2014 | 39 | 223-247
Article title

Powązki: szkoła uczuć i historii. Wychowanie młodych Czartoryskich

Title variants
Powązki: school of feelings and history . Education of the Czartoryski children
Languages of publication
The article considers the Powązki garden and reconstructs the activities which took place there from its first season in 1772, to its destruction in the war of 1794. The garden was established by Princess Izabela Czartoryska (1746–1834) on the outskirts of Warsaw and functioned as the summer retreat for the Czartoryski family. Powązki should be considered as the first Polish landscape garden, even though the king Stanisław August Poniatowski begun the royal Łazienki in 1764. It took him however twenty years to arrive at a finished state. By then Powązki had already established itself as a major public space, the most celebrated one of thirty other landscape gardens which swiftly appeared in the vicinity of Warsaw. Not only was Powązki the first one in Poland-Lithuania, its dates of creation 1770–1771 predate the development of the French hameau and ferme ornée types, while the comparison with the English ornamental Woburn Farm shows Powązki as much richer in function and imaginative associations. While the fame of the garden as one the most beautiful Polish landscape gardens lived on, successive generations of scholars and biographers have denigrated it to the category of carefree abandonment in leisure, apparently characteristic of its owner and her waning world. This interpretation was complicated by the fact that Princess Izabela Czartoryska later established a second, even more famous garden in Puławy (1784–1834), her family estate 120 km from Warsaw, where she promoted patriotic themes and styled herself as the mother of the Polish nation, no less. Czartoryska’s family bridged the divide between leisure (Powązki) and patriotic virtue (Puławy) by promoting a myth of the sudden transformation, where one garden was created by an indulgent and empty-headed socialite, while the other by a matron, founder of the first Polish national museum. The article focuses on the activities which went on in Powązki, in particular it reconstructs the educational efforts Princess Czartoryska directed towards her children: Teresa, Maria, Adam Jerzy, Konstanty and the youngest Zofia. This approach allows us to recreate the most elusive fabric of the garden, the intention of its use, where the activity actually dictates the visual form. The figures in the garden can be seen living in an aesthetically designed space, drawing simplicity from rustic huts, walking the artificial ruins, engaging in farming and gardening, and presenting verses from pastoral poetry in intimate, private theatricals. At this moment in time Princess Izabela Czartoryska had a complete control over the young characters, and was removed from the usual formal constraints of courtly life. It is evident that considering the very young age of the children, the visual language of gesture and the design of the landscape had to dominate. The eldest surviving son Adam Jerzy Czartoryski remembered his early years in Powązki as the happiest of his life. From 1772 he spent long summer months there with only his mother, his siblings and a small number of family friends for company. Princess Izabela Czartoryska set a precedent in publicly endorsing a Rousseau inspired model of an emotionally engaged mother. What is important, she created Powązki not only as a private Elysium, as Adam Jerzy remembered, but also as a space for public presentation, frequented by the king and open to the scrutiny of large numbers of the nobility, the inhabitants of Warsaw, and to anyone who procured an entry ticket for a private visit. In this perspective, the culture of leisure in Powązki shows itself as a mode of communication designed to present a coherent agenda, which was aimed as much at the wider public as at the Czartoryski children. Czartoryska’s garden connected the pastoral pursuits with historical analogies to Republican Rome and underpinned them with moralizing examples of virtue from the works Charles Rollin. In effect, Powązki revolved around a didactic programme, commented on principles of moral living, on the family’s role as enlightened citizens and on the current state of Poland. The ‘Powązki poets’ under the Czartoryski patronage – Adam Naruszewicz, Franciszek Karpiński and Franciszek Dionizy Kniaźnin placed the garden within the classical pastoral as a pleasant and virtuous place. They styled its adult inhabitants as enlightened shepherds protecting their flock of the nation. The children figured as the inheritors of their parents’ ideals. The poet Adam Naruszewicz presented the two year old Adam Jerzy as a wise Amor making wreaths to honour his male line, already at this young age learning appropriate attitudes in the language of symbols. Naruszewicz consciously based himself on the poetic imagery of Salomon Gessner, the most influential poet of the new pastoral. Gessner’s works not only took over the imagination of Polish poets, they were regarded as particularly useful for teaching children moral examples. Educators saw in them a suitable model for an exemplary relationship between children and their parents, a format for the expression of innocent feelings and as an endorsement of an ideal of living in nature as a source of happiness. Czartoryska favoured Gessner’s works above all others and most likely included them in the children’s performances of pastoral poetry. Adam Jerzy particularly enjoyed these private theatrical entertainments. They formed a part not only of his own upbringing but also that of his mother’s. During Izabela’s childhood in Wołczyn, her governess Madame Petit followed the influential educational theories of Charles Rollin, author of Traité des études, Histoire Ancienne and Histoire Romaine. Rollin was an advocator of a respectful and tender attitude to children and an enthusiastic believer in the value of visualizations from ancient history. Madame Petit took over the charge of the next generation and used the same books and methods in their education, as she did with Czartoryska. Both Izabela and her husband Adam Kazimierz attached a singular importance to the educational qualities of theatre and saw the art of public self presentation as a culturally constructive form of communication. During the decade before the establishment of Powązki the Czartoryskis participated in the founding of the National Theatre and supported its short-lived activity. Izabela was an accomplished actress in her own right, Adam Kazimierz coached the actors in the art of expressive gesture, wrote plays for the public theatre and for the students of the School of Cadets. He encouraged his students to read and to visualize pastoral poetry and to assimilate its ideals of virtue. A drawing Izabela commissioned from her artist Jean Pierre Norblin demonstrates the primacy of gesture as a means of emotional exchanges in Powązki. Following the accidental death of the eldest daughter Teresa, the Princess chose to memorialize herself and the children in a mourning ritual. Only restrained gestures signify the internalized emotions. Instead, the expressive strength of the presentation shifts onto the viewer, who needs to draw on his own experiences in order to identify himself with the subject and emotionally participate in the scene. This type of presentation falls into the theories of distanced, selfconscious, and internalized expression promoted by Diderot and popularized by Rousseau, and shows the interactions in Powązki as highly stylized and emotionally charged exchanges. The children learned to imitate the Gessnerian pastoral ideal not only in theatrical visualizations; they were able to experience it directly. They lived in a little hameau in the pleasure grounds, each in a little modest cabin with a garden, while their mother inhabited a larger thatched log house. Czartoryska turned over half of the one hundred hectare estate into an arable farm and followed an example of her father Jan Jerzy Flemming and her grandfather Michał Czartoryski in an exemplary land management. The productive part of the ferme ornée entered the pleasure grounds. Sheep and cattle grazed near the cabins, while fishing in the ornamental lake combined the useful with the beautiful and presented a subject for paintings by Jean Pierre Norblin. The Czartoryski children visited the farms; they also learned to grow plants in their own gardens as part of their daily routine. While many contemporary writers praised the benefits of work in the garden for young children, Czartoryska added to gardening an emotional dimension. She taught her children to express their feelings through planting and to connect them with the attachment to people and to land. Emotional planting in Powązki became a form of communication which the family continued throughout their lives. Charles Rollin’s Histoires added a historically moralizing element to the Gessnerian ideal. Rollin associated the events of the past with personal qualities of people. His virtuous kings, generals and heroes in the times of peace invariably exchanged their swords for ploughs and vine knives and continued as shepherds of their people. For Adam Jerzy and his younger brother Konstanty these were the role models which they could enact, absorb and build on in a manner appropriate for their age. The design of Powązki extended the sphere of rural, pastoral associations by the introduction of the vernacular architectural elements and classical sculptural references: Polish rustic cabins, Roman ruins, medieval buildings and classical statues of Pastoral Poetry, Virtue and Diana the Hunter. Deer roamed the place; their presence connected the new landscape garden with the Polish traditional estate. Czartoryska leased additional statues at the times of fêtes and engaged in performances involving laying the wreaths and garlands of flowers on altars of gratitude, in a manner reminiscent of compositions by Boucher, Greuze or Gessner. Paintings by Jean Pierre Norblin record a close identification of the inhabitants of Powązki with the imagined past: the figures touch the statue of Virtue and wander in the proximity of a classical tomb. The children drew naturally on the connection between the Polish vernacular, antiquity and the pastoral: the girls performed Polish dances dressed in Greek clothes; Adam Jerzy danced a cossack and played on arcadian bagpipes. The musical activities continued the associations with the ancients. Rollin argued, using historical examples, that teaching of music refined peoples’ characters and gathered individuals into a charitable, gentle and pious society. The background for the activities taking place in Powązki was a set of ruins in front of Czartoryska’s hut – identified here as the copies of the Arch of Septimus Severus, the column of Focas and the Temple of Vespasian and Titus. They were presented in a half buried state, just as they appeared at the time on Campo Vaccino in Rome. A short distance from the garden ruins stood a copy of the Theatre of Marcellus, a building which like the Roman original no longer functioned as a theatre, but contained stables and habitable rooms. Significantly there was no theatre building in Powazki, instead performances took place in open air. Rollin and eighteenth century historians endowed the performances sub Jove with qualities of simplicity and social equality characteristic of the Republican period. In contrast, the ruined remnants of the Imperial Rome commented on the temporal nature of the authoritarian rule, and together with performances on the grass pressed the message of the Czartoryski republican orientation. In this interpretation the visual programme of Powązki sets itself in opposition to the design devised by the king Stanisław August Poniatowski for the interiors of the royal castle which referenced the rule of Octavian. As Powązki functioned not only as a private retreat but a space open to the scrutiny of Warsaw and nobility from the whole Commonwealth, especially at the time of large scale theatrical productions, fetes, fairs and fireworks displays, these meanings received a public dimension. The ‘entirely Polish and republican’ education the children, shows itself therefore as a matter of private and public concern. This article puts to rest the pervasive notion that the culture of leisure carried no other meanings than self-serving indulgence and entertainment. Instead, the garden shows itself as the public space intended partly as the exposition of the educational methods of bringing up children and the space visualising the family’s political orientation within, what’s important, leisurely activities.
Physical description
  • Old Dominion University
Document Type
Publication order reference
YADDA identifier
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