Exquisite early 20th Century Art Deco hand carved ivory figurine of a young boy kneeling and blowing a bubble. The surface with intricately carved detail, raised on a circular stepped green onyx base and signed F Preiss.
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Height: 9 cm
Width: 7 cm
Condition: Excellent Original Condition
Materials: Bronze and Ivory
Book Ref Ferdinand Preiss by Alberto Shayo
Boy blowing Bubbles 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.
The final image shows: "Boy Blowing Bubbles" (also known as The Soap Bubbles; French: Les Bulles de savon) an 1867 painting by Édouard Manet, who gave it its present title. It depicts Léon Koelin-Leenhoff, the illegitimate son (possibly fathered by Manet) of Manet's future wife, Suzanne Leenhoff. The painting shows him aged 15 blowing soap bubbles, a traditional symbol of the brevity of life. It is now in the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon, which acquired it via André Weil in New York November 1943.
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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