Deeply saddened to learn of the death in London yesterday of my friend, and (in my youth) my great mentor in matters nobiliary and chivalric, the celebrated philanthropist, anti-communist agitator, art historian and collector, Andrzej (Andrew) Ciechanowiecki (1924-2015), Knight of the Order of the White Eagle (Poland's highest honour, the equivalent of the Order of the Garter) and Grand Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta. [Andrew held more Orders than almost anyone I knew]
At the outbreak of the Second World War, Andrew spent several weeks living with my grandparents (he and his parents were very old family friends). Having fought in the Underground Home Army in the Warsaw Uprising 1944 and escaping deportation to Siberia, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1952 by the Polish communist governement for allegedly assisting British, American and Vatican spies.
Released after 6 years, he eventually arrived in the UK and became an extremely successful art dealer, most notably co-owning the Heim Gallery on Jermyn Street. He remained a Londoner, spending his final years in a beautiful flat on Mount Street off Berkeley Square.
Andrew's collection grew so large (he had one of the finest collection of bronzes) that he founded the Ciechanoweicki Foundation at the Royal Castle in Warsaw to hold much of his collection. Andrew played a huge role in obtaining art and furniture to fill the palace following its post-war reconstruction. He also curated several important international exhibitions of Polish art and treasures, largely self-funded the construction of a church on the outskirts of Krakow and also helped fund a wing of the University of New Mexico.
|Andrzej Ciechanowiecki (seated) with members of the Ciechanowiecki Foundation
at home at his flat, with some of his celebrated bronzes visible behind.
Andrew was one of the most decorated men I knew. Wikipedia lists the following Orders:
Order of the White Eagle (1998)
Order of Polonia Restituta Grand Cross (25 February 1993)
Grand Cross of the Order of St. Gregory the Great (Vatican)
Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour & Devotion, Sovereign Military Order of Malta
Grand Cross of Order Pro Merito Melitensi
Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic
Commander of the Order of the Polar Star (Sweden)
Grand Decoration of Honour in Silver for Services to the Republic of Austria.
Commander of the Order of Merit of Senegal
Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
Officer of the Legion of Honour (France)
Order of Friendship of Peoples (Belarus)
Order of Francisc Skorina (Belarus)
Grand Cross of the Order of St Januarius (Two Sicilies)
Bailiff Grand Cross of Justice of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George with Collar (Two Sicilies)
Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Francis I (Two Sicilies)
Gold Medal of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George (Two Sicilies)
Grand Cross of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus (Savoy)
Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the House of Savoy (Savoy)
Gold Medal of Merit of the House of Savoy (Savoy)
Knight of Justice of the Order of Saint Stephen (Tuscany)
Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Joseph (Tuscany)
Grand Cross of the Order of St Andrew (Imperial Russia)
Grand Cross of the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky (Imperial Russia)
Grand Cross of the Order of St. Anna (Imperial Russia)
|Bust of Andrzej Ciechanowiecki
University of Warsaw, Poland (1991)
University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, USA (1992)
Belarusian State University, Minsk (1993)
Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland (2009)
In addition he was:
Honorary Professor of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, member of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Honorary Member or Life Member of many learned societies both foreign and Polish, FSA, member of the Board of Trustees of the Royal Castle in Warsaw, member of the Board of the (Countess) Lanckoroński Foundation, Council Member of the Princes Czartoryski Foundation, the Counts Raczyński Foundation, and the Polish Historical & Literary Society in Paris (SHLP), chairman of the Polish-Belarusian Bilateral Commission for the Conservation of the National Patrimony.
However to his English friends, who could not pronounce his surname "Ciechanowiecki" he was simply "Chicken and Whisky".
The funeral will be at the Brompton Oratory.