Calvary of Matthias Corvino

Calvary of Matthias Corvino
Calvary of Matthias Corvino

The Calvary of Matthias Corvino is one of the most outstanding works of Hungarian Gothic that has survived to this day, this unique piece that is currently in the Esztergom Cathedral. The set is a true decorative jewel with a deep religious background, these types of pieces were restricted to the most select circles since their elaboration was excessively luxurious. In this case, it seems that the piece was commissioned by the monarch Matías Corvino. Matthias Corvinus the Wise (1443 – 1490) was one of the most acclaimed monarchs in Hungarian history; A promoter of arts, culture and peace, he is now known as a great patron and the driving force behind the renaissance in Hungary.

Matthias Corvinus Calvary

According to the documentary sources of the time, the Calvary would be commissioned by the monarch himself and carried out in the year 1452; the work presents certain similarities with the well-known Little Horse of Altötting in the invoice and origin. It seems that both pieces could come from Parisian workshops and in both you can see a delicate and very careful workmanship with figures made following the enamel technique. Following this technique, the multiple ornaments or figures that make up the piece are modeled in a round shape and subsequently enameled in white in order to later apply color on this enamel. This technique was widely used in central Europe in recent years.of the Gothic style and even in the Renaissance.

Matías Corvino's Calvary is structured as if it were a great tower divided into different floors. The lower area is perhaps the least important, since according to art historians this part was added later and was not part of the original structure. On a rectangular and curved podium, we find the figures of two sphinxes that do not appear lying down as is customary, but resting on their hind legs; these guard a kind of amphora or chalice.

In the second section, the scene of the flogging is represented framed by a Gothic-style architectural structure that refers to the buttresses of cathedrals and between which they have been placed various sculptures of saints as if it were a cover.

Finally,in the final shot the artist has placed a typical Calvary scenewith Jesus Christ on the cross flanked by the figures of his Mother, the Virgin Mary and Saint John the Evangelist. The figure of Jesus Christ hardly has polychromy, highlighting the white enamel, but even so we can find in it a great expressiveness in its modeling. Santa Maria on her part, is polychrome with a bluish tunic and seems to hide her face because of her pain. The scene is completed with the figure of Saint John who, in contrast to Mary, raises his face towards the recumbent Jesus Christ as if inviting us to be part of the scene; his robe has been enameledin a bright red that stands out among the gold and off-white colors.

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