Cicada Vase - Art by Ludwig Karl Maria Vierthaler
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Ludwig Karl Maria Vierthaler
Cicada Vase

c. 1906

About

LUDWIG VIERTHALER FOR J. WINEHART & CO., ART NOUVEAU CICADA COPPER VASE, c. 1906, the cylindrical form narrowing upwards is decorated with a single inset opal. Surrounding this stone is a naturalistic rendering in repousse of a cicada further enhanced by chased accents on the wings. The underside bears various style numbers and letters with the “Eosin” lobed mark all made in black ink. Created while a lead designer for J. Winhart & Co., Ludwig Vierthaler’s cicada themed copper vase showcases the design principles which he developed at J. Winhart in the pre-war years, where emphasis was placed on craftsmanship and the characteristics of the material itself. The vase’s ambiguous quality and use of allegory also shows his uncanny understanding of the dual nature of German life at the time. On the one hand, under Kaiser Wilhelm II, Germany was asserting herself strongly in the Weltpolitik through alliances with other central-European powers and in making grand plans to grow in military strength. With hindsight, Vierthaler’s vase is all the more remarkable for his prescience in the twilight of an empire. By presenting a cicada, he evokes a conundrum. Is this cicada a strong adult, newly emerged from a long dormancy? Or is this the cicada’s beautiful moulted shell, a mere ghost of itself and an after-image that can be easily crushed? In the face of Germany’s actions which were unsettling to the balance of powers in Europe, Vierthaler deliberately and symbolically reached back to the height of Art Nouveau and Symbolist style. With this conscious choice, as if he was mimicking the prolonged period of dormancy in the life of a cicada, Vierthaler demonstrates and affirms his technical and aesthetic prowess. His articulations in repousse of the cicada’s body through subtle convex bulges gives a sense of solidity which contrasts with the more delicately dimpled hammer work chased on the wings. The effect is that these gossamer wings are resting on the narrowed thorax, and the light playing off these varying textures is further heightened by the patented Eosin red patina which he developed for J. Winhart & Co. Vierthaler presents a beautiful and thought-provoking object for contemplation. Perhaps Vierthaler has created a cautionary modern fable by evoking cicadas who sing until they die. Is this cicada an example of an insouciance latent in civilization? Or, on the other hand, is this a symbol of survival and defiance against death? LUDWIG VIERTHALER (1875-1967) Recognized for his technically superior and beautiful metal patinations for tableware, Munich born Ludwig Vierthaler’s designs and metalwork caught the attention of Tiffany & Co., NY, for whom he worked in the mid-1890s. 1906 proved to be a decisive year in his career. Though Vierthaler had left his position as the Director of Design at J. Winhart & Co. earlier that year, examples of his work for Winhart were shown along with collaborative work with Eugen Ehrenbock at the Bayerishe Jubilaums-Landers-Ausstellung in Nuremburg - for which he received a gold medal - and at the Deutsche Kunstgewerbe-Ausstellung in Dresden -for which he received a silver medal. He and Ehrenbock formalized their partnership in 1907. Vierthaler later expanded his metalwork output to include jewelry and lighting design as well as figural and ornamental building decoration design. A member of the Deutscher Werkbund, Vierthaler went on to become a full professor in Hanover at the Staaliche Handwerkerund Kunstgewerberschule and at the Technische Hochschule.

Details

  • Artist
    Ludwig Karl Maria Vierthaler (1875 - 1967, German)
  • Creation Year
    c. 1906
  • Condition
    Excellent
  • Dimensions
    H 7.25 in. x W 3.25 in.H 18.42 cm x W 8.26 cm
  • Gallery Location
    Chicago, IL
  • Reference Number
    LU46731914313
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