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A One-Masterpiece International Exhibition „Filius vero unicus... CHILD ARMOUR OF SIGISMUND AUGUSTUS“

8 April–5 June 2022
Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania

Exhibition Patrons
Minister of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania Simonas Kairys
Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland Prof. Piotr Glinski
 

The National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, along with the Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collections in Kraków (Poland) and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute (Warsaw, Poland), our closest and most loyal partners, continue this tradition with the presentation of one, exceptional masterpiece – the children’s suit of armour of the Lithuanian and Polish crown prince, Sigismund Augustus (1520–1572) – a work of astounding master craftsmanship notable for its particularly complicated history. The child armour of Sigismund Augustus was commissioned by the King of Rome, Germany, Hungary and Bohemia, later – the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I from the House of Habsburg (1503/1526/1558–1564). In 1533 Ferdinand I planned to give this armour as a gift to his future son-in-law Sigismund Augustus. The representational armour was created for the imperial family by the famous Innsbruck court master Jörg Seusenhofer (1516–1580). For the last few centuries, this suit of armour of Sigismund Augustus had been mistakenly associated with his cousin, Louis II Jagiellon, the King of Hungary and Bohemia. Another legend related to the armour but not based on any real facts also says it could have been commissioned by Sigismund Augustus’ parents for his raising ceremony to the title of Lithuanian grand duke in Vilnius in 1529.

Sigismund Augustus’ child armour tells of the colourful life story of the prince and then ruler, while also reminding us that in his times, the Lithuanian capital Vilnius had become a significant centre of politics, diplomacy, economy, culture and art in the whole European region, an important Renaissance city flourishing in the greatest period of its existence. The Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania constructed at the behest of the rulers was where the collection of jewellery, rarities, artworks and library of European renown was kept. In addition, the Vilnius palace was also the place where Sigismund Augustus had amassed his highly valuable and impressive collection of representational armour and weapons. This is why this exhibition of the child armour of Sigismund Augustus, turning the spotlight on Vilnius’ Golden Age, highlighting its status as the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and reminding us of the historic collections of the rulers once kept here, is dedicated to the 700th anniversary of the city of Vilnius.


2022-04-07
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