An outstanding Polish artist of the Cracow school,
Jan Matejko's pupil was born
in 1869 in Ropczyce ...
Turek is a town located in the central part of country, in the eastern Greater Poland region, at the junction of early medieval and medieval trade routes.
The beginnings of this town date back to 1136, when in the Gniezno Bull the name Turkoviste appears, to this day identified with the name of town Turek. Another important date in the history of town is 1341, when the Archbishop of Gniezno, Janisław, located the town under the sredenses rights. This document ended the formation of Turek as a city.
Certainly, one of elements that created the city was the parish. Its origins date back to the middle of the 12th century. The first wooden church of St. John the Baptist probably dates back to this period. During the period of unification of the Polish lands in 1331 it was probably burnt down by the Teutonic army striving to meet the Czech troops to Kalisz. After this event, the inhabitants made a huge effort, which resulted in a new brick building in the Gothic style. In May 1813, a fire broke out on an adjacent plot of land, where a municipal hospital was built, which under favorable weather conditions moved to the church building and damaged it to a significant extent. In 1839 the tower collapsed, destroying the body of the Gothic building. Subsequent restorations and reconstructions significantly changed the Gothic character of this damaged church.
Due to the continuous development o city, the inhabitants of Turek were faced with a choice of extending the existing building, which was no longer able to perform its function properly or to design and build a new parish church.
The new design of church in neo-Gothic style – brick on a field granite substructure – was carried out by the architects Konstanty and Jarosław Wojciechowscy from Warsaw. The temple was built in 1904-1913. At the consecration in 1924 it received the call of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The church has a three-nave structure with a transept and a two-tower massif on the western side. The presbytery of church is closed on three sides and has an additional farmyard. The roof is completely covered with sheet metal. To this day, this building is the architectural landmark of Turek overlooking the whole town, not only because of its size, but mainly due to the “treasure” that hides inside – the work of Józef Mehoffer, which turned out to be one of his greatest projects.
The wall paintings in parish church dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Turek belong to the most precious Polish polychromies occurring in our country. The neo-Gothic church is completely covered with paintings by Józef Mehoffer, an outstanding, recognized in Poland and Europe, versatile artist: painter, graphic artist, stained-glass painter, decorator. Beautiful paintings from Turek, valued by critics and art experts, are considered to be the most important project of the late period of Mehoffer’s artistic creation.
Paintings in the church in Turek were created in 1933-1936 to the order of then parish Priest Józef Florczak. The subject matter of polychrome decorating the interior of temple was accepted by the investor and agreed in rich correspondence. In addition, Mehoffer made full- size projects of all painting decorations – figural compositions and decorative motifs located on the walls of presbytery. He also made cartons with stained-glass designs. Most of them are signed.
All figural compositions were painted by Mehoffer himself and bear his signature as well. For the purpose of painting the church interiors, the artist created a twelve-person team, which he personally managed. The young painter Józef Siemianowicz helped Mehoffer to create paintings and large ornamental planes on the church walls, while other members of his team worked on making small ornaments and monochromatic parts. Józef Mehoffer, decorating the interior of Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Turek, combined figural and purely ornamental compositions, which was a real novelty to the common polychromes so far characterized by expressive divisions, emphasizing or even imitating elements of architecture.
The artist made figural representations with particular reverence: Christ the King, Christ the Good Shepherd, Christ the Spouse, Christ the Pilgrim and Christ the Gardener. These cartons were perfectly and masterfully reproduced on the walls of presbytery of Turek temple. Similarly, eternal lamps and winged hearts, as well as birds in the choral part of building were carefully placed on the church walls.
Decoration of the church in Turek was interrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War. As a result, the church in Turek became a camp for German resettles, and Fr. Józef Florczak died in 1943 in Dachau. After the end of war in 1946, the news of Józef Mehoffer’s death reached Turek, which made impossible to complete work on the decoration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus church.
At the beginning of the 21st century, the polychrome had undergone conservation and restoration works, which were meticulously carried out under the supervision of Dr. Ewa Roznerska-Świerczewska from Toruń. The whole maintenance project was co-financed by the European Union, which allocated a grant of 7,514,407.18 PLN. Maintenance and restoration project of Mehoffer’s works in Turek also won the Greater Poland Star competition organized by the Marshal’s Office in Poznań. Today, the temple regained its original glory, which appeared before the master Mehoffer and Turek residents before 1939.
The project was co-financed by the Minister of Culture and
National Heritage from the Cultural Promotion Fund.
In 2018, the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Turek was digitalized by laser scanning. The latest Faro Focus 3D X330 scanner was used for this purpose. The author of project is PRO RESTAURO S.C. Karolina Świerczewska, Paweł Świerczewski from Turek. As a part of the project, 55 scans were made, out of which a three-dimensional model of the church with its equipment was created. On this basis, documentation was created – façade projections in .dwg and .rvt format. Additionally, gigapanoramas of three altars and vaults were created. What is more, a virtual tour of the church was created, consisting of fifteen panoramic images. As a part of the project, a website – www.mehoffer-turek.pl was also prepared, where the results obtained in the process of digitization, a virtual walk and gigapanoramas are posted. The website has been translated into three foreign languages and adapted to the needs of people with disabilities. Results obtained in the process of digitalization of the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Turek: