A fabulous and very rare early 20th Century Austrian cold painted erotic bronze by Franz Bergman - The figure of an owl perched upon two books hinged to open up and reveal a standing naked lady with excellent colour and very fine detail, signed NAMGREB & with the Bergman 'B' in an amphora vase
Height: 20 cm
Condition: Excellent Original Condition
Materials: Cold Painted Bronze
Book Ref: Antique Vienna Bronzes by Joseph Zobel
Franz Bergman Sculptures
Bergman owl– Celebrated for his great attention to detail and wonderful vibrant colours, Franz Xavier Bergman (1861-1936) is, arguably, the most famous of the Viennese cold-painted bronze artists, delighting in producing Oriental and animal subjects, including the Bergman cat, rabbits, foxes and horses.
His father, also Franz Bergman (1838–1894), was a professional chaser (embosser) from Gablonz, Austria who came to Vienna and founded a small bronze factory in 1860. Franz Xavier inherited the company and opened a new foundry in 1900. There he created numerous cold painted (so named because the numerous layers of polychrome paint, applied to the bronze, were not fired to fix them to the metal) figures. Many other bronzes were still based on designs by Franz Bergman, the elder.
Animal Subjects and the Bergman Owl
Animal figures and birds can, occasionally, be found for a few hundred pounds, though sculptures in pristine condition and larger figures can be worth several thousand pounds. Value is affected by condition. The cold painted decoration is relatively easy to damage and worn Enamel will reduce value considerably.
Look out for Bergman’s distinctive signature marks: a ‘B’ in a vase shape and ‘Nam Greb’. This latter, which reads ‘Bergman’ in reverse, was often used on his more erotic pieces like the Surprise Owl, which were not to the taste of his more conservative clients or his family.
These include sensuous poses of young women in the Art Nouveau style, disguised by a covering that revealed all when a button was pushed or a lever moved. Carefully sculpted animals, such as bears, could often be opened to reveal an erotic female figure inside as with the Surprise Owl.
Bergman was noted for his detailed and colourful work. He signed with either a letter ‘B’ in an urn-shaped cartouche or ‘Nam Greb’ – ‘Bergman’ in reverse. These marks were used to disguise his identity on erotic works.
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