Pot helmet – return to the castle collection
At the beginning of July, a relic from the pre-war military collection returned to the castle walls. It is one of the 11 pot helmets that hung in the chapel of St. Anna. St. George’s Chapel Anny, just like the great refectory, was a place whose walls were decorated with a series of helmets with coats of arms before the war. In the case of the great refectory, these were bar helmets and shields depicting the coats of arms of the magnates who supported the Order in the conquest of Prussian lands.
Whereas in the chapel of St. Anna, the coats of arms of the 11 great masters buried there were hanged together with faithful copies of the original cup helmets from the 13th and 14th centuries, known at the beginning of the 20th century. St. George’s Chapel Anna was regothicized in the years 1895-1904, and the hanging of this set of decorative elements was the last stage of its reconstruction (in 1912, Friedrich Schwarting painted a painting on the western wall on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald, showing homage to the Madonna by the knights who died at Grunwald headed by a great master. These helmets hung in the chapel until the Soviet army shelled the castle on January 28, 1945, as a result of which the castle tower collapsed on the castle church and chapel. They lay in ruins until the end of the 1950s, when some of them were excavated and placed in the seven-pillar hall. Then they dispersed. Today we know about the location of four of them. One was taken from the ruins of the chapel in the 1940s by the employees of the Polish Army Museum and is now in the local museum, the second was sold to the castle in Będzin in 1972, the third in 1989 went to the Castle Museum in Malbork, and the fourth was found in in the hands of one of the greatest Polish collectors, Mr. Ryszard Janiak. Mr. Janiak, after learning the history of this monument, decided to donate it to the Castle Museum in Malbork, thanks to which today it can hang again in the walls of the Malbork castle.
The helmet in question is a copy of a pot helmet found in 1849 in the ruins of Tannenberg Castle in Hesse. The original is dated to the 2nd half of the 19th century. from the 14th century and is now on display at the Hessisches Landesmuseum in Darmstadt. This helmet had as many as three copies kept in the walls of Malbork. The first of them, of unknown author, belonged to Theodor Blell’s collection, which the castle purchased in 1892. The second was made by Blell himself for the decoration of the chapel of St. Anna and hung over Dietrich von Altenburg’s coat of arms. The third one was made around 1880 by Ludwig Lindenschmit, director of the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum specializing in making copies of monuments for sale. It hung above the coat of arms of Conrad Erlichshausen, and it was it that Mr. Ryszard Janiak donated to the castle.
Provenance research is currently underway on further copies of pot helmets from the chapel of St. Anna. Therefore, we hope that in the future it will be possible to determine the place of storage of further artefacts.
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