Slowly, the serpent meanders around its master – like in slow motion one’s eyes follow the careful summoning of the prancing animal. The small bronze tells the dreamful story of a squatting serpent charmer dressed in Fez and Aba who, with his hand high, tames his snake making it dance. The bronze’s allure truly lies in its magical narrative, paired with the sophistication of Viennese bronze casting around 1900.
“Wiener Bronzen” are particularly characterized by their special attention to detail with a fine level of execution and precision for what they are internationally renowned. As one of the first craftsmen in Vienna, Mathias Bermann casted such precisely molded bronzes. His products exactly joined the ranks of the high workmanship of Viennese handicraft and quickly was employed by other art founders like Franz Xaver Bergmann (1861-1937). The small bronzes were usually casted in strongly limited series, which is why every piece seems to be one of its kind – in their execution they are unique!
Up to 1900, a large repertoire of “Wiener Bronzen” developed, ranging from small scale animal depictions to more exotic subjects. The latter advanced to the most prominent theme in Viennese bronze casting, since it catered to the excitement for the Orient in the late 1800s, which was fostered by European imperialism as well as many travelogues, that were widely read in Europe.
This small bronze sculpture of finest quality still shows its original, yet very attrite color version.
For further reading:
Hansen, Volkmar (Hg.): Begegnung mit dem Fremden. Frühe Orientbilder im 17.-19. Jahrhundert, Bonn 2009.
Hrabalek, Ernst: Wiener Bronzen. Eine Tradition in künstlicher Vollendung, Munich 1991.
Seiler, Dietmar: Wiener Bronzen. Die Bronze-Miniaturen der Jahrhundertwende, Augsburg 1991.