(b. 1792, Rimaszombat, d. 1856, Rimaszombat)

Sheperdess (Awakening of the Fine Arts)

White marble, height 94 cm
Magyar Nemzeti Galéria, Budapest

This statue by István Ferenczy, "Shepherdess" or as he preferred to call it, "Awakening of the Arts", may be regarded as the symbolic beginning of the revival of Hungarian sculpture. This excellent piece of nineteenth-century sculpture represents the birth of fine arts and more precisely the birth of drawing. In December1820, the artist wrote to his brother, "Once a shepherdess on the departure of her lover scratched his shadow in the sand so that his likeness would remain with her for ever."

Ferenczy completed his Shepherdess while studying in Rome. It was carved in the courtyard of the Palazzo di Venezia and followed the advice of Canova. It is well known that the artist who worked in Thorvaldsen's studio did not get on with his master, and his art too differs greatly from that of Thorvaldsen. At the same time he was very enthusiastic about Canova, who would not admit him to his studio, only taking notice of him much later. This dual influence of the two masters had a good effect on Ferenczy's art, and Shepherdess also shows the advantages of this duality. He has translated a story into sculpture. The quiet summation, securely built structure, the composition and the motif itself are the outcome of the attitude he subconsciously adopted from Thorvaldsen, while the details and sensitivity of the carving clearly reflect Canova's influence.

As soon as he had finished Shepherdess, Ferenczy packed it himself and sent it back to Hungary, along with the bust of the Hungarian poet Csokonai, and presented them to the Nation.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.