Date of Issue: 01 April 2009
New Postage Stamps and First Day Cover
As every year, Poczta Polska joins in the celebrations of the Feast of the Resurrection, that is Easter, by preparing occasional postage stamps for its customers. This time the emphasis is on the spiritual meaning of Easter, which is why the stamps feature religious elements. Out of the four major motives of the Passion and Resurrection of Christ, that is the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, the Removal from the Cross and Entombment and, lastly, the Resurrection, Poczta Polska presents the final two. It is worth noting that Poczta Polska, by displaying the excellent works of a presently lesser known Polish painter Szymon Czechowicz, promotes the native arts. The stamps feature the works entitled "Entombment" ("Złożenie do grobu", 1747) and "Christ Resurrected" ("Chrystus Zmartwychwstały, 1758), both of which belong to the collections of the National Museum in Kraków. In iconography the latter one is also known as "Resurrected Christ appears before the apostles" ("Chrystus ukazujący się apostołom po zmartwychwstaniu"). The purple and blue colour scheme of the FDC symbolises Christ's transition from death (purple is recognised by the church as the colour of mourning) to eternal life in heaven. The FDC is accompanied by an occasional date stamp, in use in the Warsaw 1 Post Office.
The painter Szymon Czechowicz
Szymon Czechowicz (1689-1775) was born in Kraków, and he died in Warsaw. At first he was educated in the estate of Franciszek Maksymilian Ossoliński, and afterwards (around 1711) he left for Rome where he stayed until 1730. During his stay in the Eternal City he studied at the famous Saint Lucas Academy under the tuition of Benedetto Lutti. It is there that his first achievement was born when he was awarded for his drawings entitled "Samson tears a lion apart" ("Samson rozdzierający lwa") and "The victorious return" ("Zwycięski powrót z wyprawy"), kept in the archives of the school until today. Following his return to Poland he settled in Warsaw and took up painting religious works and portraits, in which he soon excelled. He also established a school for painters in the city. In 1972, that is Prior to his departure from Rome, he had painted the works entitled "Removal from the cross", "The vision of saint Anthony," and "The Holy Mother guarding Kraków" for the church of the Scholarum Piarum order in Kraków, and also one entitled "The Assumption" for the cathedral church in the town of Kielce - all of which soon earned him the reputation of a talented painter of religious motives. Additionally, he also became famous for his portraits, and not much later such prominent figures as high ranking church officials and famous laymen, including the bishop of Kraków Jan Aleksander Lipski, the great chancellor of Lithuania Jan Fryderyk Sapieha, and the Voivode of Sandomierz Jan Tarło, commissioned him to paint their portraits and religious works. Grand Crown hetman Jan Klemens Branicki ordered as many as seven paintings for the parish church in Tykocin and two for the church in Tyczyn, and the grand Crown hetman Wacław Rzewuski placed a commission for paintings for the castle chapel and the castle building in Podhorce. Had it not been for his apprentices, working under the strict supervision of the master, Szymon Czechowcz would never have been able to fulfil so many orders.
Not only painting
The theme of Easter has appeared in all possible forms of art including various genres of music. In fact, the very first Polish song is one dedicated to Easter. "Christ has resurrected" ("Chrystus zmartwychwstan jest"), sang in churches until this very day, is also the oldest poetic work of art ever recorded in our native tongue. Świętosław of Wilków included one of its stanzas in his Graduał* for the Płock cathedral church (presently missing). By studying the song's individual linguistic forms, the researches of language have concluded that it's actually even older - some believe that as much as two centuries! The lyrics which we know today were written later, however. Just think - we can relate to the legacy of our ancestors by cultivating our native faith and spiritual tradition.
Krystus zmartwychwstał je,
Ludu przykład dał je,
Eż nam z martwych wstaci,
Z Bogiem krolowaci. Kyrie [eleison]
*graduał - here it means a book of Gregorian chant including liturgical songs for the entire church year.
Friday, May 1, 2009