Hungaria, Abraham Ortelius, Antwerp, 1602, Private Collection
PROPERTY OF A NEW YORK FAMILY
The blossoming of the Hungarian goldsmith's art in the 16th and 17th centuries is closely linked with the social, political and economic struggles during that period. Following the Battle of Mohács in 1526, when the Ottomans defeated the Hungarian forces of King Lájos II, who died on the field along with many members of the high clergy and aristocracy, the country fractured into three realms. The northern and western lands, which maintained the name Royal Hungary, fell under Habsburg control, while the central plains along with Buda, the former capital, were captured and occupied by the Turks. Finally, the death of Transylvanian Bishop Statileo János in 1542 allowed the fledgling Transylvanian court, which survived due to its ongoing tributes to the Sultan, to seize the Church's unoccupied holdings in the region and establish itself as an independent political entity.
It was in Transylvania that the tradition of Hungarian goldsmithing survived. During the middle ages, Buda had been the most important local center for metalwork. However, the Turkish armies had laid the city and its region to waste, and most craftsmen and guild members fled to the safety of urban centers in the Christian principality of Transylvania. These cities, including Lócse, Debrecen, Kolozsvár, Brassó, and Nagyszeben became the new centers of Hungarian metalwork. Additionally, Transylvania had long been recognized throughout Europe as a land rich with deposits of precious metals, and mining continued throughout the early modern period, providing both a source of wealth to the Princes and a source of materials for the craftsmen.
This extraordinary collection reflects the technical skill and creativity of the Hungarian Renaissance and Baroque goldsmiths, and includes objects representing the best work of the genre.
TRANSYLVANIA, CIRCA 1650, MAKER'S MARK CK MONOGRAM