Tadeusz Baj The Łańcut Library

The Potockis’ Library in Łańcut is one of the few home libraries owned by an aristocratic family that survived after the Second World War.

It was built in 1798, commissioned by the then owner of Łańcut, Princess Izabela Lubomirska née Czartoryska (1736–1816), the widow of Grand Marshal of the Crown Stanisław Lubomirski (1720–1783). The single-storey library pavilion was designed by the royal architect Christian Piotr Aigner, who also planned the most splendid interiors of Princess Lubomirska’s palace: the Ballroom, the Grand Dining Hall and the Little Theatre.

Few books have been preserved from the extensive library. The collection was dispersed; among the items that have survived are eighteen antique books with Princess Lubomirska’s mark of ownership and the music collection.

The library acquired the appearance it has today at the turn of the 20th century, its interior being rebuilt in the English late-Victorian style by two architects, Armand Bauqué and Albert Pio. It was furnished with comfortable English furniture from the same period.

The boiserie-panelled shelves hold around 22,000 volumes and the collection includes 19th- and 20th-century books on various subjects, antique books, modern manuscripts, cartography, magazines, and prints. Among its treasures, the Potockis’ Library boasts among others: Inwentarz Księstwa Koreckiego (Inventory of the Korecki Estates) of 1813, Karol Manneken’s incunabulum Formulae epistolarum of 1491, Statuta Sigismundi Primi Poloniae Regis of 1524, Marcin Kromer’s Kronika (Chronicle) of 1555, and Willem and Joan Blaeu’s atlas Theatrum orbis terrarum sive Atlas novus from the years 1640–1655. Of unique value are the certificates of nobility and diplomas of the Order of the Golden Fleece, awarded to the owners of Łańcut by Emperor Franz Joseph I.

The music collection – the most precious section of the library – was started by Izabela Lubomirska née Czartoryska – a person of versatile interests and musical talent, and an art collector. She organized concerts in the salons of the Łańcut Palace, to which she invited artists from around Europe. The 1,500-plus-volume collection of music materials includes, inter alia, autographs and handwritten copies of the scores of operas by Giovanni Battista Cimadoro, Giovanni Paisiello, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Marcello Bernardini di Capua, and Gioacchino Rossini.

Since 1998, based on the decision of the Ministry of Culture and Art of the Republic of Poland, the collection of the Potockis’ Łańcut Library has been part of the national library resource.

Tadeusz Baj – library science specialist; head of the Łańcut Castle Museum Library

Translated by Xymena Pietraszek-Płatek
Proofread by Ben Koschalka

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