Ołtarze z cudownymi wizerunkami w twórczości braci Polejowskich
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Despite the fundamental work by Andrzej Jozef Baranowski which discusses the veneration of holy Marian images in the former Polish Republic, the influence of holy paintings on the artistic initiative still remains underrated, primarily in terms of the furnishing of sanctuary churches. It must not be forgotten that the celebrations with these images were the reason behind numerous interior modernisations, the replacements of furnishings and fittings – mainly altars – and the translocations of paintings, veneration and anniversary celebrations. In the Ruthenian Voivodeship, these actions resulted in a series of most superb artistic realisations in the 18th century Polish Republic, such asthe central altars in the parish church in Hodowica, the Franciscan church in Przemyśl, the Dominican church in Podkamień, or the Latin Cathedral in Lviv. Since the majority of these are directly or indirectly linked to brothers Piotr and Maciej Polejowski, it is worth making an attempt to analyse the schemes and compositional solutions they had worked out. On the one hand, there will be structures designed by Piotr Polejowski, which expand and ‘distend’ church presbyteries, creating a multiplied frame for holy paintings (the altar of the Franciscan church in Przemyśl and in the Latin Cathedral in Lviv) accompanied by elaborate and complex iconographic programmes. The second trend entails reredoses designed by Maciej Polejowski, openwork, two-panel screens and high pedestals with gates upfront, complemented with free-standing pillars and sculptures in the clearances, behind which the very reredos with the holy painting can be seen. This design was implemented in the Bernardine screens in Opatow and Zaslav. Thus, we face two trends in designing altars by the Polejowski Brothers, and sensu largo within the Lviv art in the second half of the18th century. Piotr Polejowski’s reredoses – with their impacting monumentality, abundance of decorations and multiplicity of articulations, directly continuing Meretynean patterns from Horodenka– are contrasted with Maciej Polejowski’s ‘light’, two-panel, openwork compositions that so skilfully applied light effects and played with the audience through their backstage-like design and overlapping of sets aimed at exposing the holy image.