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THE RADZIWILLS. History and Legacy of the Princes

10 October 2019–12 January 2020
Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania

“In this name, Lithuania is recognised” – this was how contemporaries spoke of the Radziwill princes in the 16th century, when they had reached the apogee of their power. Indeed, not just among Lithuanians, but also the Poles, Belarusians and Ukrainians – successors of the traditions of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the whole Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth – saying the words “ Radziwill princes” first of all conjures up images of the early Lithuanian state – the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, its history, its goal to preserve state sovereignty, its international politics and warfare, its extensive, rich artistic legacy and art patronage initiatives, confessional relations, culture, science, economy, etc.

Along the scale of both time and space, it would be difficult to find a moment or corner of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania where the Radziwill family and its most eminent representatives would not have left their mark. Just like the imperial Habsburg dynasty delighted in the fact that the sun never set on their European and foreign domains, so too did the Radziwills assert that they could travel around the entire Grand Duchy of Lithuania and stay only in their own domains, estates and palaces. From the 15th to the very end of the 18th centuries, despite weathering some turbulence when competing with other Lithuanian magnate families, the Radziwill princes often played a fateful role in the development processes of the Lithuanian state and its society, frequently acting as the factual rulers of Lithuania and sometimes compensating for the power vacuum when the grand duke's throne was left empty. In this context of the Radziwill princes absolutely exclusive role in the early Lithuanian state, the idea voiced several years ago by Prince Maciej Radziwill, one of this exhibition's organisers, is very eloquent and accurate, that for him and members of his family, the history of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania is not just some distant textbook information or a romantic vision of the past, quite conversely – for them, it is the still living history of their family. The Radziwill princes undoubtedly best represent the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, they are one of the most distinctive, recognisable signs of the early Lithuanian state and its living tradition in Europe and the world. Therefore, the monumental international exhibition The Radziwills. History and Legacy of the Princes is also a demonstration of the history and heritage of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, where signs of the past and activities of the most famous and influential magnate family and its most eminent representatives, their merits and preserved material testament are on display.


2019-10-17
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