The first part of this monographic study was published in vol. XLIV (2003) of Acta Historiae Artium. This part focuses mainly on the problems of artistic origin. The sculptor could be identified as a follower of the late style of Hans Multscher and therefore coming perhaps of the Ulm region. Concerning the relationship of the Leutschau retable to the shrine figures of the Benedictine Abbey Church in Garamszentbenedek (Sv. Beňadik nad Hronom) the Author argues for its higher artistic quality which seems to exclude that the latter was an earlier work of the same artist. The panel painting was perhaps mainly influenced by the art of the Master of the Schottenstift in Vienna. The architectural arrangement of the retable may also go back to Ulm constructions, such as the High altar of Ulm Münster, documented by his preparatory drawing.
The study was originally written for the volume introducing the Medieval Buda (Medieval Buda in Context. Ed. Szende, Katalin-Nagy, Balázs. Leiden [Brill] 2014, to be published). It was written with the aim of giving an image of the present situation of the researches of the Buda Sigismund sculpture findings to the readers abroad. However, beyond this, it also attempts to formulate certain questions and suggestions that could give directions for further investigations in the future.
In 1974 an important finding of sculptures was explored in the field of the medieval Buda Castle. The fragmentary ensemble became by its existing suddenly such a phenomenon, concerning the period of court art of Sigismund of Luxembourg’s reign in Hungary (1387–1437) that one could not even know about before. Intensive researches began after the sculptures had been found, acknowledging not only their Hungarian but Europeanlevel importance, too. These researches had calmed down approximately after one decade, giving answers to some questions, nevertheless leaving even more dilemmas after. It is uncertain where were the sculptures intended to put, in other words exactly where were they erected; we do not know which part of them and how many parts were unfinished; we do not know their grouping, and we can formulate about their themes of topics only conjectures; their dating is strongly vacillating; the date of their devastation and circumstances is not entirely clear; concerning their style connections the opinions are strongly divided. Beyond these problems, because of the important uncertainties concerning the European sculpture, the Buda Castle sculpture ensemble, enriched since 1974 with further findings, could not up to this time incorporate into Europe’s, not even into the Central European artistic overall view.
As it became clear for nowadays, the sculpture-ensemble was found among the ruins of a sculpture workshop at stem neighbourhood of the Royal Palace. The main part of the pieces was never raised, erected, nevertheless they were devoted to the buildings of the Royal Palace and to the Saint Sigismund’s Collegiate Church founded by Sigismund. Although their dating upon stylistic basis for the moment is unsolvable, on the basis of the historical data of the reign of Sigismund, furthermore upon the period of the building of the parts of the collegiate church and the royal castle the workshop’s functioning can be put rather definitely to the second and third decade of the 15th century. On the one hand a part of the sculpture ensemble consists of a serial of smaller pieces of apostles (perhaps prophets) while on the other hand we can see large sized court figures that flocked around the emperor somehow presenting them genealogically, dynastically. Nevertheless, certainly there were further figures depicting saints, representing participants of Biblical scenes. Therefore we have to speak about several programs dealing with the decoration of several properties with the sculptures, sculpture-groups.
The style of the sculpture-ensemble is not homogeneous either, within this group different, partly strong, marked directions are interconnected. The source of the apostle prophet-figures was undoubtedly the Franco- Flemish art around 1400 within which mostly the determinative branch could have been the multi-coloured sculpture of the French royal and ducal courts. As regards the other rest sculptures, according to the researches, they are bound predominantly to the ensemble of the so called Grosslobming group located in Styria and through this way it was interpreted within the frame of Central European art. However, this direction is strongly questionable therefore by all means it would be worth to examine more thoroughly the French origin style having already arisen in connection with them. In the secular theme sculpture of the French royal and ducal courts besides the iconography there are closer relations concerning the types, motives and style than what we can find in either the Austrian or the Central European sculptural materials.
The background that could have served the possible French origin of the majority of the Buda Castle ensemble was the longer 1416 Paris staying of Sigismund. According to the written sources the king received numerous French masters at his service and sent them to Buda. Behind this decision there were probably representational power factors in connection with which it is worth to quote the multiple, emphatic manifestations of the imperial supremacy in Paris against the French king.
Since the question of the origin of the Buda sculptures is mostly unclear, momentarily even in their outline it is not known their onetime possible influence. Because of the time frame of the workshop’s functioning the sculpture-ensemble cannot play the role of the international style’s Central European disseminates – as it emerged previously. However, their role is conceivable just because of their disengaging with that style. For the moment it is unclear but in any case – concerning both the ordering person and the style – the line should be followed in the sense that the Buda figures have to do at several points with the art of Hans Multscher. The mere idea of these possible relations represents well that the sculptures made for Sigismund form one of the most important ensembles of this era’s Central European and possibly even the European art.