Wolfgang Hugo Rheinhold:
Sculpture "Monkey with Skull" (1892-93), Version in cold cast bronze


Wolfgang Hugo Rheinhold:
Sculpture "Monkey with Skull" (1892-93), Version in cold cast bronze


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Polymer bronze | Format: 8 x 13.5 x 8 cm (W/H/D) | Weight ca. 0.7 kg


Wolfgang Hugo Rheinhold: Sculpture "Monkey with Skull" (1892-93), Version in cold cast bronze

With the sculpture “Monkey with Skull" the philosopher and sculptor Wolfgang Hugo Rheinhold (1853-1900) rendered the debate on Charles Darwin´s work into a straight iconographic form. According to his contemporaries, with his diverse allusions, he delivered a "masterpiece of superior humor" – not only Shakespeare´s "To be, or not to be", but also Rodin´s "Thinker" and circulating Darwin cartoons are shimmering through.

However, Rheinhold´s monkey is much more than bronze cast humor from ancestors’ times. The monkey playing with a skull measuring tool is sitting not only on Darwin´s groundbreaking work, but also on the Bible. And, at a closer look, the "Inscriptio", the inscription appears, quite classical, as the key for the allegory: "Eritis sicut deus" that is, "You will be like God". With just these words the devil lured Adam and Eve to the Tree of Knowledge, andthis, as we know, resulted in their expulsion from Paradise. Thus, the sculptor Rheinhold appears in the end again as philosopher: The "Monkey with Skull" tells us that he who is looking for knowledge has to expect consequences, even if not one of the fundamental experiences of the 20th century - from the atomic bomb to genetic technology.

Polymer cast with bronzed surface. Format: 8 x 13.5 x 8 cm (W/H/D). Weight ca. 0.7 kg.

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They have their destinies — not only the books, works of art and artists. "Monkey with skull" and its creator Wolfgang Hugo Rheinhold (1853-1900) could hardly be more different. Immediately after Rheinhold 1893 presented the sculpture at the great Berlin art exhibition as a thesis for his studies at the Berlin Royal Academy of fine arts, the Berlin picture Foundry of Gladenbeck & son offered to licensed casts. These were not only to private collectors, but also many international scientific institutions. They are there to admire still today: In the Royal College of surgeons in London, at the medico-Chirurgical society in Aberdeen, the Boston Medical Library and the Department of Zoology at the University of Edinburgh. A Russian copy probably has the most famous site: was (and is still) Wladimir Iljitsch of Lenin's desk.

While fame and notoriety of the sculpture continuously rose, Rheinhold fell almost into oblivion after his early death. Only after an exhibition in Aberdeen 1989 resulted in serious biographical research. Most of what you could since then gather about Rheinhold, was published only in the last 15 years.

Rheinhold was not only a sculptor, but also philosophy graduate and co-founder of "German society for ethical culture". Maybe that explains his '' monkeys '' dazzling meaning wealth. He represents not only a quite humorous commentary on the debate of Darwinism, but calls at the same time with the Genesis quote "Eritis sicut deus" ("you will be like God") on the ethical responsibility of any science.