Professor Anna Różycka-Bryzek (1928-2005)
Profesor Anna Różycka Bryzek (1928-2005)
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Was one of the most eminent Polish art historians, among whom she stood out as a specialist in the history of Byzantine and Slavonic-Byzantine art. The course for almost fifty years of her research work, was set by the Byzantinc-Ruthenian paintings commissioned by the Jagiellons, to which she devoted her entire life. This study concerned three surviving groups of paintings: in the Chapel of the Holy Trinity in the castle of Lublin, in the chancels of Sandomierz Cathedral and the collegiate church at Wislica - founded by Wladyslaw Jagiello, while the fourth set, in the Holy Cross Chapel on Wawel, was executed on the order of Kazimierz Jagiellonczyk (Casimir the Jagiellonian). The scientific value of these studies encompassed three fundamental aspects: material-factual, interpretative, and methodological, in all of them constituting the source of a sound knowledge and inspiration. She was equally dedicated to continuing the work of her master and teacher, Professor Wojslaw Mole, consolidating the position of Byzantine studies at university level and finally leading to the creation in 1989 of the Department of the History of Byzantine Art, the first in Poland, within the Institute of the History of Art of the Jagiellonian University. There was a special place in her life for her pupils to whom she gave her heart. In her early study Prof. Rozycka proved that the frescoes in the small church of Santa Maria foris Portas at Castelseprio, in terms of formal characteristics close to the classicizing style of the Macedonian renaissance, were in fact a heterogeneous work in which middle-Byzantine features were combined with Carolingian elements. In later years she did not devote much time to general issues of Byzantine art, focusing on research into Orthodox Church art in Poland and the related question of the mutual influence of Eastern and Western Christianity. In her study of the picture of Our Lady of Częstochowa, she focused her attention on presenting the picture in the light of analytical-comparative art historical research. Considering the picture itself to be an excellent source of study, as a result of meticulous analysis she came to believe that the original image of Our Lady of Hodegeiria type with the Byzantine hieratic arrangement of figures, was repainted in the 14th and 15th centuries. Each time, however, these were renovating measures which did not disturb the essential features of the prototype. She ascribed the doubtless status of an icon in a historical sense due to its formal features and in a spiritual sense owing to its cult in the convent to the mosaic picture of Our Lady of Hagiosoritissa type in the convent of Poor Clares in Cracow. She established that the Cracow convent's tradition linked this late 12th century work of an anonymous Constantinopolitan master with the Blessed Salomea and held in particular veneration as a relic of the founder of the convent and as a miraculous image of intercessory power at the hour of death, brought to the bed of the dying sisters.
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