Saxon Palace / Pałac Saski

Warsaw, Poland

Destroyed 1944

The Disappointed Tourist: Saxon Palace, Ellen Harvey, 2021. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 18 x 24″ (46 x 61 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard.

Should this be rebuilt or should we build something new? Anon.

The Saxon Palace (Pałac Saski) was one of the most distinctive buildings in prewar Warsaw, Poland. It was destroyed by German armed forces in 1944 as part of the suppression of the Warsaw Uprising and not rebuilt since.

The Palace (then called the Morsztyn Palace) was purchased in 1714, by Augustus II, the first of Poland’s two Saxon kings. Rebuilding of the palace was completed in the reign of his son Augustus III in 1748. In the early 19th Century it housed the Warsaw Lyceum where Frederick Chopin’s father taught. The palace was remodeled in 1842 and after World War I became the seat of the Polish General Staff and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was built in the arcade joining the Palace’s two wings.

The Palace’s reconstruction was originally scheduled for 2010 and intended to house Warsaw’s city hall but the reconstruction was put on hold due to budgetary constraints. In 2018, as part of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Poland’s independence, President Andrzej Duda reaffirmed the intent to rebuild the palace. Ground work commenced in August 2022. The painting is based on an uncredited black-and-white photograph.