Original designs and patterns reproduced

Reproduction of unique 17th century Granting of Princely Title to Mikolaj ‘the Black’ Radziwill tapestry to occupy honorary place at Nesvizh Palace after restoration is complete

By Tatiana Pastushenko

The original tapestry probably decorated the halls of Nesvizh Palace but is now kept at a museum in Polish Neborowo. It’s impossible to buy it or have it on loan, so a copy has been made by masters from Borisov Combine of Arts and Crafts. The tapestry was chosen as it features an important moment in the life and career of Mikolaj ‘the Black’ Radziwill (1515-1565): he received a princely title from Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in 1547.

He did much for the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, particularly, giving patronage to printing houses in Brest and Nesvizh, to allow religious, polemic and secular literature to be disseminated. Symon Budny, Maciej Kaweczynski and other enlighteners aided in the venture. Duke Mikolaj was considered to be the uncrowned king of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, for his contribution to politics, his wealth and his authority in Europe. He was among the first in authority to adopt Calvinism and significantly influenced the spread of reformation ideas.

Museum staff and specialists visited Poland to thoroughly study the original tapestry and take photos. Sadly, it is much deteriorated, so efforts have been made to compensate for this. Moreover, the Latin text in the right upper corner has needed special correction and decoding. The restoration work has been headed by a member of the Artists’ Union and laureate of the State Award of Belarus, Nina Pilyuzina. The tapestry is rather small — at 90x160cm; this has made the process even more difficult, since more attention is required to correctly copy figures, faces and objects.

In fact, Ms. Pilyuzina is to oversee other works for Nesvizh Palace (to be included on the UNESCO World Heritage List). An official launch for tourists lies ahead. A tapestry featuring the Black Lady is also planned. According to legend, the ghost of Barbara Radziwill (once married to the King of Poland, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, Sigismund Augustus) walks the halls, dressed in black to symbolise her ruined love. Drafts for the tapestries are ready and, interestingly, feature the Black Lady in bright clothes. Ms. Pilyuzina wants her Black Lady to appear at different corners of the palace.

Nesvizh is currently showcasing an exhibition of Ms. Pilyuzina’s tapestries and batik works, which have been many times exhibited in Belarus and abroad — including in Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Poland, Belgium, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia and Iran.

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