Seehof Palace near Bamberg
Hardwood, original polychromy
Height 19.8 cm
In this “Meleager and Atalanta” group, Tietz alludes to an ancient myth in which a boar is ravaging the land of King Oeneus. Some famous heroes and hunters, among them the huntress Atalanta, set out with the king’s son Meleager to hunt it down. Atalanta is the first to wound the boar, after which Meleager succeeds in killing it. The prince gives the huntress the boar’s head as a trophy. This leads to a quarrel, in the course of which Meleager kills two of his uncles. Appalled, his mother takes a log of wood to which Meleager’s life is magically bound and throws it into the fire; he dies on the spot. Tietz depicts the climax of the story, when the enamoured Meleager presents the head to Atalanta.
Tietz, who was court sculptor to the prince-bishops of Würzburg and Bamberg between 1748 and 1753 and again from 1760 onwards, executed a total of about four hundred statues for the park of Schloss Seehof near Bamberg. In the Liebieghaus, the sculpture “Meleager and Atalanta” is one of a group of five bozzetti, or small, three-dimensional studies, presumably made in preparation for the Seehof garden sculptures. Marks from the carving tools are still clearly visible; the sketch-like treatment of the bozzetti’s surfaces is a clear indication that they were intended as preparatory models. It is rare to find bozzetti that are painted like the ones in the Liebieghaus.
Possibly they were meant to give the patron an idea of how the full-scale sculpture would look when it was coloured. Alternatively, after serving as studies they might have been intended to take their place as small sculptures in a cabinet of curiosities, and painted to serve that purpose.