we buy this type of objects?” let’s start with the fact that this year we are finishing our exhibition cycle in Malbork. We showcase the story of Malbork from a broad European perspective and after all that, we move on to the task that is our priority for the next seven years, i.e. building a story in accordance with our mission: “We tell the story of three castles and protect the cultural heritage associated with them.” Therefore, we are starting to implement the plan of 20 permanent exhibitions in Malbork, Sztum and Kwidzyn. These will be new exhibitions, as well as revitalized, rearranged permanent exhibitions that you know. Therefore, we are awaiting conservation works and research. The new story requires us to face the introduction of modern museum equipment and new sightseeing systems into our interiors. Above all, however, to create these 20 exhibitions you need exhibits. I confirm what we are spectacularly inaugurating today – the Castle Museum in Malbork is embarking on a shopping offensive, which is to bring us new exhibits. We are in contact with the largest auction houses and antique shops, we actively participate in fairs, so we try to keep the antiquarian market under our control on an ongoing basis in terms of objects that are of particular interest to us. I would like to add that the collection currently has 59,838 exhibits and we plan to acquire 1,165 objects in the form of purchases, gifts or deposits over the next 7 years. Of course, quantity does not turn into quality, because such a monument as seen here is worth several dozen or several hundred others, but we assumed such a perspective of a minimum of 1,165 objects to be acquired. I encourage you to accompany us on this journey. A difficult road, where we will face the historic substance of our three castles. I trust, however, that in 7 years the Castle Museum in Malbork, in all its 3 branches, will be a slightly or completely different museum that tells the history of its objects, its castles, but also its own history. Today, such a first step and a signal of a change in our attitude and this new exhibition strategy for the next 7 years is this wonderful amber altar. – says Dr. Janusz Trupinda, director of the Malbork Castle Museum.

Sala wystawowa. Pośrodku szklana gablota. Wewnątrz ołtarz w formie krzyża z postacią Chrystusa. Obiekt wykonany z bursztynu i kości słoniowej. Po bokach gabloty trzy osoby. Od lewej. Dyrektor MZM, wiceminister kultury i opiekunka kolekcji bursztynu.

The new exhibit can be admired at the permanent amber exhibition “Amber Contexts”, which we invite you to visit!

Purchase was co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage

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