Radosław Sikora is an Author of dozen of books and articles dedicated to the famous cavalry, the Hussars called “Winged Horsemen” due to the custom of wearing wings on their back or at the saddle. The legend of this cavalry, which was active in Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth since early 16th century until 1776, is still very strong in Poland. Their winning campaigns, including the famous 1683 rescue of Vienna from the Turkish siege are still a subject of many discussions, articles, books and museum exhibitions. It is fair to say that the legend of “winged” hussars is also known in other countries, where many arms and armour lovers are attracted by the unique character of this cavalry, which combined Eastern (Oriental) and European warfare features.
Radosław Sikora decided to throw a new challenge for himself and other scholars by focus on the image of the hussars. Iconography: paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints are always important part of arms and armour study, if you know how to interpret them. But you can’t ignore them. Knowing iconography is as much vital for scholars and students as real, museum objects, literature and writing sources. Without them our vision and knowledge about the use of arms would be far from complete.
The book is an outstanding album which main part is dedicated to imagery of Polish-Lithuanian Hussars through almost 300 years. Some of the sources can be seen here for the first time in publication, some of them were already known but not always in high quality and in such a details like in the album by Radosław Sikora. The chronological arrangement contains about 100 artworks, mostly paintings and sculptures since 1514 to ca. 1786, of historical and documentary value. It is also fascinating travel through the history of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and its unique culture, including sarmatism.
The addition for the book is a set of writing sources for Husaria. The important thing is the books is translated into English and French, what will shed a little bit more light on hussars history also for scholars in other countries.
The only flaw of the album is the lack of historical commentary, which could help to understand better the context of some of the images (both historically and artistically) and allow to distinguish for not set into readers between historical and historicizing works.
Nevertheless there is no doubt that the book by Sikora and Szleszyński will be a milestone for the published iconography of Polish-Lithuanian hussars for the next few years and today it is highly important addition to every arms lover library.