Paintings of Dotnuva Church of the Lord’s Revelation to Virgin Mary

  • Asta Giniūnienė
Keywords: Dotnuva Church, Bernardines, ecclesiastic painting, iconography, Georgius Kosztown, J. Roselino, Zboilev


The article discusses the poorly investigated painting heritage of the Dotnuva Bernardine Church, which covers the period from the monastery establishment in 1701 until its closure in 1864. In the article, we have tried to disclose, based on written sources and studies in situ, the origin of the pictures, their shifts during the time, to examine the iconography, attribution questions and also to reveal the piety traditions of Bernardines manifested through the paintings. The Bernardines in Dotnuva have retained a rare and valuable painting of the Virgin Mary with a child adorned with the baroque crowns from the second half of the 17th century. The painting was created according to the example of “The Virgin Mary with a Child” (1520) of a Dutch painter Adriaen Isenbrant. In the iconographic programme of the altars and the titles of the church the spirituality of Bernardines is reflected. They were intended to bless the Revelation to Virgin Mary, the sufferings of Jesus and to glorify the most important Saints of the Franciscans as well as other Saints (St. Anna, St. Barbara). Tense artistic interactions between the monasteries of St Casimir province reveal the early paintings of Dotnuva Church – St. Anthony of Padua and St. Anna (“St. Family”) painted by the same iconographic types prevalent in the environment of Bernardines. A painting of St. Anthony (beginning of the 18th century) brought from Vilnius is of identical composition as paintings of Vilnius Bernardines, and a painting of St. Anna as paintings from Kretinga). This tendency is also observed in the later paintings of Dotnuva Church. Several paintings remain in Dotnuva Church from the 18th century, but the paintings from the first half of the 19th century comprise the largest part. It can be assumed that the artistic quality of the paintings acquired from the first half of the 19th century was influenced by Chrapowicki family, church benefactors and collators, representative position and a demanding approach of Bernardines to art works. From the beginning until the middle of the 19th century, installation works in a new masonry church took place. Valuable altar paintings depicting the Way of Cross of exceptional iconography and a rare painting from the Old Testament were acquired. In the 1770s, GeorgiusKosztown, a professional painter, created a painting “The Trial of Susanna” for the church, which was mentioned in the visitation act in 1817. On the basis of stylistics and historical assumptions, he also could be the author of other altar paintings created at the same time: St. Francis of Assisi, St. Anna (St. Family), St. Barbara, St. Anthony of Padua, Way of the Cross and St. Dominic. J. Roselino, another professional painter, worked in Dotnuva at the same time. In 1819, he created a painting “St. Florian”. The artistic value of the works acquired in the middle of the 19th century has decreased. Adolf Czapski (“The Trinity”), a painter from Kėdainiai, Zboilev (“The Divine”) and other unknown painters participated in the decoration of the church. This study of the heritage of the Dotnuva Bernardine Church is only preliminary. This publication is intended to draw attention to the survived altar paintings characterised by stylistic integrity, images of the Way of the Cross and other valuable works.
Visual Art