Tuesday, 17 January 2012

280th Anniversary of the Birth of the Last King of Poland

Today is the 280th anniversary of the birth of the last King of Poland, Stanislaw II August (Poniatowski), by the grace of God, King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania and Duke of Ruthenia, Prussia, Masovia, Samogitia, Kiev, Volhynia, Podolia, Podlasie, Livonia, Smolensk, Severia and Chernihiv. King Stanislaw was the founder of the (extinct) Order of St. Stanislaw in 1765 and the (extant) Order of Virtuti Militari in 1792.

Forced to abdicate upon the partition of Poland by Prussia, Russia and Austria in 1795, King Stanislaw moved to St. Petersburg, where he died in 1798. His body was transferred to St. John's Cathedral in Warsaw in 1995.

A patron of the arts, King Stanislaw had intended to create a magnificent Polish Royal Collection and commissioned two London dealers to form the collection. The dealers spent five years touring Europe to acquire paintings however, due to the country's partition and the King's abdication, the paintings never reached Poland and remained with the dealers in England. The surviving partner eventually bequeathed the collection to Dulwich College in London, where they became the foundation of the Dulwich Picture Gallery and may be seen to this day.

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