The exhibition “DISCOVERED IMAGES. The Photo-Aesthetics of Count Benedykt Henryk Tyszkiewicz (1852-1935)” is open at the Royal Lazienki Museum, Kubicki stables (Agrykola Street 1, Warsaw, Poland) until 10 March, 2024.
At the end of the 19th century, several important inventions led to significant developments in the evolution of photography. Around 1880, the gelatin silver process, or the dry plate, was developed and moved into mass production, which facilitated outdoor photography by eliminating the need to carry heavy lab equipment. The new negatives were so sensitive and the time of exposure so short that it was now possible to take photos of moving objects. Instantaneous photography was born. Light and convenient cameras with magazines that could fit dozens of negatives were easy to carry and to transport on longer expeditions. The Kodak box camera, released by George Eastman in 1888, revolutionised the practice of photography through the introduction of the roll film. After taking the picture, the photographer could now simply send the plates or the films bought in a shop to be developed in a specialist darkroom.
A growing number of amateur photographers took pictures for their own pleasure; photos of loved ones, everyday scenes, intimate surroundings and faraway lands were becoming ever more common.
A growing conviction that photography is an art led to the emergence of pictorialism: the first artistic movement in the history of photography. Pictorialists emphasised the beauty of the subject matter and the photo’s tonality and composition over its documentary aspect. They began to set up associations, organise exhibitions and publish papers. The Linked Ring was founded in London (1892), Paris saw the establishment of the Photo-Club de Paris (1894), Vienna and Berlin became important centres of new photography. In former Poland, the Austrian partition also witnessed the emergence of a fine-art photography movement.
It was in this context that count Benedykt Henryk Tyszkiewicz, the owner of Raudondvaris (Red Manor, Czerwony Dwór) estate near Kaunas, first took up photography around 1882.
It became a passion that he pursued for over two decades. Tyszkiewicz, who resided in Paris, is deservedly considered to be one of the pioneers of Lithuanian and Polish fine-art photography, but he also played an important role in the history of French pictorialism. Yet, for a long time the number of his known pictures was very limited. It was even assumed that most of his work had been lost forever. Until a few years ago, when a Lithuanian collector Gediminas Petraitis made a sensational discovery of a few hundred preserved copies of Tyszkiewicz’s photos from 1892–1898 and brought them back to Lithuania.
This exhibition is the most comprehensive presentation of Tyszkiewicz’s work in history. The visitors to the Royal Łazienki Museum will be able to see around 200 photographs from various Lithuanian museums and private collections. Through them, we can see Tyszkiewicz the photographer as a traveller, a portrait artist, a careful observer of rural realities, a reporter of his own life, a folklorist and a creator of historical scenes.
The exhibition presents photographs from the collections of Šiauliai Aušros Museum, Lithuanian National Museum of Art, Kaunas District Museum, Trakai History Museum and Gražina Petraitienė’s private collection.
The exhibition is held under the auspices of the President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda and the President of the Republic of Lithuania Gitanas Nausėda
The exhibition curators: Dr Dainius Junevičius, Dr Małgorzata Grąbczewska
Coordinators: Vilija Ulinskytė-Balzienė, Anna Szary
Graphic designer Juozapas Švelnys
Architect Jurgis Dagelis
Financial support – Lithuanian Council for Culture
Sponsor – Auction House ARS VIA (Lithuania)
The exhibition was organised by the Šiauliai Aušros Museum in cooperation with the Royal Lazienki Museum in Warsaw (Poland)