Baroque Splendor: The Art of the Hungarian Goldsmith brought to public view in the United States an exemplary selection of objects from the Magyar Nemzeti Museum (Hungarian National Museum), Budapest, one of Europe’s largest collections of works by goldsmiths.

The exhibition spanned the historical era beginning with the defeat of the Kingdom of Hungary in 1526 by the Turks and culminating with the start of Hapsburg rule in the 18th century. During the time of Turkish occupation, Hungary was divided into three parts: Turkish-controlled central and eastern regions, and self-governing Transylvania in the east. As goldsmiths fled the war-torn regions and settled in the towns of North Hungary and Transylvania, protected by high mountains, their workshops and gold metalwork flourished. Memberships in the guilds safeguarded the financial interests of goldsmiths and assured the quality of their products. In the 16th century, it became mandatory for goldsmiths to apply a maker’s mark on every article made. This stamp of assurance proclaimed the identity of the goldsmith, and as a result, many of the names of artists featured in the exhibition are still known.

On display were more than 200 works by Hungarian artisans from the Renaissance to the Baroque period, including silver and silver-gelt vessels, ecclesiastical treasures, jewelry, arms and armor, textiles. These objects were displayed alongside paintings, which revealed how they were functionally utilized, or how jewelry and other decorative accessories were worn.

Organized by Bard Graduate Center in collaboration with the Trust for Museum Exhibitions, Washington, D.C., and the Magyar Nemzeti Muzeum, Budapest, this exhibition was an expanded version of one curated by Dr. Judit Hajto-Kolba of the Magyar Nemzeti Muzeum.