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The Beginnings of Woodcut Portrait in Poland. The Images of King Sigismund I against their Literary Background

The present paper discusses woodcuts representing King Sigismund I of Poland against contemporary views on literary and picture portraits. Following classical sources, the local men of letters appreciated the depiction of moral qualities in such works more than a physical likeness. Thus literary descriptions were usually believed to outdo painted or printed pictures, but a few authors admitted that a deft visual artist could render the virtues of the sitter adequately. Consequently, royal woodcuts were usually accompanied by a few verses of text which made up for their shortcomings. Two such works, so far unknown in the literature, have been introduced here to art historical studies and several others have been interpreted anew.

Relevant research areas: Eastern Europe, Baroque, Relief printing