DONNER, Georg Raphael
(b. 1693, Esslingen, d. 1741, Vienna)
Lead, height 200 cm
Magyar Nemzeti Galéria, Budapest
Georg Raphael Donner, one of the most prominent sculptors in 18th-century Europe, was employed by Archbishop Imre Esterházy in Pozsony (Bratislava), then the capital of Hungary. The high altar of the Cathedral in Pozsony was his most significant accomplishment; under a baldachin, the mounted figure of St. Martin, titular saint of the church, was depicted sharing his cloak with a beggar seated on the ground. The sculpture bore the features of the doner, Imre Esterházy, and wore a typically Hungarian costume. The scene was watched by two large "Adoring Angels". The Baroque high altar was dismantled during the 19th century; the groups of St. Martin and the beggar today stands in the side aisle of the church, while the two angels are in the Hungarian National Gallery.
The angels were molded in 1733-1735, and represent the artistic development of Donner starting from Baroque tradition and arriving at a more individual Neo-Classical style. The high altar was cast in alloy of lead and tin - a material often used by Donner. The artist was helped by a number of assistants in the process of casting. The experience of these helpers and the direct example of his sculptures in Pozsony had a major impact on the development of Hungarian Baroque sculpture.