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Antonina Hoffmann

Antonina Hoffmann (born 16 June 1842 in Trzebinia – died 16 June 1897 in Kraków) was an outstanding theatre actress in Kraków of the turn of the 19th and 20th century. Endowed with a talent and looks, she played over four hundred roles during her acting career that spanned nearly four decades. She performed in classical repertoire plays, among others, dramas by William Shakespeare and Friedrich Schiller, she was successful in comedies and contemporary social dramas. However, she won acritical acclaim for her numerous roles in Juliusz Słowacki’s dramas – as Amelia in Mazepa, Roza in Lilla Weneda, Idalia in Fantazy, Salomea in Horsztyński, and title roles in Balladyna and Beatrix Cenci and other.

Hoffmann hailed from an impoverished, evangelical landowning family. In her youth, she attended a finishing school for girls in Warsaw, which was managed by her mother after the latter sold her estate. Against the wishes of her family, she decided to dedicate her life to the stage. After taking a few private acting lessons from an outstanding actor Jan Królikowski, she enrolled at the School of Drama where she made her debut, while still a student, in the Warsaw government theatres on 12 February 1859. In 1860, Hoffmann moved to Kraków where she quickly became the leading actress. She became the friend and a stage rival of Helena Modrzejewska. They often acted together, exchanged their experiences and learned the tricks of the trade from each other. In 1861, Hoffmann became a lifelong partner of Stanisław Koźmian – a member of the Stańczycy (a Galician political party). From 1871, he was a long-time artistic director of a Kraków theatre. He created the so-called ”Kraków School” of acting, a method in which actors did away with artificiality and honed team acting skills. Hoffmann was an exponent of this modern style – her acting was restrained, a far cry from declamation and stardom. Towards the end of her career, she was hired by theatre director Tadeusz Pawlikowski to the Kraków Municipal Theatre (currently the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre in Kraków) which opened on 21 October 1893. She would perform on this stage, one of the best theatres in contemporary Poland, for the rest of her life.

The reverse of the coin shows the bust of Antonina Hoffmann from the 1872 sculpture by Władysław Eliasz and images of laces from her stage costumes. The obverse of the coin includes the image of the facade of the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre in Kraków.

Diana Poskuta-Włodek