Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Martin and Georg of Klausenburg

Martin and Georg of Klausenburg: St. George
Prague, National Gallery 

I haven't had a lot of time to update my blog recently - but I thought I would post this for St. George's day. The image above depicts what may be the most beautiful statue made in the medieval Kingdom of Hungary. Made by the brothers Martin and Georg of Klausenburg (Kolozsvár / Cluj) in 1373, the statue is the only surviving work from the production of their bronze workshop. Their other works - bronze statues of the Hungarian kings St. Stephen, Prince St. Emeric and St. Ladislas, as well as a large equestrian statue of St. Ladislas (all of these at Várad / Oradea) all got destroyed during the Ottoman wars, after the capture of Várad in 1660. The statue of St. George has been in Prague at least since the 16th century - but it is not known when and how exactly it got there. It is regarded as the first free-standing monumental bronze equestrian statue since antiquity. Information about its makers and the date was preserved on the now-lost shield (and is known from 18th century transcriptions):


Today, a copy of the statue is still standing in the third courtyard of Prague Castle, near the cathedral of St. Vitus. The original has been in the National Gallery in Prague since the 1960s.

A lot has been written on the statue in recent years, especially in a series of articles published in the Bohemian art history journal Umeni. See in particular the studies of Klara Benesovska and Ivo Hlobil from 2007, or the study of Ernő Marosi published in the 1999 volume of the journal. The connections of the bronze statue to the art of Trecento Italy (especially the Cathedral of Orvieto), the naturalism of some of  its details, the historical context of the statue as well as its connections to other works by the brothers are all topics worthy of even further investigation.

Finally, by clicking here, you will find a few more photographs of the statue on the Fine Arts in Hungary website.