Album’s pages breathe history

Composer Stanisław Moniuszko connects Minsk and Vilnius, with both cities having equal influences in his fate
Composer Stanisław Moniuszko connects Minsk and Vilnius, with both cities having equal influences in his fate

Raised in one city and becoming a famous musician in the other, Moniuszko once lived on Minsk’s Internatsionalnaya Street. The building still stands, housing the Wankowicz Estate. There is even a portrait of Moniuszko, from the Lithuanian Art Museum in Vilnius. The Wankowicz House-Museum is now hosting an exhibition of lithographs from his famous Vilnius Album.

The album was compiled over several decades by enthusiastic collector Jan Kazimierz Wilczyński, who was born in Lithuanian Ukmergė. He graduated from Vilno University’s Medical Department, fell in love with the city and then worked as a doctor in Paris.

According to Rasa Adomaitienė, an employee of the Lithuanian Art Museum, Wilczyński began his Vilnius Album in 1845. She tells us, “He sent original works by local painters from Vilno to Paris, where French masters carved and printed lithographs from them.”

Landmark portraits of prominent Belarus-born painters were thus created, of Moniuszko, of painter Walenty Wankowicz (after whom the Wankowicz House-Museum is named), and of the author of the first guide to Belarus and Lithuania, Adam Honory Kirkor, as well that of the founder of the first museums in our countries, Tyszkiewicz.

Views of Vilno created by Jan Chrucki have been published many times but are only now on show in Minsk. Of course, it’s interesting to compare pieces from famous St. Anna’s Roman Catholic Church in Vilnius and from the university, each with their contemporary appearance. Nothing has changed since then.

By Viktar Andrejeu
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