Filial Church of St Michael the Archangel, Kamieńczyk
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Filial Church of St Michael the Archangel

Kamieńczyk

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One of the few surviving wooden churches in Lower Silesia, with just three similar buildings still in existence in the Kłodzko district. The church features a simple, restrained form, its design reminiscent of brick and stone Baroque churches and containing numerous solutions adapted from wooden folk architecture. The 18th-century painted decorations of its interiors hold an immense artistic value today, being a unique relic of a bygone age in the region.

History

The village was first established in 1564 by the owners of the various estates in the Międzylesie region, in an area which had been destroyed by a devastating fire. Shortly afterwards, a Lutheran cemetery was also established there; before 1631, the cemetery was taken away from the Protestant community and incorporated into the Catholic parish in Międzylesie, along with the neighbouring village. In 1710, a wooden, Baroque cemetery church was erected on the cemetery site, designed as an aisleless church with a single tower. Its silhouette was spatially uniform, covered with a single roof - a nod towards the erstwhile trends in brick and stone Baroque ecclesiastical architecture. The tower was topped with a bulbous cupola designed in the Baroque style. On the other hand, the organ loft and galleries for the faithful, supported by sturdy wooden posts, were very much a traditional feature, adapted from the formal and structural solutions usually found in vernacular wooden buildings. Despite featuring a bulbous shape typical of vernacular architecture, their overall design was clearly influenced by the Baroque design principles. The front sections of the organ loft and gallery parapets feature an architectural articulation, with the decorative fretwork boards positioned directly beneath being a clear nod to folk art and design. In 1734, the parapets of both the organ loft and the galleries were embellished with painted decorations created by Anton Ferdinand Veit, a painter based in Prague. His use of the chiaroscuro technique highlights the architectural divisions of the parapets. The decorative panels of the parapets were adorned with symbolic religious motifs containing numerous references to Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary as well as with various naturalistic flower bouquets placed inside vases or baskets. Later on, in the fourth quarter of the 18th century, the ceiling became adorned with stencilled decorations in a striped arrangement. The nave ceiling was likewise embellished with painted decorations, divided into a number of distinct panels. The individual sections of the ceiling were adorned with vibrant foliate ornamentation arranged in a number of different patterns, with some of the motifs being evidently stylised in the spirit of Rococo design. The strips separating the individual panels were accentuated using a distinctive colour scheme. The artist responsible for the execution of the painted decorations on the ceiling has also created the painted motifs which grace the backrests of the patrons’ pews in the chancel as well as the marble-effect decorations in various shades of grey and brown which appear throughout the interior, including on the window surrounds in the chancel, on the door surrounds, on the edges of the backrests of the patrons’ pews and on the wooden boards which form part of the organ gallery parapet. The faux marble effect was also applied to the shafts of the pilasters which adorn the parapets, some of the crossbeams beneath the galleries as well as the breastwork of the patrons’ pews and the front pews inside the nave. One cannot rule out that the more recent painted decorations which grace the interior were made by Herbert Blaschke, a painter from Bystrzyca Kłodzka, who was responsible for the restoration of the painted decorations on the organ loft parapet and who also painted the Stations of the Cross displayed inside the church in 1793. Much like Anton Ferdinand Veit before him, the artist responsible for the more recent painted decorations filled in the empty panels in a similar way, applying both contour and colour in an analogous fashion. The manner in which the vibrant colours of the polychrome decorations were accentuated and in which the compositions of various foliate ornaments were differentiated from one another is also quite similar. All this was, without a doubt, consistent with the overall vernacular aesthetic adopted throughout the interior. In the 19th and 20th century the church underwent some slight alteration and renovation works. In 1868, the organ gallery was expanded. In years 1934-1935, the structure of the church was reinforced and the painted decorations were subjected to renovation works.

Description

The wooden church is situated in the centre of the Kamieńczyk village, at the top of a hill, rising relatively high above the rest of the village and forming an instantly recognisable feature in the surrounding landscape. The nave and the chancel are both corner-notched log structures, clad with weatherboards on both sides, whereas the tower is a post-and-beam structure, its walls likewise clad with weatherboards. The aisleless church, oriented towards the east, features a single tower and a nave with a semi-hexagonal end section which serves as a chancel annex. The main body of the church is covered with a single roof with pronounced eaves. A quadrangular tower topped with a bulbous cupola with a roof lantern rises to the south-west of the nave. A sacristy adjoins the nave’s southern façade. Rectangular windows are arranged in an irregular patter across the weatherboard-clad façades of the church. The organ loft and galleries for the faithful are positioned in the western part of the nave. Beamed ceilings clad with wooden boards are used for both the chancel and the nave. The nave ceiling rests upon a sturdy crossbeam and maintains a structural link with a transverse wooden beam adorned with decorative cuts which serves as the rood beam. The lower sections of the walls of the chancel annex, the ceilings as well as the organ loft parapet are adorned with a profusion of lavish, painted decorations. The fixtures and fittings of the church include the Baroque main altarpiece from ca. 1720, the painted pulpit from 1734, the group of sculptures depicting the Virgin Mary with Child and St Anne (1720s) as well as the painted Stations of the Cross (1793).

The building is available all year round; interior tours upon prior telephone appointment.

compiled by Iwona Rybka-Ceglecka, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Wrocław, 19-08-2015.

Bibliography

  • Berger A., Eine Übersicht über die Pfarreien und Kuratien der Grafschaft Glatz betreffend die Zeit von 1841-1946, Kirchlengen, Kreis Herford 1961.
  • Brzezicki S., Nielsen Ch., Grajewski G., Popp D. (ed.), Zabytki sztuki w Polsce. Śląsk, Warsaw 2006
  • Lincke U., Die Gründung des Dorfes Steinbach (1564), Glatzer Heimatblätter 15, 1929.
  • Die neuerstandene Holz-Kirchlein in Steinbach, Die Grafschaft Glatz Jahrgang 30, 1935, No. 6.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1 poł. XVIII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Kamieńczyk
  • Location: Voivodeship dolnośląskie, district kłodzki, commune Międzylesie - obszar wiejski
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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