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Although not original, still an important event

Copy of Maria Szymańska’s portrait, by Walenty Wankowicz, donated to National Art Museum of Belarus
Copy of Maria Szymańska’s portrait, by Walenty Wankowicz, donated to National Art Museum of Belarus

Presentation of copy of Maria Szymańska’s portrait, hosted by Walenty Wankowicz House-Museum

The reproduction has been created and donated upon the initiative of the Belarusian Embassy to France, as part of an aim to return Belarus’ cultural treasures to their native homeland. Several legal mechanisms have been set up, including an inter-state agreement to purchase historical and cultural treasures once belonging to the Belarusian nation, alongside organising exhibitions. “Another important area of returning cultural treasures to Belarus can be copying works connected with the country’s history and culture,” notes the Ambassador of Belarus to France, Pavel Latushko.

He notes that one Parisian church boasts a picture created by Walenty Wankowicz: the Mother of God Ostrobramskaya. “I’ve discussed the opportunity of copying this work and have met with the church’s superior but the project has failed so far. I’ve also visited the Adam Mickiewicz Museum in Paris, finding Maria Szymańska’s portrait, by Walenty Wankowicz. We decided to copy it, as Maria Szymańska was truly unique,” adds the Ambassador.

Walenty Wankowicz was a 19th century Belarusian painter who became famous far and wide. He studied at Polotsk Jesuit Collegium, at Vilnya University and at the Russian Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg. Meanwhile, Maria Szymańska was one of the most outstanding pianists of her time, giving concerts in Germany, Austria, France, Switzerland, Poland, Italy and Russia. She performed in Berlin and London to royalty.

The copy of Maria Szymańska’s portrait was created by Belarusian painter Victor Alshevsky and will go on show at the Walenty Wankowicz House-Museum — a branch of the National Art Museum of Belarus. “The copy of this work can be viewed as a return of Belarusian historical and cultural heritage to its homeland. We can show how deeply Belarusian culture has been integrated into that of Europe, which reinforces strong cultural ties between Belarus and France,” notes Mr. Latushko.

Alongside the presentation of the copy of Maria Szymańska’s portrait, the Walenty Wankowicz House-Museum is hosting an exhibition of 19th century original engravings for Adam Mickiewicz’s works and commemorative medals bearing Adam Mickiewicz’s profile. The exhibits are on loan from the Polish Historical and Literary Society and the Polish Library in Paris.

By Mikhail Svetlov
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