Bronze, height 90 cm.
Fencer caught in the moment of bending his foil
During a fencing match, when a weapon gets bent (backward) it has to be straightened by the fencer. This action, during which the blade is pushed onto the floor, often functions as a short moment of unconscious concentration.
‘In the terminal figure he archieved a forceful sense of balance, the athlete resting with his foil, alert, but not caught in a moment of intense activity’, The American Magazine of Art, Volume 26, Nr. 3, March 1933.
In March 1933, the ‘American Magazine of Art’ published a special ‘Lederer and Kolbe, -two leading art personalities’. The magazine compared Lederer with Kolbe and also linked him to Adolf von Hildebrand: ‘With his Hamburg Bismarck and his Fencer Fountain, Lederer exerted a profound influence upon German sculpture, almost paralleling that of von Hildebrand’.
Grip and crossguard of the weapon (crossguard is the bar of metal placed between the blade and the grip).
|– condition||: II|
|– size||: height 90 cm, 24,7 kg|
|– signed||: signed at base ‘LEDERER. fec.’|
|– type||: bronze, dark-brown/black patina. With foundry mark: ‘Akt Ges Gladenbeck Berlin’|
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BIOGRAPHY: HUGO LEDERER
‘Lederer erected a symbol of German Empire strenght’ (The American Magazine of Art, Volume 26, Nr. 3, March 1933).
Hugo Lederer, Bismarck Monument, Hamburg
The Bismarck Monument in Hamburg, revealed in 1906, is located in the St. Pauli quarter. It is one of 250 memorials to Bismarck worldwide and is the largest and probably best-known. The monument is executed in granite and is 35 meters high.
Designers created a large network of catacombs beneath the monument. During the years 1939 to 1940, they became an air-raid shelter offering protection for up to 650 people. The architect’s intent for the catacombs remain unknown however they, and the entire monument interior, are no longer accessible for safety reasons.
Parts of Lederer’s Bismarck monument were displayed at the Great Berlin Art Exhibition 1907; remarkably, Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II exercised his veto to prevent Hugo Lederer from getting the Grand Medal of Honor.
Left: ‘The Philadelphia Inquirer‘, 14 July 1907.
Right: a part of the Bismarck monument by Lederer, displayed at the Great Berlin Art Exhibition 1907 (depicted in the exhibition catalogue).
Left: the Bismarck monument depicted in ‘The American Magazine of Art’, Volume 26, Nr. 3, March 1933.
Right: Hugo Lederer standing in front of figures destinated for the base of the Bismarck Memorial. Depicted in ‘Die Woche’, 1921.
‘With his Hamburg Bismarck and his Fencer Fountain, Lederer exerted a profound influence upon German sculpture, almost paralleling that of von Hildebrand…….. It would be as impossible for Lederer to have conceived Kolbe’s delicately poised dancing girls as it would be for Kolbe to develop the static yet dynamic grandeur of mass inherent in the Hamburg Bismarck’, The American Magazine of Art, Volume 26, Nr. 3, March 1933.
Hugo Lederer, ‘Der Fechter‘ (’The Fencer’), revealed 26 November 1904, Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland). Height 2.00 meter. Located at the entrance of the main building of the University of Wroclaw.
Left: The original plaster model of Fechter, displayed at the ‘Grosse Berliner Kunstaustellung’, 1903. Described in the exhibition catalog as: ‘Fechter, dekorative Figur für den Breslauer Universitätsbrunnen, und Modell zum Unterbau desselben’.
Right: the original plaster model of Fechter, again displayed at the ‘Münchener Internationalen Kunstausstellung 1905’.
‘Der Fechter’ displayed at the 20th Exhibition of the ‘Wiener Secession’, Vienna, March 1904.
Left: Another cast of Fechter by Lederer is located at the Kurt-Riess sportfields in Leverkussen. This cast was commissioned in 1923 by Carl Duisberg, Chairman of the Board of Direktors of Bayer AG.
Right: head of ‘The Fencer’ in detail.
Left: der Fechter’ by Lederer, displayed at the ‘Herbst-Ausstellung‘ of the Preussische Akademie der Künste, Berlin, 1940. Depicted on the cover of the exhibition catalog.
Middle and right: ‘Der Fechter’ by Lederer in the Kaiser Friedrich Museum in the city of Magdeburg.
Hugo Lederer, ‘Ringer’ (‘Wrestler’), created in 1911. Height 2,70 meter, located in the Preussenallee/ Heerstrasse, Berlin. Also named ‘Der Sieger’ (‘The Victor’).
Left: ‘Ringer’ by Lederer, depicted in ‘Die Kunst in Deutschen Reich’, 1940.
Right: ‘Ringer’ or ‘Sieger’ in the foundry workshop (notice the head at the left). Depicted in ‘Die Kunst für alle’, 1912/13.
‘Ringer’, given the place of honour in front of all the guests, at the opening on 26 October 1940 of the exhibition ‘Herbst-Ausstellung, Preussische Akademie der Künste‘, Berlin.
Depicted in the ‘Deutsche Zeitung der Niederlande‘, 29 October 1940. Left: Arthur Kampf holding the opening speech of the exhibition.
Official press photo of the opening of the Herbst-Ausstellung der Preussische Akademie der Künste, 26 October 1940.
Hugo Lederer, ‘Ehrenmal für die Gefallenen des Leib.-Grenadier-Rgts. Nr. 8 zu Frankfurt‘ (‘War Memorial to the fallen soldiers of the Leib-Grenadier-Regiment Nr. 8 in Frankfurt‘).
Depicted in ‘Deutscher Ehrenhahn, für die Helden von 1914/18‘, Leipzig, 1931.
Left and below: Hugo Lederer, ‘Das Schicksal’ (‘Destiny’), created in marble. Located at the Olsdorf Cemetery, Hamburg. Created in muschelkalk, height 2 meters. A merciless woman drags a young defenseless boy and -girl to death.
Right: Lederer in his atelier with the original model of ‘Das Schicksal’.
Hugo Lederer, ‘Der Abschied’ (‘Farewell’), 1904. Sculpture on the grave of the Cohen-family at the graveyard Ohlsdorf in Hamburg.
Hugo Lederer, ‘Der Sieger‘ (‘The Victor’), 1927. Bronze, over life-size.
Left: the inauguration of ‘Der Sieger’ in 1927 on the municipal sports ground Berlin-Köpenick by Mayor Gustav Böß , (Böß waving before the sculpture; on the right Hugo Lederer, also waving in front of an enthusiastic crowd).
Hugo Lederer, ‘St. Georg nach dem Sieg über den Drachen‘ (‘St. Georg after the battle with the Dragon‘). Created in 1908, over life-size, decorating the east facade of the Landesmuseum für die Provinz Westfalen’, Münster.
Hugo Lederer, ‘Kauernde’ (‘Cowering’). Marble, created in 1916. Depicted in ‘Die Kunst im Deutschen Reich’, 1940.
Hugo Lederer, ‘Allegorie der Arbeit’ (‘Allegory of Labor’), 1912. Memorial to Friedrich Krupp (1787 – 1826), located at the grounds of Villa Hügel, Essen. Created in Belgium granit. Nicknamed ‘Die Eisverkäuferin’ (‘Seller of Icecream’).’
Hugo Lederer, ‘Läufergruppe’ (‘Goup of Runners’). Created in 1929, located in Berlin/ Pichelberge, Am Scholzplatz. Melted down in 1943 (as re-use for munition).
The photo right is depicted in ‘Hugo Lederer, Ein Meister der Plastik’, 1931.
The atelier of Hugo Lederer in 1928. In the middel ‘Läufergruppe’. At the background, from left to right: ‘Heimkehr 1812’, ‘Peyrouse’ and a plaster model of ‘Bogenschütze’.
Left: ‘Runners’ by Lederer, depicted in ‘The American Magazine of Art’, Volume 26, Nr. 3, March 1933.
Right: ‘Läufergruppe’ depicted in ‘Scherl’s Magazin’, December 1930, Band 6, under the name: ‘Deutsche Jugend, Läufergruppe an de Heerstrasse’.
Hugo Lederer, ‘Stierbrunnen‘ (‘Bull-fountain‘), Arnswalder Platz, Berlin. Created in 1931, executed in red porphyry. The design is from 1910: Lederer originally designed it for a monumental fountain in Buenos Aires, but later in 1927 he sold the design to the city of Berlin.
Hugo Lederer, ‘Peyrouse’ also called ‘Peruse’. From 1899 to 1902 Lederer sculpted the French wrestler Peyrouse in Belgium granite and in bronze. The cast in Belgium Granit was displayed at the ‘Herbst-Ausstellung‘ of the Preussische Akademie der Künste’, Berlin, 1940.
Left: ‘Peyrouse’ depicted in ‘Die Kunst im Deutschen Reich’, 1940.
Right: ‘Peyrouse‘, depicted in ‘Hugo Lederer, ein Meister der Plastik’, 1931. Height 1.00 meter.
The South Moravian Museum in Znojmo (Znaim) owns a cast of Peyrouse (at the background, right). At the left ‘Kauernde’, 1897.
‘Anna Pavlowa, Feeding a Deer – one of the most gracefully tender compositions in contemporary sculpture’. Quoted in ‘Lederer and Kolbe’, The American Magazine of Art, Vol. 26, No. 3 (March 1933).’
Hugo Lederer, ‘Anna Pawlowna, ein Reh Fütternd’, 1928. Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova (1881-1931) feeding a deer. The plaster model was displayed at the ‘Münchener Kunstausstellung 1931 im Glaspalast‘. The model was destroyed when the Glaspalast was completely burned to the ground at 6 June 1931.
In the Dutch ‘Telegraaf’ of 6 August 1940 we read that Lederer said that the inspiration for the sculpture came during a walk in the Hagendeck zoo in Hamburg, when Anna was feeding a deer.
Left: ‘Anna Pawlowna, ein Reh Fütternd’, depicted in ‘Die Kunst’, October 1931.
Right: ‘Anna Pawlowna, ein Reh Fütternd’, depicted in ‘Lederer and Kolbe’, The American Magazine of Art, Vol. 26, No. 3 (March 1933).
Lederer and Anna Pawlowna in conversation behind the stage of a theatre in Berlin (date unlnown). Published in the Dutch ‘Telegraaf’, 6 August 1040.
Hugo Lederer, ´Genius der Künste´ (´Genus of Art‘), created in 1898. Located on top of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Museum, Krefeld. Height 4,00 meter, weight 1700 kilogram. Nickname ‘Der Engel‘, or ‘The Angel‘. Genius der Künste was Lederer’s first commissioned public work. The bronze-group was restored from 2013-2015.
Hugo Lederer, ‘Merkur Brunnen‘ (‘Mercury Fountain’), Frankfurt, Friedrich-Ebert-Anlage. Created in 1917. The gips-model was displayed at the ‘Münchener Kunstausstellung’, 1927, in the Glaspalast. Depicted in the exhibition catalogue (‘Stiftung des Bankhauses Gebrüder Hahn’).
The revelation of the Merkur Brunnen at the Komödienplatz in Frankfurt in 1917. In 1954 the fountain group was re-located to the Friedrich-Ebert-Anlage.
Hugo Lederer, ‘Diana’, created in 1916. A cast was placed in 1925 in the Lietzenseepark, a second cast was placed in 1927 in Friedrichshain in Berlin. Both casts were melted down in 1943 (as re-use for munition).
Left: ‘Diana‘, located in the Lietzenseepark. Depicted in ‘Hugo Lederer, ein Meister der Plastik’, 1931.
Right: ‘Diana‘, located in the Lietzenseepark, 1927.
Left: a plaster cast of Diana by Lederer was displayed at the ‘Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung’, 1913; depicted in the exhibition catalogue.
Right: Diana by Lederer, depicted in ‘The American Magazine of Art’, Volume 26, Nr. 3, March 1933.
‘Diana’ by Lederer, temperary located in front of the Brandenburger Tor: July 1926.
‘Diana’ by Lederer, temperary located in front of the Brandenburger Tor (July 1926).
Depicted in the film Hitlers Henchmen: The Architect Albert Speer (at 1.37)
Hugo Lederer, ‘Denkmal für die Gefallenen der Universität zu Berlin‘ (‘Memorial to the Fallen Students and Teachers of the University Berlin‘). Located on the grounds of the ’Friedrich Wilhelm Universität’, after 1946 the ‘Humboldt Universität’. Revealed on 10 July 1926; among those present for the ceremony were: Reichspräsident Hindenburg, Reichskanzler Marx und Reichswehrminister Geßler. The text on the memorial read: ‘Invictis victi victuri‘ (‘Den Unbesiegten die Besiegten, die wieder siegen werden‘).
Left: the ‘Denkmal für die Gefallenen der Universität zu Berlin’ by Lederer, discussed in the ‘Chicago Daily News’, June 15, 1924.
Right: revealation of the ‘Denkmal für die Gefallenen der Universität zu Berlin’, July 1926.
Richard Straus by Hugo Lederer (modelled in 1908)
Left: Hugo Lederer, ‘Bust of Richard Strauss‘, bronze. Located in the Semperoper in the city of Dresden.
Right: Hugo Lederer, ‘Bust of Richard Strauss’, marble. Located in the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London.
Left: Hugo Lederer, ‘Bust of Richard Strauss‘, created 1908. Height 40,5 cm. In the possession of the Belvedere Museum, Vienna. Bought from the artist in 1911.
Right: Hugo Lederer’, ‘Bust of Richard Strauss’, bronze. In the possession of the Hungarian National Gallery.
Lederers ‘Strauss’ bust is also in the possession of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin/ Nationalgalerie, the Berlinische Galerie/ Museum für Moderne Kunst, the Städel Museum, Frankfurt, and the Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden/ Albertinum Museum.
The Strauss Villa
The Strauss Villa is the home of the German composer Richard Strauss in the Upper Bavarian town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Between 1907 and 1908, the Art Nouveau architect Emanuel von Seidl built the villa on the property located at Zoeppritzstraße 42 in Garmisch. Richard Strauss preferred what was then Garmisch to what used to be the neighboring town of Partenkirchen because of its cooler weather. The family used the house as a summer retreat from 1908 and later as a permanent residence.
Today, the villa remains a private residence maintained by the Strauss family and was the home of Strauss’ grandson Christian until his death in February 2020. The study houses historical works as well as German classics. The first floor bedrooms today house an archive. The room where Strauss died now serves as a memorial.
A cast of ‘Strauss’ by Lederer, and a bronze cast of ‘Bogenschütze’ by Lederer, are located in the workroom of Richard Strauss in Villa Strauss.
Villa Strauss: at the back the Strauss-bust, left on the desk ‘Bogenschütze’.
‘Bogenschütze’ by Lederer, on the desk of Richard Strauss.
Hugo Lederer, ‘Krieg und Friede’ (‘War and Peace’), two monumental reliefs at the facade of the Oberlausitzer Gedenkhalle in Görlitz. Created in 1899.
Left: ‘Krieg’. Also depicted in ‘Hugo Lederer, ein Meister der Plastik’, 1931.
Right: the facade of the Oberlausitzer Gedenkhalle in Görlitz: left ‘Krieg’, at the right ‘Friede’.
Hugo Lederer, ´Sculptures at the facade of the building of the ‘Reichsschuldenverwaltung, Oranienstrasse 106, Berlin´. Created in 1922. Terracotta.
Hugo Lederer, ‘Relief at the facade of the Rathaus Schöneberg, Berlin’. Relief honoring Reichsfreiherrn Carl von und zum Stein, 1914. Location: Rathaus Tempelhof-Schöneberg, Freiherr-vom-Stein-Straße, 2007.
Hugo Lederer, ‘Kaiser-Friedrich-Denkmal’, Aachen. The memorial commemorates Kaiser Friedrich III, alson known as ‘the 99-day’s Kaiser’. Revealed by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1911. Height 4,5 meter (excl. base).
Left: Hugo Leder, ‘Grabmal der Familie Roesch‘ (‘Gravestone of the Roesch-family‘), 1916. Sandstone. Located at the graveyard Urnenhain, Dresden.
Right: Hugo Lederer, ‘Europa auf dem Stier‘ (‘Europe at the Bull‘). Height 22 cm. Bronze, 1930. In the possession of the Landschaftsmuseum Znaim.
Hugo Lederer, ‘Einzelfigur des Sechs-Frauen-Brunnens‘ (‘Figure from the Six-Women-Fountain), 1917/18. Stone. Location unknown.
Ich hatt‘ einen Kameraden
‘Ich hatt’ einen Kameraden’ (‘I had a Comrade’) is a traditional lament of the German Armed Forces. The text was written by German poet Ludwig Uhland in 1809. Its immediate inspiration was the deployment of Badener troops against the Tyrolean Rebellion. In 1825, the composer Friedrich Silcher set it to music, based on the tune of a Swiss folk song. The song is about the immediate experience of a soldier losing a comrade in battle, detached from all political or national ideology; as a result, its use was never limited to one particular faction and was sung or cited by representatives of all political backgrounds throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and was translated for use in numerous fighting forces, French, Dutch, Spanish, Japanese and others. ‘I had a Comrade’ still plays an important ceremonial role in the German Armed Forces and is an integral part of a military funeral, continuing a tradition started at some point around 1871. The song is often played on Volkstrauertag, the German Remembrance Day, at memorials for the fallen. To some degree it is also used in the French Army.
‘Heimkehr, awarded a Silver-, 2 Golden- and the Great Golden Medal
Hugo Lederer, ‘Heimkehr 1812’ (‘The Return Home, 1812′). Created in 1893. Displayed in the ‘Künstlerhaus Wien’ in 1894 and at the ‘Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung 1895‘. Depicted in ‘Die Kunst für alle‘, 1895. Purchased in 1895 by the Albertinum Museum in Dresden.
A bronze cast was donated at 30 May 1924 to the city of Kleve, by Schoe-manufacturer Gustav Hoffmann; it was placed in 1925 at the Ehrenfriedhof of the city of Kleve (graveyard for the fallen soldiers of WWI).
Left and right: the ‘Heimkehr 1812’-cast which was placed in 1925 at the Ehrenfriedhof of the city of Kleve (Merowingerstrasse). Size (approx.): height 150 cm, width 190 cm, dept 50 cm.
The text in capital letters on top of the relief reads: ‘Ich hatt’ einen Kameraden’ (‘I had a Comrade’). Photos taken in January 2019.
Left: postcard depicting the monument in Bad Kleve (before 1931). The text at the back reads: ‘Prämiert mit der silbernen-, zwei goldenen und der Grosse goldenen Medaille’ (‘awarded the silver-, two golden- and the Great Golden medal’).
Right: the Bad Kleve-relief depicted on a postcard; with the text: ‘Ich hatt’ einen Kameraden’.
Left: ‘Heimkehr 1812’ depicted in ‘Die Kunst für alle‘, 1895. The text below reads: ‘Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung 1895´ and ‘Purchased by the Albertinum Museum in Dresden’. The ‘Sculpture Collection of Albertinium’ is still in possession of this plaster cast, signed ’93. Size: height 154, width 192, dept 50 cm. Weight approx. 300 kilogram.
Right: a ‘Heimkehr 1812’-cast, 148×193 cm, in possession of the South Moravian Museum in Znojmo (Znaim). The museum owns a plaster and a bronze cast.
Hugo Lederer, ‘Bust of Von Mackensen’. Displayed at the exhibition ‘Bildnissausstellung im Haus der Kunst’, Berlin, 1936. Depicted in ‘Das Bild’, 1936.
Anton Ludwig Friedrich August von Mackensen (1849 – 1945), born August Mackensen, was a German field marshal. He commanded with extreme success during the First World War and became one of the German Empire’s most prominent and competent military leaders.
Hugo Lederer, ‘Ärtze Denkmal‘, 1926. Memorial to Doctors and Surgeons Killed in WWI, located in the city of Eisenach. Damaged in 1944/45, renovated in 1949/50 and 1997. The original text on the monument read: ‘Dulce et decorum est pro patrai mori‘ (‘süß und ehrenvoll ist es, für das Vaterland zu sterben‘).
The erection of the monument was described in several newspaper in the US (below).
The erection of the monument by Lederer, described in ‘The Philadephia Inquirer’, 18 July 1926.
Left: Hugo Lederer, ‘Venezianerinnen’ (‘Women from Venice’). Depicted in ‘Velhagen & Klasings Monatshefte’, 1932/33. Created around 1920.
Right: Hugo Lederer, ‘Schreitende’ (‘Stepping’). Displayed at the ‘Akademie Ausstelling Berlin’, 1925. Created in 1912.
Hugo Lederer, ‘Fussballgruppe. Kampf vor dem Tor’ (‘Football Players, fighting in front of the goal’). Plaster. Displayed at the ‘Frühjahrs-Ausstellung‘ of the Preussische Akademie der Künste’, Berlin, 1934. Depicted in the exhibition catalog.
Hugo Lederer, ‘Jatho Denkmal’. Memorial commemorating pastor Carl Wilhelm Jatho (1851 – 1913), located at the Melaten-Friedhof in Cologne. Revealed April 5, 1914. Destroyed in WWII. The base still exists (below).
Hugo Lederer, ‘Orpheus’, 1899/ 00.
Left: bronze, height 51 cm. Sold by a Belgium auction house in 2021.
Right: the plaster model in the South Moravian Museum in Znojmo (Znaim), Czech Republic.
Hugo Lederer, ‘Nach dem Bade’ (‘After Bathing’), 1912. Bronze, height 42 cm. Sold by a British auctionhouse in 2022.
Right: ‘Nach dem Bade’, preliminary design. Depicted in ‘Die Kunstwelt’, 1912.
Left: 4 October 1929, Hugo Lederer creating the death-mask of Gustav Streseman (1878-1929). Gustav Stresemann was a German statesman who served as Chancellor in 1923 and as Foreign Minister from 1923–1929 during the Weimar Republic. His most notable achievement was the reconciliation between Germany and France, for which he and Aristide Briand received the Nobel Peace Prize. During a period of political instability and fragile, short-lived governments, he was generally seen as the most influential cabinet member in most of the Weimar Republic’s existence.
Right: the death mask of Stresemann by Lederer, depicted in the ‘Illustrated London News’, 12 October 1929. The text reads: ‘The sudden death of Dr. Stresemann: the passing of the great German statesman and foreign minister. Clockwise from upper left: 1. With his wife and his two sons, one of whom was educated at Cambridge; Gustav Stresemann with his family; after a sudden death which was a great blow not only to Germany, but to Europe as a whole. 2. The mortal remains of Dr. Stresemann in his house; famous as German foreign minister, former chancellor, and worker for the rehabilitation of his country. 3. The late Dr. Stresemann, who died suddenly in Berlin on October. 4. And 5. The death-mask of Germany’s great foreign minister, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with M. Briand in 1926; the death-mask of Dr. Stresemann, a profile view of the cast taken by Professor Hugo Lederer, of Berlin. Photo: New York Public Library.
Left: ‘Hugo Lederer, famous German sculptor dead’. Death Notice of Hugo Lederer, depicted in the Dutch Newspaper ‘De Telegraaf’, 2 August 1940.
Right: Hugo Lederer, depicted on the cover of ‘Hugo Lederer, ein Meister der Plastik’, 1931.
Hugo Lederer, one of the major sculptors of the Second Reich
Hugo Lederer (1871–1940), born in Znaim (Austria-Hungary) was the son of a painter/decorator. Basically self-educated, he first received training as a moulder’s and potter’s apprentice at the State Trade School for the Pottery Industry in his native town. From 1888 to 1890 he worked at Erfurt in the Deutschmann Arts and Crafts Industry; in 1891 he worked in Dresden along with Johannes Schilling, sculptor of the Niederwald Monument, and in 1892 in Breslau with Christian Behrens. A year later he moved to Berlin, where he frequented the studio of Robert Toberentz, and decided to devote himself exclusively to sculpture. Hugo Lederer opened his own studio in Berlin in 1895. In 1898 he received his first public assignment: the Genius-group (‘Genius of Art’), placed on top of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Museum in Krefeld. Lederer became a celebrity in 1901 by winning first prize in the open competition of the city of Hamburg for the erection of a monumental statue for the Bismarck Statue (Elbpark). It took him 5 years, together with the architect Emil Schaudt, to complete this work which was 35 meters high. Both Kaiser Wilhelm II and Hitler visited the monument and walked around it (1906 respectively 1939). Parts of Lederer’s Bismarck monument were displayed at the Great Berlin Art Exhibition 1907; remarkably, Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II exercised his veto to prevent Hugo Lederer from getting the Grand Medal of Honor.
However, from then on Lederer became one of the main sculptors of the Second Reich. The Hamburg Bismarck monument permitted Lederer to set his own style and to detach himself from the baroque tendency, which was embodied at that time by Reinhold Begas. Lederer, who produced splendid anatomical sculptures, was strongly inspired by the Antik sculptors, and by Adolf von Hildebrand. Soon he had an output of more than two hundred sculptures and monuments. His works of this period include: ‘Heimkehrende Soldaten’, 1812’ (‘The Return Home, 1812’) in 1893, ‘Kauerndes Mädchen’ (1897), ‘Genius-Figurengruppe’ (Krefeld, 1897), ‘Krieg und Friede’ (1899), ‘Bismarck Denkmal‘ (Barmen, 1900), ‘Fechter-brunnen’ (Breslau 1904), ‘Das Schicksal’ (Hamburg, 1905), ‘Bismarck Monument’ (Hamburg 1906),
‘Krupp-monument’ (Essen, 1907), ‘Ringer’ (Berlin, 1908), ‘St. Georg nach dem Sieg über den Drachen’ (Münster, 1908), ‘Kaiser-Friedrich Denkmal’ (Achen, 1911), ‘Fichte and ‘Savigny-statues’ (Berlin, 1914), ‘Bogenschütze’ (Berlin, 1916), ‘Diana’ (Berlin, 1916), ‘Mercury Fountain’ (Frankfurt, 1917), ‘Sieger’ (Berlin, 1927), ‘Läufergruppe’ (Berlin, 1928), ‘Stierbrunnen’ (Berlin, 1934), and ‘Allegorie der Arbeit’ (Essen, 1936).
At the occasion of the building of the Deutsche Sportsforum (German Sports Fields) in Berlin, from 1926-1928, several sport-related sculptures by Lederer were placed and/or replaced in the city of Berlin: Ringer from 1908, Bogenschütze from 1916, Diana from 1916 and 1926, Ringer from 1927, Läufergruppe from 1928; Amorbrunnen by Lederer (1928) was placed on the grounds of the Deutsche Sportforum, and Diana was even placed in front of the Brandenburger Tor.
From 1893 onwards, Lederer was represented at all major exhibitions in Germany: at the ‘Grosse Berliner Kunstaustellungen’ (1893, 1895, 1896, 1897, 1898, 1903, 1907, 1913, 1917), at various exhibitions of the Preussische Akademie der Künste and in the Glaspalast in Munich (first in the Section Münchener Künstlergenossenschaft, later in the section Münchener Secession).
Lederer was appointed professor in 1909 by Kaiser Wilhelm II, as a reward for his design of the ‘Kaiser-Friedrich-Denkmal’ in the city of Aachen. In 1913 he was appointed teacher at the College for Fine Arts in Berlin. In 1916 he became, together with Franz Metzner and Fritz Klimsch, Head of the Sculpture Department of the same College (Hochschule). In 1919 he became member of the Senate of the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts; he found himself entrusted, as successor of Louis Tuaillon, with directing a Meisterstudio for sculpture at the Berlin Academy. His students included Josef Thorak, Gustav Seitz, Emy Roeder and Hans Mettel.
During his career, Hugo Lederer was awarded the following titles and distinctions: Honorary Member of the Academies of Vienna and Munich; Member of the Academy of Berlin, Doctor h.c. of the University of Breslau, Member of Dresden Academy, Member of the Senate of the Deutschen Akademie zu München, Member of the Art Advisory Committee of the Reichstag, Member of the ‘Deutschen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften und Künste für die Tschechoslowakische Republik’, the ‘Kleine Goldmedaille’ at the Grosse Berliner Kunstaustellung 1903, the ‘Grossen Goldmedaille’ of the cities of Berlin, Munich, Dresden and Hamburg, the ‘Swedisch Nordstjärneorden’ (‘Medal of the Polar Star’) in 1914, the Bavarian ‘Maximiliansorden für Kunst und Wissenschaft’ in 1929, and, together with Albert Einstein, Max Liebermann and Felix Klein the ‘Orden Pour le Mérite für Wissenschaft und Künste’ in 1923. A large bronze cast of ‘Heimkehr 1812’, placed in 1925 at the Ehrenfriedhof of the city of Kleve, was awarded a silver-, two golden- and a Great Golden medal.
In 1931 Lederer became a member of the paramilitary organization Stahlhelm, and in 1933 he joined the NSDAP (but refused to submit a ‘Abstammungsnachweiss’).
In March 1933, the ‘American Magazine of Art’ published a special ‘Lederer and Kolbe, -two leading art personalities’. The magazine compared Lederer with Kolbe and also linked him to Adolf von Hildebrand: ‘With his Hamburg Bismarck and his Fencer Fountain, Lederer exerted a profound influence upon German sculpture, almost paralleling that of von Hildebrand’.
However, after 1933 Lederer no longer played a significant role in the art world. His age was certainly a relevant factor, but more important was his illness; since approximately 1924, Lederer had suffered from progressive paralysis, a dramatic organic brain disease, which leads to a rapid development of dementia. His last work was the creation of a memorial in 1936, commissioned by the Krupp family. He retired officially in 1937, but on his request he could keep his atelier in the College. The NSDAP classified him in 1937 as an ‘inactive member’.
Lederer died in Berlin on August 1, 1940. Minister of Propaganda Goebbels did send a wreath to the funeral. According to his last will, Lederer’s son brought his artistic heritage in 1941 to the museum of the city of Znaim. The artworks in possession of his widow were destroyed during a bombing raid in Berlin in 1943. After 1945, when his native town was returned to Czechoslovakia, most of his remaining works in Znaim were destroyed or scattered.
Lederer produced around 300 works during his life. Various museums in Germany and in the Czech Republic are in the possession of his works. Many magnificent public works by Lederer still exist, such as those in Aachen, Hamburg, Krefeld, Wroclaw, Poznan, Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Oldenburg, Eisenach, Münster and in graveyards in Berlin, Kleve, Hamburg, Bielefeld, Köln and Mainz.
Casts of ‘Richard Strauss’ by Lederer (modelled in 1908) are currently located in the Semperoper in the city of Dresden and in the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in London. Several museums have also Lederers ‘Strauss’ cast in their possession, for example: the Belvedere Museum in Vienna, the Hungarian National Gallery, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin/ Nationalgalerie, the Berlinische Galerie/ Museum für Moderne Kunst, the Städel Museum in Frankfurt and the Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden/ Albertinum Museum.
Casts of ‘Bogenschütze’ and ‘Strauss’ by Lederer, are located in the workroom of Museum Villa Strauss, the former house of Richard Strauss in Bavaria.
‘Lederer and Kolbe’, The American Magazine of Art, Vol. 26, No. 3 (March 1933).
Hugo Lederer is a man of greater depth and versatility who deals with rhythms as expressed monumentally in mass. One need only compare his ‘Diana’ in Friedrichshain, Berlin (1927), that onward-moving female nude, with Kolbe’s dancers to understand the sculptural and emotional differences between these two artists. Kolbe’s art is so much more volatile, of the moment; Lederer’s that of sculpture firmly rooted in the mass. Even Lederer’s ‘Runners,’ with its four running figures, presents monumental as against electric body movements. In the ‘Runners’ the emphasis is upon measured team play; in Kolbe’s delicately swaying ‘Night’ it centers in the emotional delight of body rhythms. Long years of apprenticeship in the studios of other men also differentiate Long years of apprenticeship in the studios of other men also differentiate Lederer from Kolbe, and one feels in the former’s work almost from the beginning the restraining influence of a practical world with its ultra-serious outlook upon life. For to Lederer human existence is far too complex to be summed up in a graceful study of body movements. In his art the figure is schooled out of youth full exuberance to become part of the more ordered composition that is life itself. Born November 16, 1871, at Znaim in southern Moravia, Lederer was the son of Eduard Lederer, a decorative painter who worked in cloisters and in southern Moravian and Austrian churches. At six years of age Hugo was copying drawings from his father’s art library, playing about in the workshop, and picking up scraps of instruction that his father found time to give out. Hugo, from the first, was a leader and an athlete. As a small boy he played robber chieftain with his gang, steeping himself in the lore of his town’s historic battles and revealing in its classic memorials and heathen temples. The great granite cliffs of his native soil moulded his young consciousness of form while, at his grandmother’s knee, he drank in stories of Bismarck, whose iron figure dominated his imagination.
Hugo at thirteen was hard at work in the industrial school, learning ceramic arts, modelling, and drawing. Intensive sculptural training gave him zest for the medium and he longed for a schooling freer than that offered in a technical course. But money was lacking. Turning his love of drawing to good account, he gave lessons and did odd jobs making monograms, ornamental drawings on wax, and finishing copies of engravings. The hard discipline of Lederer’s youth allowed him, out of school hours, to work for himself from 6:45 until 8:30 o’clock every morning as an assistant in a ceramic factory. He received one gulden a week, his ability raising him at the age of sixteen to the position of foreman. Home, his great passion, gave him a background of German and Slavic cultures, established his roots in folk feeling for native legends, and finally sent him forth to Erfurt and into the shop of Adelbert Deutschmanns, a sculptor of no mean reputation, for whom he developed designs for majolica, bronze, plaster and cement. Three years thus spent brought sureness of hand, knowledge of various media, and a keen sense of observation. Still little more than a boy, with his grandmother’s tales ringing in his ears, Lederer saw Bismarck for an instant at New Dietendorf, a glimpse only, but one that made a profound impression and that was later strengthened by a similar encounter in Dresden. Again the scene changes. Lederer is in the studio of Johannes von Schilling in Dresden, working as his assistant and whiling away the evening hours in argumentative discussions with other sculptors. As Lederer’s own feeling for style clashed with that of the man under whom he worked, he began his first individual project, a sketch that won him honourable mention in a competition.
For a short period Lederer worked for Professor Christian Behrens at Breslau, and at twenty-one he reached Berlin with his drawings, two plaster casts, and twenty marks. Lonely days of want followed. The city ate his savings, and although he followed up the names of all the sculptors in the telephone directory, beginning with Reinhold Begas, the most influential and to him the most interesting, he had no success. Finally, failing to gain entree to Begas, the young sculptor approached Robert Toberentz, a former associate of Behrens, who engaged him to work on several monuments and, pleased with his ability, gave him the choice of a raise in salary or one free evening a week in his studio. Lederer chose the latter and, in 1893, exhibited his first real work, ‘The Return Home, 1812.’ Grounded in history, this relief showed unmistakable baroque influences and the fruit of his sketching labours at noonday when he made studies of horses in Marstall. In 1895 Toberentz died suddenly and Lederer took over the studio. The three great influences in the Berlin art world of that period were von Hildebrand, disciple of the classic; Begas, who worked for simplification of composition, and Rodin. Of the three, Lederer was most attracted to Begas, whose ‘new baroque’ style had enriched nineteenth-century monumental work. But from experience in the studios of others, Lederer knew that he could follow no one. Still wrestling with baroque tendencies and a certain painter-like quality, he completed in 1896 his ‘Destiny,’ a savage goddess dragging the human race behind her by the hair. Although the group, carved in marble, won recognition and was bought by Ludwig Lippert of Hamburg to be placed in a pavilion all its own, Lederer was not satisfied. He had failed to achieve the massiveness for which he yearned.
The need for remunerative work spurred him to various competitions for memorials and fountains, his design for a Bismarck memorial in Düsseldorf winning second prize. Later the city bought the design and commissioned Lederer to complete the memorial. A year later he was commissioned to execute colossal figures, ‘War’ and ‘Freedom,’ for the Hall of Fame in Görlitz. With these commissions Lederer struck his mature stride. No longer in want, he had the opportunity to express his own ideas and to fight his way through the curving movement of the baroque to the monumental simplicity that was soon to characterize his style and to change the basic approach of his art from external detail to internal structure, his forms seeming to push their way from the inside out. Lederer had, in 1894, seen Bismarck for a third time when that great political figure had come to Berlin for a reconciliation with the Kaiser. The old Chancellor, tense of expression, sat with his helmeted head erect in a carriage beside Prince Henry. There was about his figure and his expression that monumental stability, that iron massiveness unforgettably memorialized in the great Bismarck monument created by Lederer to dominate the harbour of Hamburg. Crystallizing the Bismarck impressions that began with a grandmother’s tale and ended in Berlin, Lederer erected a symbol of German Empire strength. The Hamburg Bismarck, developed in collaboration with the architect Emil Schaudt, took first prize in the competition for designs and required five years (1901—1906) to execute. Lederer, in this stalwart conception, is entirely Germanic. Baroque influence has vanished, and in its stead is a massive conventionalization of dominating forms. Roland-like, Bismarck surmounts the upsurge of masonry with its eight lower subsidiary figures in high relief developed at intervals as accents on the base. The collaborative work of sculptor and architect makes of this massive monument a creative unit. Seen towering above the harbour mists of Hamburg’s early morning, the Bismarck memorial brings a genuine thrill of watchful power. Its military dignity with the surmounting Bismarck figure half conventionalized, half real, sword in long perpendicular, cloak answering with greater mass, conventional eagles lending strength, leads through play of architectural lines and masses to greater realism of head portraiture. The granite pile rises to a height of seventy-five feet five inches, the figure measuring more than forty feet. On the very day that Lederer received word of first prize for his Bismarck conception, he was apprised of a second prize for the Fencer Fountain to be erected at the University of Breslau. First prize had gone to Christian Behrens, his old time associate, a native of the city, but in spite of the jury decision, Breslau gave Lederer the job, and on this fountain he worked from 1901 to 1904. Sculpturally this composition, with its poised bronze athlete topping the upper basin, and its stone caryatids carrying down into the greater basin at the base, was a decisive factor in the sculptor’s development. The composition, seen equally well from all sides, required that symmetry of treatment for which Lederer was striving. In the terminal figure he achieved a forceful sense of balance, the athlete resting with his foil, alert, but not caught in a moment of intense activity. It is this reserve that so separates the spirit of Lederer’s work from that of Kolbe. While the latter catches up the lilt and the activity of human movements, Lederer uses the human figure to express more than its rhythmic potentiality.
With his Hamburg Bismarck and his Fencer Fountain, Lederer exerted a profound influence upon German sculpture, almost paralleling that of von Hildebrand.
In these two works, one may study the two important types of sculpture, -that intended for bronze and that destined for stone. As a sculptor, Lederer appreciates the fundamental differences of the two media and at the outset couches his design in the terms of his limiting material. His group of ‘Runners,’ for example, would be possible only in bronze; his Bismarck could gain support only through manipulation of stone. The basic secret of Lederer’s art lies in his control of mass. But he has his delicate moments. When he is not busying himself with the weighty matter of memorials, Lederer finds relaxation in the theatre, the dance, and the Zoological Gardens. Thus we have the pert statuette of Tilla Durieux as Franziska (1926) and ‘Anna Pavlowa, Feeding a Deer’ (1929), one of the most gracefully tender compositions in contemporary sculpture. The friendship of Pavlowa and Lederer, in fact, has its repercussions in a new feeling brought by the sculptor to his art. From his first days in Berlin, Lederer has sketched animals, finding horses in the market-places and squares and a great variety of beasts and birds in the animal parks. These he sketches rapidly, working from memory. Although he uses models, he understands well the handicap of too great reliance upon literal vision. And animals as well as humans play a stellar roll in his art. He has to his credit a goose fountain, a fish fountain, and two remarkable bear conceptions, the bear fountain for the Wedschen Markt, Berlin (1929), and the suckling bear mother with her four cubs (1930). Both these groups are conceived for stone; both reveal an underlying sense of humor and sympathy of viewpoint. In the Bear Fountain the mother sits as a terminal figure watching the rough and tumble of her cubs as they play in pairs around the base. The Suckling Bear is stretched full length, while the cubs, two on each side, become compositionally part of her. It is in such conceptions that one realizes fully the tenderness behind Lederer’s strength. Like Kolbe, Lederer is prolific, having in 1931 some hundred and twenty-five works to his credit. Like Kolbe, also, he has produced some excellent portrait heads, but, unlike Kolbe, Lederer makes further use of the portrait, often rendering it the focal note in a monumental conception.
Thus in the work of these two leading art personalities one discovers the two poles of contemporary German sculpture; the one deeply rooted in the soil, its traditions, its human and animal life; the other intensely personal, developing its ideas through the rhythms of the human form and quite detached from that very solid world of historic realities from which Lederer has drawn his mass concept. While one mind lives in and creates from the world of man and beast, the other develops its own sphere of rhythms, shutting out the conflict of realities.