Walking through the Vilnius streets: Antoni Wiwulski – the creator of Grunwald monument and Three Crosses

W tym miejscu miał stanąć modernistyczny kościół Najświętszego Serca Jezusowego Fot. Marian Paluszkiewicz

Antoni Wiwulski’s Street is located in the city center. It  runs parallel to the Big Pohulanka’s Street (now Basanaviciaus). It is located close to the several objects which are worth mentioning.

In 2011, in the square at the intersection of Mindaugo’s and Vivulskio’s streets was unveiled a monument in the shape of half of an apple. It symbolizes the goodness of heart and commemorates the  individuals who come from different nationalities, who lived in Vilnius and who at various times in the past and currently devoted themselves to the charitable activities for the community center. The initiator of the setting of this sculpture is known TV journalist Edita Mildažytė. On the monument was engraved in alphabetical order the list of names of fifty persons and families who became famous for charity acts by bringing help to the poorest and conducting various activities for the common good. From Pac, Radziwiłł and Chodkiewicz families starting to the contemporary social activists ladies Alma Adamkienė and Agnė Zuokienė ending.

Until recently the biggest, modern building was the seat of a bankrupt bank “Snoras”. Further is the building of the Ministry of Social Security and Labour. Then, many offices, library, hotel, residential buildings. Next to the high building  of Mail is gray, concrete building. Until recently, there was a palace of culture building, now it is a bowling alley. To this point we shall return later.

The end of the street resembles a building site – dug ditches, equipment, machinery, noise.

Antoni Wiwulski was born February 20, 1877 in Russia in Totma ( Wołogodzki region), where lived his father, also named Antoni, who came from Wilkomierz (Ukmergė), was a participant in the  uprising of 1863 and who got a job as manager of forests state with a degree from Forest Academy in St. Petersburg . His mother, Adelajda of Karpuszkow, like his father, came from a small Polish nobility who had settled in Lithuania.

After her husband’s death in 1883 she had moved with her children (son and three daughters) to Mitau (now Latvia), where Antoni attended a German school. Then, he continued his education at the Jesuit high school in Chyrowie (Lviv province). After his graduation he studied architecture at the Technical University of Vienna, in the years 1902-1909  he studied sculpture at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In the French capital city he met Ignacy Jan Paderewski. About this – a very important meeting – information can be found below.

… In 2000, in Cracow was released a beautiful album  titled “Cracow – to Ignacy Paderewski from the Occasional  Publisher in the 90th anniversary of the unveiling of the Grunwald Monument and the 140th anniversary of the birth of the founder.” The founder was Ignacy Jan Paderewski – a great Polish patriot, politician, social activist, composer, world-renowned pianist. This extensive edition includes among others some very interesting facts concerning the formation of the Cracow monument, commemorating one of the biggest events in the history of Polish-Lithuanian wars – the Battle of Grunwald.

Ignacy Jan Paderewski in his memoirs says that his dream has always been to celebrate the great victory: “All my life I have collected money for this purpose, putting aside a part of any earned amount. In 1908 I ordered the monument but I decided that the unveiling will take place in the five hundredth anniversary – on 15 July 1910.  I was deeply moved and very happy about it.”

The artist personally chose the sculptor, whom he entrusted the fate of the monument. Certainly, he wanted to help the sick and living in poverty compatriot Antoni Wiwulski, with whom fate brought him together in Paris in the living room of Mickiewicz’s  family. Here are memories of Antoni Wiwulski (we keep the original old Polish spelling): “We met in a noble house of Mickiewicz’s in Paris. Paderewski was interested in me, he did me the pleasure of coming to see my studio, and apparently after seeing that my health could use a rest, he gave me hospitality at his home in Morges on Leman – and that’s all we had talked about. (…) When Paderewski asked me in his Morges home in August 1908  if I was tempted by the thought of creating a monument of Jagiełło, I thought that this question was just a change of subject. I answered him: “It would be a great thing to be able to carve such a history”. I was surprised a little when the next day Paderewski ordered to change the hothouse into a studio. “

Antoni Wiwulski began his sculptural adventure with re-reading of “Teutonic Knights” by Henryk Sienkiewicz. He made two projects, of which the second one about two meters in high he presented to Paderewski and heard: “Ok then, start sticking models in this size in which they would stand on the monument, and the cost of the monument I will take on myself.”

Wiwulski realistically assessing the amount of time needed to complete the monument and the state of his health chose two co-workers. One of them was a talented Vilnius sculptor Bolesław Bałzukiewicz.

Cracow  was buzzing. In the “Universal newspaper” in January 1910 was written: “Wherever possible, the entire Polish nation is preparing to the anniversary of the great battle of Grunwald, because it is the right thing to do while the Prussian partition wants to destroy us. We have to remind them about this pogrom and pay attention to the fact that maybe today dust but tomorrow gold. “

It was buzzing also because of the fact that a competition for a monument wasn’t announced. Antoni Wiwulski was not well known to the general public. Paderewski kept the matter of erecting a monument secret. The monument was being installed behind the fence, on the day of his unveiling first it was  covered with a yellow material placed on a specially assembled masts. At the time of its unveiling by the marshal of the nation Count Stanisław Badeni many thousands crowd  (the ceremony in Cracow was attended by 150,000 Poles from different sides) had gathered at the Matejko Square to see the monument for the first time.

The celebration of the victory at Grunwald  was officially started at July 15, 1910 with the church service in the Church of St. Mary and was celebrated among others by the Bishop Władysław Bandurski. It was a great and wonderful celebration, which has not been seen in Cracow, yet. Among  many speeches, including one of Ignacy Jan Paderewski, we quote the words addressed to Antoni Wiwulski by the president of the city Dr. Juliusz Leo,: ” Dear master, you have done a great work of Polish genius and gave it to the care of our city. Filled with gratitude for Thy generosity, for your gift, reflecting the depth of your patriotic feelings – we will consider ourselves the custodians of this commemorative work for the following centuries (…) “.

Grunwald Monument functioned as an important point in the geography of Cracow. It witnessed many ceremonies and events. It survived World War I, although the Germans had a great desire to destroy it. They did it in November 1939. They destroying had lasted until April 1940. It was not easy to saw and break off gummetal-granite monument’s elements.

Metal went to Silesian mills, the blocks from blue and pink Swedish granite were stored away from the Matejko Square. Some of them survived the war. After many years of efforts, on October 16, 1976 in Cracow took place the unveiling of the restored great work of Vilnius citizen Antoni Wiwulski.

Antoni Wiwulski came to Vilnius in 1912 and founded his own sculpture studio. On behalf of the Bishop Edward Ropp he designed a monumental modernist church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Vilnius.

Tomas Venclova writes: “Just as Antonio Gaudi, who at the same time build the temple of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Wiwulski wanted to try his forces with Gothic and Baroque buildings: the tower with a height of one hundred and eight metres on the edge of the Vilnius amphitheater  was supposed to complete or maybe even determine the image of the city “.

The construction was started in 1913 but was interrupted by the breaking out of first world war. Antoni Wiwulski was carving altars in the erecting church. The temple has never been completed. In 1964 the Lithuanian architects destroyed the church, rebuilding it into a palace of building culture.

Chronologically: in 1912 was started the construction of existing till today, designed by Antoni Wiwulski chapel in Szydłów (Šiluva). In 1915, according to its design  on the Castle Hill was set a cross, commemorating insurgents  buried here in 1863.  Soon it had been destroyed from the orders of the German authorities. Rebuilt in 1921 it shared the fate of its predecessor.

In 1915 he also presented the project of reconstruction of Vilnius Three Crosses; raising money for this purpose had started. In 1916, Three crosses stood in all its glory. The artist used for the first time reinforced concrete- a material little known in that times. Three Crosses of Wiwulski had survived until 1950, when by the decision of the communist authorities they were blown up.  They were rebuilt in 1989.

Tomas Venclova: “Thier whiteness balances the redness of Giedymin Castle.”

Anthoni Wiwulski died in 1919. Early January, Vilnius was approached by the Soviet army. Like many young Poles (often almost children) he  belonged to the Vilnius Self-Defense, fighting against the enemy. Its members also watched over the city, Wiwulski on the Zarzecze .It was a heavy frost, he noticed a small soldier and gave him his cloak. He got cold and shortly after died of pneumonia. He was buried in his unfinished church of the Sacred Heart on Pohulanka Street. His friend, the sculptor Bolesław Bałzukiewicz wrote ​​his epitaph.

After the destruction of the temple the remains of Antoni Wiwulski were transferred to Rossa on Literary Hill. On his tomb was placed a banal granite plate with the inscription: Architektas Skulptorius Antanas Vivulskis 1877-1919. It lasted until 1999. Then the Social Committee for the Care of Old Vilnius Ross took up the uneasy challenge of appriopriate commemoration of the name of the creator of the Grunwald Monument in Cracow and the Three Crosses in Vilnius.

Vilnius residents actively engaged  in the collection of funds for this purpose. They were joined by Polish organizations, private persons, among others distant family from Gdańsk and Cracow. SKOnSR found allies among the cultural activists and Lithuanian artists, such as Audronė Vyšniauskienė of the Department of Cultural Heritage Protection, ASP professor Eduardas Budreika, who designed the monument, professor Leonas Žuklys, who made the death mask of Wiwulski, which is mounted in a monument, an architect Živilė Mačionienė, who supervised the progress of work, Gintautas Šuminas who made the sculptural and stonework works. Now, on the grave could be found an appropriate name of the architect and sculptor – ANTONI WIWULSKI.

Source: http://kurierwilenski.lt/2014/09/12/wedrowki-ulicami-wilenskimi-antoni-wiwulski-tworca-pomnika-grunwaldzkiego-i-trzech-krzyzy/

Tłumaczenie by Katarzyna Ratajek w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Katarzyna Ratajek within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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