‘Relief of Hitler’
Large (55 x 39 cm) and heavy (9,6 kg) iron relief.
Signed by Ernst Seger, 1934.
Cast by Lauchhammer.
Below: the relief by Seger, depicted in ‘Lauchhammer Bildguss’, 1938 (Nachtrag zum Hauptkatalog Gs 20). The size (55 x 39 cm) is mentioned below-right.
Hitler as art
Thirty-six paintings and busts of Hitler were displayed at the Great German Art Exhibitions from 1937 to 1944. The first painting that people saw when they entered the exhibition was one of Der Führer in Room 1. In similar fashion, the official exhibition catalogues all started with a picture of the ‘Schirmherr (patron) Des Haus der Deutschen Kunst’.
Around 450 portraits depicting Hitler and other Nazi-officials, Nazi-symbols, German Soldiers and battle fields are currently stored in the U.S. Army Center of Military History in Washington. Keeping this German War Art Collection in the US is not seen by the Americans as a violation of the 1907 Hague Convention and the 1970 UNESCO Treaty on cultural property, as they don’t classify these paintings as art.
In 2004 Brigadier General John Brown, outgoing head of the U.S. Army’s Center of Military History, was interviewed about the Army’s view of the legal status of these 450 objects in the German War Art Collection that remained in the custody of the United States. When asked if the Army’s continues sequestration of these works, which had been determined to be in volation of U.S. and German laws in 1947, could not also be construed as a volation of the 1907 Hague Convention and the 1970 UNESCO treaty on cultural property, he replied, “No. That would only be true if the objects in the German War Art Collection could be defined as cultural property or art. Our position is that these paintings are no art” (‘Nostalgia for the Future’, Gregory Maertz, 2019).
This remarkable point of view leads us to the following question: is a painting depicting Angela Merkel, Joseph Stalin, Benjamin Netanyahu or Mao Zedong art or non-art? And who decides this? Respectively German left-wing extremists? Russian civilians? Palestinians or Taiwanese civilians? Can people be interested in a portrait of Napoleon (or Hitler) because of it’s historical significance? Or does their interest mean that they are automatically right-wing extremists with the aim of conquering the whole of Europe? This last point of view echoes the theory of Hannah Ahrend who states: ‘The essence of terror lies in the immediate transition from accusation to conviction’. One thing we learned very well from the tragic 1930s and 1940s is that classifying art as ‘non-art’ is a dead-end-street, just like burning and forbidding books for political reasons. No matter how much one dislikes Hitler, Napoleon, Caligula or Stalin, and no matter how much their depictions were used as propaganda, a painting or sculpture of them cannot be reclassified as ‘non art’.
|– condition||: II Original patina (protected with a removable mixture of linseed and graphite)|
|– size||: 55 x 39 cm. Thickness: 6,5 cm. Weight: 9,6 kg|
|– signed||: in the neck: ‘E.S. 34’|
|– type||: iron cast by Foundry Lauchhammer (Lauchhammer stamp on the back)|
|– misc.||: professional cleaned and treated with a preserve|
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BIOGRAPHY: ERNST SEGER
Around 1933, three life-size sculptures by Ernst Seger in the garden of foundry Gladenbeck GmbH, Schöneiche Berlin (Schöneiche is a village near Berlin).
Left: ‘Am Ziel’ (‘At the Finish’), displayed at the exhibition ‘Hundert Jahre Berliner Kunst’, 1929, organised by the Verein Berliner Künstler (bronze, height 190 cm). Again displayed at the ‘Deutsche Kunstausstellung München 1930’, in the Glaspalast, under the name ‘Läuferin am Ziel’. In 1933 the bronze was placed on the forecourt of the Berlin beach baths at Wannsee (Strandbad Wannsee); the sculpture was melted down in 1940, as bronze was needed for the war-industry.
In the middle: ‘Sportlerin’ by Ernst Seger, later displayed at the GDK 1939, room 7.
Right: ‘Lebensmut’ (‘The Courage to Live’). Later displayed at the GDK 1939, room 27.
‘Lebensmut’ by Seger (at the right), displayed at the GDK 1939, room 27.
Left: Ernst Seger, ‘Sportkameraden (‘Sport-comrades‘), bronze, life-size. Located on the grounds of the former Gymnasium Grotenbach in Gummersbach. According to the historian of the city of Gummersbach Gerhard Pomykaj, the sculpture stood in 1936 in front of the Reichsportfeld and was subsequently bought by the industrialist Dr. Lebrecht Steinmüller. Steinmüller brought the sculpture to his hunting lodge in Rüspe; in 1960 his heirs donated the sculpture to the city of Gummersbach.
However, according to our research the sculpture was intended for the Olympiade, but there is no evidence that the bronze actually was located at the Reichsportfeld, or in front of it; what could be is that the sculture was placed somewhere in the streets of Berlin during the Summer Olympics in 1936, just like the huge well known sculptures by Eberhard Encke.
Cast by Gladenbecks Broncegiesserei und Kunstwerkstätten G.m.b.H. in early 1936 (copy of invoice of foundry available). Height 2,3 meter.
Right: the original plaster-model in the atelier of Ernst Seger.
Left: ‘Sportkameraden’ by Seger. Bronze, depicted in ‘Die Nackten und die Toten des Dritten Reiches‘, Klaus Wolbert, 1982 (original depicted in ‘Geist und Schönheit, W. Burghardt, 1939).
Right: ‘Sportkameraden’ by Seger, depicted in the catalog of foundry Lauchhammer, 1938. Date of creation according to Lauchhammer: 1936. The text below reads: ‘Sportkameraden für Berlin’, 2,25 meters.
Left: ‘Läuferin‘ by Seger depicted in ‘Zucht und Sitte‘, Folge III, 1943.
Below: ‘Am Ziel’, postcard. The sculpture was from 1933 to 1940 located on the forecourt of the Berlin beach baths at Wannsee (Strandbad Wannsee); it was melted down in 1940, as bronze was needed for the war-industry.
Right: Ernst Seger, ‘Am Ziel’, depicted in the official catalogue of the exhibition ‘Hundert Jahre Berliner Kunst’, 1929, organised by the Verein Berliner Künstler. Also depicted in ‘Das Bild’, 1937, under the name ‘Läuferin’ (‘Runner’).
Left: ‘Am Ziel’, depicted under the name ‘Läuferin’ in ‘Das Bild’, 1937.
Right: Ernst Seger, ‘Am Ziel’, depicted under the name ‘Dreisprung’ (‘Triple Jump‘) in ‘Volk und Kunst‘, January 1936.
Left: Ernst Seger, ‘Ringwerferin’ (‘Ring-thrower’). GDK 1939, room 33. Depicted in ‘Kunst dem Volk’, 1939.
Right: Ernst Seger, ‘Kraftgefühl’ (‘Feeling of Power’). GDK 1937, room 9. Bronze, bought by Hitler.
Ernst Seger, ‘Gewichtheber’ (‘Weightlifter’). GDK 1938, room 31. Bronze. Bought by Hitler for 1,000 Reichsmark. Also displayed at the ‘Herbstausstellung, Verein Berliner Künstler’, 1938.
‘Gewichtheber’ by Ernst Seger, executed in porcelain. Height 45 cm, model number 1013, with the mark ‘Rosenthal Bavaria’. Sold by a German auction house in 2009.
Ernst Seger, ‘Amazone’, postcard. Date of creation unknown. Probably a predecessor of ‘Sportlerin’.
Ernst Seger, ‘Der Lebensbaum’ (‘Tree of Life’), two postcards. Located in the ‘Ausstellungsfreigelände’, Berlin. Created before 1937.
Ernst Seger, ‘Speerwerferin’ (‘Woman Throwing Javelin’), 1937. Located in Gruga Park in Essen. Photo: September, 2015.
Ernst Seger, ‘Speerwerferin’, displayed at the ‘Zweite Reichsgartenschau 1938’ (‘2. Reichsausstellung des deutschen Gartenbaues’) in Essen, Grugapark. Depicted in a special by the Essener Algemeine Zeitung (‘Reichsgartenschau, sonderausgabe der Essener Algemeine Zeitung’, Heft 1, May 1938).
Ernst Seger, ‘Sperwerferin‘, displayed at the ‘Zweite Reichsgartenschau 1938’ (‘2. Reichsausstellung des deutschen Gartenbaues’) in Essen, Grugapark. Depicted in a special by the Essener Algemeine Zeitung (‘Reichsgartenschau Bildbericht, sonderausgabe der Essener Algemeine Zeitung’, Heft 3, August-October 1938).
Ernst Seger, ‘Ganymede’, 1935. Located in the garden of Hearst Castle, San Simeon, California.
Left: Ernst Seger, ‘Kugelstosser’ (‘Shot-putter’). Displayed at the ‘Zweiten Schlesischen Kunstausstellung’, organised by the ‘Kulturamt der Stadt Breslau unter Mitarbeit der NS-Kulturgemeinde‘, Breslau, 1935. Depicted in ‘Die Völkische Kunst’, September 1935.
Right: ‘Kugelstosser‘ by Seger, depicted in the 1938-catalogue of ‘Lauchhammer Bildguss’ (Nachtrag). Height up to 40 cm.
‘Kugelstosser‘ by Seger, bronze. Height 37 cm. Sold by a German auction house in 2023.
Ernst Seger, ‘Hygia‘ (‘Hygeia’, Goddess of Good Health, and daughter of the medicine-god Asklepios). Depicted in the 1938-catalogue of ‘Lauchhammer Bildguss’ (Nachtrag). Height up to 54 cm.
‘Hygia‘ by Seger, bronze. Signed ‘ES 1932’. Height 56 cm. With foundry mark ‘Lauchhammer Bildguss 1’.
Ernst Seger, ‘Bust of Gustav Stresemann’. Stresemann (1878 – 1929) was a German statesman who served as Chancellor of Germany from August to November 1923, and as foreign minister from 1923 to 1929. Height 15 cm. Sold by a German auction house in 2023.
Ernst Seger, Hitler-bust in the hall of honour at the ‘Internationale Funkausstellung’, 1933 (‘German Radio Exposition’), Kaiserdamm, Berlin.
Left: Ernst Seger, ‘Hindenburg and Hitler’, designed to celebrate the turn of the year 1933/1934. The text at relief reads: ‘FÜR EINIGKEIT UND RECHT UND FREIHEIT‘, 1914 – 1943 (’For Unity and Justice and Freedom’).
Right: the ‘Neujahrsplakette’ depicted in the catalog of the Gleiwitzer Kunstguss 1935.
Busts and reliefs of Hindenburg, Göring and Hitler by Seger, offered for sale in the catalog of ‘Lauchhammer Bildguss’, 1938 (‘Nachtrag zu unserem Hauptkatalog Gs 20’).
The busts are up to 82 cm height including base, the largest reliefs measure 55 x 39 cm.
Ernst Seger, ‘Storchenbrunnen’ (‘Stork-fountain’), 1931. Muschelkalk, Bronze. Located in Berlin, Adolf-Scheidt-Platz.
Left: Ernst Seger, ‘Arier’, displayed at the Grosse Berliner Kunst-Ausstellung 1902. Plaster.
Right: Ernst Seger, ‘Der Sieger’ (‘The Victor’), displayed at the Grosse Berliner Kunst-Ausstellung 1908. Plaster.
Ernst Seger, ‘Aphrodite’. Displayed at the Grosse Münchner Kunstausstellung in the Glaspalast, 1925.
Left: Ernst Seger, ‘Mädchenstatutte’ or ‘Die Keuschheit’. Displayed at the Großen Berliner Kunstausstellung, 1927.
Right: Ernst Seger, ‘Jugend’ (‘Youth‘), bronze, life-size. Around 1921. Located in the Carl-Duisburg-Park in Leverkussen.
Ernst Seger, unknown title, marble, life-size. Around 1920. Located in the Carl-Duisburg-Park in Leverkussen.
Left: Ernst Seger, ‘Kypris III’, Goddess of Love and Beauty. Created in 1916, marble, height 136,5 cm. Displayed at the Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung 1918 and again in 1990 at exhibition ‘Ethos und Pathos, -die Berliner Bildhauerschule 1786 – 1914’. Depicted in the 1990-exhibition catalog. In the possession of the Alte Nationalgalerie Berlin.
Right: Ernst Seger, ‘Tanzende Mänade’ (‘Dancing Maenad’). Displayed at the Grosse Berliner Kunst-Ausstellung 1901. In Greek mythology, maenads were the female followers of Dionysus and the most significant members of the Thiasus, the god’s retinue. Their name literally translates as ‘raving ones’. Maenads were known as Bassarids, Bacchae or Bacchantes.
Left: Ernst Seger, ‘Phryne’ (a famous Greek courtesan), Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung, 1907.
Right: Ernst Seger, ‘Hercules fighting the Nemean Lion’, 1923. Bronze.
Left: Ernst Seger, ‘Verwundete Amazone’ (‘Wounded Amazon’). Displayed at the Grosse Münchner Kunstausstellung in the Glaspalast, 1908.
Right: Ernst Seger, ‘Mädchentorso’ (‘Torso of a Girl’). Displayed at the Münchner Jahresausstellung im Glaspalast, 1906.
Left: Ernst Seger, ‘Die Siebzehnjärige’ (‘Seventeen-year-old-Girl’). Created before 1912.
Middle: Ernst Seger, ‘Mädchenstatuette (Statue of a Girl).
Right: Ernst Seger, ‘Träumerei’ (‘Dreaming’).
Ernst Seger, ‘Stehender Weiblicher Akt mit Tuch‘ (‘Standing Nude with Towel‘), around 1908. Executed in marble, height 80 cm. Sold by a German auction house in 2018.
Ernst Seger, ‘Bismarck-Brunnen’ (‘Bismarck fountain’), 1905, Breslau, Schlossplatz (Königsplatz). Ernst Seger created this memorial fountain together with the sculptor Bernhard Sehring. The enormous figures represent the allegories ‘Kampf’ and ‘Sieg’ (‘Battle and Victory’), – a man fighting with a lion, and finally winning. In the middle of the fountain on a high pedestal there is a decorated vase placed on a large bowl. Breslau (Wrozlav) is now Poland. The fountain-complex still exists.
Ernst Seger, ‘Bacchantin’ (‘Bacchant‘). Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung 1914.
In Greek mythology Maenads were the female followers of Dionysus and the most significant members of the Thiasus, the god’s retinue. Maenads, translated as ‘raving ones’, were known as Bacchantes in Roman mythology, after the Roman god, Bacchus. Often they were portrayed as inspired by Dionysus into a state of ecstatic frenzy through a combination of dancing and intoxication.
Ernst Seger ‘Heilige Stunde‘ (‘Holy Hour‘). Displayed at the Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung (‘Zum Regierungsjubiläum seiner Majestät des Kaisers‘), 1913. Holy Hour is the Roman Catholic devotional tradition of spending an hour in Eucharistic adoration in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
Ernst Seger, ‘Diana’, Park Szczytnicki, Wroclau, Polen (earlier ‘Schneitniger Park, Breslau’). ‘Diana’, the Roman Goddess of the Hunt, the Moon and Childbirth, was unvealed in August, 1898. Until 1945 the sculpture stood at the Schneitniger Park, Breslau. This part of the park is still called ’Dianagarten’.
In October 2015 a copy of the sculpture was placed on exact the same location (the stone base is still original). Left a postcard depicting the original sculpture. In the middle and left the 2015-copy of Diana, or ‘Diana Group’.
Ernst Seger, ‘Jugend’ (‘Youth’), 1897. Displayed at the ‘Große Berliner Kunstausstellung’, 1898, ‘Große Berliner Kunstausstellung’, 1899, ‘Münchener Glaspalast Ausstellung’, 1899, and at the ‘Münchener Glaspalast Ausstellung’, 1908.
Ernst Seger regarded this as his first relevant work, and his breakthrough. A cast in bronze was set down in the ‘Scheitniger Park’ in Breslau.
A bronze cast of 160 cm high (from the Sammlung Karl H. Knauf) was again displayed at the exhibition ‘Aufbruch der Jugend’ (‘Rising of the Youth), organised by the Germanische Nationalmuseum, Nürnberg, 2013/14.
Left: a bronze cast, height 1.60 meters.
Right: the Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung, 1898 (at the right).
A bronze cast of Jugend, from the Sammlung Karl H. Knauf, displayed at the exhibition ‘Aufbruch der Jugend’ (‘Rising of the Youth), organised by the Germanische Nationalmuseum, Nürnberg, 2013/14.
Left: Ernst Seger, ‘Siegfried’. Depicted in ‘Velhagen & Klasings Monatshefte’, 1925.
Right: Ernst Seger,’Akt’ (‘Nude’). Displayed at the ‘Akademie Ausstellung Berlin’, 1924. Depicted in ‘Velhagen & Klasings Monatshefte’, 1924/25.
Ernst Seger, ‘Badende’ (‘Bathing’), displayed at the ‘Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung’, 1930. Depicted in ‘Westermanns Monatshefte’, 1930/31.
Left: Ernst Seger, ‘Lebensfreude’ (‘Joy of Life’), postcard. Created approximately 1897. Also depicted in ‘Velhagen & Klasings’, Monatshefte’ 1915/16.
Right: a bronze cast of ‘Lebensfreude’. Height 156 cm, foundry mark of ‘Aktien-Gesellschaft Gladenbeck/ Berlin-Friedrichshagen. Sold by a German auction house in 2018.
Ernst Seger, War Memorial, Essen, unveiled on September 2nd, 1891 by Major Erich Zweigert. The memorial commemorates the victims of the ‘Deutschen Einigungskriege’ in 1864, 1866 and 1870/ 71. It survived WWII undamaged.
The gravestone of Ernst Seger and his wife Rosina at the Südwestkirchhof Stahnsdorf. The marble created by Seger was displayed under the name ‘Der Bildhauer und sein Gedanke’ (‘The sculptor and his thoughts’) at the Great Berlin Art Exhibition 1921.
Ernst Seger, portrayed in 1905.
Ernst Seger (1865 1939), born in Neurode (Nowa Ruda, now Poland), studied sculpturing from 1884 at the Kunstschule in Breslau under Robert Härtel. From 1886 he worked in the Atelier of Christian Behrens, where he created the Eichendorff-Memorial for the Silezian City of Neisse. From 1893 to 1894 Seger stayed in Paris where he worked in the atelier of Auguste Rodin. However, Seger finally chose a ‘Jugenstill’ and a more ‘naturalistic’ or ‘Neuklassizismus’ style. His sculptures, modelled like the Greek antiques, were later greatly admired by the National Socialists. At the end of 1894 Ernst Seger went back to Berlin, founded his own atelier and created the Kaiser Wilhelm I memorial for the Silesian City of Glatz. In 1897 Seger created the sculpture ‘Jugend’ (‘Youth’), which was displayed at the ‘Große Berliner Kunstausstellung’ in 1898, at the ‘Große Berliner Kunstausstellung’ in 1899, at the ‘Münchener Glaspalast Ausstellung’ in 1899 and at the ‘Münchener Glaspalast Ausstellung’ in 1908. As a sculptor Seger regarded this as his first relevant work, his breakthrough. A copy of the sculpture in bronze, 1.60 metres high, was placed in the ‘Scheitniger Park’ in Breslau (now Wroclaw). In 1898 Segers ‘Diana’, the Roman Goddess of the Hunt, the Moon and Childbirth, was unvealed in Park Szczytnicki, Breslau, Polen (earlier ‘Schneitniger Park’). Until 1945 the sculpture stayed in the Schneitniger Park, Breslau. This part of the park is still called ’Dianagarten’.
After the turn of the century the elegant female dancers and nudes by Seger gained great popularity. In 1905 Ernst Seger created -together with the sculptor Bernhard Sehring- the ‘Bismarck Brunnen’ (‘Bismarck Fountain’) in Breslau. This memorial-fountain (which still exists) represents the allegories ‘Kampf’ and ‘Sieg’ (‘Battle and Victory’). Seger’s ‘Verwundete Amazone’ (‘Wounded Amazon’), displayed at the Grosse Münchner Kunstausstellung in the Glaspalast in 1908, was placed in the garden of the ‘Kaufhauses Wertheim’ in Berlin. In the same year he was appointed as a professor. Seger’s marble sculpture ‘Kypris’, created in 1916, was placed in the Alten Nationalgalerie in Berlin. In 1925 the City of Berlin acquired his sculpture ‘Anbetung’ and placed it at the Johannaplatz. ‘Storchenbrunnen’ (‘Stork-fountain’), was placed in 1931 at the Adolf-Scheidt-Platz in Berlin. In 1935 the American newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst bought Seger’s sleeping ‘Ganymede’.
During the Third Reich Ernst Seger was commissioned numerous Hitler busts; in 1933 one of them was placed in the hall of honour at the ‘Internationale Funkausstellung’(‘German Radio Exposition’) in Berlin. At the turn of the year 1933/1934 he created a relief of ‘Hindenburg and Hitler’. Despite Segers popularity and fame his life-size ‘Am Ziel’ (‘At the Finish’) which had stood at the edge of the Berlin Wannsee since 1934, was melted down in 1940, as bronze was needed for the war-industry (‘Am Ziel’, 190 cm high, was displayed for the first time at the exhibition ‘Hundert Jahre Berliner Kunst’, 1929, organized by the Verein Berliner Künstler).
At the Great German Art Exhibitions Seger was, until his death in 1939, represented with seven sculptures, including ‘Sportlerin’. Adolf Hitler bought ‘Lebenskraft’ (‘Vitality’) for 15,000 RM, as well as ‘Gewichtheber’ (‘Weightlifter’) and ‘Kraftgefühl’ (‘Feeling of Power’).
Ernst Seger died in August 1939 in Berlin. Seger’s gravestone at the Südwestkirchhof Stahnsdorf bears his marble relief ‘Der Bildhouwer und sein Gedanken’, which was displayed at the Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung 1921.
In October 2015 a copy of Segers sculpture Diana (d.d. 1898) was placed on exact the same location: Park Szczytnicki, Wroclau, Polen, earlier ‘Schneitniger Park, Breslau’ (the stone base is still original).