Royal Łazienki Museum, Palace on the Isle, Warsaw
May 5, 2022
Good evening—it’s wonderful to be here—and can’t think of a better occasion for my first visit to the Royal Łazienki Museum.
Minister Sellin, it’s great to see you again, and especially on an evening as special as this one. Professor Wawer, many thanks to you, Izabela, and your team at the Museum for helping to bring this extremely significant work to Warsaw.
Xavier, welcome to Warsaw—although I know you are no stranger to the city. We are so happy for this partnership between these exceptional cultural institutions.
“The Polish Rider” has had an astounding journey since Rembrandt painted his masterpiece in the seventeenth century. From Poland, to New York, and then back again.
Once part of King Stanisław August collection, this painting has returned to the Palace on the Isle over 200 years after it left the residence of the Polish king.
Artwork is often up for interpretation and that is the case for this mysterious painting of a man traveling by horseback. Who is this soldier? Is it a literary hero? Is it a portrait of someone? Did this individual ever exist?
This remains up for debate. But I can tell you what the Polish Rider represents: the strong cultural ties that endure between the United States and Poland.
Art brings people together, both physically in this room, but also by allowing us to tell our shared story. This painting is a symbol of our long-enduring friendship. It’s part of our story.
I grew up understanding the power of art to transcend boundaries. My mother, Emilie Brzezinski, is an award-winning wood sculptor. Her paint brush is a chainsaw.
Her work has been displayed around the world, from Prague to Washington D.C. Her art has inspired me and many other people from different backgrounds, bridging cultural divides.
Długo po tym jak odejdę, jej prace będę nadal jednoczyły ludzi. Wciąż będą wywoływały refleksje. Podobnie jak obraz „Jeździec Polski” – 350 lat po tym, jak Rembrandt go namalował.
Raz jeszcze dziękuję za zaproszenie.