The Stoclet Palace was built by architect Josef Hoffmann for banker and art lover Adolphe Stoclet between 1905 and 1911. Considered Hoffman's masterpiece, the Stoclet's house is one of the most refined and luxurious private houses of the twentieth century. The mansion is still occupied by the Stoclet family and is not open to visitors. It was designated as a world heritage site by UNESCO in June 2009.
The Stoclet Palace was commissioned by Adolphe Stoclet (1871-1949), a wealthy industrialist and art collector. He chose 35-year-old Austrian architect Josef Hoffmann (1870-1956), a founder member of the Vienna Secession, a radical group of designers and artists established in 1897. Hoffman abandoned fashions and styles of the past and produced a building that is an asymmetrical compilation of rectangular blocks, underlined by exaggerated lines and corners.
The starkness of the exterior is softened by artistic windows, which break through the line of the eaves, the rooftop conservatory and bronze sculptures of four nude males by Franz Metzner, which are mounted on the tower that rises above the stairwell. Regimented upright balustrades line the balconies, touched with Art Nouveau ornamentation.
The Stoclet Palace was the first residential project for the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshops), co-founded by Hoffman in 1903. Josef Hoffman and his colleagues designed every aspect of the mansion, down to the door handles and light fittings. The interior is as spartan as the exterior, with upright geometric furniture and minimal clutter. This was a avant-garde approach, presenting a 'reformed interior' where function dictated foem. The interior of the building is decorated with marble paneling and artworks, including mosaic friezes by Gustav Klimt and murals by Ludwig Heinrich Jungnickel. The integration of architects, artists, and artisans makes Stoclet Palace an example of a Gesamtkunstwerk, one of the defining characteristics of Jugendstil. Klimt's sketches for the dining room are in the permanent collection of the Museum für angewandte Kunst (MAK) in Vienna.References:
The Cloth Hall in Kraków dates to the Renaissance and is one of the city's most recognizable icons. It is the central feature of the main market square in the Kraków Old Town (listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978).
The hall was once a major centre of international trade. Traveling merchants met there to discuss business and to barter. During its golden age in the 15th century, the hall was the source of a variety of exotic imports from the east – spices, silk, leather and wax – while Kraków itself exported textiles, lead, and salt from the Wieliczka Salt Mine.
Kraków was Poland's capital city and was among the largest cities in Europe already from before the time of the Renaissance. However, its decline started with the move of the capital to Warsaw in the very end of the 16th century. The city's decline was hastened by wars and politics leading to the Partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century. By the time of the architectural restoration proposed for the cloth hall in 1870 under Austrian rule, much of the historic city center was decrepit. A change in political and economic fortunes for the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria ushered in a revival due to newly established Legislative Assembly or Sejm of the Land. The successful renovation of the Cloth Hall, based on design by Tomasz Pryliński and supervised by Mayor Mikołaj Zyblikiewicz, Sejm Marshal, was one of the most notable achievements of this period.
The hall has hosted many distinguished guests over the centuries and is still used to entertain monarchs and dignitaries, such as Charles, Prince of Wales and Emperor Akihito of Japan, who was welcomed here in 2002. In the past, balls were held here, most notably after Prince Józef Poniatowski had briefly liberated the city from the Austrians in 1809. Aside from its history and cultural value, the hall still is still used as a center of commerce.
On the upper floor of the hall is the Sukiennice Museum division of the National Museum, Kraków. It holds the largest permanent exhibit of the 19th-century Polish painting and sculpture, in four grand exhibition halls arranged by historical period and the theme extending into an entire artistic epoch. The museum was upgraded in 2010 with new technical equipment, storerooms, service spaces as well as improved thematic layout for the display.
The Gallery of 19th-Century Polish Art was a major cultural venue from the moment it opened on October 7, 1879. It features late Baroque, Rococo, and Classicist 18th-century portraits and battle scenes by Polish and foreign pre-Romantics.