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Famous residents of Kazimierz Dolny and persons associated with the town

Casimir III the Great (Polish: Kazimierz III Wielki) (1310 – 1370) – king of Poland from 1333 to 1370. He built the castle and the Parish Church in Kazimierz Dolny. He is the main character of one of the town’s legends, according to which he was in love with a beautiful Jewish girl, Esterka. It was she for whom he allegedly built a small castle in a nearby town of Bochotnica, ruins of which are still present today.

Jakub Balin (died in 1623) – an architect of Italian descent who had resided in Lublin, Poland, since 1590, where he served as a guildmaster. He reconstructed the Parish Church in Kazimierz Dolny, which is confirmed by the inscription on the vault: Jacobus Balin Italius murarius Lublinensis faciebat Anno Domini 1613. Since then, the church has served as a model for many churches constructed in a similar manner.

Benedykt Jerzy Dorys (1901-1990) – an exceptional fashion photographer and a portraitist, as well as one of the founders of the Association of Polish Art Photographers (Polish: Związek Artystów Fotografików, ZPAF). The period of 1931-1932 marked the creation of his most famous series of photographs, entitled “Kazimierz nad Wisłą” (Kazimierz-upon-Vistula), a part of which was presented during his individual exhibition in 1960; from the late 1970s it was presented during the most prestigious exhibitions of Polish photography abroad (New York City, Paris). This collection of photographs is one of the most important achievements of the Polish interwar documentary photography.

Tadeusz Pruszkowski (1888-1942) – a painter, teacher and art critic associated with Warsaw and Kazimierz Dolny. Since 1930 he had served as the president of the Warsaw School of Fine Arts; he also founded an art group called Fellowship of St. Luke the Evangelist (Polish: ‘Bractwo Świętego Łukasza’) which operated from 1925 to 1930. From 1923 to 1939, he organized annual open air painting events in Kazimierz Dolny. In 1923 he built his own villa opposite the castle hill, where he had many students and established artists as guests. In 1939, together with his students, he completed seven monumental compositions in his studio, which presented major events from the history of Poland. In the same year, the compositions added splendour to the Polish Pavilion during the 1939–40 New York World's Fair. During World War II, he provided help to the Jewish community; he was shot by the German Nazis.

Antoni Michalak (1899-1975) – a Polish painter of traditionalistic and religious works, active during the 1920s and the 1930s, as well as after World War II. He was the first of Pruszkowski’s students to discover the ethnographic and folkloric values of Kazimierz Dolny in 1923. He received a scholarship from the French Government which allowed him to complete a one-year training in France. He travelled around Italy and Austria; however, he then decided to permanently settle in Kazimierz Dolny. He was buried at the parish cemetery in Kazimierz Dolny.

Maria Kuncewiczowa (1895-1989) – a Polish writer, journalist and literature professor, as well as the Deputy Chairman of the PEN Club Poland. Prior to the outbreak of World War II, she and her husband Jerzy Kuncewicz intended to settle in Kazimierz Dolny, so they built a house here, which they had to abandon not long after the war started. She went abroad, where she also stayed after the war was over. In 1968 they returned to Poland, and they moved back into their villa called ‘Willa pod Wiewiórką’ (The “Squirrel” Villa) built in 1936 and designed by architect Karol Siciński. Today, the villa is known as ‘Kuncewiczówka’ after the writer’s last name. She portrayed her beloved Kazimierz Dolny in many of her literary works, including Two Moons (Dwa Księżyce, 1933), on which movie director Andrzej Barański based his 1993 film, and Letters to Jerzy (Listy do Jerzego), Phantoms (Fantomy) and Nature (Natura). She was buried at the parish cemetery in Kazimierz Dolny next to her husband.

Edward Hartwig (1909-2003) – a prominent photographer, one of the best known Polish art photographers. He exerted a major influence on the development of the Polish photography in the 1960s and the 1970s; he was a member of the Association of Polish Art Photographers (ZPAF). He was interested in painting, which noticeably influenced his photographs. He used various techniques (e.g. gold bromide) when taking and developing photographs of Kazimierz Dolny – a town he truly liked and which was reflected in a number of his works.

Daniel Olbrychski (born in 1945) – an outstanding theatre and cinema actor with over a hundred stupendous roles. He worked for some of the major theatres in Poland (including the National Theatre and Teatr Powszechny in Warsaw). According to one of his interviews, he believes that “I already know fame, money, festivals, prizes, living in New York City, Hollywood and in Paris. But I feel good about living by the Vistula River.” He has been associated with Kazimierz Dolny, and especially with a nearby town of Mięćmierz, where he owns a summer cottage, or ‘a hut,’ as he calls it, which he says he “would not trade for any Beverly Hills villa.”

Jan Wołek (born in 1954) - a poet, painter, musician, professional entertainer, and one of the masters of ‘sung poetry.’ He wrote several books, little volumes of poetry and over a two thousand of lyrics of songs performed by major Polish singers. Scholarship holder, awarded with numerous prizes and distinctions (e.g. the Japan Foundation Scholarship, the Ministry of Culture and Art Scholarship). He was a landscape painter who was very fond of the landscapes of Kazimierz Dolny and its architecture. He exhibits his works at his own art gallery ‘Suszarnia’ in Kazimierz Dolny. He is a host of two series of documentary shows on the Polish television (TVP): Gość w dom (My home is your home) and Szept prowincjonalny (Provincial Whisper, which is about Kazimierz Dolny and its surroundings).

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