The Hidden Delights of the Bergman Foundry

13th April 2017

Bergman bronze
Lot 182 in The Antiques & Works of Art Auction on 20th April 2017: Bergman cold painted bronze of an Arab figure

 


Franz Xavier Bergman (1861-1936) continued the work of his father's foundry which was established in 1860.  A talented Art Nouveau sculptor, his workshops produced fine quality patinated and cold painted bronze figures.  Many had Oriental and Arab themes, others had erotic figures hidden within animals or bird sculptures. 

 

Cold painting was a technique unlike many others where the enamel was painted on but remained unfired.  This did mean that the enamels are fragile and vulnerable to chipping and rubbing.  Bergman' larger and more important pieces were marked with a 'B' within a twin handled vase or more unusually with an anagram of his name Nam Greb.  Arab figures like the one shown from our April antique sale are very desirable.  Dating from the late 19th century, the piece is an  inkwell, the pot being concealed within the table at the front of the piece, a table which incidentally features in other Bergman sculptures.

 

If you do have a cold painted piece by Bergman, take care of it, worn or damaged enamel reduces the value at auction.  Never polish it, a simple dust with a cloth is enough! Removing the dark patina on Bergman bronzes or indeed any other can be a costly mistake.  The sculpture shown has an estimate of £500/800.