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


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


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Limited, 980 exemplars | Serially numbered | Bronze + Diabase | Hand-made | Patinated | Partly polished and gold-plated | Format: 17 x 26 x 17 cm (W/H/D) | Weight ca. 5 kg | Certificate


Wolfgang Hugo Rheinhold: Sculpture "Monkey with Skull" (1892-93), version in 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, and this, 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.

Sculpture of fine bronze, cast using the lost wax technique, partly hand-patinated, polished and gold-plated. On black diabase base. Format: 17 x 26 x 17 cm (W/H/D), Weight ca. 5 kg. Limited to 980 exemplars, serially numbered. With certificate.

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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.

Designation for an art object (sculpture, installation), which is produced according to the will of the artist in multiple copies in a limited and numbered edition.

Artist's multiple contributed to "democratization" of art as the work was made available and affordable for a wider audience.

An alloy of copper with other metals (especially with tin) used since ancient times.

Bronze casting:

When casting bronze, artist usually applies the lost-wax technique which is dating back more than 5000 years. It's the best, but also the most complex method of producing sculptures.

Sculpture "The Book Reader" by Ernst Barlachs is shown here as an example:

Ernst Barlach: Sculpture 'The book reader'

Ernst Barlach 'The Book Reader' - Lost Wax Casting Technique Part 1

First, the artist forms a model of his sculpture. It is embedded in a liquid silicone rubber composition. Once the material has solidified, the model is cut out. The liquid wax is poured in the negative mould. After cooling down, the wax casting is removed from the mould, provided with sprues and dipped into ceramic mass. The ceramic mass is hardened in a kiln, and the wax flows out (lost mould).

Ernst Barlach 'The Book Reader' - Lost Wax Casting Technique Part 2Now we finally have the negative form, into which the 1400 ° C hot molten bronze is poured. After the bronze had cooled down, the ceramic shell is broken off and the sculpture comes to light.

Ernst Barlach 'The Book Reader' - Lost Wax Casting Technique Part 3Now the sprues are removed, the surfaces are polished, patinated and numbered by the artist himself or, to his specifications, by a specialist. Thus, each casting becomes an original work

For lower-grade bronze castings, the sand casting method is often used which, however, does not achieve the results of more complex lost wax technique in terms of surface characteristics and quality.

Related links:
Sand casting