You may remember my previous attempt to enter the Orangery in Łazienki Gardens, foiled by some fancy lunch. You may also remember the Dutch garden that gave me so much unexpected pleasure. This is what I found when I attempted entry again.
However I did not give up easily, and when I finally circumnavigated the building and tracked down the entrance I was rewarded by the discovery that November is free museums month. I spent a pleasant few hours roaming around the Old Orangery at no cost. The building itself was worth seeing. It was built between 1785 and 1788 to house exotic trees in winter, and the king’s collection of marble statues and plaster copies of famous statues from antiquity.
The busts lining the first few narrow rooms cried out to be incorporated into a photo essay on hair styles.
The sun poured into the long room-avenue where Nero cosied up to Apollo and Flora, all statues in the classical mode: the classical stance, the classical drapes, the classical nudity. There was a very satisfying dog amongst all the human heads and flesh.
Upstairs got a bit more interesting, although there seemed to be an economy of light, a mixed blessing for this very amateur photographer. I liked the more modern sculpting, more movement and flow, and greater individuality. Here there were a few more women. If I count Diana and Flora from downstairs, women were divided into a number of unsurprising categories: goddess, mother, wife, nude and symbol. They rarely had names, unless of course I wilfully ignored names in pursuit of a thesis and feminist outrage.
My favourite sculptures were all upstairs in the dim: Chopin’s funeral procession; a number of faces all sharp angles; a group of folk, far more interesting and human than the smug groups of humanists and the conniving group of Jesuits that shared space with them; the three Marys; and three lovely ones of children, especially the child sewing.