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A scale model of the image of Vytautas the Great in a wooden frame that travelled to all regions of Lithuania in 1930

Author: Petras Rimša (1881–1961)
Created:ca 1930
Dimensions:13.50 × 8.50 cm

One of the main events in the jubilee year of Vytautas the Great to commemorate this national hero was the journey of a portrait of the grand duke around Lithuania. A ceremony was held in Kaunas on the anniversary of the Battle of Žalgiris (Grünwald) on 15 July to begin the journey of an image of the grand duke that was made by the artist Petras Rimša (18811961), with a band, a solemn procession and flowers scattered in its path. During the ceremony, the Reverend Vladas Mironas announced: ‘Today, Vytautas the Great is making his rounds to look at the nation, to see if it is prepared and awakened. Vytautas’ spirit is saddened to see Lithuania so small today. Go, Vytautas, to every corner of Lithuania! You will not find your noblemen any more. Today you will see people who are determined to liberate Vilnius. These people are carrying your image, which strengthens their spirit’ (Residents of Kaunas Yesterday Gave a Send-off to the Image of Vytautas the Great, Lietuvos aidas, 1930, No 159).

The portrait of Vytautas, in an ornate wooden frame, travelled to every region of Lithuania. Raised on a pole like a banner in a procession, it was carried by prominent public figures. The symbolic visit by Vytautas was marked in cities and towns by the national anthem and the sound of church bells, with crowds of people with flowers and waving the national flag. The painting and its entourage passed through a decorated triumphal arch, and were greeted ceremoniously with slogans such as ‘Vytautas, lead us to Vilnius!’, proclaiming not only Vytautas’ glory, but also the need to reclaim his capital. The picture returned to the interim capital on 7 September, the eve of the anniversary of the day when his coronation was due to take place in 1430.


Text authors Dovilė Barcytė and Ieva Burbaitė

Source: Law firm Valiunas Ellex art album KAUNAS–VILNIUS / 1918–1945 (2021). Compilers and text authors Dovilė Barcytė and Ieva Burbaitė