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No. 34

Ludwika Linde Górecka

An Attempt at Reconstruction


Zofia Rojek

On 29th July 1992, Życie Warszawy published an article entitled Wielka Zachęta (Great Encouragementi). The next day, the editorial office received a letter, whose sender elaborated on the rather perfunctory information contained in the text. The addressees of the letter – Ewa Korona, Krzysztof Koszewski and Krzysztof Mycielski – could read that “the said owner of the neighbouring property, Mrs. Górecka, who bequeathed her plot to the Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts, was Ludwika Dominika Eleonora Anna, née Linde.” The author went on to explain that Ludwika was the sister of his great-grandmother Anna Brandt, and that there had been some stories circulating in the family for years which he wanted to share. In the next paragraph, he recollected: “Ludwika Górecka’s testamentary bequest to build a permanent picture gallery within five years was not the only condition of her gift. The second was that a bust of the donor be placed in this gallery forever!”.1 According to this legend, the bust had remained in Zachęta until 1939.

The story about the missing sculpture portrait of Ludwika Górecka had been going around the Brandt family for years. In 1976, Prof. André Clavier, a Belgian researcher of Fryderyk Chopin’s life and works, grew interested in the biography of the philanthropist. Ludwika had corresponded with the composer’s sister, and Clavier was constantly expanding his field of research. He managed to find a photograph in which, apart from the Brandts with their children, Górecka was also preserved for history. In gratitude for having been sent the picture, the addressee of the letter, Kazimierz Brandt, wrote back: “Having looked at the photograph of grandmother Górecka, I recalled a small detail concerning ‘Zachęta’. In the biggest exhibition hall, in the left corner next to the Battle of Grunwald by Matejko, had stood a portrait of L. Górecka in the form of a marble relief. After the Germans left and ‘Zacheta’ reopened, the bas-relief was gone.”2

The mystery of the disappearance of the bust of Ludwika remained unsolved for years. However, this legend of the unusual legacy passed on from generation to generation seems equally puzzling.

One thing we can be sure of: Ludwika Linde-Górecka was a philanthropist, socialite and promoter of Polish science, culture and art. Generally speaking, it was thanks to her selfless generosity and ability to foresee developments – resulting from her knowledge, experience and empathy – that Zachęta was established. We examine her as a patron, working for the development of the local community.

Part 1. Ludwika, née Linde

Ludwika Linde was born on 3rd August 1815. She was the eldest daughter of Samuel Bogumił Linde (1771-1847) and his first wife, Ludwika née Bürger (1786-1823). Ludwika grew up in a middle-class family of Warsaw intellectuals. Her father, Samuel, was a well-known lexicographer and the author of the first Słownik języka polskiego (Dictionary of the Polish Language), published in the years 1807-1814. Ludwika’s godfather was the writer Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz.3 Other friends of the house included the well-known educator and historian Tadeusz Czacki, the writer and publisher Franciszek Salezy Dmochowski, the Enlightenment activist Stanisław Staszic, the politician Adam Czartoryski, the writer and pioneer of Slavic studies Józef Maksymilian Ossoliński and the bibliographer Jerzy Samuel Bandtkie. The influence of this literary environment on little Ludwika’s development was certainly tremendous: as a child she received, among other things, personal wishes in verse.4

The future philanthropist graduated from the Warsaw boarding school for girls of Zuzanna Wilczyńska.5 She had an excellent command of French and – like many women of the proprietary class at that time – used it in her everyday life. This is proved by an album of handwritten French poems presented to her, today in the collection of the National Library.6 Most probably she met her long-lasting friend Narcyza Żmichowska during her time at the boarding school.7 Ludwika was one of the “Enthusiasts” (Polish: Entuzjastki). Together with other of Żmichowska’s acquaintances, including the teacher Julia Baranowska (née Bąkowska), the poet and writer Maria Ilnicka (née Majkowska), the colonel’s wife Kornelia Paszkowska (née Krajewska) and the philanthropist Waleria Lewicka (née Biłgorajska), she co-founded the first Polish feminist group.8 The “Enthusiasts” believed that the key to strengthening the position of women was education and economic independence: they conducted journalistic and underground activities, claiming that the emancipation of women was closely linked to the emancipation of the entire nation. The members of the organisation made unconventional choices: many of them never married and they built deep, loving, sisterly relationships within the group. Hipolit Skimborowicz wrote about them in the weekly Bluszcz: “All of them are gentle, clement, quiet and active; they went through their youth and even their later age subjected to taunts, accusations, occasional condemnations or sometimes only teasing banter.”9 The “Enthusiasts” faced incomprehension and social ostracism, and were tagged with various of the stigmatising terms of those times, such as “suffragettes” and “communists”.10 Despite critical voices, their activity significantly influenced social change: they were also able to integrate men within their activities, and the latter spoke favourably of the “Enthusiasts’” aspirations.11

Ludwika Górecka maintained lively correspondence: letters have survived that she exchanged with Narcyza Żmichowska and the aforementioned Emilia Chopin, as well as with the writer Antonina Jachowiczowa (née Ośniałowska), Amelia Karasowska, the writer Katarzyna Lewocka (née Lipińska), her father Samuel Bogumił Linde, the writer and academic Apolinary Zagórski and Stanisław Zawadzki.12 According to the researcher Halina Horodyska, Ludwika Górecka’s letters, written in beautiful Polish and characterised by great ease and elegance in expressing thoughts, testify to the author’s intelligence.13

On 24th April 1837, Ludwika married Józef Górecki, a wealthy construction engineer who was 15 years her senior. They had no children and no records of their private life have survived. In 1870, Górecki appeared on a list of 52 licensed Warsaw builders14 and he died in the same year, leaving his widow a substantial fortune.

Part 2. Ludwika Górecka, Philanthropist

The inheritance proceedings of Józef Górecki were initiated by the end of April 1870.15 By November of the same year, Ludwika had already become the sole owner of the previously jointly owned tenement house of land registry number 1072, located at 17 Królewska Street. The tenement house was most probably designed by Szymon Bogumił Zug in the 1770s, and its construction lasted until the early 1780s. Several decades later, in 1846, reconstruction work was performed on the tenement by Górecki: it was then made one floor higher.16 Thanks to its height and décor (a neo-classical façade with a triaxial risalit and balconies), it harmonised with the nearby school building of the community of the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession at 19 Królewska Street.17 Between the two buildings, there was an ornamental gate closing off the alley that led to the Church of the Holy Trinity.18

For 30 years, this tenement house functioned in the collective consciousness of Varsovians as the building of “Mrs. Górecka”. This can be confirmed by a press announcement placed in the Kurier Warszawski on 23rd July 1887, informing that “the law office of Adolf Suligowski, a sworn attorney, was moved to 17 Królewska Street, to Mrs. Górecka’s house.”19 The name of the tenement’s owner also appeared in annual lists of real estate owners, which were printed in address books, yearbooks and calendars, e.g. by Józef Unger. Ludwika most probably made a living from renting out rooms in her tenement, and the money she earned in this way was allocated not only for her own needs, but also for wide-ranging charitable and philanthropic activity.

“Sensitive to human misery, she always came to the aid of both friends and strangers, rescuing them in distress and supporting in need” – so the lawyer Adolf Suligowski wrote in his eulogy for Ludwika.20 Following her husband’s death, Górecka became famous for numerous charitable donations, despite on many occasions reserving the right to anonymity. Texts and archival data show that she did not like to be in the centre of attention and did not seek publicity. When giving money for a particular cause, she often asked for her name not be made public. For this reason, it can be assumed that she made many more donations that went unrecorded.

Suligowski went on to state that: “Among her charitable deeds, it is worth emphasising the gift of 4.500 roubles for the St. Francis de Sales Poorhouse on Solec Street, made to its main director, Sister Anna, who once stayed for some time in Ludwika’s building.”21 The press reported, among other things, a donation of 200 silver roubles to “Jachowicz’s grandchildren”22 and a donation to the memorial plaque of Father Adam Jakubowski.23

At the beginning of the 1870s, Ludwika Górecka began commemorating the life work of her father, Samuel Bogumił Linde. On the centenary of his birth, she decided to donate the famous lexicographer’s manuscripts to the collection of the Jagiellonian Library in Kraków.24 They were placed in an “ornamental box with an appropriate metal inscription on top”, while the press reprinted the acknowledgements of director Karol Estreicher to the daughter of the author of the Dictionary.25 At the same time, Ludwika began a several year-long process of negotiation by letter with the Kraków Academy of Learning.26 This resulted in the establishment of the Samuel Bogumił Linde Foundation, whose aim was to link Ludwika’s father’s name with work on Polish lexicography. As Halina Horodyska, a researcher into the history of the foundation’s creation, observed: the donor believed that it should provide material and moral encouragement for “people of good will and perseverance so that this science, which might be considered a treasury of national knowledge, so vital for our country, is not neglected”.27 In one of her letters, Górecka wrote, “My funds are very limited, but bearing in mind Linde’s favourite statement – let us serve the honest cause – I have dared to set aside 3,000 crowns, that is 4,500 roubles, in letters of credit from the city of Warsaw… for a prize in the Polish language.”28 The interest collected on this sum amounted to 675 roubles over three years and provided the financing for the Linde prize. As with the aforementioned donations, Ludwika did not want her name to be made public as the sole funder of the prize.29

In 1876, Ludwika Górecka and the Academy of Learning signed a memorandum defining the aims of the foundation and the rules of awarding prizes. The analyses to be encouraged were studies of the Polish language, extending and supplementing the research of the donor’s father: monographs on the grammar or history of the language, forming a complete whole and prepared with a full scholarly apparatus. The prize was planned to be awarded once every three years, initially on Linde’s birthday: the 24th April; for organisational reasons, however, the Academy changed the date to 8th May. The main Linde award was 675 roubles, and the two second prizes amounted to 337 roubles each.30 Until her death, that is for the next quarter of a century, Ludwika expressed an interest in the course and results of the competition; unfortunately, she negatively evaluated the Academy’s promotion of the event.31 Górecka was also critical of the way in which prizes were granted and the criteria for assessing competition entries, organisational and financial matters, and issues related to the printing of the awarded works.32. This was not the only major foundation about which she made comments and set out specific conditions.

A plaque commemorating Ludwika Górecka née Linda - a philanthropist who donated a plot of land 120 years ago for the expansion of the Zachęta gallery. 17.12. 2021. Photo by: Jakub Celej.

Part 3. Ludwika Górecka, née Linde, an Honorary Member of the Society for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts (TZSP)

Ludwika Górecka’s tenement house was an extremely attractive building as it was located in Śródmieście (the central district of Warsaw), in the direct vicinity of land belonging to the community of the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession. The philanthropist had no children and her closest family was relatively affluent. She had a sense of mission: her correspondence presents her as a social activist of above-average intelligence, aware of the privileged position secured by her origin, education and wealth. Ludwika cared for the common good: she saw the cultural development of Warsaw as important, and the lack of a modern exhibition institution was one of the city’s most urgent needs in this regard.

She decided to bequeath her property – i.e., a plot of land and the previously described tenement house at 17 Królewska Street – to the Society for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts. A condition to be fulfilled by those provided with this inheritance was that a museum edifice be erected on the property and open to the public within five years of the donor’s death. To thank and reward Ludwika for her generous gift, the Society decided to appoint her as an “honorary member” of the organisation. She won this distinction in 1896, at which time she held lengthy talks with the Society’s authorities and decided to make her bequest. The report states that, also in 1896, the city authorities gave the Society (both legally and actually) a narrow and long section of Ewangelicki square in perpetual lease, or emphyteusis33. Therefore, the construction of the building could begin, an initiative which Ludwika’s donation greatly accelerated.

“The achievement of this monumental goal was made possible by a wonderful gift which the Society received at the end of last year from the daughter of the eminent scholar Samuel Bogumił Linde, Mrs. Ludwika Górecka (née Linde). The endowment is the second such beneficial endowment for the development of the Society in the last year. Mentioning this most wonderful gift ever received by the Society, the Committee encounters a certain difficulty in explaining its details to the TZSP’s members. This difficulty arises, first of all, from the extraordinary modesty of the Donor, who made every effort to ensure that her gift received as little publicity as possible, was talked about as little as possible, and even less written and printed about.” These are the words of the report of the Society for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts for 1896. 34 It was also noted that Ludwika did not even want the information about her gift to be included in the annual report. However, she was persuaded that this was necessary in order to explain the current financial and organisational situation of the Society to all its members. The report also pointed out that there were some encumbrances on the will, but that it would enable the resulting edifice to be “spacious and magnificent, with four fronts and a sufficient courtyard”.35

Ludwika Górecka died less than four years after drafting her will, on 20th April 1900. In her obituaries she was described as “a noble, judicious and elderly woman”,36 and a person of “extraordinary intelligence and generosity”37 who donated her entire estate to the development of the Polish humanities and arts. Information about Ludwika’s bequest appeared in the press on 23rd June 1900.38 Her donation, apart from being hedged with the condition that the building be constructed relatively quickly, contained several minor requirements: one of them was a gift of 500 roubles for the old people’s home run by the evangelical community, and also part of the land from the estate was to be given to the church, with right of way and light for the TZSP.39

The organisational meeting of the members after receiving the legacy took place in November of the same year: a report on taking possession of the property and ideas for further financing the construction were presented. The sitting was chaired by Karol Benni and was attended by both ordinary and full members. After the words of recognition for Ludwika’s contribution to the development of Polish art, the chairman emphasised that the terms of the will had been known for years and included, among other things, bequests for other beneficiaries (7,500 roubles) and life annuities for the nieces of the deceased (1,000 roubles a year), which the Society was obliged pay. The participants decided that the TZSP’s own funds, money from renting out the newly renovated rooms of Ludwika’s tenement for shops, and loans would be used for building the edifice. “The motions of the committee, without any deliberations, unanimously gained general approval, after which the attendees expressed their thanks to the committee with a long applause for such useful and fruitful activity for the good of the Society,”40 Kurier Warszawski related. However, this enthusiasm proved premature.

The construction of the main building, according to a design by Stefan Szyller, was completed on 12th December 1900, and talks also started about adding a new wing on Ludwika’s property. Money was scarce, so TZSP had to resort to further loans. Shortly afterwards, the press accused the Society of greed as it charged additional fees for an exhibition of Henryk Siemiradzki, even from its own members. “Indeed, the Society, subjected to the rigours of the bequest of the late Ludwika Górecka, had to put in extraordinary effort, building the new wing with its own small funds and eventually establishing an art gallery. It was only thanks to the exceptional energy and zeal of the committee, headed by its vice-president Dr. Benni, that success was achieved in this matter”.41

The new exhibition of the TZSP collection was opened in 1904. The press criticised the event for being haphazard, chaotic in the arrangement of objects and lacking the systematisation characteristic of art museums.42 It was expected that the members of the Society would change the way of thinking about what constitutes an exhibition. And that they would commemorate Ludwika Górecka, née Linde, in the space of the gallery.



On 6th June 1914, an article by Michał Synoradzki appeared in Biesiada Literacka, in the “From Warsaw” section. In the introduction, the author quoted a text of the executor of Ludwika’s final will and testimony, Adolf Suligowski, published in 1904. The lawyer had written as follows: “Four months have passed since the construction of the new wing and the opening in it of additional rooms of the Society for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts. The city has received a landmark at a point so much neglected, and the institution has acquired better premises for exhibiting works of art and propagating aesthetic taste among the public.”43 The author then went on to list other advantages of the new building: one of them being that foreigners could enter it and “did not have to pity the poverty and backwardness” of Varsovians. He also highlighted that the TZSP had come in for all the praise for the construction of the building’s new section. Although the journalist agreed with the positive opinions, he pointed out that it had been Ludwika Górecka who exerted the greatest influence on the project. “She bequeathed her property No. 1072 to the Society for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts, doubling its original cramped plot of land. Without this legacy,” he continued, “Warsaw could not have dreamt of enlarging the Society’s building. Thanks to the testament, we already have the new wing, not to mention the possibility of creating a real palace of art one day, by rebuilding and changing the whole house left by the late Ludwika Górecka.”44

The author also raised the subject of the tenement income, thanks to which the TZSP could make use of a loan, and the condition of creating a gallery within five years of the donor’s death. “It is easy to conclude, on the basis of the above explanations, that the bequest of the late Górecka not only considerably increased the Society’s property and ensured the institution’s further development, but even made it possible to fully build the new wing of its new headquarters. Therefore, while appreciating the work of the Committee of the Society for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts, we should not forget about the contribution of the late Górecka,” he concluded.45 Then the author added, “I even think that this merit should be expressed in an appropriate form. In the new wing, on the first floor, a wonderful hall has been arranged which is a real ornament of the whole edifice of art. And the fact that this hall stands on the grounds of the late Górecka’s plot entirely justifies naming it after Ludwika Górecka and hanging her portrait with an appropriate inscription there. (…) Let the walls of the hall I have mentioned become a permanent reminder of Mrs. Górecka’s good deed. This is what justice requires, and what society needs for a proper understanding of life and the conditions of its development.”46

Synoradzki remarked that Adolf Suligowski’s article, written in a chivalrous tone, clearly “… underscored the peculiar omission of a duty of gratitude to the benefactress of the Society.” In 1904, the institution’s committee expressed its intention to “zealously take care” of honouring Ludwika by commissioning a sculptural portrait. Ten years passed between the declaration of the TZSP and the printing of the text in Biesiada Literacka. Nothing changed during that decade.

The bust of Ludwika Linde-Górecka has never been made. In her will, she indicated not her own likeness, but the portrait of her father, Samuel Bogumił Linde, as the sculpture to stand in the new wing of the gallery. A portrait bust of the author of the Dictionary was added to the collection of the Society for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts in 1917. It was created by Jan Biernacki “at the request of the Society’s Committee to fulfil the will of the legator Ludwika Górecka, née Linde.”47

Ludwika has not been commemorated. The family myth of the lost bust of the philanthropist therefore remains just a legend.

1 The author of the letter was Kazimierz S. Brandt (Engineer) the creator of, among others, historic railway shelters on the Otwock line. A copy of the letter can be found in the family archive of his son, Prof. Andrzej M. Brandt.
2 Ibidem.
3 A. Suligowski, „Nad grobem filantropki Ludwiki z Lindów Góreckiej”, [in:] Z ciężkich lat. Mowy, Kraków 1905, p. 3.
4 Correspondence between Ludwika Linde Górecka and Emilia Chopin, The Fryderyk Chopin Institute, ref. no. 1898.
5 H. Horodyska, „Znaczenie działalności córki Samuela Lindego, Ludwiki Góreckiej, dla rozwoju polskiej leksykografii w końcu XIX wieku,” [in:] Ewangelicy w dziejach Warszawy. Materiały z sesji naukowej, University of Warsaw Library (BUW), 13 June 2008, ed. J. Gardawski, A. Wołodko, Warsaw 2008, p. 152.
6 Album of Ludwika Górecka, née Linde, of 1843–1844, National Library, Rps 5797 I; there is the following dedication on the first page of the donated album: “Puissiez-vous chère Louise éprouver autant de plaisir en lisant ces poésies que j’en ai eu à vous les écrire alors mon désir sera rempli.C. N. 1832.
7 A. Suligowski, „Nad grobem filantropki”, p. 3.
8 „Gabryella i Entuzjastki”, Bluszcz: pismo tygodniowe ilustrowane dla kobiet, annual volume 15, vol.16, no. 21 of 26 May 1880, p. 163.
9 Ibidem.
10 Ibidem.
11 For more on this subject, see: M. Romankówna, Sprawa entuzjastek, “Pamiętnik Literacki. Czasopismo kwartalne poświęcone historii i krytyce literatury polskiej”, 48/2, Wrocław 1957, pp. 516–537.
12 Fragment of correspondence and papers of Ludwika Górecka, née Linde, National Library, Archive of Roman Turkiewicz, Rps 5758 III.
13 H. Horodyska, „Znaczenie działalności…”, p. 153.
14 The list of people running a building practice in Warsaw, Kurier Warszawski, annual volume 50, no. 58 of 16 March 1870, p. 1.
15  “Information about inheritance proceedings of Ludwik Górecki”, Dziennik Warszawski, annual volume 7, no. 171 of 18 August 1870, p. 1795.
16 Income tenement house of the Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts (of the Góreccy, Ragge), 17 Królewska Street, after: J. Zieliński, Atlas Dawnej Architektury Ulic i Placów Warszawy, vol. 8 , Warsaw 2002, http://www.warszawa1939.pl/obiekt/krolewska-17, access date: 01.12.2021.
17 Ibidem.
18 Ibidem.
19 Kurier Warszawski, annual volume 67, no. 201 of 23 July 1887, p. 8.
20 A. Suligowski, „Nad grobem filantropki”, p. 4.
21 Ibidem.
22 Kurier Warszawski, annual volume 77, no. 325 of 24 November 1897, p. 7.
23 Przegląd Katolicki: tygodnik poświęcony sprawom religijnym, społecznym i kulturalnym, annual volume 30, no. 18 of May 1892.
24 Kłosy: czasopismo ilustrowane, tygodniowe, vol. 14, no. 360 [consequently: of 23 May 1872,], p. 361. The text mentions: “Able to appreciate the value of these keepsakes of her Father, some of which are the best evidence contradicting the slander that this work of immense labour was not Linde’s, that he had just reprinted a found manuscript, while others show his extensive relationships with both domestic and foreign scholars, she sent them as a souvenir to the Jagiellonian Library in Kraków.”
25 Ibidem.
26 According to Halina Horodyska, there was no institution in Warsaw which could undertake this initiative. More on this subject: J. Piskurewicz, L. Zasztowt, Towarzystwo Naukowe Warszawskie, https://rcin.org.pl/Content/190893/WA248_225290_0117_tow2_o.pdf, access date: 01.12.2021.
27 H. Horodyska, „Znaczenie działalności…”, p. 152.
28 Ibidem, pp. 152–153.
29 Ibidem, p. 153.
30 Ibidem, p. 154.
31 There were few mentions of the competition in the press: Wędrowiec, no. 76 of 13 June 1878, p. 386; Kurier Poznański, no. 97 of 29 April 1886, p. 1. More on this subject: H. Horodyska, “Znaczenie działalności…”, p. 154. In the State Archive in Łódź, in the Archive of the Bartoszewicz Family, an interesting reader’s response to the competition conditions is preserved, ref. no. 39/592/0/4.9/2551.
32 H. Horodyska, „Znaczenie działalności”, p. 155.
33 Sprawozdanie Komitetu Towarzystwa Zachęty Sztuk Pięknych w Królestwie Polskim za rok 1896, Warsaw 1897, unnumbered.
34 Ibidem.
35 Ibidem.
36 “Gazeta Świąteczna”, annual volume 20, no. 1009 of 6 May 1900, pp. 1–2.
37 “Gazeta Polska” (previously: Codzienna), 1900, no. 93 of 21 April, unnumbered.
38 “Kurier Warszawski”, annual volume 80, no. 171 of 23 June 1900, p. 5.
39 Files (…) concerning capital roubles 500 for old people’s homes and part of real property no. 070 [17 Królewska Street] from the legacy of the late [Ludwika, née Linde] Górecka, Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Warsaw [1563] 1604-1943, collection no. 225, ref. no. 1090; more on the subject: “Kurier Warszawski”, annual volume 80, no. 312 of 11 November 1900, p. 7.
40 Kurier Warszawski, annual volume 80, no. 312, of 11 November 1900, p. 7.
41 Kurier Warszawski, annual volume 83, no. 299 of 29 October 1903, p. 1.
42 Przegląd Tygodniowy Życia Społecznego, Literatury i Sztuki, annual volume 39, no. 29 of 3 July 1904, p. 346.
43 „Z Warszawy”, Biesiada Literacka: pismo literacko-polityczne ilustrowane vol. 75, no. 23 of 6 June 1914, pp. 442–443.
44 Ibidem.
45 Ibidem.
46 Ibidem.
47 Sprawozdanie Komitetu Towarzystwa Zachęty Sztuk Pięknych w Królestwie Polskim za rok 1917, Warsaw 1918, unnumbered.
The word “Zachęta” meaning encouragement also appears in the name of the Zachęta – National Gallery of Art.