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Gustav Gurschner Bronze Female Figure Candelabrum

A bronze Art Nouveau figural candelabrum by Gustav Gurschner. A young woman with twin buns, dressed in a long flowing skirt, with her breasts exposed, holds a seed capsule in each arm, into which a candle can be inserted. Gurschner displayed his work through the Viennese Secession Group gaining him much acclaim. His depiction of bare breasted women largely survives any stricture in that they have a quiet dignity and poetic charm that never stoops to vulgarization. The woman holds in each arm a lotus flower seed capsule. The size of the capsules relative to her body makes her seem a flower fairy or spirit. A candle would be placed on each capsule, illuminating the dinner table with spectacular charm.

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  • Product Details
  • Curator's Notes

Item #: YS-20966
Artist: Gustav Gurschner
Country: Austria
Circa: 1902-1904
Dimensions: 16.25" high x 7" wide x 7" deep
Materials: Patinated Bronze
Signed: impressed "GURSCHNER/DEPOSE"
Provenance: Rudi Schmutz, Vienna Acquired from the above by the present owner, circa 1980s
Literature: Alastair Duncan, Art Nouveau Sculpture, New York, 1978, p. 49 Wolf Uecker, Art Nouveau and Art Deco Lamps and Candlesticks, New York, 1986, p. 15 Yvonne Brunhammer and Suzanne Tise, French Decorative Art, the Société des Artistes Décorateurs 1900-1942, Paris, 1990, p. 8 (for the model depicted in the Manuel Orazi poster) A similar candlestick is pictured in: The Paris Salons 1895-1915, Vol. V: Objects d'Art and Metalware, by Alastair Duncan, Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors' Club, 1999, p. 305

In the lead up to World War I, Germany was swept by a wave of artistic nationalism. After spending most of the 19th century dominated by French influence, German artists desired a return to tradition. Integral to German tradition was the vibrant color of Late Medieval wooden sculpture. Since the 14th century, much of antique polychromy had deteriorated considerably, leaving large portions of the wood base exposed. The rich burnt sienna of this woman's skin may refer to this exposed wood finish. Alternatively it might refer to the skin color of the dancers from the Java Pavillion (1889). After their blockbuster appearance in the World's Fair, depictions of the dancers abounded in salons. Brown-skinned and black-haired women became appreciated in this context as harbingers of exotic delights.