This sculpture of Otto Schmidt-Hofer was probably made in the first two decades of the 20st century.
Later, from 1930 onwards, Arno Breker developed this classical Greek/Roman style further. Both artists often used athletes as models.
‘I am often asked why I use athletes as models and whether this is not outmoded. My answer: That which is good never becomes obsolete. Athletes are the best models for sculpture. It is impossible for a sculptor like me, who loves the triad of beauty of the body, spirit and soul, to overlook either a male or a female athlete. Besides, I have always been interested in athletic achievement per se, as well as from an artistic viewpoint’ (Arno Breker).
The Nacked German Warrior
The symbol of the ‘Nacked German Warrior’ is related to the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest: writing in 98 A. D. the Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus describes the Germans as a tall, red haired, blue-eyed ‘race unmixed by intermarriage with other races, a peculiar people and pure, like no one but themselves’.
In Tacitus we find the first German hero, Arminius (Hermann der Cherusker), the Roman-trained prince of the Cherusci tribe, who, returning to his Germanic roots, united his people and led a decisive battle against the Roman army in 9 A.D. in the Teutoburg Forest. Led by German guides into the impenetrable forest, the legions of Publius Quintilius Varus, comprising the entire Roman occupation army of more than 20,000 men, were ambushed and annihilated by naked German warriors hurling spears from behind the trees. The Romans would never regain the territory east of the Rhine. From the mid 18th-century, the story of Arminius, the ‘Liberator Germaniae’ has been an inspiration to German nationalists.
Also from Celtic warriors is known that they fought naked: towards the end of the 3rd century B.C., a coalition of Celtic tribes attacked the Roman Republic. One of the decisive battles during this war was the Battle of Telamon (225 BC). The ancient writer Polybius writes about ‘a tribe of Celtic warriors who had the habit of fighting naked’. According to Polybius they fought naked for three reasons: first of all, this was meant to display their confidence, both to their allies, and to the enemy. Secondly, it seems that it was more efficient to fight this way, ‘thinking that thus they would be more efficient, as some of the ground was overgrown with brambles which would catch in their clothes and impede the use of their weapons.’ Thirdly, the sight of naked warriors was also intended to intimidate the enemy.
|– condition||: II|
|– size||: height 62 cm (from top of branchlet; including marble base from 10 cm)|
|– signed||: backsite, at the foot|
|– type||: bronze|
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BIOGRAPHY: OTTO SCHMIDT-HOFER
Otto Schmidt-Hofer, predecessor of Arno Breker
Left: Arno Breker, postcard*. ‘Readiness’ (‘Bereitschaft’), GDK 1939.
Right: ‘Wehrmacht’, postcard. Breker’s statue representing the spirit of the Nazi Party that flanked one side of the carriage entrance to Albert Speer’s New Reich Chancellery.
Otto Schmidt-Hofer, predecessor of Arno Breker
Otto Schmidt-Hofer (1873 – 1925) was a German sculptor born in Berlin. He studied at the Royal School of Art and at the educational establishment in the Museum of Decorative Arts in Berlin (‘Deutsches Gewerbe-Museum zu Berlin’). Schmidt-Hofer was a member of the National Association of Artists in Germany (‘Reichsverband bildender Künstler’). He produced a number of sculptures of blacksmiths, masons at work, athletes and warriors. Already before Word War I he gained fame and exhibited his works in nearly every famous gallery in Europe. He lived in Paris until 1914. In 1921 he almost died from starvation in post-war Berlin*. His work was primarily Neoclassical and Art Nouveau between 1893 – 1914, and Art Deco from 1915 until hit death in 1925. Along with other German sculptors of the period such as Franz Iffland, Preiss and Schmidt-Felling, Schimdt-Hofer takes his rightful place as one of the premier Neoclassical, Art Deco, and art Nouveau sculptors that Germany has ever produced.
* Rochester Democrat and Chronicle’ (New York), July 31, 1921
In this American newspaper of July 31, 1921, the American Businessman Gustave A. Sonnleitner writes about his journey through post-war Germany. He found Otto Schmidt-Hofer almost dying from starvation. He described the disastrous, catastrophic state of Germany, the chaos, revolution, the suffering populace.
Sonnleitner was a foreign purchasing agent of a company in Rochester (New York).
‘I was visiting Germany when the machine-guns of the Socialists-army were turned loose upon the crowds of half starved people..…While virtually about 80% per cent of the people residing in the industrial centers at that time were slowly starving to death … It gave one the impression that a plaque was ravaging the country. Upon reaching Berlin I began a search for a former artist friend (Otto Schmidt Hofer) who had gained fame before the outbreak of the World war. At that time he was living in France and was a sculptor of renown, having exhibited his works in nearly every famous gallery in Europe. Shortly before the outbreak of the war he moved to Berlin and was unable to get out of the country after the conflict had started…I found the one-time famous artist lying in bed nearly dead from starvation. He had been without food for a period of three weeks. With him in the same room was another sculptor, Erich Saalmann by name. He too was in a very weakened condition due to the lack of food, but was not as yet confined to his bed. Standing about the room in various places were examples of the work of these men, which, if conditions had been anywhere normal, would have represented a small fortune for both artists. It seemed to me to be rather heartless trick of fate to surround these men with such works of beauty and genuine art and also keep them from getting even the barest necessities of life. I managed to procure a quantity of milk and eggs and gradually both artists regained sufficient strength to get about again. Out of gratitude for my services Schmidt Hofer set to work as soon as he was able and designed what he declared to be his masterpiece. He named it ‘Dancing Goddess’. The work was of the Greek type and proved to be an exceptionally piece of art. The first bronze statue made from the original he presented to me, and finally gave me six additional copies. He then destroyed the original, thus assuring me that I possessed the only work of this type in existence’.
* As also stated in our General Terms and Conditions, German Art Gallery offers the depicted postcards for sale.