Venus of Ostia, from the ruins of Dresden

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Price: € 17.000

Description

‘Venus of Ostia’, excavated from under the ruins of Dresden

Bronze, around 1900.
The sculpture was excavated in 1945 from under the ruins of the buildings in the Wienerstrasse in Dresden, according to the previous owner living in Dresden. The bronze bears significant traces of the Dresden-fire (inter alia many small pieces of burned wood).
U
nrestored (photo’s below).
With foundry mark ‘GUSS A. MILDE u. Co Dresden’.

Height 106 cm, weight 51 kg.
The bronze is identical in shape to the Venus in marble, which is since 1805 in the possession of the British Museum (a Roman version based on a Greek type of the 4th century BC).
Likely it is cast after the plaster model Venus of Ostia, which was acquired between 1840 – 1859 by the ’Abguss-Sammlung antiker Skulptur des Antikenmuseus der Universität Leipzig‘ (object nummer G 407).
The bronze was possibly cast under supervision of Franz Studniczka (1860-1929). Foundry A. Milde in Dresden produced for Studniczka other bronze casts after authentic plaster models from the Museum of Antiquities of Leipzig University. Known is for example the bronze ‘Kopf der Athena’ from Bologna.


British Museum

Venus of Ostia in marble, height 106 cm, since 1805 in the possession of the British Museum (Ostia was Rome’s seaport in ancient times).  https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/G_1805-0703-16. 
This sculpture in the British Museum is a copy of a Roman original based on a Greek type of the 4th centry BC. When it was found in Ostia in 1775, several parts were missing, including the head and the arms. The head was found later, but not the arms, which were incorrectly restored. 

       

Antikenmuseum der Universität Leipzig (Museum of Antiquities of Leipzig University)
Venus of Ostia, plaster cast. Acquired between 1840 – 1859 by the ’Abguss-Sammlung antiker Skulptur des Antikenmuseum der Universität Leipzig‘ (object nummer G 407). 

Photos before restoration: the bronze bears significant traces of the Dresden-fire (the black spots are small pieces of burned wood).
   

Photos after restoration: the smaller traces of the fire haven been preserved.
 

Foundry A. Milde & Co Dresden
Foundry Milde was founded in 1863 by Albert Milde in Vienna. In 1873 the foundry was prominent represented with a railroad-construction at the Vienna World Exhibition. The company expanded further and at a certain time she had subsidiaries in London, Paris, Dresden, Laibach and Lembach. The Milde-subsidiary in Dresden, not involved in mass production, worked for a handful of prominent artist like Friedrich Moritz Brodauf, Heinrich Drake, Richard Guhr, Adolf Lesnick, Otto PIlz, Peter Pöppelmann, Hermann Prell and August Theodor Schreitmüller.
In 1895 the Swiss businessman Adalbert Kurz took control of the company. A merger in 1904 followed with Anton Biró, and after another merger in 1905 with Waagner the name ‘Milde’ disappeared. From 1905 onwards the company’s name was ‘R.Ph. Waagner L. und J. Biró & A. Kurz’.

– condition : IV restored, smaller traces of fire have been preserved
– size : height 108 cm
– signed : with foundry mark at the base: ‘GUSS A. MILDE u. Co Dresden’ 
– type : bronze, cast around 1900
– weight : 51 kg
   

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Classical Sculptures Plaster Casts

Classicul Sculpture Plaster Casts
The practice of reproducing famous sculptures in plaster originally dates back to the sixteenth century when Leone Leoni assembled a collection of casts in Milan. He collected ‘as many of the most celebrated works… carved and cast, antique and modern, as he was able to obtain anywhere’. Such private collections, however, remained modest and uncommon until the 18th century.
The use of classical sculpture casts was particularly prevalent among classicists of the 18th and 19th centuries, and by 1800 there were extensive collections in Berlin, Cambridge, Paris, Vienna and elsewhere. By creating copies of ancient Greek and Roman sculptures held at various museums across Europe in this way, a reference collection of all the best and most representative sculptural types could be formed, at a fraction of the cost of purchasing original sculptures, which scholars could consult without necessarily having to travel abroad to see all the originals.
These casts could also be used in experiments in polychromy, reconstruction, and for filling holes in a museum’s collections of actual sculpture (e.g. the British Museum sent casts of some of its Mesopotamian collection to the Louvre in return for a cast of the Louvre’s Code of Hammurabi). Sometimes, casts preserve artefacts at risk of damage: the cast of the Lysikrates Monument, for instance, captured the frieze before it was eroded badly by the elements. It must have been almost complete when it was discovered in the 18th century, but some of the figures visible on the cast are now entirely lost on the monument itself. Original casts can also irreversible be damaged by war.
Nowadays, the majority of the plaster casts in the museum collections are historical objects in their own right. Most date back to the late nineteenth century and several from much earlier.

Franz Studniczka (1860-1929)
Franz Studniczka (1860 – 1929) was a German professor of classical archaeology born in Jasło, Galicia. He studied classical archaeology in Vienna as a pupil of Otto Benndorf (1838 – 1907). In 1887 he received his habilitation in Vienna, and in 1889 he became the Chair of Classical Archaeology at the University of Freiburg. In 1896, Studniczka was appointed Professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of Leipzig, succeeding Johannes Overbeck (1826 -1895) who had died the previous November. Studniczka, member of the Saxon Academy of Sciences at Leipzig University, was a leading authority on ancient Greek and Roman art and antiquities. He was responsible for the expansion of the collection of casts of antique sculptures at the Museum of Antiquities at Leipzig which eventually became one of the largest and most impressive collection of casts in Germany. He is also credited for the masterful restoration of the Artemis-Iphigenie-Gruppe.

‘Head of Athena’, cast by foundry A. Milde, Dresden. Displayed at the exhibition ‘Lust auf Farbe, die Neue Bunte Antieke‘, exhibition in the ‘Antikenmuseum der Universität Leipzig‘, 2012.
 

Examples of sculptures and monuments cast by MILDE & Co, Dresden

‘Gey-Heinze Brunnen’ or ‘Marienbrunnen’, Dresden. The fountain-group was designed by  Georg Wrba, between 1908 and 1910, and has been in operation since 1911. In the middle of the octagonal sandstone basin stands a nude Aphrodite figure made of bronze on a square base in a conch shell, which is supported by four putti seated on the base. Four fish heads on the sides of the base serve as gargoyles.
With foundry mark ‘Erzguss Adalbert Milde u. Co’.

The ‘König-Albert-Denkmal‘, 1907, located at the Dresdner Heide. Albert von Sachsen (1828 – 1902), from the House of Wettin, was King of Saxony from 1873 until his death. The obelix was raised in 1907 in the -at that time named- ‘König-Albert-Park.
The bronze relief is by A. Milde & Co.
   

‘Sächischen Kolonial-Krieger-Denkmal’ (‘Saxon Colonial War Memorial’), 1913. Located at the Sachsenplatz in Dresden.
Cast by Adalbert Milde & Co. Postcards.
   

Hermann Prell (1854 – 1922), ‘David with the Head of Goliath’. Bronze. With foundry mark ‘Guss A. Milde & Co. Dresden. Height 60 cm. Sold by Christie’s in 2008.

Left: Richard Wilhelm Daniel Fabricus ( 1863 – 1923), bronze. With foundry stamp ‘A. Milde, Dresden’. Height 89 cm. Sold by an American auction house in 2009.
Right: Rudolf Hölbe (1848 – 1926), bronze, 1885. Height 61 cm. Cast by foundry ‘Guss A. Milde & Co. Dresden’. Offered by an American gallery in 2023.
   

Selmar Werner (1864 – 1953), ‘Bust of Hans Unger‘, bronze, 1903. Height 62 cm. Inscribed ‘Guss A. Milde & C. Dresden 1903’.

Left: August Schreitmüller, ‘Bacchantin mit Satyrknaben‘, bronze. Height 31 cm. With foundry mark ‘Guss A. Milde u. Co Dresden’. Sold by a German auction house in 2017.
Right: Otto Pilz (1876 – 1934), ‘Ziegenbock mit Faunknabe‘, bronze. With exhibition label of the  ‘Große Berliner Kunstausstellung 1909‘. Cast by ‘Guss: A. Milde u. Co Dresden‘. Size 32 x 39 cm. Sold by a German auction house in 2013.