9 February 2018 - 15 April 2018


Place National Museum in Szczecin, ul. Staromłyńska 27, 70-561 Szczecin, POLAND
Organizer The National Museum in Szczecin in cooperation with The National Museum in Warsaw
More info

Biedermeier, primarily coloured with irony and humour German term (bieder – kind, honest, noble and Meier – a popular German surname), being a synonym of naivety, conseravtism, old-fashioned taste, as well, as backwardness and narrow-mindedness, entered art historians' vocabulary at the verge of the 19th century as the name of a style of the first half of the age in, above all, applied arts. It is chracterized by simplicity, artistry and solidity, nobility of materials and comfortable functionality. With time, the meaning of the word was extended. It became a term for Central-European widely understood city culture – phenomena present not only in applied arts, but also in painting, drawing, graphics, literature or music. Today Biedermeier, seen as "domesticated Romanticism", is a multi-meaning idea describing the times of the first half of the 19th century in Central Europe, conventional borders of which are important events of European history: Congress of Vienna in 1815 and Revolutions of 1848.

The exhibition, prepared by The National Museum in Warsaw in cooperation with The National Museum in Szczecin is an attempt to characterize the middle-class customs and everyday life culture of Post-Napoleonic era. It provokes reflection on the national and social identity of Biedermeier - is it a modern trend marked by the influences of Berlin, Munich and Vienna, reflecting the growing role of the middle class, city intelligentsia, and landowners in the Polish lands, or the naive, idyllic kind of bourgeois idyll? The exhibition is therefore an invitation both to the revision of popular ideas about bourgeoisness as well as reflection on the permanence of Central European and Polish traditions and the heritage of middle-class artistic culture exemplified by monuments of artistic craft from nearly two centuries ago.

The exhibition, which consists of paintings, engravings, furniture, porcelain, glass, gold, clothing, fashion accessories, toys and knick-knacks, is the first such comprehensive presentation of Biedermeier in Poland, first presented in Warsaw and now - in a slightly modified version, including to a greater extent works of a Pomeranian pedigree - at the National Museum in Szczecin. Almost 400 museum exhibits include both German artefacts, next to the ones of Berlin, Munich or Vienna, also those from Silesia or of, then belonging to the Kingdom of Prussia, Pomerania, as well as, above all, objects from the Kingdom of Poland, the Grand Duchy of Poznań, Galicia and the Vilnius region. The works collected in Szczecin come from the collections of national museums in Warsaw, Poznań, Gdańsk, Cracow and Szczecin, two Polish royal seats – Museum of King John III's Palace in Wilanów and Wawel Royal Castle, Castle Museum in Pszczyna, The Karkonosze Museum in Jelenia Góra, The District Museum in Konin, and several private collections and the Municipal Office of Trzebiatów.

The Szczecin edition, just like the original Warsaw version, was composed according to particular issues - it consists of four corresponding parts. A Small Stabilization of Respectable Biedermeiers. Artist - Family - Society presents a gallery of characters of the era, emphasizing the rhythm of their everyday life, private pleasures, rest, social gatherings, joint music making or handicrafts done at home. In the space entitled In the World of a Child. Entertainment and Education, there has been brought out the new role of children as important participants and recipients of culture. Homeland, Region, "Small Homeland" is the title of the next section, referring to the local and national identity, regionalism, patriotism, traveling, spa tourism and recreation. Finally, the last part, Biedermeier as an Aesthetic Project, was planned as a kind of storage of furniture, silverware, ceramics, glass, clothing, fashion accessories, household items - various types of objects, designs, styles, technical and technological solutions used in the most important furniture production centers, glassworks, fabric manufactories, goldsmith workshops. The interiors of the Biedermeier salons arranged in the exhibition space complement the review of various forms of design.

The exhibition, along with commemorative gadgets and leaflets, is accompanied by an extensive, richly illustrated catalog published by theNational Museum in Warsawedited by Anna Kozak and Agnieszka Rosales Rodriguez. On the occasion of the finale of the exhibition at the National Museum in Szczecin, a small volume of studies devoted to the Biedermeier art, prepared by the Szczecin museum edited by Dariusz Kacprzak, will be published - as a diary from the exhibition.

By: Dariusz Kacprzak, Anna Kozak, Agnieszka Rosales Rodriguez