Stanisław August, the last king of Poland. Politician, Patron, Reformer 1764–1795


Stanisław August, the last king of Poland.
Politician, Patron, Reformer 1764–1795

Open since November 27th 2011 through  February 19th 2012

Stanisław August Poniatowski, the last King of Poland, still causes controversy amongst Poles. The exhibition devoted to him recalls his tragic life story intertwined with the decline of the First Rzeczpospolita (Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth).

This presentation aims to question the stereotypical opinions about him, reinforced by a shallow, modern attitude to the past, as well as the absence of Stanisław August in the politics of the historically independent Poland. As a result, he becomes either an easy target for moralistic condemnations, blamed for the partitions, or ʹKing Staśʹ tolerated by the public – a ʹRococo playboyʹ looking at us from the chocolate box cover. Neither of those visions is historically correct.

Well educated and open to new ideas he encountered while travelling across Europe when he was young, Stanisław August thought of himself as a man of the Enlightenment Era. His biggest desire was to rebuild the Rzeczpospolita, but in the first half of the 18th century the country was already in a state of inertia, totally dependent on Russia, and every politician wanting to introduce changes had to look for a supporter at the court in Saint Petersburg. The support of Catherine the Great was, however, a tragic trap. Her real aim was to sustain the weakness of the political system of the Polish state and perform a step by step annexation of the Rzeczpospolita. After the tragic experience of the First Partition of Poland, the King shifted his activities to a politically safer area of the economy, science, education and art. His efforts meant that shortly before its final collapse, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth went through a period of hayday comparable only with the Renaissance.

The main part of the exhibition, devoted to the wide-ranging patronage (including the King’s art collecting), shows that Stanisław August was the only one of the elected Kings of the 18th century thinking in terms of the state, which was also reflected in his cultural politics.

The exhibition consists of over 250 works of art by outstanding artists, as well as historical memorabilia and documents, with some use of multimedia. The story of life of the King, who became a witness of his State’s tragedy, is told in chronological order. The presentation
brings together elements of the traditional exhibition and theatrical spectacle with Stanisław August as the main dramatis persona speaking in his own words. The answer to the basic question: what to think of the last King and the endurance of his historical deed is however left to the visitor.

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Tuesday - Saturday between 10 am - 4 pm;
Sunday between 11 am - 4 pm.

The last visitor is admitted
two hours before the exhibition closes

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regular rate  – 20 zlotys
reduced rate – 10 zlotys
family rate (per person) – zlotys

regular rate – 10 zlotys
family rate (per person) – zlotys

You can get a joint ticket for two exhibitions:
  • Stanisław August, the Last King of Poland in the Royal Castle in Warsaw
  • The Golden Catalogue of the Polish Kings in Łazienki Królewskie in Warsaw
regular rate – 25 zlotys
reduced rate – 15 zlotys

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Please be welcomed

Honorary Patron
President of Republic of Poland Bronisław Komorowski