Georg Vischer, German, Fertility, ca. 1550, Bronze; 60.3 cm (23 3/4 inches) (height), Gift of Mrs. Gustav Radeke 20.139
This nude female reflects the influence of Italianate, classical ideals of beauty in northern Europe, particularly Nuremberg, where Georg Vischer’s family ran a leading bronze foundry. The figure holds a branch with a nut in her right hand and gently squeezes her breast with her left, together symbolizing fertility. In the Renaissance, courtiers and humanists (intellectuals with special knowledge of antiquity) collected small bronzes such as this because they evoked similar statues made in ancient Greece and Rome. Bronze figures were admired for their sensual, flowing curves, graceful lines, and layered, dark lacquers. Such precious objects would have been displayed in a room dedicated to intellectual pursuits and full of private possessions, mostly secular in nature.