Within the “Exhibit of the Month” project, the National Museum of History of Romania (MNIR) hosts the micro-exhibition “The Official Portrait of Alexandru Ioan Cuza. The Character, the Artist, the Setting”. The exhibition, which opens today at 12am, has at its centre Prince Alexandru Ioan Cuza’s portrait painted by Carol Popp de Szathmari. By this exhibition, MNIR marks in fact two special moments: 150 years since the date Cuza proclaimed before the joint Assemblies of Moldavia and Wallachia, convening in Bucharest, “the definitive Union of the Principalities” (January 24, 1862) and 200 years since the birth of Carol Popp de Szathmari, one of the greatest Romanian artists of the 19th century (January 11, 1812).
According to the MNIR release, the exhibition focuses on three main “elements”, pointed out in the title. Naturally, a central part is granted to “the character”, Alexandru Ioan Cuza, who is indeed the “binding agent” of the exhibition. Cuza became the symbol of a major turning-point in the history of the nation. The European Powers, acting as guarantors, accepted the Union of Principalities on January 24, 1859, setting the – difficult, if not impossible – condition that the new prince should rule alternatively, in one capital or the other – Bucharest or Iasi – with two governments, two Assemblies, two administrations, although the newly-formed entity was officially called the United Principalities.
The organizers of the exhibition sought to reconstruct the “setting” depicted by the painter (the prince is represented standing, wearing the lancers colonel uniform; his right hand is resting on a side-table, beside two documents and his helmet; his left hand is resting on the handle of the sword; behind him we glimpse a throne and a purple velvet curtain; Alexandru Ioan Cuza is wearing five foreign medals awarded on various occasions). In order to reconstruct the setting, some of the elements represented in the painting will also be on display: the prince’s throne, the medals depicted in the portrait – two (Turkish) “Osmanie” medals and the “Medgidie” Order, the (Italian) “St. Mauritius and Lazarus” Order and the (Greek) “Redeemer’s” Order – and a sword encrusted with diamonds, rubies and emeralds he was presented with by the people of Turnu Magurele.