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Bergman Bronzes of the Orient

Austrian cold patinated bronze by Franz Bergman of a boy lounging on a rug.  Vienna, circa 1900.

Austrian cold patinated bronze by Franz Bergman of a boy lounging on a rug. Vienna, circa 1900. From F & P Associates Gallery.

The artist of the colorful, contemplative piece above is Franz Xaver Bergman (1861-1936), foremost among Viennese cold-patinated bronze craftsmen. Renowned for his acute eye for detail and bold color palette, Bergman specialized in lifelike animals and vibrant Oriental figures such as the ones featured here from The Manhattan Art & Antique Center’s F & P Associates Gallery. Bergman inherited a small bronze factory from his father (a professional embosser also known as Franz Bergmann) and eventually opened his own foundry in 1900. Here, he created numerous cold painted figures, meaning pieces cast in bronze and then decorated with several layers of paint dust–thus, the color on the figures is not fired but “cold painted.” The knowledge of mixing this particular paint palette has been lost to the ages, making these bronzes truly singular.

Austrian cold patinated bronze by Franz Bergman.  "The Slave Trader."  Vienna, circa 1900.  Size: 6.5" x 6.5" x 8.5"

Austrian cold patinated bronze by Franz Bergman. "The Slave Trader." Vienna, circa 1900. From F & P Associates Gallery.

A particularly distinctive mark to look for on Bergman bronzes is his signature: a ‘B’ in a vase shape and ‘Nam Greb,” which reads Bergman in reverse and was used to conceal his identity on his more erotic pieces such as the provocative work above. Many of his erotic bronzes were of sensuous young women in the Art Nouveau style, disguised by a covering that revealed all when a button was pressed. Many of his animal figures also opened to reveal an erotic female figure. At the time, Bergman found it expedient to keep this more titillating aspect of his aesthetic from more conservative clientele and family. Today, his bronzes are openly admired as unique and tactile works of art. F & P Associates can be contacted here regarding any of the bronzes seen here, all of which were cast in the creatively fecund inaugural year of Franz Bergman’s foundry.

Austrian cold patinated bronze by Franz Bergman of a man praying on a rug.  Vienna, circa 1900

Austrian cold patinated bronze by Franz Bergman of a man praying on a rug. Vienna, circa 1900. From F & P Associates Gallery.

Source:
http://www.millersantiquesguide.com/articles/bergman-bronzes/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_Xavier_Bergman