STAŃCZYK, DURING A BALL AT THE COURT OF QUEEN BONA, UPON LEARNING OF THE LOSS OF SMOLENSK
The painting deals with the loss of Smolensk, an important fortress in the eastern part of Poland-Lithuania, which was capturen by the forcesof Grand Duchy of Moscow in 1514. That defeat led to further Muscovite expansion in the eastern reaches of Poland-Lithuaniam and consequently to the gradual decline of the Commonwealth.
This very expressive painting, with its fine command of form and elaborate commentary on historical events, is suprisingly mature, considering that it was painted in 1862m when Matejko was barely 24. On closer inspection, the canvas contains numerous mysteries and apparent inconsistencies. What, for instance, is the connection between Smolensk and the word Samogitia and the date 1533, written on the letter lying on the table? When was the comet painted by Matejko really seen above Krakow? Our film seeks to answer some of these questions.