Dobrzyca - The Palace and Park Complex, Dobrzyca
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Dobrzyca - The Palace and Park Complex

Dobrzyca

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Due to the quality of its artistic creation and value of authenticity, the Dobrzyca complex – dating back to the turn of the 19th century – consisting of a palace with a unique body and an original interior painting decoration, surrounded by a romantic landscape park with a rich stand and garden structures in the Antiquity style, is one of the most valuable monuments of Classicistic architecture in the country.

History of the estate dates back to the first half of the 14th century. For several centuries, up to 1717, it was a seat of the Dobrzycki family of the Leszczyc coat of arms, then it passed into the hands of the Gorzeński family. The original wooden building was later replaced with a brick one, which in the 17th century was transformed into the characteristic L-shape preserved to our times. The palace and park complex owes its present form to Augustyn Gorzeński who, after a brilliant political career at the court of King Stanisław August Poniatowski, crowned with a title of senator-voivode of the Kingdom of Poland, settled permanently at Dobrzyca in 1795. The extension of the family residence, carried out in 1795–1799, was entrusted to the well-known Warsaw architect Stanisław Zawadzki, a graduate of the Roman Academy of St Luke. The alteration of the palace was made using the existing walls, while preserving its plan consisting of two rectangles juxtaposed at right angles. At the junction of two palace wings, a monumental four-column portico in the colossal order was added, crowned with a triangular pediment whose tympanum incorporates the Drogosław and Nałęcz coats of arms. The building gained a classicistic decor with smoothfaced rustication on the ground floor and on the corners, an inter-storey frieze and under-window panels decorated with garlands. The outdoor decoration was accompanied by a rich and varied painting decoration of the palace interiors made by Warsaw artists, Antoni Smuglewicz and Robert Stankiewicz. The walls of most rooms are decorated with illusionistic imitations of architectural divisions as well as of stucco and bas-relief decoration. The main staircase and the Ball, Egyptian and Landscape Halls were covered with subtly painted landscapes, while the walls of the Grotesque Lounge gained a polychrome, modelled after Rafael’s decorations of the Vatican loggias.

Along with the residence alteration, care was taken to arrange the surroundings, giving them a romantic character. Besides the diverse stand and three ponds, the park area includes structures designed by Stanisław Zawadzki. On the south side of the palace, a single-storey annexe, covered with a Polish mansard roof, was erected, and farther, there is a classicistic park pavilion – Pantheon, erected on a circular plan, covered with a dome with a lantern, with a rectangular portico added from the north side, referring in form to the Roman prototype. Next, on the artificial island built on a pond located in the immediate vicinity of the palace, the Monopteros was erected – a garden pavilion in the form of a rotunda with a high rusticated plinth, surrounded by Corinthian columns and topped with a low dome.

The Dobrzyca estate, thoroughly and meticulously transformed and extended at the beginning of the 19th century, was intended by Augustine Gorzeński to serve his family for many years and to grace it. This is also reflected in the last will and testament of his nephew and heir, Kazimierz Turno, which stipulates that “the castle, outbuildings, stables and other buildings, and the garden located at Dobrzyca are to be maintained in their entirety and reparations for the ornamentation of the country as well as for the successors’ benefit”. However, the fortunes of the estate went against the testator’s will, because after his untimely death in 1817, Dobrzyca began to fall into increasing debt, and in effect it was auctioned and acquired by the German von Kottwitz and Bandelow families. In 1890, the well-known Greater Poland bibliophile, Count Zygmunt Czarnecki, purchased the Dobrzyca estate for his son, Jozef. The palace remained in the hands of the Czarneckis until the outbreak of World War II, when the estate was taken over by the Nazis, who initially set up a transit camp for landowners from Greater Poland there, and then destined it to serve as an agricultural produce warehouse and housing for Germans resettled from the Black Sea region.

In the post-war period, after the Dobrzyca estate had been encompassed by the land reform, its situation was extremely difficult, and the state of preservation, despite the thorough renovation of the palace in 1952–1958, combined with the protection and conservation of parts of the polychromes, gradually deteriorated. Negligence in the on-going maintenance resulted from the numerous functions of the object that have changed over time (grain warehouse, cultural centre, private flats, footwear factory offices, general school, club cafe). Improper usage particularly affected the park, where, apart from the removal of numerous trees and destruction of vegetation, a historic Kasztel (artificial ruins) and a team-horse stable were demolished as a result of their devastation. The turning point in the modern history of the palace and park came in 1988, when the Museum of Freemasonry was established as a branch of the National Museum in Poznań; then the renovation and protective works began. In January 1996, the Kalisz voivode replaced the existing museum with the independent Museum of Palace and Park Complex in Dobrzyca. In 2002, the provincial self-government took over the complex. Recent years were a period of very intense restoration and conservation works and accompanying research, which enabled to explore the history of the object and restore its former splendour from the time of Augustyn Gorzeński.

The present, very good state of conservation allows to properly highlight the values of this historic complex. In spite of transformations made over the years and changes of fate, the palace and park complex has, to a large extent, retained the value of authenticity, both in its spatial composition and the material layer – the original substance from the turn of the 19th century. The Dobrzyca palace is one of the most representative residences of the Classicism period in Poland, being one of the most important works of the leading architect of that time – Stanisław Zawadzki. As compared to other objects, it is distinguished by a unique L-shaped plan, gained in the course of skilful adaptation of the earlier Dobrzycki family’s seat, dating back to the early modern period. Noteworthy are also the formal solutions used, such as the monumental setting of the entrance to the palace in the form of a portico in the colossal order preceded by a fanshaped stairs, as well as skilful binding of the facade with garden perspectives. No less valuable are the palace interiors with almost completely preserved classicistic painting decoration of a high artistic level and an extensive ideological program, which should be considered unique in the national scale. High value of the Dobrzyca complex is complemented by the landscape park, which is the first in the Greater Poland and one of the earliest romantic gardens in the country, created far ahead of later, numerous 19th-century projects. The park area is distinguished by its composition, based on an asymmetric, decentralised layout with a large variety and variability of views, and perfectly composed park buildings of high artistic and architectural value. Noteworthy is also rich vegetation, featuring more than thirty natural monuments, such as the London plane from the mid-18th century and the oldest field maple in Poland from the end of the 17th century, which grew here before the park was founded and were included in its composition.

Currently, the Dobrzyca complex is managed by the Museum of Landowners. Apart from undertaking several revalorisation works, it also plays an important role in promoting culture and documenting the history and traditions of Polish landowners, as reflected in various initiatives, such as the edition of the annual Dobrzyckie Studia Ziemiańskie and other publications, as well as organising thematic events and academic conferences.

General information

  • Type: residential comlpex
  • Chronology: przełom XVIII/XIX w.
  • Form of protection: Historical Monument
  • Address: Pleszewska 5a, Dobrzyca
  • Location: Voivodeship wielkopolskie, district pleszewski, commune Dobrzyca - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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