The Branicki family guest palace, Białystok
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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This relatively small palace forms part of a Baroque urban complex located on Kilińskiego street, maintaining spatial links with the palace and garden complex located nearby. The restored interiors of the building are graced by a profusion of painted decorations designed in the Rococo style, executed by the painter Robert Stpiczyński.

History

The funds for the construction of the palace were provided by the hetman Jan Klemens Branicki towards the end of the 1760s. Neither the designer nor the original purpose of the building are known; it is believed that the mansion may have been intended to serve as the residence of the equerry (especially since a parallel term which appears in the literature on the subject is “the Equerry House”), although it is equally likely that it may have been designed as the maison de plaisance (pleasure palace) of the hetman’s last wife, Izabela. Following Branicki’s death in 1771, the finishing works were interrupted and would only be resumed five years later, at the request of Izabela Branicka, who wanted the building to serve as the house of her court architect, J. Sękowski. In 1796, the building was rented out to the Prussian Chamber and was fitted out to serve as the residence of its president. After Izabela Branicka’s death in 1808, the new owner of the palace became tsar Alexander I of Russia himself; in 1837, the palace was donated to the Institute for Noble Ladies. In 1898, the palace was purchased by Andrzej Literer, who converted the building to serve as a restaurant with its own concert hall. After Literer’s death, his successors in title sold the palace to Edward Herbst, who had the interior divided into several apartments which he then rented to various tenants. In 1927, the plot of land on which the building stood was divided into six parts and sold to various individuals. The palace itself was acquired by Hirsz Wider, who had the palace converted into a restaurant, club and confectionery in 1934. During the war, the building was taken over by the German authorities. In 1944, the palace was lost to the blaze. It was reconstructed in the years 1947-1952, based on the design produced by the architect S. Bukowski. Once the renovation works were complete, the palace served as the Regional Museum; after another series of comprehensive renovation works in 1962, it became the Museum of the Revolutionary Movement. From 1974 onwards, the building served as the Institute of Architecture of the Białystok University of Technology; towards the end of the 1970s, the edifice became the Registry Office and, later on, a Wedding Palace. A programme of interior conservation works, devised by reverend Jan Nieciecki and intended to restore the Baroque appearance of the interiors, was launched in 1996. In 2009, a design for the green areas surrounding the palace was produced. According to this design, the palace would be surrounded by a Baroque-style garden, with the recreated gate and fence adding to the overall grandeur.

Description

The building is situated in the city centre, near the palace and garden complex of the Branicki family, north of the grand courtyard; today, the edifice forms the eastern terminating vista of the representational avenue known as Kilińskiego street. The palace was designed in the Baroque style, its interiors exhibiting a strong Rococo influence.

It is a free-standing building, its roof ridge running in parallel with the Kilińskiego street (side-gabled arrangement). It is a two-storey building with a habitable attic concealed beneath a mansard roof, designed on a rectangular floor plan with rounded corners and featuring a basement underneath parts of its structure. The palace is a brick building with stone foundations; its roof is clad with roof tiles. The basement level features vaulted ceilings of the barrel type, with lunettes. The front (western) façade follows a five-axial layout, with a short avant-corps positioned on its middle axis. The avant-corps is topped with a triangular pediment surmounted by an ornamental urn and adorned with painted panoply motifs which grace the surface of the tympanum. The rectangular doorway positioned on the middle axis of the façade is topped with a segmental arch. Above the entrance there is a balcony supported by volute-shaped corbels and featuring a metal balustrade adorned with floral motifs. The balcony door is rectangular in shape and features a semi-circular transom light. The windows on the ground floor level are topped with segmental arches, while those on the upper storey are elongated and fully rectangular in shape. All of the windows feature painted trompe l’œil decoration in the form of profiled surrounds, with the crowning cornice projecting above the first-floor windows providing the finishing touch. The surface of the mansard roof is enlivened by the presence of circular dormer windows (oculi) positioned on the second and fourth axis. The lower section of the façade is adorned with rustication in the form of horizontal grooves; the same decorative motif is also carried over to the corners of the building on both levels. The back (eastern) façade follows a seven-axial layout, with a pronounced, three-axial middle avant-corps designed on a rectangular floor plan and featuring rounded corners, its middle section surmounted by a trio of ornamental urns. The surface of the roof is punctuated by circular dormer windows (oculi) positioned on the second, fourth and sixth axis. The central French door on the ground-floor level leads out into the terrace surrounded by a concrete parapet; above the said door there is a balcony with a semi-oval outline, accessible by means of a rectangular balcony door. The side façades feature a four-axial design, each featuring a rather subtle avant-corps on one of the middle axes. The windows follow the same design as those of the side sections of the front façade, with oculus-type dormer windows positioned on the second and third axis of each side of the building. Some of the windows have been bricked up and exist only as trompe l’œil imitations.

The interior decorations are a modern design created under the direction of rev. Jan Nieciecki, reminiscent of the interiors of the Branicki palaces in Warsaw and Białystok. The paintings were executed by Robert Stpiczyński, while the plasterwork and woodcarved decorations as well as metal castings are the work of Wojciech Lachowicz. Notable features include the trompe l’œil architectural decorations as well as the images of six residences of the Branicki family, gilt woodcarved decorations and ornate wood panelling. Even the carpet on the floor of the room facing the garden was created on the basis of a period design. The interiors are graced by furniture designed in the Late Rococo style.

The building can be viewed to a limited extent.

compiled by Grażyna Rogala, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Białystok, 10-12-2014.

Bibliography

  • Koller - Szumska J., Pałacyk Gościnny w Białymstoku. Drugi etap prac nad wystrojem wnętrz (2002-2003), “Biuletyn Konserwatorski Województwa Podlaskiego”, issue 11, 2005, pp. 125-128, fig. pp. 129-139.
  • Nieciecki J., Pałacyk Gościnny w Białymstoku, Białystok 2012, pp. 9, 11, 21, 25, 39-40, 67-70, 74, 78, fig. pp. 8, 16, 17, 21, 24, 37, 39, 42, 47, 51, 66-67, 71-73, 78.
  • Pawlata L., Badania archeologiczne przed fasadą Pałacyku Gościnnego w Białymstoku, stanowisko 2 - ul. Kilińskiego, “Biuletyn Konserwatorski Województwa Podlaskiego”, issue 11, 2010, pp. 58-64, 68-69, fig. pp. 73-75.
  • Sikora D., Ogród przy Pałacyku Gościnnym w Białymstoku i koncepcja jego odtworzenia, “Biuletyn Konserwatorski Województwa Podlaskiego”, issue 15-16, 2010, pp. 32-50.

General information

  • Type: residential building
  • Chronology: k. l. 60. XVIII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Kilińskiego 6, Białystok
  • Location: Voivodeship podlaskie, district Białystok, commune Białystok
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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