An exquisite early 20th Century Art Deco chryselephantine figure of a dancer in stylised pose wearing full period theatrical costume. Raised on decorative stepped green onyx and black marble base, signed F Preiss and stamped ‘PK’ for the Preiss Kassler Foundry
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Height: 37 cm
Width: 15 cm
Condition: Excellent Original Condition
Foundry: Preiss Kassler
Materials: Bronze, Ivory and Onyx
Book Ref The Fire and The Flame by Alberto Shayo
Page No 173
Autumn Dancer by Ferdinand Preiss
Ferdinand Preiss was born on the 13th February 1882 in Erbach in the Odenwald. From the age of 15 he lived with the family of the famous ivory carver Philipp Willmann, where he was trained to be an ivory carver in his own right. In 1901 he travelled to Rome and Paris, where he earned his living as a modeller.
In Baden-Baden he befriended Arthur Kassler who became his companion. With Kassler he founded the company Preiss & Kassler, an ivory-carving business with a workshop in Berlin.
In 1907 he married a Berliner, Margarethe Hilme. Soon afterwards his son Harry and his daughter Lucie were born. At first, the available models of the new company consisted of small ivory carvings, including statuettes of children and classical subjects influenced by characters from ancient Greece. From 1910 the first carvings which combined bronze with ivory were produced. The casting was done by the company Gladenbeck in Berlin. When the First World War broke out in 1914 the company had increased the number of employees to six; all of whom were outstanding ivory carvers from Erbach.
Immediately after the end of the war Preiss and Kassler built up the business again and enjoyed great success during the 1920s. Preiss was the artistic director whereas Kassler devoted himself to the commercial side of the business. Their speciality was Art Deco cabinet sculptures which combined ivory with painted and gilt bronze and which were mounted on plinths made of onyx or marble. The models, most of which were designed by Ferdinand Preiss, were produced in limited editions. A large proportion of the production was exported to England and the USA.
The company Preiss & Kassler existed until 1943. Ferdinand Preiss died that year at the age of 61 from a brain tumour. The workshop with the stock of samples in Ritterstraße in Berlin completely burned down in 1945 just before the end of the war during a bomb attack.
Ferdinand Preiss is regarded as one of the leading ivory carvers of the Art Deco era in the 1920s and 1930s. His enamel and gilt bronze and ivory carvings are among the most costly in the world.
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