Augsburg, c. 1590/1593
H. 93 cm
On permanent loan from the Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung
Inv. No. L 2012/3
This youthful messenger of the gods, seemingly defying gravity, is one of the masterpieces of South German bronze sculpture from around 1600. The god of merchants and thieves originally held a purse in his raised right hand and the caduceus in his left. He was always easily recognisable by this snake-entwined staff, the wings on his heels and his hat. Only princes and wealthy patricians could afford precious bronzes, such as this Mercury, of which only a single version was produced. The patron of this Mercury, Wolfang Paller the Younger, was a wealthy copper merchant from Augsburg. Bronze is an alloy containing mainly copper and to a lesser degree tin.