HEAD OF OUTDOOR CHESS PIECE?
Circle of József Hartmann (active before 1744 1764)
Originally covered with paint on their entire surface, the two male heads are characterized by a distinctive modelling, markedly protruding brow ridges and high cheekbones, long beaked noses. The smaller head sports a tasselled cap whose painting is suggestive of fur, the ear-guard straps partly cover the ears. The same straps have broken off the other sculpture, whose headpiece resembles a turban and is decorated with slits. This latter figure probably had stained glass eyes.
The original function of the figures, of which only the sawn-off heads remain, is uncertain. Most probably they were part of an outdoor chess set. There is an old photograph of a similar complete set in the garden of the Bánffys' mansion in Bonchida.
The sculptor is thought to have been an associate of the rococo artist, József Hartmann, who was born in Silesia and was active in Northern Hungary, in Kassa (Koice, SK) and the region. The console heads he made for the chapel of the Szentiványis' castle in Sebesváralja (Podhradik, SK), allegoric representations of the four continents, have similar striking features.
Collection of Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest