Cold-Painted Spelter Blackamoor Statues
This pair of 19th-century Austrian spelter statues features a woman dancing and a man playing a musical instrument – a scene which is reminiscent of prosperity and exuberance. Spelter is composed of lead, zinc, and copper that ages to resemble bronze. To cold-paint these statues, the casted spelter would be covered in layers of polychrome or enamel paint, resulting in colourful figures. This technique was popular in Vienna during the Art Deco period, which encompassed the 1920s and 1930s, or the interwar period. Art Deco was known for geometric or stylized forms, exaggerated curves, and vibrant contrasting colours – such as the deep brown and bright yellow that decorate these sculptures. It was typical for Art Deco figurines to use dancing women as subject matter. Although the artist is unknown, the sculptor’s craftsmanship is evident in the coarse texture of the figures’ clothing, which naturally folds and drapes over their bodies. Their facial features are carefully crafted and their skin is smooth and shiny. These hand-painted sculptures are very detailed and in excellent condition.
At this time in Austria, German composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven died in Vienna in 1827. Despite the onset of deafness at the age of 28, Beethoven composed 722 works in his lifetime. He remains one of the most admired composers in Western music history. His works demonstrate the end of the Classical music period and the beginning of the Romantic period.