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The collection comprising more than 600 works boasts treasures of Renaissance Italy including the exceptional Horse and Rider, attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, and the Man of Sorrows by Andrea del Verrocchio, but its small bronzes are also deservedly famous. Medieval German, Netherlandish, and French sculpture are represented by many masterpieces, such as the “Beautiful Madonnas” of the International Gothic style and the wooden sculptures from Tilman Riemenschneider’s workshop, while Austrian baroque art is showcased through works by Georg Rafael Donner and Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, among others.
The foundations for the Sculpture Collection were laid by Károly Pulszky, who purchased more than 120 sculptures along with other artworks in Italy in 1894-1895 for what later became the Museum of Fine Arts. His acquisitions included outstanding pieces such as Agostino di Duccio’s Archangel Gabriel and Giovanfrancesco Rustici’s relief titled Saint George and the Dragon.
In the following two decades, the museum acquired plaster replicas of famous sculptures instead of purchasing original works. The collection was extended again with original artworks only in 1914 thanks to the activity of Elek Petrovics and Simon Meller. The museum bought the bequest of sculptor István Ferenczy, which mainly consisted of small bronzes, the most remarkable piece of which was the Horse and Rider attributed to Leonardo da Vinci.
The first exhibition of the Sculpture Collection was organised by Simon Meller in 1921 in the two ground floor halls of the Museum of Fine Arts. Jolán Balogh, who was the head of the Department of Old Sculpture from 1935, mounted the permanent exhibition, which could be viewed between 1936 and 1978 in the halls on the museum’s second floor and on the mezzanine level.
The Sculpture Collection was enriched in the 1970s and 1980s with high quality materials such as the estates of Bernát Back and Dr Emil Delmár, which included Jörg Lederer’s Winged Altarpiece and a Paduan small bronze by Agostino Zoppo titled Mountain of Hell as well as other items of exceptional value.