Description of the polychromes

The greatest value, adding splendour to the whole residence, are the gothic wall paintings of excellent form, which make Witków the most important, after Siedlęcin, knightly and court culture monument of this type, not only in Poland, but probably also in Central and Eastern Europe. Judging by the forms of arches used in the recesses with paintings, they had to be painted in the late Gothic period, around the mid-15th century. Around 1730, during the reign of Count von Proskau, the recesses with paintings were filled with stones and walled up. The paintings were discovered during the renovation in the 80s of the twentieth century. They were preserved only in three window recesses (including two with sediments) in the representative hall on the first floor of the tower. It is not excluded that the other walls of the hall also had a painting decoration, perhaps a knight's legend which would complement the content of the paintings, as in Siedlęcin for example. It is not possible to check this anymore, because during the renovation completed in 1983, all the plasters except the recesses were plastered and the walls plastered anew. The dimensions of the hall, now called the Knights' Hall, were originally 8.45 x 8.15m.

Recess I (southern wall): high recess with a floral ornamental painting. The polychrome covers the whole decor of the recess.

Recess I (southern wall): high recess with a floral ornamental painting. The polychrome covers the whole decor of the recess.

 

Ornamanent 576x1024 - Description of the polychromes

Recess II, with two sediments. Closed by the Tudor arch. Due to its ideological content, this niche should be seen as a kind of a chapel bay window. In the left frame, St. George fighting the dragon. The original dimensions of the fresco are about 2.20m x 1.80m. Bottom black contour preserved, probably a fragment of the dragon. Preserved: the upper part of St. George's head, white painted, eyebrows and eyes drawn black, in a blue helmet with a raised visor. Two feathers on the helmet, light green and violet and red. On the left there is a view of the castle with a palace, towers topped with cone-shaped helmets and balls. The crown of the towers are blanks. On the highest tower there is a clogged flag, and a trumpeter in a brown costume playing trombone leans out of the bay window. To the right of St. George's head you can see a band with the beginning of the inscription "Ste ? george/e...".

Sw.Jerzy  1024x575 - Description of the polychromes

In elongation: "Scene of the Crucifixion", measuring about 1.40m x 1.80m, depicting Christ Crucified and standing under the cross of Mary and St. John the Evangelist.

Ukrzyzowanie 576x1024 - Description of the polychromes

Next you can see the monogram of Christ, about 90 cm x 90 cm, in the form of a five-blade rose filled with IHS letters in radiant glory in the middle.

IHS 1 1024x575 - Description of the polychromes

Righteous: "St. Christopher carrying the Infant Jesus over the river". The original dimensions of the painting, destroyed at the bottom, is about 2.30m x 1.80m. The architecture of the chapel in the background. St. Christopher was shown as a giant, his figure originally occupied the entire height of the painting. It has been partially preserved in the lower part. The upper part of the composition has been well preserved. St. Christopher looks at the Child carried on his left shoulder, with his right hand supported by a tree-bone. Behind it, on the right, a chapel with a hermit kneeling in front of it. The infant Jesus sits on the left arm of the Saint, blessing with his right hand. The hermit kneels on one knee in the door of the chapel. Poorly legible scene of architectural interior with the figure of a lighthouse keeper holding a lighthouse and showing the way to St. Christopher. An image of the patron saint of knighthood (St. George) and good dying (St. Christopher), behind him is a chapel with two peaks and a tower helmet topped with crosses and a bullet. In the gable above the door of the chapel there are three windows.

Sw.Krzysztof 1024x575 - Description of the polychromes

Left-handed frame. "Saint Peter and Paul". Both saints "hang" a little above the floor, above which there are still flat semicircles drawn, which may suggest clouds (?). The first one from the left, St. Peter, presents a large key with his right hand. Presented with a baldness in the middle of the head and a short beard, according to a fixed iconography. St. Paul, hair and long beard. In his right hand he holds a sword facing upside down. In the left, through the robe, he holds a book. The inscription in a black line drawn on the frame: "S.Peter S.Paulus". This painting, perhaps still in Gothic times, was probably repaired.

PiotrPawel 576x1024 - Description of the polychromes

Right hand pulpit: "Wedding scene": a representation of a tree of life with a married couple. A high, slender tree grows on a hilly (?) meadow, a stylized representation of a tree of love. At the top of the tree sits a pigeon facing left. Under the tree, facing each other, there are a lady and a knight, holding each other's right hands. The knight with his left hand embraces the lady, while the knight gives him a ring or ring. The airiness and lightness of the veil and the heavy matter of the dress in which the lady is dressed are perfectly conveyed. A knight with a head with long, tired, yellowish hair. On the knight's chest "golden" chain with a medallion in the shape of a rose. Above the heads of the knight's couple there is a band rolled up, on which the inscription: "Liebe mich als ich dich nicht mehr als ich...', with an illegible ending. In a loose translation: "Love me no more than I love you...'.

Zaslubiny 1 576x1024 - Description of the polychromes

Window wall. Woybrażenie hunting on peacocks. Two dwarfs with ugly faces. One of the dwarfs measures from a crossbow upwards towards a pigeon. Closer to the band with inscription, winding down. Next to it, a dwarf in a yellow outfit points with his left hand's finger at a knight's pair under the tree. The dog is running in the indicated direction. The inscription on the band: "their (h)affe ich halte ich herre ich...", then illegible. In a loose translation: "I think I will withstand...". The whole is crowned with a large peacock with a richly exposed tail.

PolowanieNaPawia 1024x575 - Description of the polychromes
PolowanieNaGolebia 1024x575 - Description of the polychromes

The depiction of spouses together with the motives of evil dwarfs based on the impermanence of feelings (peacocks and pigeons), creates an iconographic whole showing the permanence, despite the obstacles, of the sacrament of marriage contracted in the presence of saints' patrons.
The formal side, both the drawing and colouring, makes the paintings see a work of beautiful style from its last period, i.e. around the middle of the 15th century. This dating can be made more precise by taking into account the radiant monogram of the IHS, promoted by St. Bernard of Siena and St. John Kapistran, which spreads in Czech art especially under the influence of the latter, residing in the Czech Republic and Silesia in the years 1451-1454. Dating the paintings allows to determine their founder, and probably also the author of the decoration programme. It was probably Nickel v. Warnsdorf, mentioned as the owner of the castle in Witkowo in 1446-1466.