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Michał Dębowski

The Unknown Painting by Petr Jan Brandl in the Parish Church of Saint John the Baptist in Żabów near Pyrzyce

It wasn’t until recently, that a great oil on canvas altar paiting, depicting The Baptism of Christ, miraculously preserved in a small village church in Żabów in West Pomarenia Region of Poland, became a subject of separate studies. Its extraordinary artistic value and technological quality encouraged the article’s author to examine its history and shed some light on the matters of authorship and provenance of the painting. The documented history of the painting dates back to not later than 1945, when the piece was placed in its current location. It was presumably moved from the local manor house, destroyed short after the Second World War. Suggestive painting synthesis expressed in the masterful manipulation of light chiaroscuro, a harmonious composition of colour, and finally the perfect conjunction of form and content of the presentation lead to the conclusion, that the origins of this piece of art should be searched for far away from its current location. Complex comparative analysis carried out in the article leave no doubt that the painting from Żabów must be regarded as an original masterpiece of Petr Brandl — one of the greatest painters of the late Baroque period in Central Europe. The discovery of two exact copies, one preserved in St. Anna Church in Javorná (district Klatovy, Czech Republic) and the other of unknown whereabouts, confirms a high position of the painting in the artist’s oeuvre and a prestigious character of the original foundation. 

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