The King’s Rembrandt at Wawel Castle: "The Polish Rider" from The Frick Collection
Only until October 16 art lovers from across Poland will have the chance to see Rembrandt’s The Polish Rider at the Wawel Royal Castle in Kraków. The Polish-themed masterpiece, from the Frick Collection in New York, has been on display at the castle since August 16. Painted in 1655, The Polish Rider is one of only two images of riders in Rembrandt’s portfolio. And the painting does have more close links with Polish history than just the subject. It was owned by the last king of Poland Stanisław August Poniatowski and displayed in his residence in the Palace on the Isle in Warsaw. The painting remains one of the most mysterious ones among Rembrandt’s masterpieces – the fine details of the rider’s armour, costume, the breed of the horse and the seat all suggest that it portrays a specific individual from Polish „Lisowczycy” cavalry unit. However, the unit was disbanded some 20 years before the painting was conceived. Een given Rembrandt’s collection of Oriental arms and costumes, how could he have known all the little details of the Polish cavalier’s outfit?