Exhibition annotation

Rokiškis Region Museum is the first museum in Lithuania, located in a manor. This happened in the summer of 1940, when graphs Pšezdzieckiai departed from Rokiškis.  The stormy events of that period forced the museum workers to leave the Manor for several times and only since 1952 the Museum settled there permanently.

The values accumulated by graphs in the Manor suffered during the nationalization in the war and postwar years. However, the museum workers managed to collect and preserve a considerable part of the scattered values. The Museum collections store over 17000 photographs and negatives, almost 2000 of them are taken from the Rokiškis Manor. They cover the period from the end of 19th century until 1940. There you can find the images of Pšezdzieckiai  family members: Jonas Pšezdzieckis,  his beautiful wife duchess Hermancija Sapiegaitė, their children and relatives. These photos were taken by photo studio masters in different cities: Warsaw, Vilnius, Paris, Nice and others. Still the most of the photographs were taken by graphs themselves.

Rokiškis Region Museum preserves the photo taken in 1884, this photo of the Manor palace, which was built in 1801.  Its author is the graph Aleksandras Šuazelis-Gufjė (1821– 1896), who was the son of Sofija Tyzenhauzaitė Šuazel-Gufjė (1790–1878) and the grandson of Ignotas Tyzenhauzas. This photograph shows the palace image, which remained untill the beginning of the 20th century, because in 1905 the palace was reconstructed. On the other side of this photograph there is the record: “Rakischki … (fot. stary Choiseul) rok. 1884?)“.

In the summer of 2016 Rokiškis Region Museum received the digital picture of a very rare photograph – the image of Rokiškis St. Apostle Evangelist Matas church. Judging from the buildings standing around the curch, it can be concluded that this photo was taken between 1877–1881. Most likely it was taken on the 4th December, 1877, on that day, when the church was consecrated. Perhaps this photograph was made by Aleksandras Šuazelis-Gufjė.

Taking photos was the favourite activity of the graph Jonas Pšezdzieckis (1877–1944) and his children. The children‘s nanny Julija Kietytė (1882–1974) wrote in her memoirs: „the father presented the camera to his daughter Elžbieta. The camera was stolen, the thief was caught. Elžbieta rejoiced upon return of the camera and forgave the thief.“

How did the graphs‘ photographs appear in Rokiškis Region Museum collections? Most of them appeared there during post-war years from the former Manor‘s archive. However, there was very dangerous to show the interest and ask questions about graphs and their values at that period. A significant number of photographs were obtained in later times from people, who used to work in the Manor: the children‘s nanny, the cook’s family and the cook’s descendants, the gardener‘s children and other people.

The Museum collections are being supplemented by the photos of graphs‘ family up to these days. In 2012 the Museum got the album with 234 photos of the graphs, the images from the period of 1931– 1932. On some of the photographs there are records in Polish. The Museum has another 7 similar albums.

Flipping through photographs, it can be noticed that the graphs rarely put cameras away, it seams that they almost always carried cameras with them. You get an impression that the graphs were taking pictures of everyone and everything: children, their games, guests, everyday moments, holidays, trips with horses and automobiles to other manors, hunting, tennis playing, dogs, horses and other animals.  Photographs also reveal how the Manor exterior and interior looked like, they illustrate farm works, stables and other farm buildings.

It is especially interesting that the journeys to neighbouring manors were recorded in all details. In the album of 1930 there we can see the moments of the journey to the town Baisogala: riding horses, stops in roadside villages, feasts on the meadows, games and arrival to guests. Witty comments accompany the moments taken in the photos. It’s a pity that only small part of the photographs has explanations. There are no records on people‘s photographs, so some persons remain unidentified.

Marijona Mieliauskienė