• NAPOLEON ORDA (1807–1883)

      NAPOLEON ORDA (1807–1883)

      The history of the nobility is an inherent part of every national culture. The past of Lithuania is closely woven with the culture nourished in the noblemen’s manor houses. These ancient mansions and castles are significant symbols of the history of the country. This was well understood by the 19th century. artist Napoleon Orda, who called Lithuania his fatherland.

      Orda was an artist and musician of the epoch of Romanticism, he lived and created during the years of the Tsarist rule. He was among the inspirers of the national movement of the second half of the 19th century. Though barely speaking the language, he considered himself Lithuanian and dedicated all his energies to the spread of the unique heritage of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

      Born on 19 February 1907 in Warazewitschy near Pinsk (now Belarus), he started schooling at Svislowitch gymnasium. He subsequently studied at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics of Vilnius University, but did not graduate as was excluded for the participation in a secret student organization. The artist took active part in the 1931 uprising. Fleeing his arrest and deportation, he left abroad. He arrived in Paris and 1939 started attending Pierre Girard’s art studio. He studied music under the guidance of the composer Fryderyk Chopin and communicated with the poet Adam Mickiewicz. He produced his first drawings during his 1840–1842 tour of France.

      In 1843 Orda married French Irène Bouglé and started working at the Opera of Paris. He returned to his fatherland after the amnesty and embarked on explorations of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. He took haste to immortalize the disappearing castles, mansions, churches and patrimonial homes of celebrated contemporary artists and historians. Himself an estate owner, he had a thorough understanding of a structure and artistic features of countryside manor houses. Most of his compositions feature majestic mansions surrounded by lush verdure, often drawn from sever al vantage points.

      In 1875–1882 in Warsaw, at Maksymilian Fajans lithographic printers, Orda financed the publishing of a volume of 260 lithographs, An Album of Polish Historic Sites (Album widoków historycznych Polski). The images were skilfully transferred from Orda’s drawings into lithographs by the Polish artist Alojzy Misierowicz. The album was composed of eight series of lithographs. Orda intended to continue the production of his volume, yet was stopped by his deteriorating health.

      This educational exhibition shows copies of Orda’s lithographs from the Lithuanian Art Museum and the watercolours published in the Lithuanian monograph Napoleon Orda. Landscapes of the Ancient Lithuania by Vytautas Levandauskas and Renata Vaičekonytė-Kepežinskienė. The core of the exhibition is architectural monuments now in Lithuania, augmented by the lithographs of patrimonial homes of the19th century. notable poets, writers and composers. As most of these architectural monuments have not survived into the present day, the architectural landscapes by Orda represent an important iconographic property.

      Rasa Adomaitienė

Objects of the exhibition

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