history

What presently is going on at Trakų Street 14, may be called the rebirth of the genius loci – spirit of the place – or a magic miracle of the ancient Vilnius. This is a story of noble taste, tradition and art of celebrating life. It lasts for almost 500 years...

The story goes... A mansion could be found in this place back in the 16th century. It was known that the building on the fashionable street of Vilnius belonged to the honourable families of Oginskis and Tiškevičius, and in the 18th century it became home for the Radvila, famous for their exclusive tastes, free thinking and abundant riches. The Radvila family was one of the most influential and interesting noble families in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It was widely know as a family of diplomats, bold solders and Maecenas, as well as beautiful ladies (one of them even made the King lose his head for her). Many of the Radvila were curious travellers and art connoisseurs bringing pieces of art and brand new western European fashions of wine, food, outfit and lifestyles to Lithuania.

 One of the Radvila was Teofilija Radvilaitė Morawska, who lived here, in the mansion at Trakų St. 14. She was a true Lady, art connoisseur, passionate collector and organiser of most luxurious parties in Vilnius at the time. She broke with traditions whenever they were not advantageous to her. Who could forbid her to marry for love back in her time? Or to get a drink of excellent wine all alone? The story goes when the servants refused to serve wine to a lonely lady, she took an axe and broke into a cupboard containing the wine she wished to drink. Then she poured in a glass, took a sip and smiled at herself.

Teofilija’s son Dominykas received excellent education and learnt from his mom to value strong women. He married an actress, Marija Korvelytė Morawska, who in some time became a head of the Theatre of Vilnius that was prospering at the time, and a hostess of the palace. Up to the 19th century the mansion was the place of attraction for nobility, who appreciated art, fashion and exquisite taste. Here they discussed the fresh gossips of Vilnius, tasted rare wines and delicious food, talked about the newest fashions of western European capitals and, of course, theatre performances and art works. Could such a place disappear without any trace?

The Gallery GRAFO has serious claims to become an important cultural centre, a place of good taste, not limited to Lithuanian art only. Exhibitions by Scandinavian and North European artists, meetings with art connoisseurs and experts are planned in it. In such proximity of good art, talks will sound differently, new ideas will come into the world and a sip of exquisite wine will get its new tones – Teofilija Radvilaitė’s greetings to the present-day Vilnius residents.