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

Old Woman (Zsuzsanna Ferenczy)

c. 1850
Wax, 130 mm
Magyar Nemzeti Galéria, Budapest

István Ferenczy, the great pioneer of Hungarian sculpture, is closely connected with the hardest period of Hungarian fine arts. It is less well known however, that he originally intended to be a medallist, and studied medal art of the Viennese Academy. In 1823 he made a bronze medal representing Pope Pius VII, proving that he was excellent realist. At that time most memorial medals in Hungary were made by Austrians. Later he turned to monumental sculpture, but in the last phase of his life, after his return to his native town of Rimaszombat, he again turned to medals for his own amusement. He worked mainly in wax. The most beautiful piece of this last series is the one shown here, of his sister, Zsuzsanna Ferenczy. István Ferenczy's medals were only a hopeful promise of an independent Hungarian medal art - a flash in the dark in the in the middle of the nineteenth century. It was not for another fifty years that this art began to come into its own.

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