National Museum in Gdańsk
Church of the Holy Trinity with the chapel of St.. Anna, the pulpit house and the National Museum constitute one architectural ensemble, which can cause problems with extracting a given object and finding the right entrance to it. Entrance to the museum occupying the former Franciscan monastery, is located at Toruńska Street 1 and is marked with a readable table (open Tue. 10.00-17.00, -r.-nd. 9.00-15.00, w pn. and post-holidays closed, the ticket costs 2 PLN). Impatient, who would like to run to it straight from the main railway station! they should go south along Wałami Jagiellońskie, further Okopowa up to the great body of the church and turn left there, into Toruńska Street. The building is quite spacious, and in its halls there is a drowsy stillness. Finding, and then visiting the Gdańsk museum requires a bit of a hassle, but it's worth it! The exhibition includes, among others. Memling's Last Judgment, a collection of Polish impressionists and expressionists, and the famous Gdańsk wardrobes. You can also see a painting by Pieter Brueghel the Younger, chinese porcelain, as well as Gdańsk paintings, Flemish, Dutch and German.
the final judgment
The greatest treasure of the museum – The Last Judgment by Hans Memling (1435-1494) – takes up a separate room on the first floor (to the right of the stairs); for the convenience of visitors, a bench has been placed in the center. The triptych is a unique work with an extraordinary history, in which one of the main roles was played by a certain Paweł Benke.
W XV w. French caravel Piotr of La Rochel passed into the hands of Gdańsk merchants and when it sailed from the Motława port, already under the Polish flag as Piotr from Gdańsk, was an attraction comparable to the later Titanic in 1912 r. For some time, the famous sailor Paweł Benke was the captain of the caravel, subject of King Kazimierz Jagiellończyk and commander of Gdańsk privateers. In those days, privateers were sea robbers, who sailed on armed ships and, with the authority of the king or the city, plundered ships flying foreign flags. Such "legal pirates" received absolution in accordance with the law of the time, and the goods obtained became the property of their protectors. W 1473 r. on the shores of the hostile Hanseatic League of England, Paweł Benke on Piotr from Gdańsk attacked and robbed a ship of Florentine merchants. Among the precious loot was Memling's Last Judgment, originally intended for the merchant Angelo Taniego from Florence. The work was sent to Gdańsk, and despite Tani's attempts to recover it, on-going 25 years, and later, despite being taken out of the city three times (by the Napoleonic army, by the Nazis and Russians) to this day, it has remained one of the most valuable pearls of the Gdańsk collection of paintings. The appearance of the triptych in the 15th-century Gdańsk became a great event.
Memling's work, created in the years 1467-1473, presents the highest level of Dutch painting: oil technology, color effects and the presentation of realities aroused the recognition of Italian painters and fascinated the inhabitants of Gdańsk. The last ones, mainly patriciate, eagerly "bought” the idea of placing the portraits of the founders on the back of the triptych. An example of this imitation can be seen, among others. on the triptych from the Ferber's Chapel in the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The central part of the triptych shows Christ, who watches over the archangel Michael weighing the souls of the saved and the damned. On the right side, the artist placed the images of the saved, who are dignified, they make their way to the gates of paradise with complete peace. The real drama takes place on the left wing. The bodies of the damned swarm here, whose faces express extreme tension, and human emotions and feelings, such as fear, horror, desperation, anger, hate, the pain and suffering portrayed Memling with a true expressionist verve. The whole fascinates with the multitude of details and the vision of a terrifying hell populated by damned and evil devils.
A huge wooden Minerva welcomes visitors in the hall. Gothic religious sculptures are gathered in the main corridor, a beautiful hall opens on the right, with an arched ceiling supported by one, a delicate column. In the next small pillared room there is a treasury filled with artistic items made of precious metals, made in the period between the 15th and 19th centuries. Among monstrances, The caskets and goblets attract the attention of the Griffon's Claw – a magnificent cup of sailors' guild and a silver ostrich from the 18th century., whose torso is made of real, ostrich egg. It is worth paying attention to the exquisitely carved mug, which masterfully depicts the Israelites' crossing of the Red Sea. In the corridors and in the next room, you can see Gdańsk furniture and a collection of tin dishes.
Name of painters, the paintings of which occupy a large part of the first floor, would successfully replace the table of contents in a representative album on Polish painting from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. – it is enough to mention such artists, how: Gerson, Michałowski, Malczewski, Witkiewicz, Boznańska, Makowski, Stanisławski. In the Dutch painting department there is a small plate with a painting decoration by Pieter Brueghel the Younger entitled. Skinny and Fat. Gdańsk housewives used to serve bread on such plates. The saddest exhibits are the extensive lists of lost works hanging on the walls, taken away or stolen during the last war.
In a small room on the second floor, spiral stairs lead to it, richly decorated furniture is presented, among which two standing clocks reign.