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2005 | 6 | 135-160
Article title

Edward Wittig and Freemasonry

Authors
Title variants
Languages of publication
PL
Abstracts
EN
The paper presents Edward Wittig, a well-known sculptor in the period between the two world wars and at the same time an active member of the Grand National Lodge of Poland. There is considerable evidence to suggest that the sculptor's first contact with Masonic organizations took place in France at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. At that time Wittig was on familiar terms with a circle of people initiated into the Masonic ideas (Waclaw Rogowicz, Maksymilian Kirienko-Woloszyn) and related with the Paris Lodge of Travail et Vrais Amis Fideles. It is supposed that on his return to Poland (1914) the sculptor joined this Warsaw lodge. Little can be said about the artist's Masonic biography, however, the sources available seem to confirm a fairly high position attained by Wittig in the Polish Masonic hierarchy. A document of key importance here is especially the Bulletin Officiel Grande Loge de France for 20 March, 1923, in which Edward Wittig is described as a 'guarantor of friendship'. Among the requirements that a candidate for that position had to meet, in addition to his knowledge of the language and specific character of the country to be represented, was a demand that he should hold at least a master's degree in his parent organization. Therefore, it may be assumed that Wittig held this degree in Warsaw. As a 'guarantor of friendship' he was to care for the strengthening of fraternal relations between the two organizations, to inform Paris about all major events in the country represented (that is, in Poland) and, if need be, to take care of the French Masons on their arrival in Warsaw. Furthermore, for many years Wittig belonged to the narrow management of the para-Masonic formation Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) with about 3500 members in Warsaw, Cracow, and Lódz. Besides, the sculptor's name appears among the founder members of the National Labour Party (September 1914), the Polish-Greek Society, the Students' Sports and Athletics Club, the Polish Committee for Olympic Games, the Council of the Flying Club of the Polish Republic, and the elite Rotary Club, one of the largest international charitable organizations, grouping representatives of scientific circles, banking, and commerce. This impressive list of social initiatives closes with the Polish Artistic Club set up in 1917, likewise indirectly inspired by the Freemasons, with its seat at the Polonia Hotel in Warsaw. In the light of the above-presented facts it is justified to assume that the artist's membership of the Lodge was not a mere episode in his life, a means to receive lucrative commissions, but a consistent decision resulting from his outlook on the world and his beliefs. The conviction that the primary aim of art was to carry out moral principles in public life influenced the character of Wittig's sculptures. In the period concurring with the artist's most intensive activity in Freemasonry the predominant message of his works was a postulate for serving the Motherland, as well as honour, patriotism, and self-sacrifice for the benefit of the whole of society. In that period also his artistic idiom had changed. An air of eroticism in his Eve (1912) from the Trocadero Gardens in Paris had been replaced by solemnity, austerity, and dignity.
Contributors
  • K. Podniesinska, Uniwersytet Jagiellonski, Instytut Historii Sztuki, ul. Grodzka 53, 31-001 Kraków, Poland
References
Document Type
Publication order reference
Identifiers
CEJSH db identifier
06PLAAAA01693675
YADDA identifier
bwmeta1.element.75690382-9d0f-3a67-a35b-e3882055c942
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