Jan Biały

(c. 1556—1592)

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(b Kraków, c. 1556; d after 1592). Polish sculptor. He was the son of Piotr Biały, a builder in Kraków. In 1572 he became a pupil of Giovanni Maria Mosca Padovano; after the latter's death (1573) he studied under Jan Michałowicz z Urzędowa. He completed his apprenticeship in Kraków on 8 April 1576. Documents show that he worked mainly in Lwów (now L’viv, Ukraine). The Roman Catholic cathedral there contains his only signed and dated composition (1592), the alabaster altarpiece commissioned by Archbishop Jan Dymitr Solikowski. Also attributed to Biały are the strikingly similar altarpiece in the church in Zarzecze (derived from the Armenian cathedral in Lwów) and the old altarpiece (1595) from the chapel of St Hyacinthus (Pol. Jacek) in the Dominican church in Kraków, converted in 1629 into stalls in the church of St Giles (Pol. Idzi). Biały belonged to the second generation of Polish sculptors (after Michałowicz) who fully mastered the Renaissance forms propagated by immigrant Italian artists. His works, based on Italian principles of composition emanating from the studios of Padovano and Michałowicz, contain Dutch pattern-book ornamentation in a stylistic mélange typical of Polish Mannerism of the second half of the 16th century. The artistic milieu in Lwów also favoured lavish decoration and the use of ornamental motifs from Oriental art, which was well known there through intensive trade contacts and which was prevalent among the large colony of Armenian artists.

From The Grove Encyclopedia of Northern Renaissance Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Renaissance Art.

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