The Gallery of Kings: A Collection of Historic Portraits,
conceived as a portfolio, was published by Maurycy Perles in Vienna.
It included 44 portraits: pencil drawings, each on a separate large plate,
so that it could be taken out of the portfolio and perhaps framed.
All were dated and signed with the initials J.M. They were accompanied
by a kind of historic essay about the people presented and the times in which
they had lived. The essay was written by Stanislaw Smolka and August
Sokolowski, outstanding Cracow historians. This was the first
Gallery, published during the artist's lifetime. This became
a prototype for other albums, published in large editions, coloured by
other painters who used Jan Matejko's
original drawings. Whoever was responsible for this
colouring, it was always accepted as Jan Matejko's
Gallery and it had a formative influence on the imagination
of whole generations of Poles.
[...] This Gallery, coloured by the painters L. Stroynowski and Z. Papieski, [...] shows the Polish kings and princes from the first historical ruler, Mieszko I, to the last king of Poland, Stanislaus Augustus.
Each portrait is accompanied by a short biographical note [...]."
- from the book:
The Gallery of Polish Kings and Princes"
edited with an introduction by Anna Wasilkowska,
translated by Bogna Piotrowska
Wydawnictwo Interpress, Warsaw, 1996