In the Polish pavilion at the 1939 World Exhibition, visitors could see a historical series consisting of seven paintings painted jointly by 11 members of the St. Luke's Brotherhood, and four tapestries made by the "Ład" cooperative. What was in the compositions, who were the Łukaszowcy and how did the history of the collection unfold? These questions will be answered in the following article.
The Brotherhood of St. Luke was a group of painters who referred to the painting patterns of the 16th and 17th centuries. The group was active between 1925 and 1939 and included, among others, Jan Gotard, Bolesław Cybis, Aleksander Jędrzejewski and Eliasz Kanarek. They managed to take on several state commissions for interior decoration, for example for the ships MS Piłsudski (1934) and MS Batory (1939). The most prestigious commission, however, turned out to be the painting of seven compositions for the 1939 World Exhibition.
The Polish Pavilion at the World Exhibition in New York was opened on 3 May 1939 and closed at the end of 1940. For several months, visitors were able to admire seven historical compositions depicting the most important events in Polish history. Members of the Brotherhood of St. Luke took part in the work on the composition series. In 11 people, they painted pictures depicting the history of the country from the meeting of Bolesław Chrobry with Otto III (year 1000) to the establishment of the Constitution of 3 May (1791).
Interestingly, martyrdom themes were omitted in the exhibition. The intention was to present an optimistic vision of the country. The pavilion was notable for its 56-metre high golden tower and the equestrian statue of Władysław Jagiełło. The Hall of Honour was designed by Felicjan Szczęsny Kowarski, and inside there was room for Bolesław Cybis' fresco "Central Industrial District and Gdynia".
Until 13 November this year, there was an opportunity to visit a great exhibition at the National Museum in Warsaw, featuring the group's paintings and tapestries. The exposition "Łukaszowcy. Great Comeback" was not the last chance to see the collection; ultimately, all the works will be on permanent display at the Museum of Polish History in the Warsaw Citadel.