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Franz Peleska-Lunard Art Nouveau Alabaster & Shell Sculptural Lamp

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Johnsmith's loves1135 of 1833Johann Pilar (Vienna) Sea Maiden w/ Nautilus Shell Shade LampCirca 1904-10 Alfred Daguet "Eagle" Copper/Brass/Jeweled Cabochon Box
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    Posted 8 years ago

    (144 items)

    Sculpted alabaster and shell figural lamp, by Franz Peleska-Lunard, Bohemian/German (circa late 1900s). Incised on the base side "Peleska-Lunard," and the underside has a "R.u.M. (Rosenthal und Maeder, Berlin)" bronze medallion. Dimensions: 8.7”(H) x 11.8”(W) x 6.3”(D).

    I believe the large carved and polished shell to be that of turbo marmoratus, known as great green turban; a large species of marine gastropod prized for its thick nacreous shell. These large snails live in tropic reefs in the Indian Ocean and tropical western Pacific oceans.

    If this is indeed a snail shell, then this piece is example of a strange and rare Viennese/German design metamorphosis motif, which may harken from Japanese mythology, of a demon (oni) who can shape shift from snail to beautiful woman to seek out male victims. This type of dangerous female motif of Japanese origin is certainly in keeping with fin de siecle fascination with the "femme fatale" and Japonisme. See here for another "Snail Girl" example by Jakob Wilhelm (Willy) Meller (circa 1920):


    Franz Peleska-Lunard, born 1873 - 1911(?), was a popular sculptor of probably German or Bohemian (Austria/Czech) origin. Most of his known works are from the 1890-1910 period, when Vienna and Berlin were at the centers of active decorative sculptural production. Little is known of Peleska-Lunard, but it is known from documentation that he was active in Berlin in 1907 and he notable for a 1904 popular bronze bust of Beethoven; a version of which is now in the Beethoven Haus Museum in Bonn. Sculpture by Peleska are found signed as Peleshka, F. Peleschka, F. Peleschka-Long, Peleschka-Lunard, and Peleska-Lunard. Many of his works have additional foundry/workshop (?) bronze medallions with a stylized “R.u.M. (Rosenthal und Maeder)” foundry marking.

    Another mixed materials sculpture by Peleska-Lunard auctioned off by Sothebys in 2007 carries the same stylized “R.u.M. (Rosenthal und Maeder)” small bronze foundry medallion as found on the bottom of this alabaster work. See here:

    Peleska-Lunard’s work was also featured in a recent large retrospective exhibition of late 19th and early 20th century sculpture, entitled “A Little Sculpture, Please: 20th Century European Sculpture,” at the Museu Europeu d’Art Modern in Barcelona (Sept. - Oct. 2014). A complete and freely available illustrated catalog of this exhibition, which I highly recommend, can be found here:

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    1. vetraio50 vetraio50, 8 years ago
      Thanks for the great exhibition reference:
    2. vetraio50 vetraio50, 8 years ago
      "She stands upon a rectangular bronze base which has the artist signature as well as an octagon containing the initials RUM which stands for Rosenthal Und Maeder, the casting foundry."
    3. cogito cogito, 8 years ago
      Thanks, Vetraio50! What's weird, however, is that the piece above doesn't have any visible bronze, yet it has a RUM medallion inserted underneath in the alabaster.
    4. vetraio50 vetraio50, 8 years ago
      I found these descriptions in German used on the net:
      "Rundstempel des Vertriebs und Großhandlung Rosenthal & Marder, Berlin"

      Ausfuhrung und Vertrieb: Rosenthal & Maeder, Grohandlung (sic), Berlin.

      They were then doing more than than casting.
    5. cogito cogito, 8 years ago
      Wunderbar! Thanks.
    6. SEAN68 SEAN68, 8 years ago
      stunning!!! :)
    7. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 8 years ago
      Isn't it amazing how when some body posts something with nice boobs, that I appear?
    8. austrohungaro austrohungaro, 8 years ago
      Great work of art!!

      I didn't know this catalogue... but I'm cerrtainly downloading it and studying it!!! I love sculpture from that period!
    9. cogito cogito, 8 years ago
      Keep it clean, blunderbuss. ;) Though, I will admit, she is inticing. Thanks for the loves folks.
    10. kyratango kyratango, 8 years ago
      Ooooh, lovely piece, and Vetraio is still a great research and info provider!
      Thanks for sharing :-)
    11. fledermaus fledermaus, 8 years ago
      Wow! This is an awesome sculpture/lamp. The movement of the twisting figure juxtaposed and emerging from the spiraling shell creates a great visual tension and is just fabulous! Just wonderful!
      Thanks so much for posting this masterpiece.
      Happy New Year!!!
    12. fledermaus fledermaus, 8 years ago
      Thank you for the link to the show.
      Great Show!!!
    13. cogito cogito, 8 years ago
      Thanks for the high praise, fledermaus. That exhibition was, indeed, something to see in person I bet. Thankfully the museum has gratiously made the wonderfully photographed and illustrated catalog freely available!
    14. cogito cogito, 8 years ago
      I researched the snail/woman aspect a bit further, and this motif may be a reference to a Japanese myth of a female aquatic demon (oni) named "Sazae-oni." If this is the case, then the piece and motif are a bit more sinister and foreboding than the subject rendering would suggest, but it would be in keeping with fin de siecle notions of a "femme fatale." Sazae-oni, as the legend holds, are monstrous and deadly creatures. They are powerful shape-changers, often taking the form of beautiful women in order to lure seamen into trouble. At sea, they pretend to be drowning victims and cry out to be rescued, only to turn on their would-be saviors once brought aboard. When encountered on land, sazae-oni often travel disguised as lone, wandering women who stop at inns and eat the innkeepers during the night. On the Kii penninsula, legend tells of a band of pirates who spotted a woman drowning in the water one night. They rescued her, though not out of the goodness in their hearts; they had more nefarious reasons to wanting a woman aboard their ship. That night every pirate on the ship had their way with her. Unfortunately for the pirates, the woman was actually a shape-changed sazae-oni, and during the night, she visited each pirate on the boat one by one and bit off their testicles. At the end of the night she had all of their testicles, and demanded treasure for their return. The desperate pirates traded away all of their ill-gotten gold to the sazae-oni to buy back their “golden balls,” as they are called in Japanese!
    15. vetraio50 vetraio50, 8 years ago
      ........ or alternatively is this a vision of the birth of Venus/Aphrodite?
    16. cogito cogito, 8 years ago
      Wasn't that a scallop shell, though? I guess that wouldn't work too well in a lamp, but the shell selection here does suggest a clue. A German production lamp with an Indian/Pacific Ocean shell...seems like an odd choice of shell materials. It's clear that the shell is original to the piece, as the sculpture is carved perfectly around all contours.
    17. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 8 years ago
      The more I see it, the more beautiful it looks. Would love to possess it! Would look great on top of my fridge. Oops, my Alabama background is showing! LOL! Hey, it's about the only place left with space to put anything on!
    18. fledermaus fledermaus, 8 years ago
      OH yes, I have seen prints of this Japanese myth. I bet it is an artistic interpretation made neue combining east and west? It does almost appear that she is emerging?
      Great, Great, Great! Fantasize galore!
    19. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 8 years ago
      Or consumed, fledermaus. LOL!
    20. cogito cogito, 8 years ago
      Funny. I hadn't thought about that, but you're right. It could be she's being drawn into the shell.
    21. AmphoraPottery AmphoraPottery, 8 years ago
      This is one of those objects I come across now and then that will consume me with envy of the owner so I have to try to forget about it.
    22. cogito cogito, 8 years ago
      Trust me, have more than a few items in your collection that spark the same reaction in me! ;)
    23. AmphoraPottery AmphoraPottery, 8 years ago
      I am commenting again because this piece should have even more loves from the Collectors Weekly community.
    24. cogito cogito, 8 years ago
      Thanks again AmphoraPottery. To reward your devotion, I'm uploading a picture of the piece with the shell lit up. I recently had it rewired and the piece takes on a whole new character when viewed with the shell illuminated.
    25. kyratango kyratango, 8 years ago
      Totally agree with you, Amphora!!! I will love it again and again to unearth it from the crowd ;-)
      Cogito, thanks for the last picture, magical...
    26. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 8 years ago
      I agree with you Amp! An absolutely phenomenal art work.
    27. kivatinitz kivatinitz, 8 years ago
      Thanks for this wonderful post
    28. vetraio50 vetraio50, 7 years ago

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