Inspired by Italian small bronzes, an interest in bronze casting arose in sixteenth-century Germany, primarily in Augsburg and Nuremberg. While in the case of Italian bronzes the sculptor is usually known, in Germany at best it is the name of the caster that has come down to us. The identity of the creator of this piece is likewise shrouded in mystery, and the name by which he is known derives from the present statuette. Unlike the majority of his German contemporaries, who only rarely used a classical prototype, the works of the Master of the Budapest Abundance reveal the explicit influence of antiquity mediated by Italian models.
German sculptors made tremendous efforts to adopt the genre of the small bronze, but used a completely different technique. As a rule, they did not model their bronzes in clay or wax, as was the custom in Italy, but continued the centuries-old German tradition of woodcarving. The model for the Budapest female figure - who must have once held the cornucopia, an indispensable attribute of Plenty and Wealth - was also carved in wood before being cast in bronze. The bronze surface faithfully reflects the unusual material of its wooden model, the chisel marks of which can be clearly perceived. The traces of pigment show that the sculptor was even in this respect unable to shake off the tradition of German wood sculpture: instead of patina, the Budapest statuette was originally covered with a thick layer of paint. This not only disguised the irregularities of the surface, but also destroyed the typically metallic texture of the bronze.
Text: © Miriam Szőcs