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Potocki Palace in Radzyń Podlaski

Potocki Palace in Radzyń Podlaski

The artistic value of the palace-park complex in Radzyń allow including the residence in the complexes of the same format as the Branicki Palace in Białystok, the royal Wilanów, Zwinger in Dresden, or Sanssouci in Potsdam. The shape of the palace, still preserved today, consists of the main body and two parallel wings with gates on the axis; the wings surround the courtyard from the east and from the west. From the south, the courtyard is enclosed by a retaining wall with a gateway, which opens on the dike running between four ponds (which used to be two long ones).

Such type of complex is called entre cour et jardin. In this setting, the main palace building is located between the courtyard and the garden extending behind the main body of the palace. Apart from the architect Jakub Fontana, the palace extension works (1750-1761) also included: Jan Chryzostom Redler – sculptor, Michał Dollinger – creator of the stairs and railings, Józef Lappen – plasterer, and Bogumił Plersch – plafond, fronton and palace interior painter. The garden was set up by a gardener from Warsaw, Dawid Knackfus.

The orangery located in the eastern part of the garden has been built around 1756 according to the design by Jakub Fontana, and decorated with sculptures by Jan Chryzostom Redler. In the orangery's design, the architect referred to the Saxon and French arts. The building is considered the pearl of Rococo in Poland. The orangery's facade faces south. Over the central risalit, there is a magnificent sculpture representing the Chariot of Apollo. Currently, the orangery includes a cinema and the Radzyń Center for Culture and Recreation. Since 1996, the "Orangery" Gallery resides in the basements, where temporary exhibitions are organized.

Decorative sculptures of the palace-park complex are the work of the sculptor Jan Chryzostom Redler (ca 1700-1780). After forty years of operation in Poland, Redler left a multitude of works, mainly in stone. At first he worked for the Czartoryski family, e.g. in their residence in Puławy. He had also decorated the palace garden in Wilanów on their request. His major employer was hetman Jan Klemens Branicki, who hired him in his two major residences – in Warsaw and in Białystok.

Reddler's second most significant customer was undoubtedly Eustachy Potocki, whose Radzyń residence was decorated around 1752-63 with tens of figures and ornaments: personifications, deities, heroes, putti, vases, panoplies, heraldic and ornamental motives, all made in the artist's atelier in Warsaw. The decorations in Radzyń currently remain the largest preserved set of sculptures by Jan Chryzostom Redler. The decorative design of the palace was subordinated to the idea of showing the seat of General of Lithuanian Artillery as a nest of virtues, particularly bravery and courage.
The palace towers are crowned with the emblems of Eustachy Potocki, (Pilawa–cross supported by a putto) and his wife, Marianna nee Kątski (Brochwicz–deer) facing each other. Next to the gates, there are four sculptures showing the works of Hercules: fight with the bull and lion (east wing) and the Cerberus and dragon (west wing). The Herculeses in Radzyń residence generally refer to fighting an enemy. Such message is strengthened by panoplies (decorations made of melee weapons and other weaponry), placed on both gates, above the features of heroes. The orangery itself has similar meaning to that of the Herculeses, as citrus fruits were identified with the golden apples of Hesperides. Seizing these mythical fruits was another of the hero's works. The orangery and statues of Hercules were often put in the same residence, as is the case in Radzyń. The heroic topic is also referred to by figures of captives-slaves, placed under heraldic cartouches of Eustachy and Marianna, on the sides of the central risalit on the facade, as seen from the courtyard. The only figure still preserved is one of a Cossack with long mustache and a chupryna on his otherwise shaved head. The second figure represented a Turk. Figures of captives symbolized the external and internal threats, which the ancestors of the palace's owners were forced to face. The topic of glorifying ancestry was continued in the interior. During the time of Eustachy and Marianna Potocki, there was a portrait gallery here, representing the predecessors of both spouses (currently kept in the Wilanów Palace Museum) as well as images of Polish kings (currently in the National Museumin Warsaw). Over the central risalits of the side wings surrounding the courtyard, there are: a horse jumping over an obstacle, and a deer caught in a net, surrounded by hounds. These gave information on regarding the character of the rooms inside: the horse marked the stable, and the deer - the kennels. On the western gate to the Radzyń palace, you can see allegoric representations – Military Architecture (a woman holding a chart with construction plans for a pentagonal bastion, leaning against an old round tower) and Civil Architecture (a woman leaning against a fragment of a column with plans for a palace). These informed the passersby that they were entering a nest of beauty, a temple of architecture and arts. The main element of the garden elevation was its central risalit crowned with a semicircular pediment filled with a relief representing Zephyrinus and Flora. 


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