JAN SOBIESKI AT VIENNA
This 1883 painting presents a scene from September 1683, when the combined forces of Poland and the Holy Roman Empire, under the command of King Jan III Sobieski, won a momentous victory over Turkish forces commanded by Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa. Sobieski decided to inform Pope Innocent XI of the victory, and Matejko’s painting shows the moment the king hands over the letter to be delivered, while at his feet we see a Turkish banner, which was sent to Rome along with the letter.
Similarly, Matejko decided to present the painting to Pope Leo XIII on the bicentennial of the victory at Vienna, as a gift from the Polish nation. The canvas, 4.5 meters by 9 meters, remains on display at the Vatican Museum in Rome, a reminder of the role of Polish military might in halting Turkish expansion in the 17th century.