STRÓBL, Alajos
(b. 1856, Liptóújvár, d. 1926, Budapest)

Fountain of King Matthias

Bronze, marble and limestone
Inner Courtyard of Buda Castle, Budapest

Matthias Corvinus (1443-1490), also called the Just in folk tales, was King of Hungary (as Matthias I) and Croatia from 1458, at the age of 14 until his death. After conducting several military campaigns he became also King of Bohemia (1469-1490), and Duke of Austria (1486-1490). With his patronage Hungary became the first European country which adopted the Renaissance from Italy. As a Renaissance ruler, he established education institutions, patronized art and science, and introduced a new legal system in the Kingdom of Hungary. In the era of his kingship, Matthias strongly endeavoured to follow the model and ideas of the philosopher-king as described in Plato’s Republic.

The Matthias Fountain is a monumental fountain group in the western forecourt of Buda Castle, Budapest. It is a Neo-Baroque work by Alajos Stróbl.

The group depicts a hunting party led by Matthias Corvinus, the king of Hungary. The bronze figures are standing on heaps of rocks against the backdrop of the northern façade of the former Castle Church. Water is running down between the cracks of the boulders. The whole theatrical arrangement bears resemblance to the famous Trevi Fountain in Rome although it is on a much smaller scale.

The monumental facade behind the fountain is flanked by two pairs of giant Corinthian columns. The original balustrade crowning and the Mansard roof was richer in details but it was simplified after the second world war. The central niche forms a triumphal arch which is decorated with King Matthias' personal coat of arms. King Matthias is standing on the highest rock in hunting attire. He is holding a crossbow in his right and a huge stag lies dead at his feet. On the lower rocks a henchman blows his horn and the leader of the hunting group rests sitting on a boulder with his back towards the viewer. Three hounds complete the central group.

There are two more bronze figures on the sides of the basin. They are connected to the central group with gestures and gazes but they have their own plinths. On the right is Szép Ilonka (Helen the Fair), heroine of a famous 19th century ballad by Mihály Vörösmarty. The girl is looking towards the king protecting her tame fawn from the hunters. On the right is the Italian chronicler, Galeotto Marzio who lived in King Matthias court. A dog lies at his feet and a falcon sits on his arm.

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