The Contribution of the Art History Section of the Society of Friends of Science in Wilno to Researching and Promulgating the History of Art in Wilno

Henryka Ilgiewicz (Lithuanian Culture Research Institute)

The Art History Section of the Society of Friends of Science in Wilno was established on January 30, 1931. Its founders and first members were the Society’s Museum curator Michal Brensztejn, professors from the Stefan Batory University in Wilno, namely, Cezaria Baudouin de Courtenay Ehrenkreutzowa, Rajmund Gostkowski, Juliusz Kłos, Stanisław Kościałkowski, Mieczysław Limanowski, Marian Morelowski, Ferdynand Ruszczyc, Ludomir Sleńdziński and Ludwik Sokołowski, conservator for the Wilno and Nowogrodek voivodships, Stanisław Lorentz, and the director of the State Archives in Wilno, Wacław Gizbert-Studnicki. In later years, the successive members of the Section were the Karaite priest and academic Seraja Chan Szapszal, priest and academic Piotr Śledziewski, painter Jerzy Hoppen and others.

The members had the task of researching the history of art in Poland and the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania (GDL) with a special focus on the history of art in Wilno and the Wilno region. Members researched archival materials and wrote academic reports that were read at the Section’s meetings. After the reports were discussed, they were prepared for publication. Every year, Section’s members presented from six to eleven reports. Not only members of the Section listened to the reports, the remaining members of the Society also participated, as well as the faculty of Stefan Batory University, students, teachers and Wilno residents interested in art history.

The Section put out a series of publications under the general title, “Prace i materiały sprawozdawcze Sekcji Historii Sztuki” (Works and Reports of the Section on Art History). During 1935-1939, it published three volumes of the series, containing academic articles, reports on the Section’s activities, reviews and obituaries. World War II ended the Section’s activities. During the less than nine years of its existence, the Section’s members made a major contribution to researching and promulgating the history of art in the GDL, and especially, in Wilno.