The "Sucha Collection"                                                                    

Acquisition of the Branicki and Tarnowski Collection from Sucha by the National Museum in Warsaw

In 2006 the National Museum in Warsaw signed an agreement with the heirs of Juliusz and Roża Tarnowski concerning the purchase of a collection of art from Sucha. Thanks to financial support by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, 9213 objects were purchased: 1148 drawings, 7960 prints and photographs, 5 oil paintings, 2 manuscripts, 1 old print and 97 maps and atlases. Amongst the acquired works of art are works of famous Polish and foreign artists, painters and graphic artists from the XVI – XIX century, including Bernardo Bellotto called Canaletto, Szymon Czechowicz, Jeremiasz Falck, Wojciech Gerson, Józef Grassi, Artur Grottger, Willem Hondius, Teofil Kwiatkowski, Aleksander Lesser, Piotr Michałowski, Jan Piotr Norblin, Cyprian Kamil Norwid, Aleksander Orłowski, Jan Feliks Piwarski, Wincenty Smokowski, Franciszek Smuglewicz, Zygmunt Vogel i Szymon Bogumił Zug, in addition to interesting works of amateur artists (for example drawings of Maria Wirtemberska, the daughter of Izabela Czartoryska).

Hundreds of works of art from the XVI–XIX century of iconographic importance: portraits, views of towns, drawings from archeological excavation sites, renderings on religious, heraldic and ethnographic themes, and also early photographs (of Marcin Olszyński and Karol Beyer) form an extremely valuable part of the collection. The heirs of Juliusz and Roża Tarnowski donated a painting of the seventeenth century Dutch painter Pieter Nason, entitled “Portrait of a man”  to the National Museum in Warsaw.
It was Aleksander Branicki (1821-1877), who commenced the collection of works of art in Sucha (Beskidzka), where in 1866 he founded a library in the restored castle and acquired valuable book collections for it. The work of Aleksander was continued by his son Władysław Branicki (1848-1914) and granddaughter Anna (1876-1953), who married Juliusz Tarnowski (1864-1917). Their son Juliusz Gabriel Tarnowski (1901-1989) administered Sucha until 1939. During this time paintings from the family collection of the wife of Juliusz Gabriel – Róża Zamoyska (1907-1998) were added to the rich collection of art.

One of the most valuable collections in the Sucha library was a collection of a few thousand drawings, prints and photographs collected by the famous Polish writer, author of historical and also scientific works, Józef Ignacy Kraszewski (1812-1887), was acquired in 1869 by Aleksander Branicki.

The collection provided valuable artistic and iconographic material for research on Polish history and culture, and was used by the writer in his work. The collection was placed under special care in Sucha, and for this reason in 1939, on the orders of Juliusz Tarnowski, it was evacuated to Międzyrzec Podlaski for safety reasons.

In 1943, after receiving information that the collection deposited there was in danger of complete destruction, a commission composed among others of employees of the National Museum in Warsaw rescued the remaining part of the collection and transferred it to the headquarters of the Museum, from where it was taken by the Germans along with other collections.
During revindication in 1946, the collection was returned to the National Museum in Warsaw.

For the next sixty years the Sucha art collection, somewhat diminished during the war, was kept under specialist care. Thanks to its great diversity, the collection became the topic of scientific research and specialist reports by historians, art historians, ethnographers and archeologists.

The drawings, illustrations, photographs and paintings have been displayed at numerous exhibitions in Poland and abroad. Two architectonic fantasies by the eighteenth century Venetian painter Michele Marieschi can be viewed on permanent exhibition in the Gallery of Italian Paintings at the National Museum.

All those who cared and care about Poland’s past, understand the necessity of the conservation for future generations of complete collections of works of art, which through their composition and form testify both to the history of the country, as well as to the personality and passions of their initiators. Care about the conservation of complete collections owned by or in deposit with the museum is also the noble purpose of the National Museum in Warsaw. The acquisition of the Sucha collection currently on presentation is the best example thereof.

translated by A. Będkowski


Artworks from the presentation



The “Sucha Collection” Exposition

Main Building of the National Museum

Aleje Jerozolimskie 3

21 August – 21 September


Al. Jerozolimskie 3
00-495 Warszawa


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10.00 a.m. - 4.00 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday:
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Monday - closed