Stunning Art Deco bronze figure of a beautiful young lady enjoying the first rays of the spring sunshine, poised naked with her head stretched forward as she raises herself on tiptoes. Signed F Preiss and raised on a black marble plinth.
How Ferdinand Preiss became a sculptor:
Ferdinand Preiss was born in Erbach im Odenwald as one of six children to Karl Daniel Heinrich Preiss and his wife Katharine Preiss née Elisabetham. He attended schools in Michelstadt and had aspirations to become an engineer. Both of his parents died within a short time span when he was 15 and shortly thereafter he was apprenticed to the ivory carver Philipp Willmann and lived with his family. In 1901 he traveled to Rome and Paris. He became a friend and acquaintance of Arthur Kassler in Baden-Baden, which led to the founding of the company Preiss & Kassler operating from Berlin. Kassler became the business-minded partner and Ferdinand Preiss controlled artistic production.
What is Chryselephantine Sculpture?
In Ancient times Chryselephantine sculpture was a figure made with gold and ivory. Chryselephantine statues were built around a wooden frame, with thin carved slabs of ivory attached, representing the flesh, and sheets of gold leaf representing the garments, armour, hair, and other details. In some cases, glass paste, glass, and precious and semi-precious stones were used for detail such as eyes, jewellery, and weaponry.
The origins of the technique are not known. There are known examples, from the 2nd millennium BC, of composite sculptures made of ivory and gold from areas that became part of the Greek world, most famously the so-called “Palaikastro Kouros” from Minoan Palaikastro, circa 1500 BC. It is, however, not clear whether the Greek chryselephantine tradition is connected with them. Chryselephantine sculpture became widespread during the Archaic period. Later, Acrolithitic statues, with marble heads and extremities, and a wooden trunk either gilded or covered in drapery, were a comparable technique used for cult images. The technique was normally used for cult statues within temples; typically, they were greater than life-sized. Construction was modular so that some of the gold could be removed and melted for coin or bullion in times of severe financial hardship, to be replaced later when finances had recovered. For example, the figure of Nike held in the right hand of Pheidias’ Athena Parthenos was made from solid gold with this very purpose in mind. Indeed, in times of prosperity up to six solid gold Nikae were cast, serving as a “sacred treasury” whose safety was ensured additionally by the sanctity accorded to a cult object as well as the presence of priestesses, priests, and maintenance staff at the temple. Chryselephantine statues were not only visually striking, they also displayed the wealth and cultural achievements of those who constructed them or financed their construction. The creation of such a statue involved skills in sculpture, carpentry, jewellery, and ivory carving.
In more modern times “chryselephantine” remained a very popular technique for creating works of art during the Art Nouveau and Art Deco period going from the 19th Century into the early 20th Century. In this context, it describes statuettes, the skin represented in ivory, with clothing and other detail made of other materials, such as gold, bronze, marble, silver or onyx. After the 1890s, its meaning was extended to include any statue fashioned in a combination of ivory with other materials.
To view other items by Ferdinand Preiss click here.
- £ 6,500
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- £ 2,850
- £ 450
- £ 1,650
- £ 3,500
- £ 895
- £ 2,650
- £ 5,750
- £ 3,500