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BackgroundTimeline2002 Tour


There was no trace of the painting for four centuries before Prince Adam Jerzy,Izabela Czartoryska's son, acquired the picture in Rome with no record of provenance. At the same time he bought a self-portrait by Raphael from the Giustiniani family, a noble family from Venice, and this second painting matched the Leonardo beautifully.

In 1800 "The Lady with an Ermine" travelled to Pulawy, the Czartoryski's beautiful castle situated about 100 miles south-east of Warsaw, where it was hung in the first museum - "The Gothic House". On receiving the painting from her son, Princess Izabela said of the ermine: "If it is a dog, it is very ugly one" and she mistook Cecilia Gallerani's portrait with that of "The Belle Ferroniere".

In 1830, after the Warsaw revolution, the Russian troops marched on Pulawy and Princess Izabela was forced to pack away "The Lady with an Ermine" and Raphael's self-portrait, when she left for Sieniawa, the family property protected by the Austrians.

In 1843, after being walled in Sieniawa for nine years, "The Lady" was displayed in Paris at The Hotel Lambert, which was owned by Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski. In 1871, following the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian war, "The Lady" was packed into The Hotel Lambert cellar for safe keeping.

In 1876 "The Lady" returns to Poland and hangs proudly in the new Czartoryski Museum in Krakow. In 1894 Prince Adam Ludwik takes over the Museum after his father's death.

In 1914 Prince Adam Ludwik was called up to the Austrian Army and his wife, Princess Maria Ludwika, packed "The Lady" and most of the valuable works of art and sent the objects to Dresden where connections with the Royal Saxon family ensure the artefacts' safety. The collection is opened to the public two days a week

In 1920, after years of negotiations with the Royal Saxon family, the collection complete with "The Lady with an Ermine" returned to the Museum in Krakow. In 1937 Prince Agustyn takes over the Museum after his father's death.

As war loomed in the spring of 1939, "The Lady" and 16 cases of precious objects left the Museum in Krakow for the family's country estate in Sieniawa. In August,all the artefatcs were walled up for protection. Two months later, some of the cases were looted but although "The Lady" was roughly handled, it was not damaged. Eventually, all the objects were sent to a cousin's property in Pewkinie.

In January 1940, "The Lady" and most of the 85 important objects were sent to Germany to form part of Hitler's private collection.

"The Lady" hung at the Wawel in the apartment of Dr. Frank, German Governor of Krakow. When the Germans fled Krakow and Soviet troops entered the city, he took "The Lady" and other objects to his villa in Neuhaus in Silesia. After Frank was arrested by the Americans on May 4, 1945, "The Lady" found its way back to the Czartoryski Museum by then being run by the Communist regime.

In 1946 Prince Agustyn died in Seville, Spain and his son Prince Adam Karol, who is only six years old became the head of the Czartoryski Family. Following the fall of the Iron Curtain, in 1991 the High Court of the Polish Nation recognized Prince Adam Karol as the direct and rightful heir to Prince Agustyn and returned the Museum including "The Lady" to him.

In 1992 "The Lady" travelled to Washington D.C. to be a centrepiece of the exhibition "Circa 1492" to commemorate the five hundred years following the discovery of America. "The Lady " was then taken in 1993 to Malmo & Stockholm in Sweden to be exhibited at the Leonardo exhibition in October.

Then, after an absence of 200 years, "The Lady" returned to Italy in 1998 to be exhibited in Rome, Milan and Florence to an audience of over 300,000 people. In 2001 "The Lady" travelled to Japan to be exhibited at Kyoto, Nagoya and Yokohama with over 669,500 visitors.

"The Lady" went to the Milwaukee Art Museum in September 2002 and then on to Houston and San Francisco, as part of an exhibition which celebrates the splendor of Poland.