Losses incurred by the Royal Łazienki as a result of the Second World War. Research project

When the Second World War broke out (on 1 September 1939), the Royal Łazienki Palace and Park were the property of the Polish Treasury and one of the Official Buildings of the Republic of Poland (alongside the Royal Castle in Warsaw, the Tin-Roofed Palace, the Belvedere Palace, the Wawel Castle in Kraków, the Castle in Poznań, the Bishops’ Palace in Vilnius, The Museum-Castle in Grodno, the palaces in Racot, Spala, Białowieża and Wisła).

From a historical perspective, of Poland’s Official Buildings the Łazienki had the oldest and most valuable collections, the core of which consisted of the decor and furnishings in the residence dating from King Stanisław August’s time (i.e. from 1764). With regard to the painting collection, part of it dates back to the times of King August II and the Princes Lubomirski (i.e. Ujazdów, before 1730). Due to later changes in the administration and ownership of the Łazienki, as well as the changes resulting from bequests/inheritance, wars and national uprisings, the decor underwent modifications, and the furniture and collections were moved and dispersed, which is why it is important to commence any research into the sources and more important works on the subject of chronology starting from the Stanislavian era.


The history of the residence in Stanisław August’s times is the best documented period of the Łazienki’s history. In particular the architectural changes which, in the case of the most important building – the Palace on the Isle – evolved towards the final version of a villa-museum, in which the interiors were to be designed and furnished so that they could be used for exhibiting the king’s collections; primarily to house a public art gallery and sculpture collection. Several monographs have been published about the Łazienki in this period;[1] various works discussing specific fields in the collecting activities of Stanisław August were also written.[2]

Archives, especially inventories of the residences, are of particular importance for research on the collections. These are housed in the Archiwum Akt Dawnych in Warsaw (Central Archives of Historical Records – hereinafter: AGAD), chiefly in the Archiwum ks. Józefa i Marii Teresy Tyszkiewiczowej (Prince Józef and Maria Teresa Tyszkiewicz Fonds – hereinafter: AJP), e.g.

AJP 152, Inwentarz Meublow Pałacu JKMci Ujazdowskiego czyniony w czasie kupna 1765: Inwentarz Meublow nowo przysposobionych do tegoż Pałacu JKMci P.N.M. w Ujazdowie spisany 1772. Explikacja tychże meblow gdzie się znayduią y znajdować powinny dla zupełnieyszey informacji przyłączona [Inventory of furniture in the Ujazdów Palace drawn up in 1765 when purchasing the property: Inventory of furniture made specially for the palace drawn up in 1772, with a description of the furniture, its current location and where it should be located – attached for fuller information]

AJP 153, Inwentarz generalny Pałacu Ujazdowskiego z Attynencjami (Dom Biały, Łazienki, Myślewice...) 1783 r. [General inventory of the Ujazdów Palace and adjoining properties – the White Pavilion, Lazienki, Myślewice…]

AJP 159: Inwentarz Pałacu JK-ści Dziedzicznego Belweder zwanego przy Łazienkach i Ujazdowie sytuowanego na Groncie 1788 roku w Maju spisany [Inventory of the Belvedere Palace, located on the grounds, drawn up in May 1788]

AJP 162, Inwentarz Dóbr Jego Królewskiej Mości Dziedzicznych Łazienki zwanych z Attynencjami przy Warszawie sytuowanych Na Groncie 1788. Roku w Maju spisany [Inventory of HRH’s hereditary property, the Łazienki, with adjoining properties located on the grounds – drawn up in May 1788]

AJP 164, Inwentarz Dóbr Jego Królewskiej Mości Dziedzicznych Łazienki zwanych z Attynencjami przy Warszawie sytuowanych Na Gruncie 1795. Roku w wrześniu spisany. [Inventory of HRH’s hereditary property, the Łazienki, and adjoining properties in Warsaw located on the grounds, drawn up in September 1795.]

AJP 182, Regestr Rzeczy z Pałacu Ujazdowskiego przewiezionych do Zamku Warszawskiego Ad. 1784 die 23 Juny [Inventory ledger of items taken from the Ujazdów Palace to the Royal Castle in Warsaw, 23 June 1784]

AJP 195, Meble w Pałacu Ujazdowskim, podług inwentarza w r. 1783 uczynionego znajdujące się z objaśnieniami, które na miejscu zostały i które gdzie indziej obrócone po oddaniu Pałacu na koszary, 1785 [Furniture in the Ujazdów Palace according to an inventory dated 1783, drawn up for remaining furniture and where it was sent when the Palace was transferred for use as barracks]

Separate lists and catalogues are devoted to isolated collections, e.g.:

AJP 215, Katalog Gabinetu Rycin zmarłego króla Stanisława Augusta. [Catalogue of the Print Room of the deceased King Stanisław August]

AJP 221, Catalogue des Ouvrages, en Marbre, Plâtre, Terre cuite appartenant à Sa Maje: le Roi 1795.

(The catalogue of paintings belonging to the Royal Castle, the Łazienki Palace and the Belvedere Palace, drawn up in French at the end of the 18th century, when Stanisław August was still king, could be considered a supplement to the latter two catalogues. The catalogue contains 2,252 items, and gives the authorship, the titles and dimensions of the paintings. It was given to the Komisja Nadzoru Budowl Korony (Committee for Supervision over Royal Buildings) in 1821 by Fryderyk Bacciarelli, son of Marcello, as a gift to Tsar Alexander I).[3]

When commenting on this choice of inventory, it should be pointed out that at that time the term "furniture" included all moveable objects (tangible moveable property), such as bronzes, ceramics, tapestries, carpets – which were treated as the artistic decor of the interiors. Objects which constituted separate collections (paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings) were most often listed separately. The inventories of the Royal Łazienki have an advantage over those of the Royal Castle in that they include the whole of the permanent decor in which the objects were located. It should also be pointed out that both in the descriptions in the inventories and also on the objects that have survived to this day, there are no markings which indicate to whom they belonged, or any inventory numbers dating from Stanislavian times. The only exception are the paintings and prints.

The Łazienki inventory dating from 1795 (AJP 164) can be supplemented with an earlier inventory of the Royal Castle drawn up in that same year.[4] A comparison of the two texts shows that at that time a large group of objects were taken from the Castle to the Łazienki. As a result of the catastrophic Third Partition, Stanisław August removed any items he considered to be his personal property from the Castle and had them taken to his private residence at the Łazienki Palace. Later, after his abdication, he also took them with him to Grodno and St Petersburg, where he was interned by the Russians.

Many of the materials concerning individual works of art can also be found in other record groups at AGAD

– Zbiór Popielów (The Popiel Collection – hereinafter ZP) contains ‘ekspensy i specyfikacje’ (expenses and specifications), amounts spent and materials used to decorate the interiors, the surnames of craftsmen engaged in the work, e.g.: 230, p. 88: Tabela pozostałego długu do wypłacenia profesionalistom za roboty porobione do fabryki JKM w Ujazdowie i Łazienkach ab 1770 usq(e) ultimam aris 1776 [Table of remaining debts vis-à-vis specialist artisans for work on Ujazdów and Łazienki]; or 389, pp. 514, 516, 517, 518, 520, 521, 526, 530, 532, 534, 536, and 542, regarding furniture made in 1788 for the Orangery at the Łazienki.

  • Archiwum Kameralne (The Keepers of the Royal Treasury Fonds – hereinafter AK), contains the main contracts with craftsmen, quotations and bills, e.g. III/467, which concerns the interiors of the Palace on the Isle after extension work in the years 1788–1792, new benches in the Ballroom; the purchase of four tables for the Gallery from Hampel’s in Warsaw, and contracts with Xawery Deybel and the gilder Szarkowski for the furniture in the Salle de Salomon 25/2/1792.

To summarize, the other archive record groups are of considerable importance for the history of individual works of art, which is now very helpful when establishing the losses, and proving that certain objects were connected with the Łazienki residence from the beginning of its existence.


The dates encompass the history of the residence from the death of Stanisław August in St Petersburg, until it was sold by his heirs to Tsar Alexander I. This was one of the most difficult periods in the history of the Łazienki – during the Prussian occupation and the Napoleonic Wars, during the existence of the Duchy of Warsaw. The main heir – Prince Józef Poniatowski – was at that time struggling with the legal settlement of matters after the death of his two uncles: the king and the primate. It was not a good time for buying works of art or acquiring an expansive residence, which was very costly to maintain, in suburban Warsaw. The Prince was able to settle matters relating to the king’s property at the Castle, which was purchased by the authorities of the Duchy of Warsaw; the Łazienki, however, were not sold until 1817, by his sister, Maria Teresa Tyszkiewicz, after Prince Józef’s dramatic death at the Battle of Leipzig (1813). The heirs were forced to hold numerous auctions of the collections and objects of everyday use. These sales were held in the library at the Royal Castle. Potential clients were driven to the Łazienki in droshkies (horse-driven taxis) where they were often given dinner, at the cost of the Prince![5] The contract for the sale of the Łazienki was signed on 15/10/1817.[6] Teresa Tyszkiewicz did not include a set of family portraits from the Dining Room in the sale – she took them with her to France.

In this period, the collections were further diminished, as can be seen in the documents in the AJP, and was finalized with the sale of the residence to Tsar Alexander I.


One of the longest periods in the history of the Łazienki – which lasted almost one-hundred years – was when it was in the hands of one family – the Russian tsars of the Romanov dynasty. The residence became one of Alexander I’s favourite places; he separated out a part of the grounds (i.e. the so-called Upper Garden) for his brother, Grand Duke Konstantin, and another part for the University, to lay out a botanical garden (1818). The more important investments at that time included the extension of the Belvedere Palace according to plans drawn up by Jakub Kubicki (1819–1822), locating the Officer Cadet School in the Great Annexe (1822), and the building of an Astronomical Observatory (1820–1825). The status of the Łazienki changed greatly after the famous November Night of 1830 when a group of officer cadets began an Uprising against the Russians on the grounds of the Łazienki. During the Uprising, at the Royal Castle in Warsaw the Romanovs were deposed as kings of Poland, thus sealing the fate of the building. After the Uprising, the Castle ceased to be the seat of the monarchy. The Russian governor-generals (namestniks) resided here with their administrative staff. The building itself was placed under municipal management. The Łazienki became the main seat of the Tsars in the Kingdom of Poland (Congress Poland). Visits by the tsars and their families became less frequent, but of a more official nature. European monarchs did not willingly plan to meet the Tsars in the somewhat remote St Petersburg; they preferred to meet in Warsaw which was much more accessible. New buildings were erected, and existing ones, such as the Palace on the Isle, the White Pavilion, the Myślewicki Palace, the Hermitage, and the Belvedere Palace, were renovated and enlarged; the interior decor was altered, new furnishings were acquired and the former ones were put into storage in the so-called Magazyn Wielki (large storeroom) located in a wing of the building which had been occupied by the Officer Cadet School. Crowned heads such as Franz Joseph I, Frederick Wilhelm IV of Prussia, and members of the European aristocracy were hosted in the new interiors; new attractions were made available – parties, balls, amusements in the garden, and plays were staged and concerts organized in both theatres.[7]

The institutional and administrative structure which was responsible for the management of the residence, and whose tasks are also reflected in the resources available in AGAD, is of great importance to further studies of the decor of the Łazienki residence at that time.

– From 1817, the Łazienki and Belvedere Palace were under the aegis of the Rząd Królestwa Polskiego (Management of the Kingdom of Poland) and were managed by Ignacy Banczakiewicz, Commissary of the Łazienki.

  • In 1832 as a result of reorganizing the system for managing the imperial palaces, the position of Commissary of the Łazienki and Belvedere palaces was established. Banczakiewicz retained the post. His name appears with this title in many signed documents dating from the 1830s. One of his tasks was to keep a watchful eye over the architecture of the buildings and the entire estate, and to supervise the work of officials and the palace staff. In the years 1817–1833, the architect Ignacy Kubicki worked under him. Kubicki supervised all the building and artistic work undertaken at the Łazienki Palace. After his death, this task was taken over by Giuseppe (Józef) Boretti, an architect from Lombardy.
  • After 1835, Michałowski replaced Banczakiewicz, and is listed as "fulfilling the tasks of the Commissary of the Łazienki and Belvedere palaces".
  • In 1839 the Zarząd Pałaców Cesarskich (Management of the Imperial Palaces – hereinafter: ZPC) was established, headed by Ignacy Abramowicz. It managed the imperial palaces in the Kingdom of Poland, which were within the domain of the Tsars. They also included the Łazienki, Belvedere and Sielce.
  • In subsequent years, other departments were opened within the ZPC: in 1844 the Wydział Stajenny (Stables’ Department), and from 1848 the Wydział Cerkiewny (Orthodox Churches’ Department), in 1863 the ZPC was tasked with managing the Royal Castle in Warsaw. This body was subordinated to the Ministry of the Imperial Court in St Petersburg.
  • In 1885 the ZPC was renamed the Warszawski Zarząd Pałacowy (Warsaw Management of Palaces) and as such remained until the fall of the Romanovs.[8]

In AGAD most documents can be found in several record groups. The principle ones include the following:

  • Intendent Łazienek Królewskich (Commissary of the Royal Łazienki) – record group no. 206 (94 file units)
  • Intendent Łazienek i Belwederu (Commissary of the Łazienki and Belvedere Palaces) – record group no. 212 (74 file units)
  • Kancelaria Własna Namiestnika. Wydział Pałacowy (Chancellery of the Namestnik. Department of Palaces) – record group no. 213 (255 file units)
  • Zarząd Pałaców Cesarskich (Management of Imperial Palaces) – record group no. 214 (3,821 file units).

The contents of the file units are occasionally consistent if they consist of an inventory of one of the palaces. At other times they can be very varied, especially if they contain a number of documents covering several years; for example which concern the renovation work in one of the buildings at the Royal Łazienki. Nevertheless, the materials they contain unusually constitute a rich source of knowledge on the history of the Royal Łazienki over a period of nearly one hundred years. All the more so since there are many snippets of information in what appear to be totally insignificant materials, but they are significant when viewed in their entirety – for example information concerning renovation work. Finding this information and comparing allows us to gain a broader perspective of how the Łazienki functioned in different periods.

As mentioned above, of particular importance are the inventories and all kinds of lists:

  • Record group. 206, file unit 86: Spis rzeczy znajdujących się w Pałacu w Łazienkach, Officynie Kuchennej, Austeryi i Bażantarii. 1817 r. [List of items in the Łazienki Palace, the Kitchen Annexe, the Inn and the Pheasantry. 1817]

The first inventory to be compiled after the Tsar took over the residence. It is relatively short, unpaginated, and contains 24 pages. However it gives a clear idea of the buildings then in existence and the decor.

  • Record group 206, file unit 88: Łazienki inventory of 1820

It contains 90 pages. It focuses mainly on furniture, and describes the decor in the subsequent rooms in the buildings at the Łazienki. More importantly it indicates which pieces of furniture and other objects were in need of repair.

– Record group 210, file unit 174: Komisja Nadzoru Budowl Kororonnych (Committee for the Supervision of Royal Buildings – hereinafter KNBK): Inventory dating from 1820, which includes:

* Inwentarz Pałacu Jego Cesarsko-Królewskiej Mości w Majętności Łazienki Królewskie zwanej usytuowanego, wystawiający położenie figury zewnętrznej i tudzież rozkład wewnętrznych apartamentów z wyrażeniem każdego szczegółu widzialnych w budowie materiałów i obecnego onychże stanu z r. 1820 [an inventory of the Royal Łazienki, showing the exterior, the layout of the interiors and details thereof and their current condition) – pp. 1–140;

* Inwentarz ruchomości Skarbowych w Pałacu Jego Cesarsko-Królewskiej Mości Łazienkowskim w każdym respective apartamencie oddzielnemi numerami odznaczonym, znajdującym się [an inventory of cultural treasures in the Łazienki Palace in each apartment, with numbers indicating their location) – pp. 141–412;

* Opisanie pierwszego piętra domu Myślewice zwanego [a description of the first floor of the Myślewice Palace) – pp. 413–432;

* Opisanie drugiego piętra domu Myślewice zwanego [a description of the second floor of the Myślewice Palace) – pp. 432–439;

* Opisanie Domu Białego [a description of the White Pavilion], pp. 453–536;

* Opisanie Kordegardy [a description of the Guardhouse], pp. 536–573;

* Opis teatru [a description of the theatre], pp. 574–637;

Opis domku dla ogrodnika [a description of the gardener’s small house], pp. 690–701;

* Opisanie domu Garwoliński zwanego [a description of the building called the Garwoliński house], pp. 702–726

This inventory is the only one among those that have survived to contain, alongside detailed descriptions of the decor in the palace interiors, detailed descriptions of where the buildings were located and their current condition.

  • Record group 206, file unit 89: Inwentarz ruchomości Pałacu Jego Cesarsko Królewskiej Mości Łazienki zwanego. 1832 r. sporządzonego [an inventory of chattels drawn up in 1832]
  • Record group 206, file unit 90: Inwentarz Łazienek Królewskich [Inventory of the Royal Łazienki] (undated, early 1830s]
  • Record group 206, file unit 91: Pałac Rezydencjonalny Łazienek Królewskich [Royal Łazienki residential palace] (undated, early 1830s)

Three inventories dating from around the time of the November Uprising of 1830, each of which has approx. 100 pages. Each inventory gives details of particular rooms at the Łazienki Palace. It contains lists of furniture, carpets, rugs, mirrors, candelabras, beds, chairs, sofas, etc. The dimensions of the items are often given in inches.

  • Record group 214, file unit 2988: Inwentarz Kosztowności, Mebli i innych Ruchomości znajdujących się w Cesarskim Pałacu Łazienki. Spisany w latach 1839 i 1842 [Inventory of cultural assets, furniture and other chattels in the Imperial Łazienki Palace in the years 1839 and 1842]

Two lists drawn up by Colonel Abramowicz, who in 1839 took over the management of the imperial palaces at the Łazienki. One of the lists includes objects which were in the Palace when the Colonel took over, the second contains items which the Palace acquired after he took up his post on 1 August 1839. The inventory lists all kinds of objects according to the rooms in the palace in which they are located, e.g. the backs of pages 8v–20v contain lists of paintings. The fronts of these pages contain two columns: "Acquisitions" and "Sales". There is a broad range of information written in pencil on provenance, details of the acquisitions, and the actual location of the objects in the various buildings, such as the fact of an item having been moved to the Myślewicki Palace. Both lists contain 1,480 different objects which in these years were part of the decor of the rooms in the Łazienki Palace.

– Record group 214, file unit 2991: Inwentarz Kosztowności, Mebli i innych Ruchomości (…) w Białym Domu (…)w latach 1839 i 1842 [Inventory of cultural assets, furniture and other movables … in the White Pavilion … in the years 1839 and 1842].

Two inventories from a series consisting of twelve, dating from the years 1839–1844, encompass the majority of the important buildings at the Łazienki. They record the principal building and renovation work in the residence since the times of King Stanisław August (extension work, replacing stoves, fireplaces, floors, etc. They also record the many new acquisitions made in Warsaw (Polish Exhibitions) and those made abroad (bronzes acquired in France) and the renovation of antique furniture (gilding work, replacing upholstery, etc.). These are the last inventories dating from the time of the Tsars to be written in Polish. In that same year, 1839, Abramowicz conducted a detailed review of the mobile assets which were acquired and sold by the Łazienki (file unit: 3001).

Łazienki inventories dating from the turn of the 19th/20th centuries written in Russian. These include the Łazienki, Belvedere and Sielce: 1854 (9 volumes); 1871 (9 volumes); 1896–1899 (19 volumes), 1906–1907 (25 volumes). These are lists recording the furnishings, which were drawn up in the period closest to the time when they were taken into the depths of Russia. By comparing these lists with the one of items returned to Poland after the Treaty of Riga, gives us a fairly good idea of the losses suffered by the Royal Łazienki as a result of the First World War.

Apart from the inventories we also have a large number of file units which contain all kinds of documentation concerning building work on the grounds of the Royal Łazienki, renovation work, clearing work, payments to workers, contentious issues with them, payments for the costs of all sorts of work. A great deal of correspondence was carried out between the Commissary of the Royal Łazienki and later the Management of the Imperial Palaces and the Namestniks and the authorities of the Kingdom of Poland and even the Ministry for the Imperial Court in St Petersburg. They survived in their original form, and also as copies, rough copies and records.

A large number of documents were produced for each legal action, administrative matter or investment undertaken at the Royal Łazienki; these documents allow us to gain an insight into how the administration functioned in the times of Ignacy Banczakiewicz, Ignacy Abramowicz and in the following decades. They also provide an interesting picture when viewed against the backdrop of a sudden crisis situation, such as the one which arose due as a result of a fire which broke out at the Łazienki in 1858.[9]

There is a great deal of correspondence in record group 213 which contains documentation concerning the imperial palaces, drawn up by the Chancellery of the Namestnik to the Kingdom of Poland. It was meticulously maintained and concerned all aspects of every kind of action carried out as well as the management of the Łazienki Palace; for example the correspondence about furniture in the palace in the years 1838–1839 (file unit 107), and the detailed documents concerning the furnishing of the Łazienki Palace, its renovations, changes to the decor, etc. in the years 1831–1852 (file unit 126). Based on these documents it is possible to make an attempt at forming an impression of specific rooms in the palace at a given moment, and their condition. The list drawn up in 1835 by Józef Boretti could be used as an example here. It gives detailed descriptions of the rooms and lists the various objects with which they were furnished, and suggestions as to what needed to be renovated or repaired (file unit 126, pp. 13–18). It is also possible to attempt to recreate the changes which the architecture and artistic decor of these rooms underwent.

This documentation also contains information concerning the fate of a great variety of objects which constituted the furnishings of the Royal Łazienki. In record group no. 213, under file unit 107, pp. 80–82, there is a list of furniture which was removed from the Royal Castle and taken to the Łazienki at the end of 1835. It contains 44 items. It appears that not only furniture was taken from the Royal Castle but also marble. At the beginning of 1839 Michałowski, who then held the post of commissary, wrote about marbles brought to the Łazienki Palace which purportedly came from the "from the so-called Marble Room at the Royal Castle" (p. 69). Relocating items between the two residences was an interesting issue; all the more so since we know that several years earlier, in 1821, a large number of items had been removed from the Łazienki and taken to the Royal Castle.[10]

In fact there is a great deal of documentation in AGAD’s resources which enables us to undertake wide-ranging research into the history of the Łazienki residence in the years 1817–1915, and also into the fate of specific objects which, for longer or shorter periods, had been part of the palace’s furnishings. These materials are very varied in scope/topic, but they also include a great deal of information which is still to be discovered and made available in academic circles.


In October 1914, after the outbreak of the First World War, works of art were already being removed from the Palace on the Isle and taken to Moscow, even before the Tsar’s official order to do so on 16 December 1914. Until July 1915, all the movable property in the imperial palaces, including the Łazienki and Chancellery for the Management of Palaces in Warsaw, was transported to Russia. Eight-hundred crates filled with works of art were removed and stored in the Kremlin Armoury and in the outhouses at the Neskuchny Sad in Moscow.

When the Tsarist autocracy was overthrown by revolutionaries, in January 1918, on the order of the Bolshevik Soviet’s People’s Commissar, Anatoly Lunacharsky, the Warsaw Management of Palaces was liquidated and was replaced by the Chancellery of the Polish Commissariat, which was entrusted with supervision over Polish cultural treasures that had been transported to Russia.[11]

When Poland was still under German occupation (from August 1915) the former "imperial palaces" were taken over by the Towarzystwo Opieki nad Zabytkami Przeszłości (Society for the Protection of Historical Monuments – hereinafter: TOnZP), which obtained permission, even during the Russian evacuation, to document the interiors and what remained of the mobile property. In the case of the Łazienki, apart from series of photographs,[12] an inventory, in watercolours, was made of some of the architectural details as well as of the furniture and bronzes that remained in place.[13] For a while, the Łazienki were used to house military personnel, although the Palace on the Isle and the White Pavilion were excluded from use as army quarters.[14]

The Revolution in Russia and the Polish-Soviet War meant that it was only possible to return the property of the Royal Łazienki after the signing of the Treaty of Riga in March 1921. As previously mentioned, after Poland regained its independence, the Lazienki were on the list of Official Residences of the Polish Republic.[15] The collections amassed at the Łazienki and other Official Residences of the Polish Republic were looked after by an institution known as the Zbiory Państwowe [State Collections – hereinafter ZP], which was established in 1922 as an executive organ of the Ministry of Public Works, and which was later assigned to the care of the Ministerstwo Wyznań i Oświecenia Publicznego (Ministry of Religious Denominations and Public Enlightenment – hereinafter: MWRiOP). The State Collections managed the collection belonging to the State Treasury – this collection was set up after the signing of the Treaty of Riga as a result of the restitution to Poland of works of art from Russia and – in a later period – collections donated to the state by private individuals, and works of art that were acquired to supplement the furnishings and collections in the Official Residences of the Polish Republic.

The crates containing cultural assets belonging to the Łazienki, which were returned from Moscow, were unpacked on 25 January 1922.

Report no. 1 of that day stated that: "On 25 January 1922, crate No. 339, marked B.D.Л [Варшавский Дворец Лазенки] from wagon No. 982717/86323, which was returned this year from Russia, was opened in the storeroom at the Lazienki in the presence of the persons signed below. The crate had not been tampered with and it contained: 43 silk and satin cushions with double covers, which were worn and musty, with the initials H and A/II [the monograms of Alexander II Nikolayevich (some unmarked). These items were recorded in the inventory ledger under nos. 1–43 and were received by storeman Ludwik Motz.’ The report was signed by Lech Niemojewski and Roman Jagielski, an adviser at the Najwyższa Izby Kontroli (the Supreme Audit Office), and others.

Other reports, of which there were a total of 441, were written up until 21 June 1922,[16] and 3,840 items were recorded in the inventory ledgers. All the numbers were preceded with the digit "0". A large number of smaller items were described collectively, under one number, in the inventory. Very often the list of contents drawn up by the Russians was appended to the reports which recorded the opening of successive crates.

A detailed analysis of the reports enables a fairly accurate reconstruction of the furnishings at the Royal Łazienki when they functioned as an Official Residence of the Polish Republic. This is of great importance, because approx. 80% of these furnishings and decor were damaged or were no longer the property of the Museum after the Second World War.

Report no. 2 (dated 25 January 1922) recorded the receipt of 23 brass samovars, 25 samovar chimneys and 20 drip bowls for the chimneys. In total 68 pieces were recorded in the inventory under nos. 44–111.

The next report recorded the receipt of a total of 134 glasses of various types which were recorded in the inventories under nos. 112–116; 143 plates under two numbers: 120 and 121. On 26 January, the following were recorded: "copper kitchen utensils, as follows: 13 fish kettles with lids, 11 pans of various sizes and 4 frying pans" (under inventory nos. 370–397).

Furniture was often recorded in the reports; the following pieces are listed under no. 18: "1 Louis Philippe rosewood bed; 1 Louis Philippe mahogany bed; 1 Louis XVI sofa, white, gilded, with blue upholstery; 2 cushions for the sofa, with blue upholstery; 1 Louis XVI armchair, white, gilded, blue upholstery; 4 Louis Philippe mahogany chairs, with red upholstery; 1 Louis Philippe mahogany armchair, carved, with red upholstery” (inventory nos. 419–425). Those viewing the objects sometimes provided the information that they were from the time of the last king. Report no. 36 recorded the following: "Stanisław August’s bed from the White Pavilion carved, gilded, covered with green damask, damaged" (inv. no. 479), and report no. 27: "1 desk of King Stanisław August from the Chinese Study, walnut with bronze, covered with red baize, damaged" (inv. no. 451).

More importantly, when documenting the paintings, earlier inventory numbers were recorded in the report therefore making their identification far easier. Report no. 32 dated 16 May 1922 recorded: "5 paintings in gilded frames: 1) oil on copper, bouquet of flowers. On the back I Ł Nr 709 in red oil paint. On front, on plaque – Nr 157. 2) Oil on copper, Madonna holding the Child Jesus in her arms, on plaque nr 189, on painting, Nr 1673 in red oil paint. 3) Oil on panel, rider on horseback, former numbers on back, Nr 92 in red oil paint, T V Nr 69 A II, and the Nr 54 on the plaque on the front and Nr 1717 on the painting in red oil paint. 4) Oil on canvas, portrait of a young woman in an oval frame, former numbers on the back, Ł Nr 272 in red oil paint, T V Nr 78 AII on label, and Nr 101 on plaque on the front and Nr 132 on painting in red oil paint. 5) Oil on canvas, portrait of young woman with mask in her hand, in an oval frame. Former numbers on back, Ł Nr 303 in red oil paint, T V Nr 177 AII on label, and Nr 92 on the plaque at the front, and 133 on the painting in red oil paint" (inv. nos. 458–462).

According to collective lists, the crates brought from Russia contained a total of 136 paintings, 48 sculptures, 1,099 pieces of furniture, 395 bronzes, 11 tapestries which gives a total of 1,689 objects that could be considered works of art.[17] There were also, of course, a huge numbers of objects of everyday use.

The inventory numbers listed in the reports are of primary importance because the inventory has not survived to this day.

When the procedure of opening the crates brought from Russia was completed at the Royal Łazienki, on 10 March 1923 the Inwentarz Pałacu Łazienkowskiego oraz Białego Domku [Inventory of the Łazienki Palace and White Pavilion] was drawn up.[18] It is a specification, in alphabetical order, documenting in which rooms specific objects were placed. The latter inventory included the numbers given to the objects, i.e. the numbers they had been given from the now missing inventory – which were the numbers allocated to the objects when the crates were opened). (This can be determined by comparing them with the reports drawn up when opening the crates). A separate heading entitled "exemptions" listed the relocation of individual items, or their removal from the Łazienki to other buildings, mainly to the Royal Castle. This heading also included items which had not been taken to Russia or which had inventory numbers of the Royal Castle. Other valuable documentation is Ewidencja ruchu przedmiotów wzbogacających inwentarz zasadniczy Pałacu Łazienkowskiego i Białego Domku z dnia 10 marca 1923 lub też z inwentarza tego wyłączonych [Records of the movement of objects enriching the main inventory of the Łazienki Palace and White Pavilion dated 10 March 1923 as well as the inventory of exempted items]; Przychód and Rozchód [acquisitions and disposals] were recorded separately. According to annotations made on this document: "If the objects are excluded from the main inventory, they are recorded in "disposals" both in the main inventory and also in this document. The objects enriching the main inventory are only recorded in "acquisitions" in this document". In the annexe, a concordance of Niemojewski’s catalogue nos. for the paintings was included with the inventory numbers. Three paintings not included in this catalogue were also recorded: Portrait of the Princess of Łowicz (inv. no. 01685), The Ark of the Covenant being carried into to the Temple in Jerusalem, and The Fall of Solomon (both in the Salle de Salomon).

In 1937 a new inventory was drawn up which recorded how the objects had been placed in various rooms on the ground and first floors of the Palace on the Isle.[19] It is a topographical inventory, and includes also objects of everyday use (baskets, extinguishers, thermometers, ashtrays, guards’ revolvers, etc.). The markings on the objects were changed. The individual groups of objects are marked with Roman numerals: I. furniture; II bronzes; III ceramics. The sub-groups within the main groups are marked using the Latin alphabet, e.g.: a – benches; d – screens; e – armchairs, etc. The markings, added using oil paints, still appear on objects that have survived to this day. They are often preceded by letters which designate the buildings in which they were located: P – Pałac na Wyspie [Palace on the Isle], BD – Biały Dom [White Pavilion], and ZK – Zamek Królewski [Royal Castle].

In the interwar period only the Palace on the Isle and the White Pavilion were treated as museum buildings.


The collections of the Royal Łazienki suffered a great deal of devastation as a result of the Second World War; the Germans set fire to the Palace on the Isle and the other buildings were also damaged. The entire history of this damage is still not fully known.

In September 1939, when the Germans besieged Warsaw, there is information that part of the collections in the Palace on the Isle had been packed into crates and stood in the rooms. Towards the end of September, the army was stationed in the Palace, and there was artillery in the park. Staff Officer Ignacy Bukowski reminisced: "the following day, the "squadron" was moved to the Łazienki Park, where we were stationed in the Palace. Three of us slept together (…), on the first floor, in a huge bed, which had once been used by the King of Romania during his visit to Warsaw. (…) The next day, on 1 October [1939] … members of the Civic Guard with difficulty safeguarded the beautiful period furniture from being damaged, or in some cases even from being looted. At one point, when I was walking down the stairs, from the first floor, one of them asked me to intervene. One of the soldiers was holding a very large gilded bronze clock which he had taken from the mantelpiece in the Ballroom. … I had a gun. Was I supposed to use it against one of my own soldiers, and for a reason which seemed rather trivial given the enormity of the disaster that had befallen Poland".[20] According to the author, the matter ended peacefully, the soldier returned the clock, but can we be certain that no losses were recorded at that time?

Soon after capturing Warsaw, the occupying forces established a German district in the vicinity of Aleje Ujazdowskie. The Łazienki were incorporated into the German zone. Therefore, until 1945, the Łazienki Park and the historic buildings located therein were not accessible to Poles. As a result of Governor General Hans Frank’s famous decree, on 16 December 1939, due to so-called "securing" of works of art in the Governate, on that very same day, the plundering of the palace’s cultural assets began, even before for the decree had officially come into force. In the Archiwum Akt Nowych (Archives of New Records – hereinafter: AAN), there is a document which lists: Spis mebli zabranych z Pałacu na Wodzie przez władze niemieckie, na umeblowanie apartamentów przy ul. Szopena 13 (mieszkanie byłego posła Czechosłowacji), zabrane w dniu 1.II.1940 r. [List of furniture removed from the Palace on the Water by the German authorities to furnish apartments at 13 Szopen Street (the former dwelling of the Czechoslovakian emissary), taken on 1 February 1940].[21] The majority of the palace’s interiors were stripped of their collections almost until March 1940.

Some of the works of art were taken to the National Museum in Warsaw, which the occupying forces treated as a temporary storehouse where items could be segregated and transported further afield. Employees of the National Museum in Warsaw tried to keep a record of the works of art coming into and going out of the storehouse, even making small illustrations of them in ink, pencil and watercolour.[22] We know that some of the Łazienki collections ended up in the Wawel – the headquarters of Governor General Hans Frank. After the war, a larger group of the collections, including paintings, furniture and bronzes, were found at Fischhorn Castle in Austria, which was used as a warehouse for plundered works of art, largely from Polish institutions.[23]

The category "paintings" contained 37 items from Stanisław August’s collection which are considered to be war losses. The museum’s losses are significantly greater in the other categories.

The Palace on the Isle, which had been damaged during a fire, was rebuilt and was only designated as a museum of interiors after 1960 (as a branch of the National Museum). The collections which were returned from Fischhorn from 1945 to 1946 were earlier dispersed among various governmental institutes, even to the Polish Theatre, where they were used as theatre props. After 1960 not all of them could be identified and recovered, which only served to increase the Łazienki’s war losses.

Iconographic collections

Apart from collections of photographs and negatives on the subject of the Łazienki that have been mentioned briefly in the footnotes, and which are housed at the Instytut Sztuki PAN (Institute of Art History of the Polish Academy of Sciences), Archiwum Ikonograficznym MNW (Iconographic Archives of the National Museum in Warsaw), Archiwum Muzeum Warszawy (Archives of the Museum of Warsaw), Narodowy Archiwum Cyfrowy (National Digital Archives), and the Fundacja Archeologii Fotografii (Archaeology of Photography Foundation), the Archiwum Państwowe w Warszawie (The State Archives in Warsaw), also have a large collection. In record group no. 3381 – Wojewódzki Urząd Ochrony Zabytków (Voivodship Office for the Protection of Historical Monuments) – Wykaz spisów zdawczo-odbiorczych materiałów archiwalnych przekazywanych przez Wojewódzki Urząd Ochrony Zabytków z siedzibą w Warszawie do Archiwum Państwowego m.st. Warszawy [List of acknowledgement of receipt of archival materials transferred by the Voivodship Office for the Protection of Historical Monuments, with its seat in Warsaw to The State Archives of the City of Warsaw] 390 photographs were found depicting, among other things, the Amphitheatre, the White Pavilion, the Palace on the Isle, the Myślewicki Palace, the Old Orangery, the Royal Theatre in the Old Orangery and the New Guardhouse. Some of them are not dated; the others, however, date from the early 19th century, the interwar period and the years 1945–1953. They not only show what the exteriors of the aforementioned buildings looked like, but also their interiors and various elements of the decor (paintings, sculptures, bas reliefs, chandeliers, furniture and fireplaces). Comparing the photographs from the interwar period with those taken immediately after the end of the Second World War enables us to determine the damages which the Royal Łazienki suffered under German occupation.


The short period of time at the disposal of the team engaged in the losses in the Łazienki collections as a result of the war, sufficed only to systematize the archives and prepare a database which can be useful in subsequent stages of the work. During a discussion, we came to the conclusion that it would be necessary to produce a concordance of the various markings used on the Łazienki’s property, in particular of those which appear on the items recovered after the First World War and those managed by the State Art Collections in the interwar period. Without these markings, some of which are missing even on inventory cards of the objects, it is impossible to identify many of the works of art by simply making using of vague descriptions.

Russia should be an important focal point in future searches, and more importantly the archives in St Petersburg. The authorities in Warsaw in charge of the imperial palaces, including the Łazienki, were subordinated to the Ministry of the Imperial Court which had its seat on the Neva river. Many letters concerning the palaces in Warsaw were sent to them from the capital. Many decisions were made there and the accounts, petitions, documentation, etc. sent from Warsaw were stored away meticulously. Alongside the archives from AGAD and AAN they provide a relatively full picture of the aspects of the history of the Royal Łazienki which are of importance to us.

Maciej Choynowski, Krzysztof Kossarzecki, Andrzej Majewski, Krystyna Mikucka-Stasiak, Michał Przygoda, Tomasz Szwaciński

[1] Władysław Tatarkiewicz, Łazienki Warszawskie, Warsaw 1968 (with a full bibliography and a full list of the iconography, as well as a list of archival materials some of which survived and some of which were lost after 1945); Marek Kwiatkowski, Łazienki, Warsaw 1972; id: Stanisław August Król-Architekt, Wrocław-Warsaw-Kraków 1983; id., Wielka Księga Łazienek, Warsaw 2000.

[2]Władysław Tatarkiewicz, Rządy artystyczne Stanisława Augusta, Warsaw 1919; Lech Niemojewski, Wnętrza architektoniczne pałaców stanisławowskich, Warsaw 1927 (including examples of Stanislavian furniture); Tadeusz Mańkowski, Galeria Stanisława Augusta, Lwów 1932; id: Rzeźby zbioru Stanisława Augusta, Kraków 1948; Zuzanna Prószyńska, Zegary Stanisława Augusta, Warsaw 1994; Hanna Małachowicz, "Galeria Obrazów Stanisława Augusta", in: Stanisław August ostatni król Polski. Polityk mecenas, reformator, 1764–1795, exh. cat. Zamek Królewski w Warszawie 26/11/2011–19/2/.2012, ed. Angela Sołtys, Warsaw 2011, pp. 223–231 (in which all known catalogues of paintings from the Stanisław August collection in the years 1784–1795 are discussed); Maciej Choynowski, "Łoża Stanisława Augusta. Między prywatnością a ceremoniałem", in: Łazienki Królewskie. Nowe świadectwa – nowe znaczenia, materials from the first part of the conference organized on 8 May 2012 by the Ośrodek Badań nad Epoką Stanisławowską, Muzeum Łazienki Królewskie (Centre for Research on the Stanislavian Era), Warsaw 2013, pp. 89–119; id: "Z badań nad meblami stanisławowskimi: Konsola i stół konsolowy – stałe elementy architektoniczne paradnego wnętrza", Kronika Zamkowa. Roczniki, 2014, no. 1(67), pp. 151–200.

[3] AGAD, Komisja Nadzoru Budowli Korony (record group no. 210)

[4] AJP 185, Inventaire Général des meubles et effets mobiliers qui sont dans le Château de Varsovie, fait en mars 1795, and – AGAD, AJP 187, Inventaire du Garde-meuble du Château de Varsovie, fait Au mois de mars 1795. Edited and published in its entirely by N. Ładyka: Generalny Inwentarz Mebli i innych ruchomości znajdujących się w Zamku Warszawskim, sporządzony w marcu 1795 roku, Warsaw, Royal Castle 1997

[5] AGAD, AJP, no. 510, p. 286.

[6] AGAD, Zarząd Pałaców Cesarskich (Management of the Imperial Palaces – hereinafter ZPC), no. 1400

[7] Based on: Tadeusz Bernatowicz, "Cesarskie Łazienki w Warszawie. Pałac w świetle nieznanych pomiarów Ludwika Szmideckiego z 1841 roku", in: Hortus vitae. Księga pamiątkowa dedykowana Andrzejowi Michałowskiemu, Warsaw 2001, p. 29. Here also is cited literature concerning the history of the Łazienki during the reign of the Romanovs.

[8] See Elżbieta Sęczys, "Administracja pałaców ‘cesarskich’ w Warszawie w latach 1796–1918 i pozostałe po niej akta" Archeion, vol. 66 (1978), pp. 131–135.

[9] Record group 213, file unit 142

[10] Record group no. 206, file unit 48

[11] AGAD, AJP, no. 25, p. 48.

[12] Photographs published on the internet on the ISPAN website: Zbiory ikonograficzne Towarzystwa Opieki nad Zabytkami Przeszłości archiwum fotograficzne i zbiór rycin. After typing in the headword Łazienki Królewskie, nearly 70 photos appear of the interiors and decor the majority in the years 1915–1916. This collection was copied in the Łazienki Museum for the use of this research. The second set of photographs from TOnZP is in the possession of the Archiwum Ikonograficznego Muzeum Narodowego in Warsaw (Iconographic Archives of the National Museum in Warsaw).

[13] The watercolour paintings dating from 1915–1916, concerning the Łazienki can now be found in the Archiwum Ikonograficznym Muzeum Narodowego in Warsaw. Some of them could be copied for the needs of this research.

[14] Cf: Inventory of apartments and rooms occupied by German authorities according to a list drawn up in May 1916 of all movable property at the Łazienki, AGAD, ZPC. No. 168.

[15] D. Juszczak, H. Małachowicz, "Łazienkowska Kolekcja Obrazów Historia i Stan Badań", [in:] Galeria obrazów Stanisława Augusta w Łazienkach Królewskich: Katalog, Warszawa 2015, p. 27.

[16] Archiwum Akt Nowych (Archives of New Records – AAN), Ministerstwo Wyznań i Oświecenia Publicznego (Ministry of Religious Denominations and Public Enlightenment – MWRiOP) (record group 14), file unit 7084.

[17] List of the number of items brought from Russia, AAN, MWRiOP, file unit 7084, p. 1

[18] AAN, MWRiOP (record group 14), file unit 7092.

[19] Ignacy Bukowski, Z minionych lat. Wspomnienia oficera sztabu, Warsaw 1974, pp. 319, 320, and 322–323

[20] AAN, file unit 387/2, B-1127. A copy (?) of this document can be found in the Dział Inwentarzy Muzeum Narodowego w Warszawie [Inventory Department of the National Museum in Warsaw].

[21] Inwentarz kartkowy w Dziale inwentarzy MNW [Card inventory in the Inventory Department of the National Museum in Warsaw].

[22] B.T. Urbanowicz, "Dziennik Fischhornu", in: Walka o dobra kultury, Warsaw 1939–1945, Warsaw 1970.

Subsidized by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage from the Culture Promotion Fund.