Know your artists: Franz Xavier Bergman

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snakedancer

Franz Xavier Bergman, 1861 – 1936, is the most famous of the Viennese ‘cold painted bronze’ artists. Recognised for his great attention to detail and use of wonderfully vibrant colours, works from Bergman’s foundry are highly prized today by collectors worldwide.

 

History

Franz Bergman senior was born in Gablonz, Northern Bohemia, where he worked as a metalwork chaser and finisher. In 1860 he came to Vienna and founded a small bronze factory. At the turn of the Century his son, Franz Xavier Bergman, inherited the company and opened a new foundry, basing many of his early bronzes on designs from his father’s workshop.

 

z4187i.jpgStyle

The Franz Xavier Bergman foundry produced an eclectic mix of Oriental, erotic and animal figure bronzes.

Bergman used a cold painted technique, whereby cast bronzes were decorated in several layers of polychrome ‘dust paint.’ These layers were not fired to fix them to the bronzes, hence they are ‘cold painted.’ Sadly the knowledge of this technique, particularly of how to mix the paint, has since been lost.

Bergman’s animal figures are often humanised or whimsical, humorous objects d’art, which adds to their popularity. Often, carefully sculpted animals such as bears could be opened to reveal an erotic figure inside.

He has also created many sensuous poses of young women in the Art Nouveau style. The women are disguised by a covering, but they reveal all when a button is pushed or a lever moved.

 

 

How to Spot a Bergmanz4693i

Bronzes cast in the Bergman foundry are normally stamped with a capital ‘B’ that is placed in a twin handled vase. They are also often inscribed ‘Geschutzt’ which refers to the model/design being ‘registered’ or copyrighted.

As an artist Bergman himself also had a distinctive signature; ‘Nam Greb’ which reads Bergman in reverse. It is said that he used this mark as a ‘nom de plume’ when the subjects of his work were subtly erotic and not to the taste of his more conservative clients or family.

 

 

z4693jValue

As with all antiques, value is affected by condition. Be aware that the cold painted decoration of Bergman pieces is relatively easy to damage, and any worn enamel will reduce value considerably.

Bergman bronzes in good condition can fetch thousands, so it is well worth keeping your eyes peeled for them. There are however plenty of fakes about, particularly on eBay, so we would advise against purchasing Bergman pieces from anyone but a reputable dealer.

 

 

Where to find them

We have an extensive collection of Bergman pieces in our Portobello gallery, which you may also view on this website. Below is a slider of pieces that we are either selling or have sold. Click on the image for more information.

9 Comments

  1. J K Kerr 9th May 2016 Reply

    Interested in the girl inside the owl. Or one of the ‘Windy Day’ dancers with the skirt that either flips up or swivels to the side.

  2. David Hickmet 10th May 2016 Reply

    Dear Mr Kerr

    Thank you for your enquiry.

    We do not have a girl inside an owl at the moment but we have an erotic deity see – https://www.hickmet.com/shop/antique-sculpture/austrian-bronze/qq/

    We also have a Windy Day available at the moment at – https://www.hickmet.com/shop/antique-sculpture/austrian-bronze/erotic-bronze-bergman-bronze-windy-day-2/

    Please do contact me on david@hickmet.com if you have further interest.

    Kind regards

    David

  3. Judith wenger 25th May 2016 Reply

    I have a bergmann bronze of the arab slave trader with the maiden. On mine, though,the girl is dark-skinned. Interested in selling it, but not sure what it is worth. Inherited it. Also have the arab on a prayer rug. Stamped with the patent mark and the B in the vase.

    Can you give me any idea of its value? Also, do you do sales on consignment?

    Thanks,
    Judith

    • Clauds 16th January 2017 Reply

      Hi Judith,

      Thank you for getting in touch. Could you email your inquiry directly to david@hickmet.com who will get back to you promptly.

      Kind regards
      Claudia

  4. Sigrid 7th December 2016 Reply

    Hey, I have a Cold painted bronze lamp that i´m pretty sure is Franz Bergman.
    The lamp has a Beduin smoking a pipe on it, a long bamboo looking construction with a lantern with red and green glass hanging down from it, there is also some “metal rope rings” that is keeping the construction together, there is also two palm leaves on the pole.
    Behind the arab man there is a folded carpet hanging, on the back of this you can spot the signature USTRIA that had been on the underside of the carpet before they bended it to be folded.
    Also under the whole lamp, there is a signature which only says : MADE.IN.AUSTRIA

    Do you think this is a fake, replica or reproduction? I would believe that its not, because it is so similar to the ones that I have seen from Franz Bergman, and the techniques and the style looksthe same.

    I have not sees this version before though, but similar with this and other i´ve seen. : http://www.ebay.com/itm/Franz-Bergman-Antique-Orientalist-Cold-Painted-Bronze-Lamp-/162099154003?hash=item25bddccc53:g:1~wAAOSwMNxXWg66

    • Clauds 16th January 2017 Reply

      Hi Sigrid

      Thank you for getting in touch. Could you email your inquiry directly to david@hickmet.com who will get back to you promptly.

      Kind regards
      Claudia

  5. Ralph 7th March 2017 Reply

    are all Bergman pieces one of a kind or can they make more than one with the mold they use.

  6. Ralph colbert 7th March 2017 Reply

    are all Bergman pieces one of a kind or can they make more than one with the mold they use.

    • David Hickmet 7th March 2017 Reply

      Dear Ralph

      Further to your message I confirm that Bergman sculptures were made from moulds and there were large numbers of the same subjects made at the time. When looking at any Bergman bronze it is important to consider whether the sculpture is in good condition and how much wear there is to the colour as this will vary enormously between two items of the same subject.

      Kind regards

      David

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