In terms of style and finish the bronze figure of a kneeling shepherd offered here can be connected to the Vischer dynasty of sculptors. Their main period of creativity was under the stewardship of Peter Vischer the Elder (1460-1529) who, along with his two sons Hermann (1507-1519) and Peter the Younger (1487-1528), executed two of the finest early renaissance tombs in Germany, that of Ernst von Saschen in Magdeburg Cathedral (c. 1495) and the shrine of St Sebaldus in the Sebalduskirche, Nuremberg (1507-1519 Meller, op. cit., pls. 14 and 102). A number of stylistic and compositional similarities exist between the Sebaldus shrine and the bronze offered here. In terms of form, the kneeling shepherd relates most closely to the corner figures of Samson and Nimrod, as well as the allegory of Fortitude, who are all depicted kneeling or seated and gazing heavenwards. In terms of style, the face of the shepherd is particularly close to that of St Peter from the series of the apostles that stand on colonettes at mid-level around the perimeter of the complex (ibid., pl. 44). Here one can see the same rounded facial type, oval eyes with thin wrinkles to the corners, the long thin nose and a long moustache that blends into a tightly curled beard. The same facial types can also be seen in a number of the reliefs on the base of the shrine, especially that of the seated man from the scene of the Miracle of the Burning Icicle (ibid., pl. 105.).
Although the execution of the shrine happened in two distinct phases, each with their own stylistic traits, its generally homogeneous nature makes the identification of any particular artist very difficult. However, it is now generally recognised that Hermann and Peter the younger were particularly involved in the preparation of the wax and wood models. Furthermore, Peter the younger, who is known to have travelled twice to Italy between 1507 and 1514, also had a particular interest in the creation of small-scale sculptures, such as the numerous figures embellishing the base of the shrine. The author of the present bronze would appear to have had the same exposure to both the Visher workshops and family practices of northern Italy.
The label to the underside of the base relates to the 1929 exhibition organized by the Vereeniging van handelaren in Oude Kunst in Nederland at the Rijksmuseum, which exhibited more than 1300 works of art (private communication Dr Frits Scholten). The present bronze on offer here was no. 425 in the catalogue and was described as 'German, 16th century'. The owner was a Mr. G. Hamburger from Laren, near Amsterdam, who ran a large antique dealership under the name N.V. tot Uitoefening van de Kunsthandel. However, the bronze here seems to have been part of Hamburger's private collection.