‘Adam und Eva’
Cast iron, around 1850.
Heavy relief, weigthing 41 kg., 116 cm long.
Provenance: private possession, North Germany.
|– condition||: II protected with a (removable) black mixture of linseed and graphite|
|– size||: 116 x 40 x 3 cm|
|– signed||: created around 1850|
|– type||: cast iron|
|– weight||: 41 kg|
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CAST IRON IN GERMANY
‘The Iron Century’
Cast Iron in Germany: the cultural-historical significance of iron casting during the 19th century.
Bronze is the most popular metal for cast metal sculptures; a cast bronze sculpture is often called simply ‘a bronze’. Artists were working with bronze even in ancient times, such as in the Greek and Roman civilizations. The first known bronze statue is likely ‘Dancing Girl’ from Mohenjodaro (Pakistan), belonging to the Harappan civilization and dating back to c. 2500 BC. However, the Greeks were the first to scale the figures up to life size: an example that is still in existence is ‘Victorious Youth’, a life-size bronze made between 300 and 100 BC.
Casting iron sculptures is a technically different and more complicated process. Cast iron had been occasionally used in Europe in basic architectural embellishment in the Middle Ages, such as fire backs with cast figures and scenes. It was not until 1784 that the German foundry Lauchhammer, with the assistance of sculptors Joseph Mattersberger and Thaddäus Ignatius Wiskotschill, for the first time in Europe, successfully cast a life-size hollow sculpture in iron. The use of cast iron for sculpting in Prussia developed rapidly under the reign of King Friedrich Wilhelm III; from 1797 to 1840 the Berlin art scene operated on a high level, and several Berlin artists preferred iron for their works. Cast iron was more affordable than bronze, and in the 19th century, ‘The Iron Century’, a large number of high-quality sculptures -often with monumental dimensions – were produced. During the German ‘Freiheitskriege’ (Battles against Napoleon from 1813- 1815), the social valuation of cast iron had already increased. For example, there were successful war financing campaigns like Eisen statt Gold and the creation of the Eiserne Kreuz. The cultural-historical significance of iron casting during the 19th century was further catalyzed by Friedrich Wilhelm III, who had his palace decorated with cast iron art, produced in Prussia. Black-coated iron became an aesthetical mark in Klassizismus. Meanwhile, the popularity of cast iron sculpting was not limited to Germany. The first Crystal Place Exhibition in 1851 in London prominently showed a series of life-size iron sculptures, as did the Exposition Universelle of 1855 held on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. It is notable that many sculptures and other iron art works in that time period were not signed by the artist or by the foundry.
The glory days of cast iron sculpting ended around the third part of the 19th century. The famous Königlich Preußische Eisengießerei (founded in 1796) closed its doors in 1874. The prominent Saynerhütte (founded in 1769) was sold to Firma Krupp in 1865, and it ceased the production of iron sculptures. Paradoxically, Foundry Lauchhammer (founded in 1725), which created the first cast iron life-size sculpture in Europe, is still in existence. A short renaissance in iron sculpting took place in the 1920s.
Foundry Carlshütte Delligsen, eight magnificant lampposts and two flag masts on the Lombardsbrücke in Hamburg. The cast iron art works are beautiful adorned with figures of swans, seagulls, angels and the Coat of Arms of Hamburg.
Designed by Carl Börner. Cast by Carlshütte Delligsen in 1870. Height 3,725 meter, ex base.
Prussian National Monument for the Liberation Wars
The Prussian National Monument for the Liberation Wars (Preußisches Nationaldenkmal für die Befreiungskriege) is a war memorial in Berlin revealed in 1821. Built by the Prussian king during the sectionalism before the Unification of Germany it is the principal German monument to the Prussian soldiers and other citizens who died in the Liberation Wars (Befreiungskriege), fought at the end of the Wars of the Sixth and in that of the Seventh Coalition against France in the course of the Napoleonic Wars.
Frederick William III of Prussia initiated the construction of the monument and commissioned the Prussian Karl Friedrich Schinkel who made it an important piece of art in cast iron, his last piece of Romantic Neo-Gothic architecture.
The monument is located on the Kreuzberg hill in the Victoria Park in the Tempelhofer Vorstadt, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. The cast iron monument was conceived at a time of deteriorating relations between the reactionaries and the reformers of the civic movement within Prussia. Designed by the Prussian architect Heinrich Strack and realized by the Prussian engineer Johann Wilhelm Schwedler. Its centerpiece is a tapering turret of 60 Prussian feet (18.83 m).
The Schlossbrücke, bridge in the central Mitte district of Berlin, Germany. Built between 1821 and 1824 according to plans designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, it was named after the nearby City Palace (Stadtschloss). The bridge marks the eastern end of the Unter den Linden boulevard.
The Schlossbrücke was heavily damaged in WWII. After restauration, an original iron fragment was placed near the bridge in the Lustgarten.
The Anichkov bridge in St. Petersburg, Russia. Revealed in 1842. Notice the identical bridge railing.
Left: Ildefonso Fountain, Weimar
Weimar, Iron copy manufactured in 1793 by Lauchhammer. Placed in 1796 near the Holzhall of the Red Castle (Rotes Schloß). In 1824, the architect Clemens Wenzel Coudray (1775-1845) had it moved and set on a fountain in front of the Red Castle at the Burgplatz, where it still stands today after having been restored in 1994/95.
A plaster cast is located in the Goethe House in Weimar. It was acquired in 1812 by Goethe himself, and is now located on the landing of the first floor. Goethe wrote about this group: ‘Diese beyden Epheben waren mir immer höchst angenehm‘. He named them ‘Kastor und Pollux’.
The Ildefonso fountain is a cast iron copy of a marble group from the first century AD. Its findsite is unknown, but by 1623 it was in the Ludovisi collection at the Villa Ludovisi in Rome. In 1724 the group was offered to Philip V of Spain. Philip’s second wife Isabella Farnese acquired it for him and had it sent to the Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso (Segovia). From there it came into the Museo del Prado.
Right: Bad Freienwalde, iron copy manufactured in 1795 by Lauchhammer. The group was previously inside the castle, used to decorate a chimney-piece. It now stands in the gardens, in front of the castle.
Bridge railing and lamppost of The Weidendammer Bridge, a 73-metre-long bridge where the Friedrichstraße crosses the Spree river in the central Mitte district of Berlin. Created in 1824.
During the 1945-Battle of Berlin, the Weidendammer Bridge was one of the few Spree crossings that had not been destroyed. On the night of 1 May 1945, a Tiger tank from the 11th SS Panzergrenadier Division Nordland spearheaded an attempt to storm the bridge to allow hundreds of German soldiers and civilians to escape across it.
The Egyptian royal Gezirah Palace in Cairo. From 1864 to 1825 Lauchhammer created the 300-meter-long and 400-ton cast iron arcade for the Egyptian royal Gezirah Palace in Cairo. The Gezirah Palace, previously owned by the Muhammad Ali Dynasty, is located in the Zamalek district on Gezira Island in the Nile, west of Downtown Cairo. The remains of the Palace are currently the central part of the Cairo Marriott Hotel complex.
Cast iron Baldachin placed over the Gustav Adolph Memorial Stone in Lützen. Revealed in 1837. Designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Gustavus II Adolf or Gustav II Adolph, was King of Sweden from 1611 to 1632, and is credited for the rise of Sweden as a great European power. He fell at 6 November 1632 during the Batlle of Lützen.
The Iron Cross
The Iron Cross (Eisernes Kreuz) was a military decoration in the Kingdom of Prussia, later in the German Empire (1871 – 1918) and in Nazi Germany (1933 -1945). King Frederick William III of Prussia established it on 17 March 1813 during the Napoleonic Wars.
It was designed by neoclassical architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, based on Friedrich Wilhelm III. The design is ultimately derivative of the black cross used by the Teutonic Order.
By order of 1 June 1813, the form was created in cast iron with silver borders, and 8 loops on the reverse, to be fixed to the left uniform breast.
Iron Cross 1st Class of the Napoleonic Wars.