Thursday, 11 October 2012
Despite its size and at first glance, it is quite innocent looking, this piece of history tells us fathoms about the era in which it was made and the tragedy that it represents.
I recently visited Cobh on the Irish coast near Cork, were passengers had once boarded the Titanic for its maiden voyage where there is a memorial to those that died on the Lusitania.
The medal was struck by the British "copied" from the original, that was made after the deplorable act of the sinking of The Lusitania on 7th May 1915 by a German U-Boat, killing 1,198 of the 1,959 people aboard, leaving 761 survivors.
It is said that it is an exact replica of the one that was struck by Karl Goetz for the Germans to commemorate the atrocity.
It was made in 1916 some time later than the original which was made privately in August 1915.
It was said that 500 German medals were struck and a limited circulation took place.
British copies were of die cast iron and were of poorer quality than the original. The original Goetz medals were sand-cast bronze. Belatedly realising his mistake, Goetz got the date wrong and the original German medal was dated ‘5 Mai’ Goetz quickly issued a corrected medal with the date of "7. Mai".
On the cases it was stated that the medals had been distributed in Germany "to commemorate the sinking of the Lusitania" and they came with a propaganda leaflet which strongly denounced the Germans and used the medal's incorrect date to claim that the sinking of the Lusitania was premeditated.
The head of the Lusitania Souvenir Medal Committee later estimated that 250,000 were sold, proceeds being given to the Red Cross and St. Dunstan's Blinded Soldiers and Sailors Hostel.
There had been an advertisement placed in an American paper warning of the risk to passengers travelling on Cunard Line.
It was estimated that it took 16 minutes to sink 11 miles off the Old Head of Kinsale.
The reason why we the British would strike a medal and distribute it, is, a sinister act itself.
Argument over whether the ship was a legitimate military target raged back and forth throughout the war as both sides made claims about the ship and whether it was a legitimate target.
At the time she was sunk, she was carrying a large quantity of rifle ammunition and other supplies necessary for war, as well as civilian passengers.
Tuesday, 2 October 2012
The noble beast lends itself to a stylised study and in the hands of a good sculptor it is amazing what can be done.
I have chosen a picture of one I currently have that is not too expensive, £300-400 would be a decent price to pay for such.
It is a spelter model, but the base is nice marble and the way it has been inlaid with sections of onyx just gives it a little extra.
It has a bronze patina and this is everything when purchasing a spelter as a beautiful glow can hint that it is a bronze to most people.
Where do you go with the same equivalent in bronze well its going to set you back a thousand pounds and if it was by my favourite sculptor Rembrandt Bugatti, son of the furniture maker and brother of the car designer then you may be looking at half a million pounds.
This is a nice way to "buy in" to he at deco style. It may be said it is a touch on the masculine style but having sold scores of Art Deco Cats to ladies it seems that the beauty transcends the sexes.
I don't know anyone could deny the beauty of a strident black leopard stalking its prey or just strident as in this pose.
Le Livre du Jungle http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Livre_de_la_jungle that was published in France, or as we know it here Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.
This animalier style was championed at the Salons and was maybe the continuation of a tradition that Antoine Louis Barye http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antoine-Louis_Barye came from in the 19th century.
So you may wonder what a cartoon in the sixties with songs such as the Bear necessities and lyrics such as "I wanna be like you..u..u, dooby doo, dooby doo, have got to do with this sculpture.
Well its my opinion that it is because Le Livre Du Jungle was illustrated by Paul Jouve with his beautiful stylised and characterful depictions of the beasts that Kipling made come to life from his memories in India, and this helped to inspire a generation of artists and sculptors that helped form the vision that made the cartoon come alive. To another generation. It does not disredit Paul Jouve t know that his amazing illustrations of Mowgli lit up the eyes of Walt Disney for sure.
How now we take it for granted, we know almost every creature that has ever existed, but in the 1920's you may not know what a Lion or a Tiger looked like.
These exotic creatures were to mesmerise a generation with a novel such as Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan of the Jungle, (it seems like only yesterday, watching the Johnny Weissmuller and seeing the 1960s cartoon on the flics).
Today these artists and sculptors from a tradition of craftsmanship that could not be recreated today, leave an affordable and stylistic legacy to a almost forgotten era.
But in the twenties and thirties you could discover their magnificence only in a zoo, but a sculpture could then be purchased in a posh department store and be placed be pride of place on your mantelpiece..............just as you can today.