Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bolesław I Chrobry

Bolesław I Chrobry or Bolesław I the Brave (967-1025) was Duke of Poland from 992-1025 and the first King of Poland from 1025 until his death. As firstborn child to the revered Miesko I, the first historical ruler of the Piast dynasty, Bolesław's remarkable tact as a politician, strategist and statesman elevated Poland into the pantheon of Europe's elite. The first crude effigy of the Polish White Eagle, the emblem of the Piast dynasty, can be found on the first crowned king of Poland's silver denarius.  

He led successful military campaigns to the west, south and east, consolidating Polish lands and conquered territories outside the modern borders of the country such as Slovakia, Moravia, Red Ruthenia, Meissen, Lusatia and Bohemia. The king inherited from his father a realm that resembled the dimensions of what is now Greater Poland or Wielkopolska. Greater Poland comprised the valley of the river Warta, stretching north to the Notec River and Kalisz in the south.

According to legend, Bolesław I Chrobry and his retinue of lance-bearing knights are interned in a mountain massif called Giewont "Sleeping Knight" in the Tatra Mountains, a mountain range that forms a natural border between Poland and Slovakia. 

This developing composition for Bolesław I Chrobry alludes to an anticipatory moment in Act V of William Shakespeare's Macbeth. As Macduff's army encroaches upon Dunsinane Castle, Malcolm urges each man to carry a bough aloft from the wood of Birnham. Therefore, while the King appropriately assumes his sleeping position in the mountainside, his retinue experiences their own metamorphosis with the growth of pine trees from their lances.

Colour studies and concept sketches for the first king of Poland.

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