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Medals from the First World War. The work of August Gaul

Mirnik, Ivan
Medals from the First World War. The work of August Gaul // The Medal (London), 48 (2006), 39-43 (podatak o recenziji nije dostupan, članak, znanstveni)

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Medals from the First World War. The work of August Gaul

Mirnik, Ivan

The Medal (London) (0263-7707) 48 (2006); 39-43

Vrsta, podvrsta i kategorija rada
Radovi u časopisima, članak, znanstveni

Ključne riječi
medal; World War One; Gaul August; Durieux Tilla

In March 2004 two interesting and now rare medals made by the German sculptor August Gaul were presented to the Zagreb Archaeological Museum Numismatic Collection by Neda Prpić of Zagreb. Together with quite a few other interesting medals, such as one specimen of the &laquo ; ; Medal from the Sava River&raquo ; ; , i.e. the 1915 portrait medal of Isidor Kršnjavi, the Croatian minister of culture from the late 19th century, by Ivo Kerdić, and some beautiful pre-Columbian statuettes and other items, these two medals were kept in one of the two tall Boulle show-cases in this lady's sitting room of her ample villa in St. George Street (Jurjevska ulica) in Zagreb. The villa was once owned by Stjepan de Milletich (Miletić), a patron of arts and writer, the builder and general manager of the Croatian National Theatre. For the opening of this theatre, constructed by the famous Austrian firm of architects Hellmer and Fellner in 1895, Milletich comissioned the Croatian sculptor and medallist Robert Frangeš-Mihanović to produce a silver ceremonial hammer, which was used by Emperor-King Franz Joseph I. during its inauguration. The Milletich villa was bought and partly reconstructed by the present owner's father in the twenties of the 20th c. In the park surrounding it there is a statue of a mother and child by Ivan Meštrović. It was together with Meštrović, Josef Hana, Constantin Meunier and Max Klinger that August Gaul, about whom we shall write presently, exhibited his sculptures at the Secession XII in 1905 in Vienna. There is a well-known Latin proverb referring to the fate of books &laquo ; ; Habent sua fata libelli&raquo ; ; , which could also be applied in the case of these two medals. Their provenance is indeed colourful. Their first owner was Paul Cassirer (b. Görlitz, 21 February 1871 - d. Berlin, 7 January 1926), a famous collector, publisher, art dealer and from 1910 the second husband of the celebrated Austro-German stage and film actress Tilla Durieux (in fact Ottilia Godeffroy ; b. Vienna, 18 August 1880 – d. Berlin, 21 January 1971). Tilla Durieux, although not a classical beauty, was portrayed by many artists of her time, among them Auguste Renoir (in the costume of Eliza Doolittle, 1914), Ernst Barlach (four busts, one in china, three in terracotta, 1914), Max Slevogt (twice), Franz von Stuck (four portraits, 1914), Oskar Kokoschka and others. In 1933 Germany became dangerous for Durieux and in 1935 she moved to Opatija and there bought the Crystal Hotel. Attempting to escape to Turkey in 1941, together with her third husband, the industrialist and patron of arts, Ludwig Katzenellenbogen (b. Krotoschin, Poland, 21 February 1877) whom she married in 1930, she was caught up in the war turmoil. Separated from her husband, who eventually died in a Nazi prison in 1943, Durieux found shelter in Zagreb in the mansion of her friend Countess Zlata Lubiensky, née baroness Adrowsky, in the same St. George's Street, only a few houses away from the Milletich-Prpić villa. These war years were described in detail by Durieux. This remarkable woman tells us how she managed to save a few of her works of art and how she supported the Partisans in their war against the Germans. For several years after the war, she worked as a seamstress at the Zagreb puppet theatre. It was only in 1952 that she travelled to Berlin and continued her career as stage actress on stage, and on film as well. In 1955 she finally settled in Berlin and appeared in very many parts on stage and on film in Germany, Austria and Switzerland until 1970, a short time before her death. As a child, the present author remembers how his mother took him once to visit the Lubiensky-Durieux collection. It was Countess Lubiensky (once, after the arrival of communism, addressed on a post-card as &laquo ; ; Comrade Countess Zlata Lubiensky&raquo ; ; by the witty Dana Polić) who showed us around. Tilla Durieux was already in Germany, but some of her treasures could still be seen, such as some water colours by Marie Laurencin and Marc Chagal, several ancient Egyptian objects and also thirty-odd most charming animal statuettes by August Gaul. The last must have become Paul Cassirer's property from 1898 when Cassirer founded his gallery, to the death of the artist. These two medals by Gaul were probably given by Tilla Durieux to Zlata Lubiensky on some occasion and she, or her son Boris, gave them to the Prpić family. Tilla Durieux is reported to have given the artist a donkey called &laquo ; ; Fritze&raquo ; ; as a Christmas gift. The donkey, together with Gaul's son Peter &laquo ; ; sat&raquo ; ; as models and the result was the well-known donkey-rider (&laquo ; ; Eselsreiter&raquo ; ; ). Cassirer was also present when Gaul died of throat cancer on 18 October 1921. August Gaul (b. Grossauheim/ Hanau, 22 October 1869 – d. Berlin, 18 October 1921) by his name must have been predestined to be an animalist – &laquo ; ; Gaul&raquo ; ; in German means a horse, not a particularly elegant one, in fact a hack or a nag. August Gaul was perhaps one of the best-known animalists of the past in the world, and was certainly the best in Germany. He began by learning how to draw and how to work silver in Hanau (1882-1888), then moved to Berlin in 1888 and in 1890 continued as an apprentice of Alexander Emil Lodovico Calandrelli's (b. Berlin, 9 May 1834 – d. Lankwitz, 26. May 1903) and in 1892/93 a student of Paul Friedrich von Meyerheim (b. Berlin, 13 July 1842 – d. Berlin, 14 Sept. 1915), another excellent animalist painter at the Berlin Academy. This was followed by his collaboration (1893-94) with Reinhold Begas (b. Schöneberg, 15. July 1831 – d. Schöneberg, 3 August 1911) at the monument of Emperor Wilhelm I (unveiled 1897). Gaul also spent some time studying in Rome (1898). He spent most of his free time at the Berlin Zoo – his first free ticket for the zoo he won in a lottery in 1890 - making sketches of all species of animals. These drawings brought him the commission for the fierce lions on Begas' monument of Wilhelm I. Of course, for instance, when there was no commission to dictate what sort of a lion he was to produce, Gaul modelled a peaceful lioness, which was exhibited at the Berlin Secession in 1899 and which him a famous man. He didn't like the usual modelling or sketching of naked models, in artificial postures in a studio, but preferred the absolutely natural movements of animals. In this he really excelled and earned general appreciation and popularity. In 1904 he became member of the Prussian Academy of Arts and four years later he earned the title of a professor from the Prussian Ministry of Culture. In 1921 he was elected Senator of the Prussian Academy of Arts. During his most productive years Gaul made many sculptures, both large and small, for instance a putto eating grapes, seated on a panther, a fountain with four penguins perched upon the rim, a group of five geese, a baby lion, the duck-fountain in Charlottenburg, a standing lion, an eagle, a couple of young bears, a running ostrich, He exhibited quite frequently, both in Germany and abroad, for instance at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900, Turin in 1902, St. Louis in 1904, Brussels in 1910. At the 26th exhibition of the Berlin Secession he showed two statues of panthers. In all these charming works of art the connoiseurs did not find only naturalism or only stylized sculpture, but both at the same time. Gaul is also the author of quite a few excellent etchings. One can follow his activity in many German art periodicals of the era, such as &laquo ; ; Die Kunst&raquo ; ; , &laquo ; ; Kunst und Künstler&raquo ; ; , &laquo ; ; Über Land und Meer&raquo ; ; His statues and statuettes of animals are mumerous, but his six medals, some commissioned by the Red Cross, have become rare. It is remarkable that they were made during the Great War – World War One - when the artist felt that his patriotic duty was to contribute to the German war propaganda with his works. One of these medals, the 1916 &laquo ; ; Britenleu&raquo ; ; , has a particularly sinister connotation, as Hitler in his sophistry of giving names to various war plans (for instance the plan for the annexation of Austria was called &laquo ; ; Operation Otto&raquo ; ; , after Archduke Otto von Habsburg), in 1940 gave the name &laquo ; ; Operation Seelöwe&raquo ; ; (Operation Sea Lion) to the plans for the invasion of Great Britain by the Wehrmacht. This medal (cast bronze, 81mm) shows a sea lion, turned to the left, balancing the globe on its nose. It is signed bottom left. On the reverse one can read: DER/ BRITEN(reversed)LEU /1914/1915/1916 ; there are six stylized dolphins around the text. On the obverse of the other medal (cast bronze, 71 mm ; there are specimens in iron), also presented to the Museum, there is an oak tree in the wind and the years 1914 - 1915/ 1916 below. The signature is also at the bottom. On the reverse there is a quotation from Goethe's Faust, referring to rationing: DAS ALLERMINDESTE/ MÜSST IHR ENTDECKEN/ AUF DAS GESCHWINDESTE/ IN ALLEN ECKEN GOETHE, written in four lines. The legend is surrounded by five bees and five ants. There is another war medal by Gaul with a quotation from Goethe, the so-called &laquo ; ; Allies' Loyalty&raquo ; ; (&laquo ; ; Bundestreue&raquo ; ; , 1915) medal (cast iron and bronze, 58 mm in diameter). In a contemporary press article it was described as: &laquo ; ; In one direction the German eagle looks as if towards the west, in the other direction the double-headed Austrian eagle, as if towards the east. The reverse contains a relief sketch of two naked warriors, turning their backs to each other, swinging large swords behind their heads, in order to shatter everything in front of them.&raquo ; ; . The text on the obverse reads: 1914-1915 above, DEUTSCH/ LAND right ; UND/ OESTERR/ REICH/ UNGARN left bottom ; above two eagles' heads are turned to the right and below one eagle's head turned to the left. The medal is signed GAUL at the right, bottom edge. On the reverse there are the two warriors with swords, as described previously, in the upper part of the flan, whereas the bottom half reads in four lines: ZUSAMMEN HALTET/ EUREN WERT&middot ; ; UND EUCH/ IST NIEMAND GLEICH/ GOETHE. This is a quotation from a poem composed in 1813 on the occasion of the battle of Leipzig. There is a dot border. This widely distributed medal was sold for 25 Marks. At the Hanau Museum there is a litograph of the obverse of this medal (with a reversed picture), and also the medal itself. Another medal, made in 1915, is called the &laquo ; ; East – West Medal&raquo ; ; (&laquo ; ; Ost – West&raquo ; ; ; iron, silver, bronze specimens, 48 mm). On the obverse Gaul modelled the Russian bear running to the right, accompanied by the text 1914-1915 top and OST bottom, with the author's signature bottom right (GAUL). The reverse shows the British sea-lion turned to the right, balancing the globe on its nose, similar to one of the medals described above, and the French rooster is placed top right and the text underneath it reads WEST. There is a dot border. The last medal (cast iron, slightly oval, 35x37.5 mm) we know of was cast in 1916 for the Red Cross in Merseburg, a German town with a rich history, situated not far from Leipzig and Halle. On the obverse there is a raven holding a ring in its beak, associated with the story about the Merseburg bishop Thilo von Trota (1466-1514) and his coat-of-arms – here facing right instead of left in the numismatic and not heraldic sense – accompanied by three years 1914/ 1915/ 1916 top left. The signature is bottom right (GAUL), the whole enframed in a dot circle. On the reverse there is only the inscription: FÜR/ TREVE/ ARBEIT/ DAS/ ROTE&middot ; ; KREVZ/ MERSEBVRG, with a red cross bottom. The border is linear. Specimens of these medals are in the Vienna Coin Cabinet, the Berlin Coin Cabinet, the August Gaul Museum in Hanau and probably several private collections. Angelo Walther, whose doctoral thesis dealt with August Gaul, also lists a silver medal (40 mm) made for the War Bond: on the obverse there is an eagle standing on a nest full of eggs and on the reverse the text reads: ZWÖLF/ MILLIARDEN/ 22.9.1915. Gaul's animal plaquettes and reliefs are numerous. When August Gaul died, Max Esser (b. Barth/ Pomerania, 16 May 1885 – d. Berlin, 23 December 1945), another well-known German animalist, modelled a medal, which was produced in Meissen, in china, due to the fact that metal was scarce in those days and even money (Notgeld) was made out of china. Also, some of Gaul's statuettes were made in Meissen. On the obverse is an eagle of Gaul's sitting to the left, above a laurel branch, the text AUGUST GAUL is top and the two crossed sabres stand for the Meissen manufacture. The reverse reads in seven lines: ERINNERE/ DICH/ SEINER/ WERKE/ MEISSEN/ SEPT-NOV/ 1923/ (two crossed sabres = Meissen). A prize medal was made before 1974 for the town of Grossauheim (Hanau) with the text AUGUST/ GAUL/ GEB/ 1869/ 1921/ GEST and a small portrait of Gaul left on the obverse and the inscription FÜR/ HERVOR/ RAGENDE/ VERDIENSTE/ STADT/ GROSS/ AUHEIM and the town's coat-of-arms on a small disk right. I want to thank most warmly all my colleagues who kindly helped me with the writing of this article: Günther Dembski (Vienna), Tomaš Kleisner (Prague), Hermann Maué (Nuremberg), Wolfgang Steguweit (Berlin) and Heinz Winter (Vienna).

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Filozofski fakultet, Zagreb


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Citiraj ovu publikaciju

Mirnik, Ivan
Medals from the First World War. The work of August Gaul // The Medal (London), 48 (2006), 39-43 (podatak o recenziji nije dostupan, članak, znanstveni)
Mirnik, I. (2006) Medals from the First World War. The work of August Gaul. The Medal (London), 48, 39-43.
@article{article, author = {Mirnik, I.}, year = {2006}, pages = {39-43}, keywords = {medal, World War One, Gaul August, Durieux Tilla}, journal = {The Medal (London)}, volume = {48}, issn = {0263-7707}, title = {Medals from the First World War. The work of August Gaul}, keyword = {medal, World War One, Gaul August, Durieux Tilla} }
@article{article, author = {Mirnik, I.}, year = {2006}, pages = {39-43}, keywords = {medal, World War One, Gaul August, Durieux Tilla}, journal = {The Medal (London)}, volume = {48}, issn = {0263-7707}, title = {Medals from the First World War. The work of August Gaul}, keyword = {medal, World War One, Gaul August, Durieux Tilla} }

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