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Collection Wolfers & Petrucci: Hidden Treasures

Catalogue of the selling exhibition in Galerie St-John, Ghent (Belgium), exhibition from the 23rd of November to the 24th of December. 100 sculptures and (art) objects by Philippe and Marcel Wolfers, silver by Wolfers Frères, etc.

Catalogue of the selling exhibition in Galerie St-John, Ghent (Belgium), exhibition from the 23rd of November to the 24th of December. 100 sculptures and (art) objects by Philippe and Marcel Wolfers, silver by Wolfers Frères, etc.

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<strong>Collection</strong><br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> & <strong>Petrucci</strong><br />

<strong>Hidden</strong> <strong>Treasures</strong>


collection<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> & <strong>Petrucci</strong>


Charles Lefebure (1862–1943),<br />

autochrome portrait of Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong>, ca. 1910


hidden treasures<br />

<strong>Collection</strong><br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> &<br />

1886–1976<br />

Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong><br />

1899–1994<br />

Raf Steel<br />

Emmy Steel


Please note that<br />

All objects in the catalogue are for sale.<br />

On demand, condition reports can be provided.<br />

The original, in this case French, titles are used.<br />

Dimensions are noted as: height × width × depth and in<br />

centimetre.<br />

With each object, we have tried to assemble the most relevant<br />

information. The list of exhibitions only includes those<br />

exhibitions where the object, presented here, was shown.<br />

In those cases where we are not certain that our particular<br />

piece was the one presented on a specific (often historic)<br />

exhibition, or that possibly another cast was shown, we have<br />

chosen to add the phrase “Possibly this example (?)”.<br />

With each object we have also added a selective bibliography,<br />

which only includes the books or catalogues featuring the<br />

object shown at our exhibition. We have chosen not to include<br />

periodicals unless they have a historic relevance.<br />

Also, books or catalogues which we have not been able to<br />

consult ourselves, are not included in the lists if there could be<br />

a doubt about the identification of the specific object included<br />

in that book or catalogue.<br />

Almost all pieces in this catalogue have as a provenance<br />

the historic collection of Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> and/or the Marcel<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong>-Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection. The provenance of these<br />

artworks or objects is proven by contemporary photographs,<br />

inventories or statements of the artists themselves. However<br />

this does not mean that the pieces have remained with their<br />

direct descendants. We have included a couple of significant<br />

works by Philippe or Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> or <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères that<br />

have other provenances. In those cases either the provenance<br />

is stated or it is made clear that they have belonged to other<br />

collections.<br />

We have tried to be accurate and precise, but often, due to lack<br />

of documents or contradicting testimonies, a margin of error<br />

has to be taken into account.<br />

4


Introduction<br />

The image we have of the production of <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères and the creations of<br />

Philippe and Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>, has been defined by the objects from the collection<br />

of Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong>. Since the 1960’s, these artists-collectors<br />

have actively sought to reinstate the name and fame of Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>’ art<br />

nouveau and art deco designs, and to give to his sculptural work the attention<br />

it deserved. Through lending works of art to museums worldwide, through<br />

encouraging publications of photographs and articles on <strong>Wolfers</strong> and donating<br />

works to public collections, they succeeded in giving <strong>Wolfers</strong> a place in the<br />

international art historic pantheon. By looking at the pieces in their collection,<br />

we have discovered magnificent jewels, objects and sculptures of the period when<br />

Belgium was one of the richest economies in the west and when it was a nation<br />

whose culture and art was an example to the world. This was art from the era<br />

when Belgium mattered and which was copied throughout the western world.<br />

Today, we look at these art objects that have been exhibited worldwide with<br />

a sense of recognition. These are the images that spring to mind when we<br />

think of art nouveau, of artists’ jewellery, of turn-of-the-century sculpture,<br />

etc. The <strong>Wolfers</strong>-<strong>Petrucci</strong> collection is of historic importance. It is a collection<br />

composed of art historical treasures, we can now offer for sale.<br />

But, the collection of Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> is not simply a<br />

treasure trove. It is the result of a way of life, of a fusion of two personalities, who<br />

have lived for and through art. It was also an organic collection, shaped through<br />

the changing ideas of the couple, trying to understand art, coping with a quickly<br />

changing world and shifting from one social milieu into another.<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> was born into one of the richest families of the country. His father,<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> aided by two brothers and a nephew, took the regional workshop<br />

of his father, Louis <strong>Wolfers</strong>, and built it into a multinational company, <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Frères. The firm was active in Belgium, Germany, France, Holland, England, the<br />

Austrian-Hungarian Empire and had it not been for two World Wars, they would<br />

have conquered America.<br />

5


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> was an artistic<br />

genius. He was largely a selftaught<br />

artist, but at the height of<br />

his career, he was considered one<br />

of the most important designers<br />

of applied art, silverware and<br />

jewellery of the Western world.<br />

Furthermore, he was seen as one<br />

of the leading Belgian sculptors<br />

of his generation. Surrounded<br />

by his family, he was able to<br />

cash in on his talents (which<br />

also included architecture and<br />

music). Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> became<br />

a millionaire, lived in a large cottage built by Paul Hankar (then a leading avantgarde<br />

architect), collected contemporary art which he displayed in his townhouse<br />

on the Square Marie-Louise, a then fashionable part of Brussels. And he wanted<br />

his only son to follow in his footsteps.<br />

Philippe and Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>, Sofie Willstädter and unknown, before 1914<br />

And so the son did, but maybe not in the way his father thought he would. Marcel<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> could be called an artistic prodigy. Learning the tricks of the trade from<br />

the best craftsmen working at <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères and studying drawing and sculpture<br />

with sculptor Isidore De Rudder and at La Patte au Dindon, an independent<br />

ad-hoc private academy, he made his first art nouveau designs for a cup and<br />

a dish before the age of fifteen. His most powerful sculptures date from between<br />

1910 and 1914, when the artist was only in his twenties. But then came the First<br />

World War, and Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> volunteered. It was an experience that changed<br />

the dandyesque Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and turned him into a philosophical and serious<br />

man, albeit with a love for nature and life. The war completely reshaped his<br />

art. No more powerful and expressionist sculptures, but human and subdued<br />

compositions. The difficult task he set for himself to master the art of lacquer,<br />

also needs to be seen in this light. The “Zen” attitude one has to adopt while<br />

working with this notoriously difficult material, helped him cope with everyday<br />

chores he had to fulfil in the family company, <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères. It is also this<br />

changed Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> who fell in love with Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong>.<br />

She was born into a family of free thinkers. From her father, Raphael <strong>Petrucci</strong>,<br />

who died when she was eighteen, she inherited her self-consciousness and<br />

intelligence. From her mother, Claire <strong>Petrucci</strong>-Verwee, she learned how to live<br />

the life of an independent woman in what was gradually becoming the dawn of<br />

6


Raphael <strong>Petrucci</strong>, Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> and Claire <strong>Petrucci</strong>-Verwee in the workshop<br />

of Alfred Verwee, ca. 1910<br />

a modern, new and exciting<br />

world. Clairette must have<br />

been an extraordinary<br />

woman. Muse to artists,<br />

already from a very young<br />

age, she became central to the<br />

lives of several young men.<br />

Henry Lavachery, Vladimir<br />

(Valdia) Peniakoff, Paul<br />

Simon, Edy du Perron and<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> all fell under<br />

her spell. Each and every one<br />

of these men, who all became<br />

important personalities<br />

in their respective fields; writers, researchers or artists, could not forget her<br />

and most of them kept in touch with Clairette over the years. It is difficult to<br />

understand why Clairette had such an appeal to bright men, but with hindsight,<br />

one can assume that her intelligence, wit and modernity combined with her aura<br />

(for lack of a better word) must have stood her apart from a lot of women of her<br />

class. When she married Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> in 1923, it was on her terms. To his credit,<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> did not prevent her to pursue<br />

her own career after their marriage. Clairette<br />

often travelled alone to Paris, Brussels or Italy<br />

to see her friends. After a grand honeymoon,<br />

on which the couple bought folk art, textiles<br />

and brought back many curiosities of eastern<br />

European craftsmen, they settled in their<br />

luxurious modernist apartment in the rue de<br />

Praetere in Brussels (Ixelles). The building<br />

was designed by the “gentleman-architect”<br />

J.-J. Eggericx, and was commissioned by Claire<br />

<strong>Petrucci</strong>, mother of Clairette. The apartment<br />

was considered to be an exquisite example of<br />

modern interior design, and featured in the<br />

Italian magazine Domus in 1930.<br />

The sudden death of Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> in 1929<br />

and the subsequent demise of the <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Frères firm, due to the financial crisis of the<br />

1930’s, was of great importance for Marcel<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> by photographer Boute (Brussels), ca. 1910<br />

7


and Clairette’s way of life. The <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

family fortune evaporated. Marcel and<br />

his siblings had to sell off the collection<br />

of modern art of Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> and<br />

his house on the Square Marie-Louise.<br />

Depending now completely on <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Frères S.A. for their livelihood, Marcel<br />

and Clairette decided to leave Brussels<br />

and move to their immense historic<br />

inn (le relais) in Vieusart. Filled to<br />

the brim with souvenirs, art, antiques<br />

and contemporary design, it became<br />

the place where they invited friends<br />

and family. Clairette kept a “Livre<br />

d’Or” which carries the signatures of<br />

amongst others: Marcel Louis Baugniet,<br />

Jeanne Bergson, Maurice Brocas, Eve Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> at her Vieusart workshop, ca. 1937<br />

Curie, Paul Delvaux, Marie Gevers,<br />

Norge, Herman Teirlinck, Henry van de Velde, Ossip Zadkine, Alain Bombard,<br />

Charles Leirens, Robert and René Guiette, Jean Milo, Willy Eisenschitz, Anto<br />

Carte, Jean Besnard, Roger Fry, Pierre Caille, Antoine de Vinck, Maud Gerard,<br />

Marie Howet, Ottorino Respighi, Juliette Cambier, Gustavo Cochet, Willem<br />

Paerels, Jules M. Canneel,…<br />

Vieusart became the place where they reoriented their collection and made it<br />

a personal statement. A lot of pieces that were inherited were sold, and other<br />

objects were bought to fit in with the world that Marcel and Clairette created<br />

around them. A lot of work of artist-friends was displayed on the walls and every<br />

object in the house had its history. When both the mother of Marcel and Clairette<br />

passed away, their collection was enriched with items of the collection of Philippe<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> and with the modern art and Asian art collection of Claire <strong>Petrucci</strong>.<br />

When Marcel and Clairette saw how the 1960’s were literally erasing the art<br />

nouveau history of Brussels they had the idea to start preserving and collecting<br />

the work of Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>. Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> even had to rescue the archives of<br />

his father when the firm of <strong>Wolfers</strong> decided to leave the building at the Arenberg<br />

street. A large part of the company archive had already been destroyed by then.<br />

From then onwards, the collection of Marcel and Clairette <strong>Wolfers</strong>-<strong>Petrucci</strong><br />

became important to both exhibition makers and researchers. Numerous art<br />

historians turned to Marcel and to Clairette, who had an infallible memory,<br />

8


to acquire information on artists and/or objects form the art nouveau and art<br />

deco periods. Their treasures travelled the world and were displayed in numerous<br />

museums. If they thought that a piece could be a great ambassador for the work<br />

of Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> outside their collection, they sold it or gave it to a public<br />

institution. Most items however, stayed at Vieusart, where they almost made a<br />

part of the household. When Marcel past away in 1976, the collection started to<br />

be broken up. With the passing away of Clairette, most of the French furniture<br />

(by Ruhlmann and Dominique) and foreign applied arts were sold in London in<br />

1996. The collection of <strong>Wolfers</strong> objects and art, being too intricately related to the<br />

family history, was given to family members.<br />

With this exhibition, we want to bring back the splendour of the historic<br />

<strong>Collection</strong> of Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong>. We have tried to assemble<br />

many important works of art and decorative arts that once lived in the houses of<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>, or at Vieusart. After all these years they meet again, preparing<br />

for a great journey to their next destination.<br />

Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> at her Dominique desk, rue de Praetere, Brussels, ca. 1928<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> at 55, rue des Champs-Elysées, Brussels,<br />

the home of Claire <strong>Petrucci</strong>–Verwee, ca. 1925<br />

9


10<br />

The Workshop of Louis <strong>Wolfers</strong>, Père et Fils in the rue des Longs-Chariots, ca. 1890<br />

(Louis <strong>Wolfers</strong> standing in black suit)


11


Louis <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Tea service, 1852–1858<br />

Silver, partially gilt inside and ivory<br />

Dimensions: Tea pot: height 18,5 cm, lenght 27,5 cm (from spout to handle)<br />

Marked: Tea pot: Maker’s mark of Louis <strong>Wolfers</strong>, assay master mark of Nicolas Monoyer, “Janus Head”<br />

on the bottom of the base<br />

Sugar pot: Maker’s mark of Louis <strong>Wolfers</strong>, assay master mark of Nicolas Monoyer on the bottom<br />

of the base, “Janus Head” on the inside of the lid<br />

Cream jug: Maker’s mark of Louis <strong>Wolfers</strong>, assay master mark of Nicolas Monoyer on the bottom<br />

of the base, “Janus Head” near the top rim<br />

Provenance:<br />

Louis <strong>Wolfers</strong> (?)<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> (by descent ?)<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

(by descent)<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Ghent, Design museum Gent, 16/12/2006–09/04/2007<br />

Bibliography:<br />

De Dynastie <strong>Wolfers</strong> – Meesters in zilver, Gent,<br />

Design museum Gent, 2006, p. 4 (with photo)<br />

The three piece coffee set is typical of the earliest production of the Louis <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

workshop. The assay mark of Nicolas Monoyer, active in Brussels from 1832<br />

to 1858, makes it possible to date the service between 1852 and 1858 (for the<br />

Monoyer mark see Van Dievoet W., Algemeen Repertorium van de edelsmeden<br />

en van de merken van edelsmeedwerk in België II 1798–1942, Brussel, Academie<br />

voor de geschiedenis van de edelsmeedkunst in België, 2010, p. 46, entry 030).<br />

Of good weight, impeccable finish and with an ivory handle for the cream jug,<br />

this service was intended for a well-to-do household. The produce of the Louis<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> workshop was typical for the period’s taste and indeed for produces of the<br />

Brussels’ silversmiths, but in these early years lacked the personality of the later<br />

designs of the 1880’s that set <strong>Wolfers</strong> apart from their peers.<br />

12


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Pitcher Le Vin or Bacchus, 1895<br />

Patinated bronze<br />

Dimensions: 32,5 × 22,5 cm<br />

Signed: “Ph. <strong>Wolfers</strong>” near the base edge, beneath the handle<br />

Provenance:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

(by descent)<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Brussels, Cercle Artistique et Littéraire de Bruxelles,<br />

11/04–29/04/1895, cat. No. 13 (possibly this<br />

example ?)<br />

London, St-George’s Gallery, 1895, cat. No. 23 (a pewter<br />

example)<br />

Mons, Salon Triennal – Société des Beaux-Arts, 1896,<br />

cat. No. 774 (possibly this example ?)<br />

München, Secession – Internationalen Kunst-Austellung<br />

des Vereins bildender Künstler Münchens, April<br />

1898, cat. No. 490 (possibly this example?)<br />

Brussels, Galerie l’Ecuyer, 13/10–12/11/1972, cat. No. 27.<br />

Ghent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 12/05–10/06/1979,<br />

cat. No. 11<br />

Buenos Aires, Museo de Arte Moderno de la Ciudad de<br />

Buenos Aires, 01/06–29/07/1990, cat. No 171<br />

Zürich, Bellerive Museum, 06/10/1993–09/01/1994,<br />

cat. No. 58<br />

Bibliography:<br />

Pol de Mont in De Vlaamsche School, jg. 8<br />

(nieuwe reeks), 1895, p. 50<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> : juwelen, zilver, ivoor, kristal<br />

(1858–1928), Gent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 1979,<br />

p. 16–17 (with photo)<br />

En Belgica, El Art Nouveau 1893–1905, Buenos Aires,<br />

1990, p. 67<br />

Philippe und Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> – Art Nouveau und Art<br />

Déco aus Brüssel, Zürich, Museum Bellerive, 1993,<br />

p. 63 (with photo)<br />

Adriaenssens W., Beredeneerde Catalogus van het<br />

persoonlijke oeuvre van Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> in De<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> Dynastie – van art nouveau tot art deco,<br />

Gent, Design museum Gent, 2006, p. 316 (No. 9)<br />

To our eyes today an unusual piece, the pitcher “Le Vin” (The Wine) remained<br />

an important object to Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>. It took a place of honour at the Brussels<br />

exhibition in 1895 and got favourably reviewed by the press. The pitcher was<br />

edited in pewter and bronze and was one of the models edited by Emile Müller in<br />

glazed stoneware. It is not impossible that Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> designed it with the<br />

German market – a very important market for <strong>Wolfers</strong> firm – in mind.<br />

This version, which belonged to Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> personally, has a magnificent<br />

patina, which could indicate that the artist himself was responsible for the<br />

patination of the cast.<br />

14


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Vases Pavot or Poppy, 1895<br />

Patinated bronze<br />

Dimensions: A. 25 × 8,5 cm / B. 25,5 × 8,5 cm<br />

Signed: A. “Ph. <strong>Wolfers</strong> / 95” near the base edge. / B. “Ph. <strong>Wolfers</strong> / 95” near the base edge<br />

Marked: A. Unmarked / B. “J Petermann / Bruxelles” on the bottom of the base<br />

Provenance:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

(by descent)<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Brussels, Pour l’Art – Troisième exposition annuelle,<br />

12/01 – 02/1895, cat. No. 4 (possibly one of these<br />

examples ?)<br />

Brussels, Cercle Artistique et Littéraire de Bruxelles,<br />

11/04–29/04/1895, cat. No. 15 (possibly one of these<br />

examples ?)<br />

London, St-George’s Gallery, 1895, cat. No. 24 (possibly<br />

one of these examples ?)<br />

Paris, Galerie l’Art Nouveau (Samuel Bing), December<br />

1895, cat. No. 654 (possibly one of these examples ?)<br />

Brussels, Galerie l’Ecuyer, 13/10–12/11/1972, cat. No. 26.<br />

(both vases)<br />

Ghent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 12/05–10/06/1979,<br />

cat. No. 9 (both vases)<br />

Zürich, Bellerive Museum, 06/10/1993–09/01/1994,<br />

cat. No. 60<br />

Bibliography:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> : juwelen, zilver, ivoor, kristal<br />

(1858–1928), Gent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 1979,<br />

p. 16 (with photo)<br />

Philippe und Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> – Art Nouveau und Art<br />

Déco aus Brüssel, Zürich, Museum Bellerive, 1993,<br />

p. 64 (with photo)<br />

Adriaenssens W., Beredeneerde Catalogus van<br />

het persoonlijke oeuvre van Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> in<br />

De <strong>Wolfers</strong> Dynastie – van art nouveau tot art deco,<br />

Gent, Design museum Gent, 2006, p. 316 (No. 7)<br />

Both vases belonged to the collection of Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>. Curiously they<br />

seem to have two different founders. The smallest vase is marked with the<br />

early “J. Petermann Bruxelles” foundry mark, the largest is unmarked. There<br />

is also a slight difference in patination and finish. It is not unthinkable that the<br />

largest vase was founded at the <strong>Wolfers</strong> firm. The “Pavot” vase, in contemporary<br />

catalogues labelled as a ‘porte-bouquet’ also exists in a pewter edition. Of all<br />

of the bronze vases designed by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>, this seems to have been<br />

the most popular model: up to this day at least 5 examples of the design have<br />

been catalogued in different<br />

collections, these two included.<br />

Although in most recent<br />

exhibition catalogues both vases<br />

are referred to as ‘a pair’, the<br />

difference in height and finish of<br />

the vases does not support this<br />

theory.<br />

16


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Ewer Orchid, 1895<br />

Patinated bronze<br />

Dimensions: 30,5 (with handle) × 20 cm<br />

Signed: “Ph. <strong>Wolfers</strong>” on the side, beneath the handle<br />

Provenance:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

(by descent)<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Brussels, Cercle Artistique et Littéraire de Bruxelles,<br />

11/04–29/04/1895, cat. No. 14 (possibly this<br />

example ?)<br />

London, St-George’s Gallery, 1895, cat. No. 22 (possibly<br />

this example?)<br />

Paris, Galerie l’Art Nouveau (Samuel Bing), December<br />

1895, cat. No. 654 (possibly this example?)<br />

München, Secession – Internationalen Kunst-Austellung<br />

des Vereins bildender Künstler Münchens, April<br />

1898, cat. No. 491 (possibly this example?)<br />

Turin, Prima Esposizione internationale d’arte decorative<br />

moderna, 1902, (possibly this example?)<br />

Brussels, Galerie l’Ecuyer, 13/10–12/11/1972, cat. No. 30.<br />

Ghent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 12/05–10/06/1979,<br />

cat. No. 10<br />

Buenos Aires, Museo de Arte Moderno de la Ciudad de<br />

Buenos Aires, 01/06–29/07/1990, cat. No 171<br />

Lissabon, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 05/11–<br />

05/12/1991, cat. No. 128<br />

Brussels, Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en<br />

Geschiedenis, 15/02–15/04/1992, cat. No. 128<br />

Zürich, Bellerive Museum, 06/10/1993–09/01/1994,<br />

cat. No. 61<br />

Ghent, Design museum Gent, 16/12/2006–09/04/2007<br />

Turin, s.l., 1994, cat. No. 180.<br />

Bibliography:<br />

H. Fierens-Gevaert, La Sezione Belga all’Esposizione<br />

d’Arte Decorativa Moderna in L’Arte Decorativa<br />

Moderna – Rivista di Architettura e di Decorazione<br />

della Casa e della Via, Torino, Camilla E Bertolero,<br />

Anno I, Giugno 1902 N. 6, p. 180 (photo)<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> : juwelen, zilver, ivoor, kristal<br />

(1858–1928), Gent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 1979,<br />

p. 16–17 (with photo)<br />

En Belgica, El Art Nouveau 1893–1905, Buenos Aires,<br />

1990, p. 67<br />

Philippe & Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> – De l’Art Nouveau à l’Art<br />

Déco, Bruxelles, K.M.K.G., 1992, p. 90<br />

Philippe und Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> – Art Nouveau und Art<br />

Déco aus Brüssel, Zürich, Museum Bellerive, 1993,<br />

p. 64 (with photo)<br />

Torino 1902 – Le Arti Decorative Internationali del<br />

Nuovo Secolo, Torino, Fabbri Editori, 1994, p. 230<br />

(full page photo) & p. 252 (with photo)<br />

De Dynastie <strong>Wolfers</strong> – Meesters in zilver, Gent, Design<br />

museum Gent, 2006, p. 16 (with photo)<br />

Adriaenssens W., Beredeneerde Catalogus van het<br />

persoonlijke oeuvre van Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> in De<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> Dynastie – van art nouveau tot art deco,<br />

Gent, Design museum Gent, 2006, p. 318 (No. 13)<br />

18


20<br />

As all bronze objects designed by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> around 1895–1896, these were<br />

meant to be executed in a series of up to 12 casts (see München catalogue of 1898).<br />

It is however not sure that the series was completed, as the ewers were cast and<br />

finished to order. As is often the case for his earliest art nouveau designs, the ewer<br />

was also edited by Louis <strong>Wolfers</strong>, père et fils in pewter.<br />

The Orchid ewer remains one of the most important and innovative designs<br />

of the artist. It is also one of the earliest examples of his art nouveau designs,<br />

exhibited throughout Europe and therefore this design had an important<br />

influence on the shaping of the art nouveau vocabulary. The ewer was amongst<br />

others included in the opening exhibition of Samuel Bing’s Salon de l’Art<br />

Nouveau in Paris in 1895 and was shown in the same year at (the opening?) of the<br />

Burrington and Boss’ St-George’s Gallery in London.<br />

Apart from a pewter model of the Orchids Ewer that our gallery sold in 2014,<br />

we do not know of other examples that have been available on the art market for<br />

the last 10 years.


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Oeillets Visiting Card Tray, 1895–1897<br />

Silver<br />

Dimensions: 17,2 × 12 cm<br />

Marked: just beneath the stem of the carnation, with a variant of the <strong>Wolfers</strong> Maker’s mark incorporating a cipher<br />

“1” for the alloy of 950/1000 and the French “Charançon” mark, not in use before the 29th of June 1893<br />

Visiting card trays were popular in the Belle Epoque period. This small tray<br />

betrays a Japonist influence. The unusual <strong>Wolfers</strong> mark, incorporating the cipher<br />

one, could indicate an early execution around 1895–1897. The 950 alloy indicates<br />

that the piece was made for export, a thesis proven by the French import mark<br />

applied next to the maker’s mark. A version of the famous claret jug “Pivoines”<br />

from the collection of the DIVA Museum in Antwerp (inv. No. S97/12) bears the<br />

same maker’s mark.<br />

In the photographic archives of <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères, this piece is catalogued under<br />

the number Lc 115/1. It is photographed together with its variant 115/2. This serial<br />

number also points to design prior to 1897.<br />

22


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Orchidéa, 1896<br />

Patinated metal in the original marquetry frame<br />

Dimensions: 69 × 56,5 cm (with frame)<br />

Signed: “Ph. <strong>Wolfers</strong> 92” bottom centre, in the metal<br />

This work is unique.<br />

Provenance:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

(by descent)<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Brussels, Exposition Internationale de Bruxelles, 1897<br />

Brussels, Galerie l’Ecuyer, 13/10–12/11/1972, cat. No. 40.<br />

Ghent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 12/05–10/06/1979,<br />

cat. No. 38<br />

Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, 19/12/1980–15/02/1981,<br />

cat. No. 211 & 590<br />

Lissabon, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 05/11–<br />

05/12/1991, cat. No. 184<br />

Brussels, Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en<br />

Geschiedenis, 15/02–15/04/1992, cat. No. 184<br />

Zürich, Bellerive Museum, 06/10/1993–09/01/1994,<br />

cat. No. 43<br />

Ghent, Design museum Gent, 16/12/2006–09/04/2007<br />

Bibliography:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> : juwelen, zilver, ivoor, kristal (1858–<br />

1928), Gent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 1979, p. 33<br />

Philippe & Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> – De l’Art Nouveau à l’Art<br />

Déco, Bruxelles, K.M.K.G., 1992, p. 95<br />

Philippe und Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> – Art Nouveau und Art<br />

Déco aus Brüssel, Zürich, Museum Bellerive, 1993,<br />

p. 56 (with photo)<br />

Adriaenssens W.; Steel R., De <strong>Wolfers</strong> Dynastie – van<br />

art nouveau tot art deco, Gent, Design museum<br />

Gent, 2006, p. 47 (with photo)<br />

Adriaenssens W., Beredeneerde Catalogus van het<br />

persoonlijke oeuvre van Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> in De<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> Dynastie – van art nouveau tot art deco,<br />

Gent, Design museum Gent, 2006, p. 319 (No. 16)<br />

Portraits are a rarity in the work of Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>. This large relief, of which<br />

the artist made small medal versions in silver, ivory, and in bronze is therefore<br />

very exceptional. But then so is the mysterious “Orchidéa”, none other than the<br />

wife of Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>, Sofie Willstädter (1864–1946). <strong>Wolfers</strong> depicted his<br />

spouse in profile, and modelled her hair to resemble the form of the leaves of<br />

an orchid, hence the name. Also very unusual is the original ornate art nouveau<br />

marquetery frame in which the relief was mounted. Although we cannot establish<br />

it for certain through archival<br />

documents, it is very likely that the<br />

floral decoration, echoing the title of<br />

the work, was designed by Philippe<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> himself.<br />

24


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Vase Une Orchidée!, 1896<br />

Patinated bronze<br />

Dimensions: 28,5 × 13,5 cm<br />

Signed: “Ph. <strong>Wolfers</strong> / 96” on the lower part of the vase<br />

Provenance:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

(by descent)<br />

Exhibited:<br />

München, Secession – Internationalen Kunst-Austellung<br />

des Vereins bildender Künstler Münchens, April<br />

1898, cat. No. 492 (possibly this example?)<br />

Ghent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 12/05–10/06/1979,<br />

cat. No. 8<br />

Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, 09/12/1980 –<br />

15/02/1981, No. 210<br />

Lissabon, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 05/11–<br />

05/12/1991, cat. No. 130<br />

Brussels, Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en<br />

Geschiedenis, 15/02–15/04/1992, cat. No. 130<br />

Prague, Musée des Arts Decoratifs, 1995, cat. No. 160<br />

Ghent, Design museum Gent, 16/12/2006–09/04/2007<br />

Bibliography:<br />

Philippe J., Le Val Saint-Lambert – Ses cristalleries et<br />

l’art du verre en Belgique, Liège, Eugène Wahle, 1980,<br />

p. 208 (photo No. 144)<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> : juwelen, zilver, ivoor, kristal<br />

(1858–1928), Gent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 1979,<br />

p. 15 (with photo)<br />

Art Nouveau Belgique, Bruxelles, Société des<br />

Expositions Palais des Beaux-Arts, 1980, p. 282 (with<br />

photo)<br />

Philippe & Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> – De l’Art Nouveau à l’Art<br />

Déco, Bruxelles, K.M.K.G., 1992, p. 60 (photo) & p. 90<br />

Belgická Secese, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, 1995, p. 82<br />

De Dynastie <strong>Wolfers</strong> – Meesters in zilver, Gent, Design<br />

museum Gent, 2006, p. 12 (with photo)<br />

Adriaenssens W., Beredeneerde Catalogus van het<br />

persoonlijke oeuvre van Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> in De<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> Dynastie – van art nouveau tot art deco,<br />

Gent, Design museum Gent, 2006, p. 320 (No. 21)<br />

This vase was made in an unique version in crystal and silver and also in an<br />

edition in pewter and bronze. Although the bronze edition was intended to be<br />

made in up to 12 casts, it is almost certain that less than 12 were made, due to<br />

the extremely limited number of vases known to us today.<br />

26


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Vase Fantasia or Fantaisie d’Orchidées, 1896<br />

Patinated bronze<br />

Dimensions: 26,5 × 15,2 cm<br />

Signed: “Ph. <strong>Wolfers</strong> / 96” on the lower part of the vase<br />

Provenance:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

(by descent)<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Paris, Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, 25/04 –<br />

30/06/1896, cat. No. 422 (possibly this example ?)<br />

Brussels, Galerie l’Ecuyer, 13/10–12/11/1972, cat. No. 31<br />

Ghent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 12/05–10/06/1979,<br />

cat. No. 6<br />

Lissabon, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation,<br />

05/11–05/12/1991, cat. No. 129<br />

Brussels, Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en<br />

Geschiedenis, 15/02–15/04/1992, cat. No. 129<br />

Zürich, Bellerive Museum, 06/10/1993–09/01/1994,<br />

cat. No. 67.2<br />

Prague, Musée des Arts Decoratifs, 1995, cat. No. 159<br />

Bibliography:<br />

Catalogue des ouvrages de Peinture, Sculpture,<br />

Dessins, Gravure, Architecture et Objets d’Art, Paris,<br />

Champ-de-Mars, 1896, p. 288<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> 1858–1929 – Précurseur de l’Art<br />

Nouveau – Statuaire, Bruxelles, Galerie l’Ecuyer,<br />

1972, s.p.<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> : juwelen, zilver, ivoor, kristal<br />

(1858–1928), Gent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 1979,<br />

p. 15 (with photo)<br />

Philippe J., Le Val Saint-Lambert – Ses cristalleries et<br />

l’art du verre en Belgique, Liège, Eugène Wahle, 1980,<br />

p. 210 (photo No. 146a)<br />

Philippe & Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> – De l’Art Nouveau à l’Art<br />

Déco, Bruxelles, K.M.K.G., 1992, p. 60 (photo) & p. 90<br />

Philippe und Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> – Art Nouveau und Art<br />

Déco aus Brüssel, Zürich, Museum Bellerive, 1993,<br />

p. 67 (with photo)<br />

Belgická Secese, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, 1995, p. 82<br />

Adriaenssens W., Beredeneerde Catalogus van<br />

het persoonlijke oeuvre van Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> in<br />

De <strong>Wolfers</strong> Dynastie – van art nouveau tot art deco,<br />

Gent, Design museum Gent, 2006, p. 321 (No. 23)<br />

The unique version in crystal belongs to the Museum für Kunst-, Stadt- und<br />

Theatergeschichte im Reiss-Museum in Mannheim (Germany). There exists a<br />

slightly smaller version in glazed ceramic, produced and edited by the firm of<br />

Emile Müller & Cie. The bronze edition was again limited to 12 casts, but the<br />

actual number of executed bronze vases has to be very limited. The entry in<br />

the 1896 catalogue of the Paris Salon reads: “Vase à Fleurs – fantaisie orchidées<br />

Cyclamens (bronze Japon)” It is unclear what the addition of ‘Japanese bronze’<br />

in the title stands for. It could be a<br />

reference to the technique used or<br />

it could simply have been used for<br />

publicity reasons, Japonism then being<br />

acknowledged as ‘en vogue’ by the main<br />

stream art lover/collector. Also the<br />

addition ‘cyclamens’ seems strange and<br />

is probably a mistake, because the flower<br />

is not to be found on this vase.<br />

28


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Vase Cyclamen, 1896<br />

Patinated bronze<br />

Dimensions: 31,5 × 13,7 cm<br />

Signed: “Ph. <strong>Wolfers</strong>” on the lower part of the vase<br />

Provenance:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

(by descent)<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Brussels, Exposition Internationale de Bruxelles, 1897<br />

(probably the version that is now in the Museum<br />

für Kunst-, Stadt- und Theatergeschichte im Reiss-<br />

Museum, Mannheim)<br />

Ghent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 12/05–10/06/1979,<br />

cat. No. 7<br />

Lissabon, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 05/11–<br />

05/12/1991, cat. No. 135<br />

Brussels, Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en<br />

Geschiedenis, 15/02–15/04/1992, cat. No. 135<br />

Zürich, Bellerive Museum, 06/10/1993–09/01/1994,<br />

cat. No. 65<br />

Ghent, Design museum Gent, 16/12/2006–09/04/2007<br />

Bibliography:<br />

Philippe J., Le Val Saint-Lambert – Ses cristalleries et<br />

l’art du verre en Belgique, Liège, Eugène Wahle, 1980,<br />

p. 208 (photo No. 144)<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> : juwelen, zilver, ivoor, kristal<br />

(1858–1928), Gent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 1979,<br />

p. 15 (with photo)<br />

Philippe & Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> – De l’Art Nouveau à l’Art<br />

Déco, Bruxelles, K.M.K.G., 1992, p. 60 (photo) & p. 90<br />

Philippe und Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> – Art Nouveau und Art<br />

Déco aus Brüssel, Zürich, Museum Bellerive, 1993,<br />

p. 66 (with photo)<br />

De Dynastie <strong>Wolfers</strong> – Meesters in zilver, Gent, Design<br />

museum Gent, 2006, p. 13 (with photo)<br />

Adriaenssens W., Beredeneerde Catalogus van<br />

het persoonlijke oeuvre van Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> in<br />

De <strong>Wolfers</strong> Dynastie – van art nouveau tot art deco,<br />

Gent, Design museum Gent, 2006, p. 321 (No. 22)<br />

Of this magnificent art nouveau design, Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> made a unique version<br />

in crystal and silver. Apart from the bronze edition (again conceived for a<br />

maximum of 12 casts), no editions in other materials seem to have been made.<br />

Up to this date, only two bronze versions are known, the vase in the Mannheim<br />

museum which was bought at the Brussels exhibition of 1897 by Carl and Anna<br />

Reiss and this vase from the personal collection of Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>.<br />

30


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Orchidée inkwell, 1895–1897<br />

Silver and crystal<br />

Dimensions: 12 × 8 cm<br />

Provenance:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection (by descent)<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Ghent, Design museum Gent, 16/12/2006–09/04/2007<br />

The orchid inkwell belongs to a series of inkwells of the same type. The recipient<br />

is made in cut and polished crystal, most certainly executed by the firm of<br />

Val Saint-Lambert. The silver, executed by the firm of Louis <strong>Wolfers</strong>, père et fils<br />

(II) after a design by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>, can vary in decoration. We have found the<br />

silver lid of the inkwell with a floral art nouveau decoration or with the so-called<br />

“L XV <strong>Wolfers</strong>” rocaille patterns. More often than not, the silver of the inkwell is<br />

not marked, as is the case here. The crystal recipient can vary in size and motif,<br />

and sometimes the inkwell comes with a crystal tray.<br />

Coming from the collection of Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>, it is tempting to assume he<br />

used it for his personal correspondence.<br />

32


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Orchidée planter, 1897<br />

Glazed stoneware<br />

Dimensions: 10 × 8 cm<br />

Signed: “P<strong>Wolfers</strong>” and “E. Müller” on the top edge<br />

Marked: “T.6” and “N°5” on the bottom<br />

Provenance:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

(by descent)<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Ostend, Museum voor Schone Kunsten, 03/06–<br />

30/09/1967, cat. No. 409.<br />

Brussels, Galerie l’Ecuyer, 13/10–12/11/1972, cat. No. 36<br />

Ghent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 12/05–10/06/1979,<br />

cat. No. 13<br />

Lissabon, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 05/11–<br />

05/12/1991, cat. No. 136<br />

Brussels, Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en<br />

Geschiedenis, 15/02–15/04/1992, cat. No. 136<br />

Prague, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, 1995, cat. No. 161<br />

Ghent, Design museum Gent, 16/12/2006–09/04/2007<br />

Bibliography:<br />

Europa 1900, Brussel, Ed. de la Connaissance, 1967, p. 73<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> 1858–1929 Précurseur de l’Art Nouveau<br />

Statuaire. Exposition Rétrospective, Galerie l’Ecuyer,<br />

1972, s.p.<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> : juwelen, zilver, ivoor, kristal<br />

(1858–1928), Gent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 1979,<br />

p. 18 (with photo)<br />

Philippe & Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> – De l’Art Nouveau à l’Art<br />

Déco, Bruxelles, K.M.K.G., 1992, p. 91<br />

Belgická Secese 1893–1905 Wallonie-Bruxelles, Prague,<br />

Musée des Arts Décoratifs, 1995, p. 82<br />

Adriaenssens W., Beredeneerde Catalogus van<br />

het persoonlijke oeuvre van Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> in<br />

De <strong>Wolfers</strong> Dynastie – van art nouveau tot art deco,<br />

Gent, Design museum Gent, 2006, p. 318 (No. 15)<br />

The “Orchids” planter is one of the first fully art nouveau objects that Philippe<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> designed. The small planter was designed in 1895 and first executed<br />

in bronze. A year later Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> showed the plaster model of the large<br />

planter in Paris.<br />

According to family history, <strong>Wolfers</strong> was approached by Emile Müller of the<br />

“Grande Tuilerie d’Ivry – Emile Müller & Cie.” at the Brussels exhibition of 1897.<br />

Müller was not a stranger to the Belgian market and besides <strong>Wolfers</strong>, he also<br />

edited pieces by other Belgian artists, most notably by Isidore De Rudder. Müller<br />

asked <strong>Wolfers</strong> to edit some<br />

models in glazed earthenware<br />

or stoneware. From 1897<br />

onwards, Emile Müller got the<br />

rights to edit several models by<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>: the small and<br />

large version of the “Orchidée”<br />

planter, the ewer “Le Vin”, the<br />

vase “Fantasia” and maybe<br />

some other models that have<br />

not yet been rediscovered.<br />

34


36<br />

The large version of the “Orchidée” planter was produced by Müller under the<br />

serial number 365, but we do not have the serial number for the small versions.<br />

The inscriptions on the bottom “T.6” and “No 5” on this piece differ from those of<br />

another version which has the inscriptions “T.2” and “No 2”. The exact meaning<br />

of these inscriptions is not known. We do not know how many copies Müller<br />

executed, his editions were not numbered and supply followed demand. We do<br />

know of at least 4 different examples of the model that came onto the art market<br />

in the last 10 years.<br />

This specific planter belonged to the collection of Philippe and later Marcel<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> and starred in numerous museum exhibitions.


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>’ workshop, ca. 1896


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Teapot Orchids, circa 1897<br />

Silver, with wicker around the handle<br />

Dimensions: 14 (with handle) × 14 cm<br />

Marked: on the bottom of the base with the <strong>Wolfers</strong> Maker’s mark, an obliterated seller’s mark (probably of<br />

E. Goldschmidt (Köln)), alloy mark for 800/1000, and a Viennese import mark (between 1872–1902)<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Ghent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 12/05–10/06/1979,<br />

cat. No. 30<br />

Buenos Aires, Museo de Arte Moderno de la Ciudad de<br />

Buenos Aires, 01/06–29/07/1990, cat. No. 170<br />

Lissabon, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation,<br />

05/11–05/12/1991, cat. No. 151<br />

Brussels, Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en<br />

Geschiedenis, 15/02–15/04/1992, cat. No. 151<br />

Zürich, Bellerive Museum, 06/10/1993–09/01/1994,<br />

cat. No. 55<br />

Antwerp, Provinciaal Museum Sterckshof –<br />

Zilvercentrum, 15/09–13/12/1998, cat. No. 129<br />

Ghent, Design museum Gent, 16/12/2006–09/04/2007<br />

Bibliography:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> : juwelen, zilver, ivoor, kristal<br />

(1858–1928), Gent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 1979,<br />

p. 29 (with photo)<br />

En Belgica, El Art Nouveau 1893–1905, Bruxelles, Arcure,<br />

1990, p. 42 (photo) & p. 67<br />

Philippe & Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> – De l’Art Nouveau à l’Art<br />

Déco, Bruxelles, K.M.K.G., 1992, p.92 (photo without<br />

p. No.)<br />

Philippe und Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> – Art Nouveau und Art<br />

Déco aus Brüssel, Zürich, Museum Bellerive, 1993,<br />

p. 62 (with photo)<br />

Sterckshof Studies 10: Van Belle Epoque tot Art<br />

Nouveau – Belgisch Zilver 1868–1914, Antwerpen,<br />

Sterckhof Zilvercentrum, 1998, p. 235 (with photo)<br />

De Dynastie <strong>Wolfers</strong> – Meesters in zilver, Gent, Design<br />

museum Gent, 2006, p. 10 (with photo)<br />

This Orchids teapot belongs to the group of early designs by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

in art nouveau style from between 1892 and 1897. Typical features of the early<br />

designs are a very simple and undecorated nob and spout and secondly the use of<br />

wicker as an insulator around the handle. The teapot is to be compared with the<br />

small three piece coffee service “Marguerites” from the Museum für Kunst und<br />

Gewerbe in Hamburg.<br />

Since the first <strong>Wolfers</strong> retrospective in Ghent in 1979, this ‘égoïste’ teapot has<br />

been included in all major <strong>Wolfers</strong> retrospectives around the world.<br />

38


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Ewer Les Lys, 1897<br />

Patinated bronze<br />

Dimensions: 30 × 20 cm (with handle)<br />

Signed: “Ph. <strong>Wolfers</strong>” on the side, beneath the handle<br />

Provenance:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

(by descent)<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Turin, Prima Esposizione internationale d’arte decorative<br />

moderna, 1902, (possibly this example?)<br />

Brussels, Galerie l’Ecuyer, 13/10–12/11/1972, cat. No. 33.<br />

Ghent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 12/05–10/06/1979,<br />

cat. No. 5<br />

Lissabon, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 05/11–<br />

05/12/1991, cat. No. 131<br />

Brussels, Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en<br />

Geschiedenis, 15/02–15/04/1992, cat. No. 131<br />

Zürich, Bellerive Museum, 06/10/1993–09/01/1994,<br />

cat. No. 68 (cast from the collection of the Design<br />

museum Gent, Inv. No. 88/12)<br />

Prague, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, 1995, cat. No. 158<br />

Ghent, Design museum Gent, 16/12/2006–09/04/2007<br />

Turin, s.l., 1994, cat. No. 181.<br />

Bibliography:<br />

H. Fierens-Gevaert, La Sezione Belga all’Esposizione<br />

d’Arte Decorativa Moderna in L’Arte Decorativa<br />

Moderna – Rivista di Architettura e di Decorazione<br />

della Casa e della Via, Torino, Camilla E Bertolero,<br />

Anno I, Giugno 1902 N. 6, p. 179<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> : juwelen, zilver, ivoor, kristal<br />

(1858–1928), Gent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 1979,<br />

p. 14 (with photo)<br />

Philippe J., Le Val Saint-Lambert – Ses cristalleries et<br />

l’art du verre en Belgique, Liège, Eugène Wahle, 1980,<br />

p. 208 (photo No. 144)<br />

En Belgica, El Art Nouveau 1893–1905, Buenos Aires,<br />

1990, p. 67<br />

Philippe & Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> – De l’Art Nouveau à l’Art<br />

Déco, Bruxelles, K.M.K.G., 1992, p. 90<br />

Philippe und Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> – Art Nouveau und Art<br />

Déco aus Brüssel, Zürich, Museum Bellerive, 1993,<br />

p. 64 (with photo)<br />

Torino 1902 – Le Arti Decorative Internationali del<br />

Nuovo Secolo, Torino, Fabbri Editori, 1994, p. 252<br />

(with photo)<br />

De Dynastie <strong>Wolfers</strong> – Meesters in zilver, Gent, Design<br />

museum Gent, 2006, p. 12 (with photo)<br />

Adriaenssens W., Beredeneerde Catalogus van het<br />

persoonlijke oeuvre van Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> in De<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> Dynastie – van art nouveau tot art deco,<br />

Gent, Design museum Gent, 2006, p. 322 (No.27 )<br />

Goubert K., Cahier 3 Meeserlijk (zilver)design – De<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong>verzameling, Gent, Design Museum Gent,<br />

2012, p. 38–39 (with photo)<br />

The Lilies Ewer was designed in 1897 and already shows an evolution in the art<br />

nouveau style of Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>. Naturalism and asymmetry are to be gradually<br />

replaced by stylisation and symmetry in the years to come. The ewer was one of the<br />

most important objects at the Turin 1902 exhibition show of the artist. He asked<br />

the architect Leon Sneyers to design a special pedestal, which only supported the<br />

circular base of the ewer and consequently had the piece float in space.<br />

The ewer was meant to be executed in a series of up to 12 casts (see München<br />

catalogue of 1898). Up to date only two versions are known. One in the collection<br />

of the Design museum Gent (provenance: a member of the <strong>Wolfers</strong> family) and<br />

this cast which was kept by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> himself.<br />

40


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Buckle Flirt, 1897–1898<br />

Patinated silver and gilt silver<br />

Dimensions: 9 × 12,2 cm<br />

Provenance:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

(by descent)<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Brussels, Pour l’Art, Jan-Febr/1899, cat. No. 3.1 (possibly<br />

another example)<br />

München, Secession – Internationalen Kunst-Austellung<br />

des Vereins bildender Künstler Münchens, April<br />

1898, cat. No. 621 (possibly another example)<br />

Hamburg, Ausstellung Belgischer Künstler. Constantin<br />

Meunier – Victor Rousseau – Hélène De Rudder –<br />

Isidore De Rudder – Ch. Van der Stappen – Philippe<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong>, Hamburgisches Museum für Kunst und<br />

Gewerbe, Nov.-Dec./1901, cat. Nr. 19 (possibly<br />

another example)<br />

London, Goldsmiths’ Hall, 26/10–02/12/1961,<br />

cat. No. 884<br />

Ostend, Museum voor Schone Kunsten, 03/06–<br />

30/09/1967, cat. No. 293.<br />

Brussels, Galerie l’Ecuyer, 13/10–12/11/1972, cat. No. 45.<br />

Milan, Museo Poldi Pezzoli, 07/11–20/11/1973, cat. No. 12<br />

Ghent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 12/05–10/06/1979,<br />

cat. No. 52<br />

Brussels, Art Nouveau Belgique, Palais des Beaux-Arts,<br />

19/12/1980–15/02/1981, cat. No. 819<br />

Buenos Aires, Museo de Arte Moderno de la Ciudad de<br />

Buenos Aires, 01/06–29/07/1990, cat. No 175<br />

Lissabon, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 05/11–<br />

05/12/1991, cat. No. 3<br />

Brussels, Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en<br />

Geschiedenis, 15/02–15/04/1992, cat. No. 3<br />

Prague, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, 1995, cat. No. 172<br />

Ghent, Design museum Gent, 16/12/2006–09/04/2007<br />

Bibliography:<br />

Hugues G., International Exhibition of modern jewellery<br />

1890–1961, London, The Worshipful Company of<br />

Goldsmiths, 1961, s.p.<br />

Europa 1900 – Schilderijen, Tekeningen,<br />

Beeldhouwwerken, juwelen, Brussel, Ed. de la<br />

Connaissance, 1967, p. 47<br />

Gioielli di Artisti Belgi dal 1900 al 1973, Milano, Museo<br />

Poldi Pezzoli, 1973, s.p. (with photo)<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> : juwelen, zilver, ivoor, kristal<br />

(1858–1928), Gent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 1979,<br />

p. 16–17 (with photo)<br />

En Belgica, El Art Nouveau 1893–1905, Buenos Aires,<br />

1990, p. 43 (with photo) & p. 67<br />

Philippe & Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> – De l’Art Nouveau à l’Art<br />

Déco, Bruxelles, K.M.K.G., 1992, p. 43 (with photo)<br />

& p. 81<br />

Belgická Secese 1893–1905 Wallonie-Bruxelles, Prague,<br />

Musée des Arts Décoratifs, 1995, p. 83<br />

Adriaenssens W.; Steel R., De <strong>Wolfers</strong> Dynastie – van<br />

art nouveau tot art deco, Gent, Design museum<br />

Gent, 2006, p. 112 (with photo)<br />

Adriaenssens W., Beredeneerde Catalogus van het<br />

persoonlijke oeuvre van Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> in De<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> Dynastie – van art nouveau tot art deco,<br />

Gent, Design museum Gent, 2006, p. 324 (No. 32)<br />

42


44<br />

The buckle “Flirt” is the first of the so-called unique jewel creations that Philippe<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> has designed. The drawing for the buckle is dated 05/11/1897, the<br />

execution certainly before 30/04/1898. It forms a group with three other very<br />

early silver art nouveau buckles, “Le Jour et la Nuit”, “Orchidées” and “Lys du<br />

Japon”, of which only the latter remained unique. “Orchidées” was executed in<br />

six copies, “Le Jour et la Nuit” probably in two and with “Flirt” we know of four<br />

examples. Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> sold a copy to Franz de Schmatzer – a very good<br />

client of <strong>Wolfers</strong> – and he sold a copy through the jeweller Brahmfeld & Gudruf in<br />

Hamburg. The Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels conserve the buckle<br />

that belonged to Renée Feldheim, daughter of Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> (inv. No. Bj124).<br />

The supposition that six examples were executed (according to Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>’<br />

research) is not consistent with the archive of Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>.<br />

The present buckle comes from the collection of Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> himself.<br />

Instead of the pearl or stone inset on the shield of the crab, <strong>Wolfers</strong> patinated the<br />

silver replacement with gold. The entire piece being cast in silver, it is possible to<br />

consider it as the finished prototype, preceding the buckles with a pearl or stone<br />

inset. This could also explain the lack of signature on the piece. This version of the<br />

buckle “Flirt” still retains its original ‘Vieil argent’ or “old silver” patina and the<br />

chasing is of the highest quality.


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Oeillets Shell dish, 1897–1900<br />

Silver<br />

Dimensions: 16,3 × 13,9 cm<br />

Marked: on the edge of the handle with the <strong>Wolfers</strong> Maker’s mark, and alloy mark for 800/1000<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Brussels, Galerie l’Ecuyer, 13/10–12/11/1972, cat. No. 6<br />

Lissabon, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 05/11–<br />

05/12/1991, cat. No. 155<br />

Brussels, Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en<br />

Geschiedenis, 15/02–15/04/1992, cat. No. 155<br />

Prague, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, 1995, cat. No. 164<br />

Antwerp, Provinciaal Museum Sterckshof –<br />

Zilvercentrum, 15/09–13/12/1998, cat. No. 171<br />

Ghent, Design museum Gent, 16/12/2006–09/04/2007<br />

Bibliography:<br />

Philippe & Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> – De l’Art Nouveau à l’Art<br />

Déco, Bruxelles, K.M.K.G., 1992, p.92 (photo without<br />

p. No.)<br />

Belgická Secese 1893–1905 Wallonie-Bruxelles, Prague,<br />

Musée des Arts Décoratifs, 1995, p. 82<br />

Sterckshof Studies 10: Van Belle Epoque tot Art<br />

Nouveau – Belgisch Zilver 1868–1914, Antwerpen,<br />

Sterckhof Zilvercentrum, 1998, p. 273 (with photo)<br />

De Dynastie <strong>Wolfers</strong> – Meesters in zilver, Gent, Design<br />

museum Gent, 2006, p. 9 (with photo)<br />

The shell dishes were executed in different sizes and with a variety of flower<br />

decorations. One such dish with a decoration of orchids is in the permanent<br />

collection of the K.M.K.G. museum in Brussels (inv. Ag. 107), other examples are<br />

in private collections. There are unmarked examples of the shell dishes recorded.<br />

46


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Model for Cygnes!, 1898<br />

Plaster<br />

Dimensions: 10 × 18 cm<br />

Provenance:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

(by descent)<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Lissabon, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation,<br />

05/11–05/12/1991, cat. No. 118<br />

Brussels, Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en<br />

Geschiedenis, 15/02–15/04/1992, cat. No. 118<br />

Prague, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, 1995, cat. No. 168<br />

Bibliography:<br />

Philippe & Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> – De l’Art Nouveau à l’Art<br />

Déco, Bruxelles, K.M.K.G., 1992, p. 42 (with photo)<br />

& p. 89<br />

Belgická Secese 1893–1905 Wallonie-Bruxelles, Prague,<br />

Musée des Arts Décoratifs, 1995, p. 83<br />

Adriaenssens W., Beredeneerde Catalogus van<br />

het persoonlijke oeuvre van Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> in<br />

De <strong>Wolfers</strong> Dynastie – van art nouveau tot art deco,<br />

Gent, Design museum Gent, 2006, p. 330 (No. 49)<br />

The buckle “Cygnes!” also called “Cygnes et Nénuphars” belongs to the first group<br />

of unique jewels by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>. Its design is dated on the 29th of September<br />

1898 and it was executed before January 1899. The plaster model has to be dated<br />

therefore between October and December 1898. The buckle was executed in gold<br />

with enamel and turquoise. The plaster model served thus as a “chef modèle”<br />

for the casting mould for the gold buckle. It was imperative that every detail<br />

was worked out in plaster and that the finish in plaster was as fine and perfect<br />

as possible. Otherwise the result in gold would have looked dull. A bad result<br />

because of lack of detail in casting cannot be redressed or masked by a master<br />

chiseller, without completely changing the work itself.<br />

In most cases, these models were made by the artist himself. This plaster<br />

cast is not signed, but it is safe to assume that it was made by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

singlehandedly. These casts remained also unique, and were not for reproduction<br />

nor sale. But due to the amount of work needed to finish such a piece and due<br />

to the decorative nature of the small relief, they were often displayed in the<br />

workshop of Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> or in the drawing studio of <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères. The fact<br />

that this plaster has a metal loop to affix it to the wall, indicates that has been<br />

displayed.<br />

48


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Model for Cacatoès, 1898–1899<br />

Plaster<br />

Dimensions: 14 × 10 cm<br />

Provenance:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

(by descent)<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Lissabon, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation,<br />

05/11–05/12/1991, cat. No. 119<br />

Brussels, Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en<br />

Geschiedenis, 15/02–15/04/1992, cat. No. 119<br />

Prague, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, 1995, cat. No. 169<br />

Bibliography:<br />

Philippe & Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> – De l’Art Nouveau à l’Art<br />

Déco, Bruxelles, K.M.K.G., 1992, p. 44 (with photo)<br />

& p. 89<br />

Belgická Secese 1893–1905 Wallonie-Bruxelles, Prague,<br />

Musée des Arts Décoratifs, 1995, p. 83<br />

Adriaenssens W., Beredeneerde Catalogus van<br />

het persoonlijke oeuvre van Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> in<br />

De <strong>Wolfers</strong> Dynastie – van art nouveau tot art deco,<br />

Gent, Design museum Gent, 2006, p. 335 (No. 63)<br />

The hair comb or hair ornament “Cacatoès” is spectacular. The pièce was<br />

executed in enamelled gold and ivory. It was designed on the 12th of November<br />

1898 and it was first publicly exhibited on the 20th of January 1900. The plaster<br />

model must therefore have been executed by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> at the end of 1898<br />

or in 1899.<br />

The cockatoo is a very unusual bird in Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>’ menagerie. The image<br />

is very exotic, enhanced by the use of ivory. As is the case with the “Cygnes!”<br />

model, this model was also used as the chief model for casting the cockatoo in<br />

gold. Finish and detail in the model were again of primordial importance.<br />

The cockatoo comb was executed in ivory and enamelled gold. It was first<br />

shown on the Pour l’Art exhibition of 1900 and was on display in Hamburg in 1901<br />

at the Brahmfeld & Gutruf jeweller, who sold the jewel at the exhibition. Since<br />

then it has disappeared.<br />

The plaster cast of “Cacatoès” is almost certainly made by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

himself. It remained unique. As it has a small metal loop, it must have been on<br />

display in the workshop of Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> or in the drawing studio of <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Frères.<br />

50


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Lilies footed bowl, 1899<br />

Pewter<br />

Dimensions: 21 × 25 × 17,7 cm<br />

Signed: “M <strong>Wolfers</strong> / 1–1-99”, near the rim edge of the base<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

To our knowledge this is the first decorative design by Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> that was<br />

executed. The pewter art nouveau bowl, clearly designed under the influence of<br />

father Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>, makes good use of the lily flower and foliage as decorative<br />

ornaments. Considering that Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>’ earliest executed art nouveau<br />

designs are to be dated around 1893–94, it shows the prodigious qualities of the<br />

young artist. It is known that Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> encouraged young Marcel to take<br />

his inspiration from nature, and to make studies of flowers and plants, growing<br />

abundantly in the <strong>Wolfers</strong>’ park around the parental house – designed by Paul<br />

Hankar – at La Hulpe near Brussels.<br />

This pewter bowl was almost certainly cast in the <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères<br />

workshop. It is the only cast known to us today.<br />

52


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> / Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Hair Comb Hibou et Chauve-Souris, 1899<br />

Ivory, opal and carnelian<br />

Dimensions: 10,7 × 9,7 cm<br />

This work is unique.<br />

Provenance:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

(by descent)<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Brussels, Salon de Pour l’Art – 8ième Exposition<br />

annuelle, Musée d’Art Ancien, 20/01–18/02/1900,<br />

cat. No. 20<br />

Paris, Galerie Aublanc, 1900 (no catalogue was edited)<br />

Turin, Prima Esposizione internationale d’arte decorative<br />

moderna, 1902<br />

Antwerp, Exposition d’oeuvres de Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>,<br />

exemplaires uniques exécutés de 1898 à 1903, Salle<br />

Verlat, 18/02–01/03/1903, cat. No. 36 bis.<br />

Brussels, Salon Triennal des Beaux-Arts, Hall du<br />

Cinquantenaire, 05/09–02/11/1903, cat. No. 1792<br />

Ghent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 12/05–10/06/1979,<br />

cat. No. 54<br />

Lissabon, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 05/11–<br />

05/12/1991, cat. No. 9<br />

Brussels, Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en<br />

Geschiedenis, 15/02–15/04/1992, cat. No. 9<br />

Zürich, Bellerive Museum, 06/10/1993–09/01/1994,<br />

cat. No. 18.1<br />

Turin, s.l., 1994, cat. No. 182 b.<br />

Lleida, Centre Social I Cultural de la Fundació<br />

“La Caixa”, 10/2004–01/2005<br />

Palma de Mallorca, Centre Cultural dela Fundació<br />

“La Caixa”, 01–04/2005<br />

Bibliography:<br />

H. Fierens-Gevaert, La Sezione Belga all’Esposizione<br />

d’Arte Decorativa Moderna in L’Arte Decorativa<br />

Moderna – Rivista di Architettura e di Decorazione<br />

della Casa e della Via, Torino, Camilla E Bertolero,<br />

Anno I, Giugno 1902 N. 6, p. 182 (photo)<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>: juwelen, zilver, ivoor, kristal<br />

(1858–1928), Gent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 1979,<br />

p. 42 (with photo)<br />

Philippe & Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> – De l’Art Nouveau à l’Art<br />

Déco, Bruxelles, K.M.K.G., 1992, p. 45 (with photo)<br />

& p. 82<br />

Philippe und Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> – Art Nouveau und Art<br />

Déco aus Brüssel, Zürich, Museum Bellerive, 1993,<br />

p. 40 (with photo)<br />

Torino 1902 – Le Arti Decorative Internationali del<br />

Nuovo Secolo, Torino, Fabbri Editori, 1994, cover<br />

page photo & p. 252–253 (with photo)<br />

Gaspar M., Falk F., Vélez P., El Jardí Fantàstic – Joieria<br />

modernista a les colleccions Europees, Barcelona,<br />

Fundació “La Caixa”, 2004, p. 102 (with photo)<br />

Adriaenssens W., Beredeneerde Catalogus van<br />

het persoonlijke oeuvre van Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> in<br />

De <strong>Wolfers</strong> Dynastie – van art nouveau tot art deco,<br />

Gent, Design museum Gent, 2006, p. 339 (No. 75)<br />

54


56<br />

The “Hibou et Chauve-Souris” (Owl and bats) hair comb has an interesting<br />

history. It was designed by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> on the 22nd of March 1899 and was<br />

executed before the 20th of January 1900, date of its first public showing on the<br />

Pour l’Art Salon in Brussels. Philippe considered it as one of his most important<br />

pieces, showing the comb at the iconic 1902 International Exhibition in Turin<br />

and in important shows in Antwerp and Brussels in 1903. Contemporary pictures<br />

show the sculpted ivory comb, crowned by a large owl sculpted in amethyst and<br />

hoovering over a large diamond set ruby. The diamonds and the large ruby proved<br />

to be fatal for this exceptional symbolist jewel. A substantial number of Philippe<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong>’ art nouveau designs which incorporated very expensive gems were<br />

dismantled by the <strong>Wolfers</strong> firm, when unsold and out of fashion. That way the<br />

firm could recuperate the capital invested in the stones that were used.<br />

The remains of the jewels were generally destroyed but in some rare cases<br />

they were kept by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>. On inheriting the hair comb, Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

decided to give it a new life and to sculpt a silhouette of a flying bat in an opal<br />

stone and affix it onto the comb, beneath what can be interpreted as a circular<br />

setting sun in carnelian.<br />

The ‘new’ comb, a posthumous collaboration between father and son, is<br />

convincing and makes the bridge between art nouveau and art deco. This<br />

iconic image was used on the cover of the important exhibition catalogue of the<br />

International Decorative Arts Exhibition of Turin 1902, which was edited by<br />

Fabbri Editori in 1994.


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Water Lilies dish, 1899<br />

Patinated bronze<br />

Dimensions: 11 × 24 × 15,5 cm<br />

Signed: “M <strong>Wolfers</strong> / 11–4-99”, near the edge, at the start of the handle<br />

Marked with the “J. Petermann / Bruxelles” foundry mark at the bottom of the dish<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

Bibliography:<br />

Philippe und Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> – Art Nouveau und Art<br />

Déco aus Brüssel, Zürich, Museum Bellerive, 1993,<br />

p. 88<br />

It is hard to believe that this striking art nouveau dish was made when Marcel<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> was only 13 years old. Working in the style of his father, the young<br />

designer made a typical art nouveau object, decorative but with an eye for<br />

functionality: the dish rests on three ‘stems’, so that it remains stable and the<br />

stem of the closed water lily flower serves as a handle.<br />

To our knowledge only two casts of this model are known to exist. One<br />

in patinated bronze, this example, and one in pewter. Both were founded by<br />

J. Petermann, most certainly in the year of creation.<br />

58


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Vase Paon, 1899<br />

Double overlay glass<br />

Dimensions: 26 × 12,5 cm<br />

Signed: “P<strong>Wolfers</strong>”, the signature partly missing<br />

This vase is unique.<br />

Provenance:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

(by descent)<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Brussels, Pour l’Art, Musée d’Art Ancien, 1900,<br />

cat. No. 25<br />

Hamburg, Ausstellung Belgischer Künstler. Constantin<br />

Meunier – Victor Rousseau – Hélène De Rudder –<br />

Isidore De Rudder – Ch. Van der Stappen – Philippe<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong>, Hamburgisches Museum für Kunst und<br />

Gewerbe, Nov.-Dec./1901, cat. Nr. 25<br />

Turin, Prima Esposizione internationale d’arte decorative<br />

moderna, 1902<br />

Antwerp, Exposition d’oeuvres de Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>,<br />

exemplaires uniques exécutés de 1898 à 1903, Salle<br />

Verlat, 18/02–01/03/1903, cat. No. 56<br />

Brussels, Salon Triennal des Beaux-Arts, Hall du<br />

Cinquantenaire, 05/09–02/11/1903, cat. No. 1793<br />

Wiesbaden, 1904<br />

Ghent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 12/05–10/06/1979,<br />

cat. No. 1<br />

Lissabon, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 05/11–<br />

05/12/1991, cat. No. 138<br />

Brussels, Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en<br />

Geschiedenis, 15/02–15/04/1992, cat. No. 138<br />

Zürich, Bellerive Museum, 06/10/1993–09/01/1994,<br />

cat. No. 76.1<br />

Bibliography:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> : juwelen, zilver, ivoor, kristal<br />

(1858–1928), Gent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 1979,<br />

p. 11 (with photo)<br />

Philippe & Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> – De l’Art Nouveau à l’Art<br />

Déco, Bruxelles, K.M.K.G., 1992, p. 59 (with photo)<br />

& p. 91<br />

Adriaenssens W., Beredeneerde Catalogus van het<br />

persoonlijke oeuvre van Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> in De<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> Dynastie – van art nouveau tot art deco,<br />

Gent, Design museum Gent, 2006, p. 343 (No. 87)<br />

The vase “Paon” was designed somewhere in the summer of 1899. The vase was<br />

finished before the 20th of January 1900, when the piece was exhibited, to much<br />

acclaim, at the annual show of the artists collective “Pour l’Art” in Brussels. It<br />

shows the new art nouveau style of Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>. Symmetry and stylised<br />

motives are replacing the early curvilinear naturalist decorations of the earlier<br />

pieces. This move towards stylisation and even the use of an almost abstract basic<br />

form, were also apparent in the silver base of the vase, alas disappeared now.<br />

The vase was executed in the workshops of the Cristalleries de Pantin (Pantin<br />

– Seine) according to the specifications of Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>. According to several<br />

contemporary accounts, the artist then finished the vases by hand in his own<br />

workshop in Brussels, using “dentistry material”. The quality of the chasing is<br />

60


62<br />

of the highest order as one could expect from a master silversmith. <strong>Wolfers</strong> also<br />

went to great lengths to achieve the right colours and colour combinations of<br />

glass. The group of glass vases designed by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> belong to the most<br />

interesting creations in art nouveau glass. Due to their experimental nature a lot<br />

of the surviving vases have tension cracks and are flawed. Neither <strong>Wolfers</strong> nor the<br />

Cristallerie de Pantin had much experience with the technique of overlay glass at<br />

that time. The damage could also be due to the fact that the vases have suffered<br />

from extensive alterations and adjustments afterwards, in <strong>Wolfers</strong>’ studio. One<br />

has also to take in account the countless exhibitions and therefore transports the<br />

vases had to endure. In the case of the “Paon” vase, it was exhibited six times in<br />

four years, in three different countries.<br />

The vase “Paon” was probably broken before WWII. Since 1979, it has been<br />

exhibited in its current condition. The restauration of the vase is probably the<br />

work of Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> himself, possibly in the 1960’s. Even broken, the “Paon”<br />

vase remains an important witness of the later art nouveau style of Philippe<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> and his prowess as glass designer. The vase would certainly benefit from a<br />

professional restauration with modern techniques.


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Model for hanger Faisans, 1901<br />

Plaster<br />

Dimensions: 15,5 × 5,5 cm<br />

Provenance:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

(by descent)<br />

Bibliography:<br />

Adriaenssens W., Beredeneerde Catalogus van<br />

het persoonlijke oeuvre van Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> in<br />

De <strong>Wolfers</strong> Dynastie – van art nouveau tot art deco,<br />

Gent, Design museum Gent, 2006, p. 367 (No. 155 for<br />

the photograph of the finished hanger)<br />

This plaster model, the chief model for the gold structure of the jewel, has to our<br />

knowledge never been exhibited. The “Faisans” hanger was executed in gold,<br />

enamelled gold, diamonds, pearls and rubies. It was finished before the 18th of<br />

January 1902, so the model will almost certainly have been made in 1901.<br />

The pheasant motif reoccurs many times in Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>’ oeuvre.<br />

According to oral information, he modelled these after the specimens that<br />

roamed the lush gardens of his home in La Hulpe. The “Faisans” hanger already<br />

shows the mature symmetrical style of <strong>Wolfers</strong>. The pheasant was of course a<br />

good animal to make a very colourful jewel. When one looks at the size of the<br />

plaster model, the hanger must have been spectacular.<br />

As is the case with the other plaster models in the exhibition, “Faisans” has a<br />

small metal loop, so it was on display in the workshop of Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> or in<br />

the drawing studio of <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères.<br />

64


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Art Nouveau coffee and tea service, ca. 1901–1910<br />

Silver and ivory for the insulators<br />

Dimensions: coffeepot: height 25,4 cm, length 23 cm (from spout to handle)<br />

Marked: on the bottom of each item, maker’s mark three five pointed stars in a triangle and alloy mark for<br />

800/1000<br />

Provenance:<br />

Private collection, Brussels<br />

This service was designed by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> with the German market in<br />

mind. Unusually abstract in decoration and through a typical vertical design of<br />

the pieces, the set reminds us of Jugendstil designs by Peter Behrens, Richard<br />

Riemerschmid or even Rudolph Rocha. However, it is possible that the Philippe<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong>’ design predates these of his German colleagues.<br />

The abstract design of the service is the end of an evolution which started<br />

around 1893. Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> went from an almost realist approach in his first art<br />

nouveau designs towards a more stylised and symmetrical art nouveau between<br />

1900 and 1905. It is difficult to date this set. It is a design that in our opinion<br />

should be dated around 1902–1905, but we lack any concrete evidence to support<br />

this theory.<br />

This model is by any account rare. Apart from a samovar of the same model,<br />

we know of only this service to have come to the market these last years.<br />

66


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

La Toilette medallion, 1903<br />

Ivory<br />

Dimensions: diameter 9,8 cm<br />

Signed: with the interlaced monogram“PW” and dated “1903”<br />

Provenance:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

(by descent)<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Ghent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 12/05–10/06/1979,<br />

cat. No. 35<br />

Lissabon, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation,<br />

05/11–05/12/1991, cat. No. 185<br />

Brussels, Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en<br />

Geschiedenis, 15/02–15/04/1992, cat. No. 185<br />

Bibliography:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> : juwelen, zilver, ivoor, kristal<br />

(1858–1928), Gent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 1979,<br />

p. 32 (with photo)<br />

Philippe & Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> – De l’Art Nouveau à l’Art<br />

Déco, Bruxelles, K.M.K.G., 1992, p. 95<br />

Adriaenssens W., Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> en de renaissance<br />

van de ivoorsnijkunst in België, Bulletin van de<br />

Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en Geschiedenis Deel<br />

71, Brussel, 2000, p. 153 fig. 35.<br />

Adriaenssens W.; Steel R., De <strong>Wolfers</strong> Dynastie – van<br />

art nouveau tot art deco, Gent, Design museum<br />

Gent, 2006, p. 140 (with photo)<br />

Adriaenssens W., Beredeneerde Catalogus van<br />

het persoonlijke oeuvre van Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> in<br />

De <strong>Wolfers</strong> Dynastie – van art nouveau tot art deco,<br />

Gent, Design museum Gent, 2006, p. 374 (No. 178)<br />

The “La Toilette” or “The Grooming” is one of only a few sculptures where we<br />

know Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> to have used photography as a model for the carving. In<br />

fact “La Toilette” and its companion, the medallion “La Parure” were decorative<br />

elements for a jewel casket, also entitled “La Parure”, which had a very lengthy<br />

design period. The first drawings for the casket and the medallions were made in<br />

1899. The finished casket was only shown in 1905 at the Pour l’Art exhibition in<br />

Brussels.<br />

Curiously the “La Toilette” medallion that was mounted into the casket<br />

is dated 1902. The one we have, which comes from the personal collection of<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>, is dated 1903. Probably the<br />

sculptor was so pleased with the relief that he<br />

decided to have one made as a separate work of art.<br />

As it was customary, the artist first modelled a large<br />

version in plaster of which in this case a bronze was<br />

cast at the same size. The plaster modello was then<br />

reduced in size, by means of a reduction machine.<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> used the same method for the<br />

execution of the figurative details of his jewels.<br />

To our knowledge, the “La Toilette” medallion in<br />

ivory of 1903 remained an unique piece.<br />

68


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

The workshop of Isidore de Rudder, 1904<br />

Pastel on paper<br />

Dimensions: 44 × 32 cm (day measure)<br />

Signed: indistinctly “M<strong>Wolfers</strong>” (in written script) and “04” bottom right<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

In this very early pastel, Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>, then aged 18, shows us the workshop<br />

of his master, Isidore De Rudder (1855–1943). Clearly, Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> was<br />

impressed with De Rudder’s newest creation, the sculpture “figure Tombale”,<br />

which he showed later at the Salon of the Cercle Pour l’Art in 1905.<br />

This work is one of the earliest finished drawings that we know by Marcel<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong>.<br />

70


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Aurore, circa 1906<br />

Patinated bronze<br />

Dimensions: 38 × 45,5 × 17 cm<br />

Signed: “Ph <strong>Wolfers</strong>” on the base<br />

Marked: on the side of the base rim with foundry mark “Fon[de]rie N[ationa]le des Bronzes / J. Petermann /<br />

StGilles Bruxelles”<br />

Executed in an edition of only three casts<br />

Provenance:<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères, Brussels<br />

Given by the board of <strong>Wolfers</strong> to the widow of Philippe<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong>, Sophie Willstädter, on the 31st of December<br />

1929<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

(by descent)<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> 1858–1929 Précurseur de l’Art Nouveau<br />

Statuaire. Exposition Rétrospective, Bruxelles,<br />

Galerie l’Ecuyer, 13/10–12/11/1972, cat. nr. 56<br />

Bibliography:<br />

Adriaenssens W., Beredeneerde Catalogus van het<br />

persoonlijke oeuvre van Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> in<br />

De <strong>Wolfers</strong> Dynastie – van art nouveau tot art deco,<br />

Gent, Design museum Gent, 2006, p. 388 (No. 217A)<br />

“Aurore” or Dawn is the first fragment of the “Le Cycle des Heures” sculpture,<br />

conceived in 1905. In 1907 Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> gave another cast to the Italian art<br />

critic and dealer Vittorio Pica, thanking him for his article on him in Emporium.<br />

A further cast was given by the artist to Régine Van Praag, a close friend of his<br />

mother’s ca.1908.<br />

72


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Plique-à-jour studies, ca. 1905–1910 ( ?)<br />

Plique-à-jour enamel in silver for the irises motif<br />

Dimensions: 10,5 × 7,6 cm<br />

Plique-à-jour enamel in copper for the crab motif<br />

Dimensions : 9,9 × 10,8 cm<br />

Provenance:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection (by descent)<br />

These extremely rare enamel studies give us an insight into how Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

proceeded in making the complicated plique-à-jour enamel vases. Apparently, the<br />

enamel pieces were made separately from the overall structure and when finished,<br />

were brazed into the main form. Afterwards the whole object was finished by<br />

hand.<br />

These studies are not known<br />

to have a link with existing<br />

objects or with objects that were<br />

photographed by Alexandre, to<br />

fit into the special three part<br />

catalogue Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

commissioned. It is therefore<br />

likely that <strong>Wolfers</strong> made or<br />

intended to make other exclusive<br />

objects with plique-à-jour<br />

enamel. We know of at least one<br />

“bonbonnière” with plique-à-jour<br />

and cloisonné enamel, designed<br />

by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>, which was<br />

on display in the Musée Philippe<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong>, that has not been<br />

photographed.<br />

74


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Pendant & broche Emaux Translucides, 1910<br />

Watercolour and ink on paper<br />

Dimensions: 35,5 × 30 cm (sheet)<br />

Signed: “Ph.W. 4.7.10” bottom right<br />

Provenance:<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères<br />

Private collection<br />

Art market, Brussels<br />

Original drawings of jewellery which are signed and dated by Phillipe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

are almost impossible to find. This drawing, depicting an orchid, shows that<br />

pendants were often designed to double as broches. What is remarkable about<br />

this drawing is the fact that it is dated the 4th of July 1910. As far as we know, this<br />

is one of the last known designs for an art nouveau jewel by the artist. It proves<br />

that even though the art nouveau style was almost out of fashion in 1910, clients<br />

still wanted to have a jewel, designed by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> himself and in the style<br />

of his greatest creations.<br />

Although this drawing is unique, the jewel itself could have been made<br />

in several copies. The model is not in the “Exemplaires Uniques” repertoire.<br />

The drawing most certainly belonged to the archives of <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères, but we<br />

cannot establish how it came onto the art market.<br />

76


78


Exhibition of Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>’ works at the Cercle Artistique et Littéraire (Brussels) in 1912


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Aurora, 1910<br />

Terracotta<br />

Dimensions : 44 × 31 × 28 cm<br />

Signed: “[M] <strong>Wolfers</strong> / Unique / [terre] cuite” on the left side of the sculpture, partially missing & “M. <strong>Wolfers</strong>”<br />

incised on the bottom rim<br />

This work is unique.<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

<strong>Collection</strong> Anthony, Antwerp, bought from the above in<br />

1912 for 300,– frcs.<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

(acquired at a sale somewhere in the 1950’s (?))<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Brussels, Exposition Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>, Cercle Artistique<br />

et Littéraire de Bruxelles, 18/03–28/03/1912,<br />

cat. No. 17<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> referred to the terracotta version of the head “Aurora” as “Etude”<br />

or study in the 1912 catalogue. He probably chose to do so to distinguish it<br />

from the group “Aurora”, which was part of the “Légende Solaire” project, and<br />

which was visible at the same show. The head “Aurora” could indeed have been<br />

conceived initially as a study for the life-size version of the group. Although<br />

there is a reference to a certain “Mr. Maurissen” as sitter for the sculpture,<br />

in the archives of Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>, we found a photographic self-portrait which<br />

dates from the same period and which can be seen as a preparatory study for the<br />

finished sculpture.<br />

80


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Aurora, 1910<br />

Bronze, later patinated with lacquer, on a black “noir de Mazy” base<br />

Dimensions: 74 × 34 × 38 cm<br />

Signed: “M. <strong>Wolfers</strong> Ep N°2 cire perdue”, on the side of the sculpture<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Woluwe-Saint-Pierre (Brussels), Exposition Marcel<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong>, Atelier 28, Av. Verte, 18/03/1912–28/03/1912,<br />

cat. No. 19 (possibly this example ?)<br />

Brussels, Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> sculpteur-laqueur, Galerie Nos<br />

Peintres, 26/11–09/12/1932, cat. No. 6<br />

Ghent, Ville de Gand Salon de 1933, Palais des Fêtes,<br />

12/08–08/10/1933, cat. No. 847<br />

Brussels, Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>, sculpteur-laqueur, Galerie<br />

L’Ecuyer, 22/05–13/06/1970, cat. No. 60<br />

As with the terracotta version, the bronze head “Aurora” got the suffix “Etude” in<br />

the 1912 catalogue. Considered by Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> as a major work – he put the<br />

bronze head on the cover of the catalogue – the mention “study” has to be seen as<br />

a way to differ it from the “Aurora” group.<br />

The present “Aurora” is the second cast out of two, both cast in the lostwax<br />

technique. The first cast was sold to Max <strong>Wolfers</strong> in 1912 for 1500,- frcs.<br />

The second cast remained with Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>. Between ca. 1928 and 1932,<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> decided to patinate the bronze with lacquer. The result is striking:<br />

the dark red colour of the lacquer endows the bronze with a dramatic radiance.<br />

Of all lacquered bronzes by Marcel, this is perhaps his finest realisation. Marcel<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> himself regarded the piece as one of his most important sculptures, and<br />

priced it for his 1932 retrospective in Brussels at 8000,- frcs.<br />

82


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Bilitis, 1911<br />

Terracotta with engobe on a marble base<br />

Dimensions: 49 × 18,2 × 20,2 cm<br />

Signed: “Marc <strong>Wolfers</strong>/1911 / terre cuite / N°1”, on the side of the sculpture<br />

This work is unique.<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Albert <strong>Wolfers</strong>, bought from the above in 1911 for<br />

1000,- frcs.<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

(acquired from the estate of the above around 1934<br />

(?))<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Brussels, Exposition Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>, Cercle Artistique<br />

et Littéraire de Bruxelles, 18/03–28/03/1912,<br />

cat. No. 16<br />

Brussels, Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>. Sculpteur-Laqueur, Galerie<br />

L’Ecuyer, 22/05–13/06/1970, cat. No. 61<br />

It is not sure whether Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> referred to “Les Chansons de Bilitis”,<br />

a collection of poetry by Pierre Louÿs published in 1894 or to Claude Debussy’s<br />

“Three songs of Bilitis”, inspired by the aforementioned and published in 1897.<br />

In any case, the story of a fictional and mythical Greek poet must have appealed<br />

to Marcel, always prone to draw upon mythology, philosophy and poetry as<br />

a basis for the subjects of his work. But as the Louÿs poems celebrate lesbian<br />

eroticism, the Bilitis bust shows a very appolonian portrait of a young woman.<br />

The technical use of engobe as a means to create a polychrome sculpture,<br />

reminds us of the Tanagra terracotta figurines. Also, in the unique bronze version<br />

of the bust, the opening up of the eyes is similar to the excavated Greek bronze<br />

sculptures, which often lacked the enamel lifelike eyes that were set into the<br />

bronze eye sockets. The “Bilitis” name is therefore in our opinion rather to be<br />

seen as a reference to Greek sculpture, Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> using this “new” name as<br />

opposed to the older established names (Sappho, etc.) which are burdened with a<br />

large art historical past.<br />

By repute, Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> used a former lover of his to sit for the bust.<br />

84


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Bilitis, 1911–1913<br />

White carrara marble<br />

Dimensions: 38,5 × 20 × 20 cm<br />

Signed: “Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>”, on the side of the sculpture<br />

With justification “2/2” near the edge<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Tournai, Cercle Artistique de Tournai. 32me Exposition,<br />

1921 cat. No. 529<br />

Louvain, Exposition des oeuvres de Anto Carte et<br />

M. <strong>Wolfers</strong>, Louvain, Modern Studio,<br />

19/02–28/02/1928, cat. No. 2.<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> felt at ease working in the delicate white carrara marble.<br />

He always used the material to his advantage, using the translucent qualities of<br />

the stone to embed his sculptures with an almost symbolist aura. The marble<br />

version of “Bilitis” was executed in two copies, two years after the terracotta.<br />

One version was sold in 1913 to a collector for 2000,- frcs, the second version was<br />

kept by the sculptor.<br />

86


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Automne or Vendanges, 1913<br />

Patinated bronze<br />

Dimensions: 66 × 33 × 20 cm<br />

Signed: “Ph <strong>Wolfers</strong> 1913” on the base<br />

Provenance:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

(by descent)<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Brussels, Galerie l’Ecuyer, 13/10–12/11/1972, cat. nr. 57<br />

Ghent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 12/05–10/06/1979,<br />

cat. No. 71<br />

Ghent, Design museum Gent, 16/12/2006–09/04/2007<br />

Bibliography:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> 1858–1929 Précurseur de l’Art Nouveau<br />

Statuaire. Exposition Rétrospective, Bruxelles,<br />

Galerie L’Ecuyer, 1972, s.p.<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> : juwelen, zilver, ivoor, kristal<br />

(1858–1928), Gent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 1979,<br />

p. 50 (with photo)<br />

De Dynastie <strong>Wolfers</strong> – Meesters in zilver, Gent, Design<br />

museum Gent, 2006, p. 21 (with photo)<br />

Adriaenssens W., Beredeneerde Catalogus van het<br />

persoonlijke oeuvre van Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> in De<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> Dynastie – van art nouveau tot art deco,<br />

Gent, Design museum Gent, 2006, p. 401 (No. 252)<br />

“Automne” or “Vendanges” is one of the most elegant and characteristic bronzes<br />

of the early <strong>Wolfers</strong>’ sculptures. The interaction between the two figures, one<br />

sitting and one standing, is very convincing and gives the scene a sort of intimacy.<br />

The composition has a very sensual rhythm and although the base of the<br />

sculpture is fairly large, the care for detail and the exquisite execution of the floral<br />

decoration makes it almost disappear from the overall composition.<br />

“Vendanges” or “Automne” was executed twice in marble. Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

was so pleased with this composition, that he made a second, unique version of<br />

the group in 1916. Of the bronze version of the sculpture, four casts were made.<br />

One cast belonged to the brother of Philippe, Robert <strong>Wolfers</strong>. This specific cast<br />

was kept by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> for his own collection.<br />

88


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Destruere, 1913<br />

Patinated bronze<br />

Dimensions: 86 × 47 × 33 cm<br />

Signed: “Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>/1913”, on the short side of the base<br />

Marked: Foundry mark “Fonderie Nat[ionale] des bronze / Anc[ien]ne Firme J. Petermann / St Gilles Bruxelles”,<br />

on the long back side of the base<br />

This work is unique.<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Brussels, Exposition de La Libre Esthétique, Musée des<br />

Beaux-Arts, 07/03–13/04/1914, cat. No. 223<br />

Brussels, VIe Salon de Printemps, Cercle Artistique,<br />

07/06–20/07/1919, cat. No. 204<br />

Paris, Salon d’Automne, Grand Palais du Champs-<br />

Elysées, 01/10–10/12/1919, cat. No. 1948.<br />

Liège, 1920<br />

Tournai, 1920<br />

Barcelona, Exposition d’œuvres d’Artistes belges,<br />

Municipalité de Barcelone, 1921, cat. No. 416<br />

Leuven, Exposition Anto Carte et Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>,<br />

Modern Studio, 1928<br />

The “Destruere” sculpture, or “Le couple”, was supposed to form a group with<br />

“Possidere”, “Dominari” and “Creare”, called “Les Chants d’Ivresse”, also inspired<br />

by the work of Nietzsche. The maquette was shown along with the “Légende<br />

Solaire” project at the Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> exhibition in Brussels in 1912. <strong>Wolfers</strong> soon<br />

decided to abandon the “Chants d’Ivresse” project and to develop each sculpture<br />

as an independent work of art.<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> decided to cast the “Destruere” group in bronze. In 1914<br />

he made a monumental clay version of the sculpture, which remained in his<br />

workshop during the war years. When he came back from the war, he found that<br />

the large sculpture had been destroyed by frost in the winter of 1917. Around<br />

1922, Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> asked master potter Roger Guérin to make three salt glazed<br />

stoneware copies of “Destruere”. The bronze version of “Destruere” remained<br />

unique. Although the sculpture was included in many selling exhibitions, Marcel<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> never wanted to part with this bronze.<br />

90


<strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères<br />

Commemorative serving tray, 1918<br />

Silver<br />

Dimensions: diameter 35 cm<br />

Marked: on the side near the edge the complete set of “Grands Poinçons” of <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères: “WF” in written<br />

interlaced script, lion rampant faced to the left, three five-pointed stars in a triangular form consisting of three<br />

interlocking circles, alloy mark for 800/1000 and fantastic animal faced to the right<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection (by descent)<br />

A serving tray commemorating WWI, but which leaves us without an answer<br />

for which occasion it was made. It has to have had a special meaning to Marcel<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> as he kept the tray in his collection.<br />

Typical of the neo Louis XVIth style that was popular with <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères in<br />

the 1910’s, the “Godrons” pattern predicts the arrival of the art deco style. The use<br />

of the Grands Poinçons marks could indicate that this piece was made for a public<br />

occasion.<br />

92


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Psyche, 1919<br />

Patinated bronze on a marble base<br />

Dimensions: 52 × 33 × 26 cm (with base)<br />

Signed: “Ph <strong>Wolfers</strong>” on the back of the shoulder<br />

This sculpture is unique.<br />

Provenance:<br />

Private <strong>Collection</strong>, Brussels<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Barcelona, Exposition d’oeuvres d’artistes belges,<br />

Municipalité, 1921, cat. No. 418<br />

Bibliography:<br />

Adriaenssens W., Beredeneerde Catalogus van<br />

het persoonlijke oeuvre van Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> in<br />

De <strong>Wolfers</strong> Dynastie – van art nouveau tot art deco,<br />

Gent, Design museum Gent, 2006, p. 410 (No. 277)<br />

“Psyché” was executed in 1919. Two versions were carved in marble. One of these<br />

versions was given to the mother of the sitter, Fanny <strong>Wolfers</strong> (1864–1943), sister<br />

to Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>. Her daughter Lucie Dreyfus-Chambrelent (1903–1981) was<br />

the inspiration for this bust. Lucie was 16 years old at the time, and wore her hair<br />

in a “Catogan” or bow, very fashionable at that time. The titel “Psyché” probably<br />

refers to the beauty of the youngster. The other marble version remained at<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères and was part of the Musée Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>.<br />

There was also a bronze version, mounted on a marble base, which remained<br />

unique. As is the case with the marble version, “Psyché” does not look straight<br />

to the viewer. In the case of the bronze version, this portrayal of movement is<br />

reinforced through the fact that Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> put the bust on a specially<br />

designed marble base, but took care to seemingly put it almost sideways on the<br />

marble base. The base itself had an architectural quality and is composed of two<br />

different marbles, which enhances the sumptuousness of the base. Apart from its<br />

exhibition in Barcelona in 1921, all trace of this sculpture was lost. It is the first<br />

time, since 1921, that this bust is displayed publicly.<br />

94


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Isis, 1919–1920<br />

Patinated oak<br />

Dimensions: 39,5 × 25,5 × 28 cm<br />

Signed: “Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>”, on the side of the sculpture<br />

Marked: with a brand-mark symbol of St-Georges<br />

This work is unique.<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Hottat <strong>Collection</strong>, Brussels (acquired from the above<br />

in 1921 in Paris for 3000,- frcs)<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

(probably acquired on the sale of the Hottat<br />

collection in May 1954)<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Paris, Salon d’Automne: Les Ymagiers Belges,<br />

01/11–20/12/1921, cat. No. 2875<br />

Ghent, Design museum Gent, 16/12/2006–09/04/2007<br />

Bibliography:<br />

Adriaenssens W.; Steel R., De <strong>Wolfers</strong> Dynastie –<br />

van art nouveau tot art deco, Gent, Design museum<br />

Gent, 2006, p. 219 (with photo)<br />

The “Isis” bust was originally conceived in 1912. The bust was modelled after<br />

Yvonne <strong>Wolfers</strong> (1896–1981), daughter of Mathilde <strong>Wolfers</strong>, sister of Philippe<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong>. The bust was a fairly realist and somewhat static portrait of Yvonne, with<br />

a reference to the goddess Isis, on a high marble pedestal. In 1919 Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

decided to rework the bust. He tilted the head of the sitter slightly backwards,<br />

giving movement to the composition and accentuating the scarab decorated hair<br />

ornament. By starting the composition just at the height of the neck (the marble<br />

version showing the shoulders), the composition acquired better proportions.<br />

Regarding the early work of Marcel, “Isis” along with “Bilitis” are often cited as<br />

his most sensuous sculptures. Georges Verdavaine wrote in Le Home magazine:<br />

“Isis est devant nous. Regardez la pureté de son front, la sérénité de ses traits, la<br />

loyauté de son regard, la promesse de ses lèvres, où la volupté met une caresse en<br />

un sourire discret. Discrétion qui n’exclut ni la fierté, ni l’orgueil, ni la noblesse.<br />

Les cheveux s’agitent et flottent. Et la déesse apparaît, dans le charme de la<br />

séduction, comme la fille même d’une civilisation qui éclairera le monde. Isis !”<br />

The oak version was sculpted out of an<br />

ancient beam, salvaged from a construction<br />

site. It was first presented at the Salon<br />

d’Automne in Paris in 1921, where it<br />

was acquired by the very important and<br />

influential collector Albert Hottat from<br />

Brussels. When it was sold in 1954, in the<br />

sale of the collection of Hottat, Marcel<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> could not resist buying it back for his<br />

own collection.<br />

96


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

La Légende Solaire or Le Jour et les Crépuscules, 1912<br />

The groups Nox, Crepusculum and Aurora<br />

Salt glazed stoneware, executed by the firm of Roger Guérin, Bouffioulx<br />

1a. Nox<br />

Dimensions: 67,5 × 46,5 × 24 cm<br />

Signed: “MW 1920” at the side of the sculpture<br />

“Marcel W 1912” at the other side of the sculpture<br />

3a. Aurora<br />

Dimensions: 72 × 52 × 23 cm<br />

Signed: “Exp I / Guerin” on the base<br />

2a. Crepusculum<br />

Dimensions: 77,5 × 53,5 × 24 cm<br />

Signed: “Marc. <strong>Wolfers</strong>” on top of the base<br />

“Exp. II R. Guérin / Potier” on top of the base<br />

“MWolf.” on the other side of the base<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Brussels, le Clockarium, 28/09/2007–28/01/2008<br />

Bibliography:<br />

Adriaenssens W., Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> et Roger Guérin in<br />

Au gré du gré – de l’art nouveau à l’art déco Edgard<br />

Aubry & Roger Guérin, Bruxelles, le Clockarium, 2007,<br />

p. 45–51 & 77 (with photo)<br />

“Nox”, “Crepusculum” and “Aurora” were part of a large project of monumental<br />

sculptures that Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> envisaged as a decoration for a public garden.<br />

The project originally included a fourth group, “Lux”, which was later destroyed,<br />

possibly by Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> himself. He named the project “La Légende Solaire”<br />

or “Le Jour et les Crépuscules”, and the subjects were inspired by “Also Sprach<br />

Zarathustra” by Friederich Nietzsche. When <strong>Wolfers</strong> exhibited the groups<br />

together at the Brussels Cercle Artistique in 1912 (in the same year they were<br />

shown, along with “Possidere” at the Venice Biennale), the catalogue mentioned<br />

with each group, the lines by Nietzsche which had inspired the sculptor:<br />

“Nox” — “Verily, a goal had Zarathustra; he threw his ball. Now be ye friends<br />

the heirs of my goal; to you throw I the golden ball. Best of all, do I see you,<br />

my friends, throw the golden ball!”<br />

“Crepusculum” — “Not perhaps ye yourselves, my brethren! But into fathers<br />

and forefathers of the Superman could ye transform yourselves: and let<br />

that be your best creating!”<br />

“Aurora” — “But in the loneliest wilderness happeneth the second<br />

metamorphosis: here the spirit becometh a lion; freedom will it capture,<br />

and lordship in its own wilderness.”<br />

(translations by Thomas Common (1850–1919))<br />

98


2a


1a<br />

The fact that Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> was inspired by Nietzsche must not come as a<br />

surprise. Around 1910 he had frequent contacts with painter Emile Fabry<br />

(who based his Zarathustra portrait on the young Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>) and the book<br />

was probably well read in the Brussels Masonic milieu which Marcel attended.<br />

The original groups were executed in plaster. Only “Crepusculum”, also called<br />

“La Famille” was later executed in marble and had a reduction in wood. In 1920<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> contacted the potter Roger Guérin from Bouffioulx, a potters’<br />

village which had an ancient stone ware tradition going back to the Middle<br />

Ages. Marcel ordered to make stone ware versions of “Nox”, “Crepusculum” and<br />

“Aurora”. Both “Nox” and “Aurora” were executed in two copies, “Crepusculum”<br />

was made in three copies. The execution of such large pieces in salt glazed<br />

stoneware proved very difficult for the Guérin pottery. All surviving casts have<br />

several cracks and faults due to the firing and cooling of the pieces. Although<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> did not pursue a further collaboration with the Guérin firm, he<br />

liked the stoneware sculptures immensely, putting them on display in his garden.<br />

It is a credit to the quality of the work of master potter Roger Guérin that they<br />

survived the harsh Belgian winters without deterioration.<br />

100


3a


Preliminary studies for the “Légende Solaire”<br />

While researching the collection of Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong>, we<br />

discovered thanks to the help of the family, a collection of terracotta bozetti<br />

or studies for the “Légende Solaire” project. These sketches have never been<br />

exhibited and are executed in terracotta or glazed terracotta. Some have been<br />

glazed by Roger Guérin and executed in two copies in 1921. Others are unique.<br />

One of the most interesting groups is the study for “Lux”, the fourth group of<br />

the “Légende Solaire” that was destroyed. The study is the only remnant of this<br />

sculptural group.<br />

1b. Nox<br />

Earthenware with a green glaze<br />

Dimensions: 17 × 12,5 × 7 cm<br />

Titled “Nox” at the side<br />

2b. Crepusculum, 1910<br />

Terracotta<br />

Dimensions: 22 × 15 × 5,5 cm<br />

Inscription on the side “MW / 25 Aout / 1910”<br />

and titled “Crepusculum”<br />

2c. Study for Crepusculum (?), 1910<br />

Dimensions: 20 × 7 × 7,5 cm<br />

Gold signature plaque imbedded into the clay<br />

“Marcel / <strong>Wolfers</strong> / Piece /Unique”<br />

Inscription on the side “MW / 1910 / illegible”<br />

3b. Aurora<br />

Earthenware with a dark brown glaze<br />

Dimensions: 17,5 × 16 × 6,5 cm<br />

Incised inscription at the side (illegible) and titled<br />

“Aurea” on the front<br />

3c. Study for the left figure of Aurora, 1910<br />

Terracotta<br />

Dimensions: 17 × 10 × 5,5 cm<br />

Incised inscription on the back “VI / Six-pointed star /<br />

1910 / MW”<br />

4a. “Lux” or “Diez”<br />

Terracotta (restored by the artist)<br />

Dimensions: 23 × 13 × 7 cm<br />

Incised inscription on the back “1910 / six-point star<br />

with number I / Illegible / × II / hammer”<br />

Titled “Diez” on the front<br />

2c<br />

4a<br />

102


1b<br />

2b<br />

3c<br />

3b


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Possidere, 1920<br />

Salt glazed stone ware<br />

Dimensions: 86 × 43 × 30 cm<br />

Signed: “Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>” and illegible<br />

Marked: “R. Guerin / M[aître] Potier” on the side of the base<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Brussels, Clockarium, 28/09/2007–28/01/2008<br />

Bibliography:<br />

Adriaenssens W., Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> et Roger Guérin in<br />

Au gré du gré – de l’art nouveau à l’art déco – Edgard<br />

Aubry & Roger Guérin, Bruxelles, le Clockarium, 2007,<br />

p. 45–51 & 77 (with photo)<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> started to work on “Possidere” in 1909. Actually “Possidere”” was<br />

a complete reworking of his “Dominari” group, his submission to the Godecharles<br />

Prize contest of 1907. The finished plaster version was shown for the first time<br />

in 1910 at the Brussels Salon International des Beaux-Arts (coinciding with the<br />

World Fair) and was afterwards exhibited in Munich, Paris and in 1912 at the<br />

Venice Biennale.<br />

In 1919 Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> sculpted a monumental version in blue limestone for<br />

the <strong>Wolfers</strong> properties in La Hulpe where it was installed. It exists to this day,<br />

but was moved a couple of years ago to a roundabout near the village station. It<br />

remains one of the most impressive large scale sculptures of its time.<br />

Around 1912–1913, Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> made a small version, on scale 1/3rd of the<br />

original, in three different materials. The bronze, unique, was sold to the Museum<br />

of Ixelles in 1922. Two other versions, on the same scale, were executed by the<br />

workshop of Roger Guérin of Bouffioulx in salt glazed stoneware. One version<br />

was sold to a collector in 1933 for 5000,- frcs., the other version was kept by<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> for his own collection. According to the family of the artist, a fact<br />

corroborated by vintage photographs, the statue sat outdoors in the garden of the<br />

Vieusart residence of Marcel and Clairette since WWII.<br />

104


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Preliminary study for Possidere<br />

Terracotta (restored)<br />

Dimensions: 22 × 23 × 8,5 cm<br />

With the small studies for the “Légende Solaire” project we found an early<br />

bozetto for “Possidere”, probably dating from around 1909–1910. The small scale<br />

study was made in clay and left to dry. It was probably fired at a later date.<br />

Due to the firing, the sculpture has multiple cracks and has a large part glued to<br />

the main body.<br />

It is amazing how the artist knows to convey the sense of power and<br />

movement in such a small sketch.<br />

106


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> next to the monumental version of Possidere,<br />

in front of the Belgian pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1912


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Dolly, 1920<br />

Patinated bronze<br />

Dimensions: 44 × 41 cm<br />

Signed with the monogram “MW” and “1920”, bottom left<br />

Provenance: Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

This is the portrait of a certain of Dolly “Levezay” (sic Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>) of whom<br />

we could not find any information. We do not know for which occasion the plaque,<br />

obviously a commission, was made. The bronze plaque was later reduced and<br />

converted into a medal of 8,5 cm high. This medal was one sided. Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

also executed one ivory version of the reduced plaque.<br />

108


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Portrait of the painter Willem Paerels, 1920<br />

Patinated plaster on a wooden base<br />

Dimensions: 49 × 23 × 29 cm<br />

Signed: “Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> 1920”, at the neck<br />

Provenance: Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> was seldom inclined to make a portrait head or a bust. He only<br />

wanted to make a portrait if he felt a real connection with his sitter. Hence the<br />

very original and personal outcome of his portraits. The head of Willem Paerels<br />

(1878–1962) is to be seen as a tribute from Marcel to a great friend. Executed<br />

in 1920, it shows the painter in the year he lost his beloved wife, and the year he<br />

decided to leave fauvism behind in favour of a more expressionist approach.<br />

Apart from the original plaster which was patinated by the artist, only two<br />

casts in bronze (lost-wax) were made. One was bought by the Belgian State in 1921<br />

and was bequeathed to the Museum of Fine Arts in Mechelen, the other – slightly<br />

later – cast was given by Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> to Willem Paerels in 1932.<br />

When reviewing the portrait for the ‘La Nervie’ magazine in 1924, Henri<br />

Lavachery wrote: “ […] Il y a dans ce buste une vie singulière, car il a gardé le<br />

charme primesautier de l’esquisse d’argile. […] Les surfaces maîtresses ont une<br />

simplicité et une force du premier jet. l’Etat fut bien inspiré lorsqu’il acheta ce<br />

buste. Il est parmi les plus beaux de la statuaire belge, et l’un des plus vibrants<br />

d’inspiration créatrice.”<br />

110


Willem Paerels<br />

Portrait of Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Oil on canvas<br />

Dimensions: 100 × 80 cm<br />

Signed: “Paerels”, bottom right<br />

In contrast to the early portraits that we have on display in the exhibition,<br />

this portrait of Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> by Paerels shows him as an older man. It was<br />

probably painted the at the end of the 1930’s or in the 1940’s, when Marcel was<br />

middle aged. It is a proof of the lifelong friendship between the two artists. It<br />

is perhaps the only portrait of Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> showing him as an artist with a<br />

whole career behind him, but who now is interested in deepening his art. No more<br />

spectacular art in the public eye, but art as a means to come to reflection, even<br />

meditation about oneself and the surrounding world. The portrait of Paerels<br />

also shows a man, although bestowed with public functions and belonging to the<br />

Brussels’ establishment, who loves the simple, honest life of the countryside and<br />

leads a life devoid of pomp and circumstance when he receives his friends at his<br />

home in Vieusart.<br />

112


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

La Périchole, 1920<br />

Patinated bronze<br />

Dimensions: 60 × 32 × 17 cm<br />

Signed: “M <strong>Wolfers</strong>. / cire perdue / 1/3 / 1920”, at the back, near the edge of the sculpture<br />

Marked: double foundry mark of <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères “WF” interlaced and “Lion Rampant” at the back, near the edge of<br />

the sculpture<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Paris, Salon d’Automne: Les Ymagiers Belges, 01/11–<br />

20/12/1921, cat. No. 2873<br />

Tournai, 33me Exposition Cercle Artistique de Tournai,<br />

10/09–03/10/1922, cat. No. 358<br />

Leuven, Exposition Anto Carte et Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>, Salle<br />

Fonteyn, 19/10–28/10/1924, cat. No. 18<br />

Stockholm, Äldre och Nyare Belgisk Konst [Exposition<br />

d’œuvres d’artistes belges à Stockholm], Liljevalchs<br />

Konsthall, 9/09–28/09/1927, cat. No. 504<br />

Brussels, Blancs et Noirs, Galerie Javal et Bourdeaux,<br />

14/12–31/12/1929, cat. No. 46<br />

The title of this bust probably refers to the Jacques Offenbach opera of the same<br />

name. Indeed we see the depiction of “La Périchole”, a fair maiden, in poor dress<br />

but with an exotic reference (the hair comb), lover of Piquillo the poor Peruvian<br />

street singer. However the bust conceals a secret. Conceived in the period when<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> was courting Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> (they married in 1923), it is<br />

actually a stylised portrait of his fiancee. One recognises her typical profile and<br />

slightly daunting look. Henry Lavachery (who knew both Marcel and Clairette<br />

very well) wrote in 1924: “Ce buste d’une grâce androgyne, fournit aux songes<br />

un élément sans cesse renaissant. Le visage amaigri d’adolescent, plein d’une<br />

coquetterie hautaine, les épaules fines, les seins menus et droits, tout y est d’une<br />

réalité transcendantale qui pénètre de mystère sa beauté.”<br />

Cast in the lost-wax technique by the firm of <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères, only two casts<br />

(out of three projected) were made. Marcel sold one cast to a collector in 1932 for<br />

4500,- frcs, this cast remained with him and his wife.<br />

114


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

La Périchole, 1923<br />

White crackle glazed ceramic<br />

Dimensions: 59,5 × 32 × 18 cm<br />

Signed: “M <strong>Wolfers</strong> 1920”, at the back of the sculpture near the base<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Brussels, Cercle Artistique et Littéraire de<br />

Bruxelles. Exposition Anto Carte, Jean Hendrickx,<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>, 25/02–04/03/1923, cat. No. 131<br />

Wavre, Histoire Locale. Sculpture. Peinture. Exposition,<br />

Salle Marchal, 02/04–09/04/1949.<br />

As is the case with some other pre-WWII sculptures, Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> had the<br />

bronze executed in ceramic. Due to both nature and subject of the bust, he chose<br />

not to work with the Guérin Pottery, as its salt glazed stoneware would diminish<br />

the grace and subtle modelé of the sculpture. Instead Marcel turned to the<br />

Brussels firm of Céramique de Bruxelles, which executed statuettes and objets<br />

d’art in white ceramic, primarily in art deco style. The glaze is slightly crackled<br />

and although reminiscent of the art deco production of white crackled glazed<br />

figurines, this bust clearly stands its ground as an autonomous work of art.<br />

Executed in 1923 and another in 1926, it seems that only two casts were made<br />

with in white crackled ceramics. A third bisquit fired cast, that was subsequently<br />

covered with gold leaves by the artist, surfaced onto the Brussels art market<br />

around 1980.<br />

116


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Head of Holocausta, 1921<br />

Plaster on a marble base<br />

Dimensions: 37 × 22 × 29 cm<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

It is unclear whether this head is a study for the monumental plaster version<br />

of “Holocausta” shown on the Salon d’Automne of 1921, or whether it is the only<br />

element that Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> decided to keep when he dismantled the sculpture.<br />

The sculptor kept the head on display in his workshop.<br />

The Les Ymagiers Belges exhibition at the Salon d’Automne (Paris) in 1921<br />

118


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Le Premier Cahier du Marchand d’Images, 1921<br />

Printed in an edition of 210 copies, on the presses of F. Dorel in Paris, all numbered and signed by the author<br />

We present the numbers 37/210 and 155/210 of the first and only edition.<br />

Dimensions: 16,5 × 32 cm<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> volunteered to serve in the Belgian army. The war would change<br />

him as a man and as an artist. Impressed by its atrocities and trying to find a<br />

relevance for art in this world, he decided to make a book, in which he would write<br />

on the war and on art and would rethink his function as an artist.<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> saw himself now as an “image maker” or “Imagier”, someone<br />

who has to make the beauty of life visible in art. The artist becomes a story teller<br />

for those left behind, victims and survivors of the war and has the task to console<br />

them by leading the way to genuine beauty through art. The texts and drawings<br />

were made between 1915 and 1917 and were published in 1921. Although it is one<br />

of the most personal artist’s books on WWI, it has remained fairly unknown to the<br />

general public.<br />

120


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> / Anto Carte<br />

Le Deuxième Cahier du Marchand d’Images, 1922<br />

Printed in an edition of 275 copies, on the presses of F. Dorel in Paris, all numbered and signed by both authors<br />

We present the numbers 92/275 and 196/210 of the first and only edition.<br />

Dimensions: 32,5 × 25 cm<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

The second book from the “Edition du Roseau Vert”, the publishing house of<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>, was called “Ecrits de Novembre”. Contrary to his original plan<br />

to make this second book alone, he decided to collaborate with Anto Carte, who<br />

committed himself to illustrating the texts written by Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>.<br />

This second “Cahier du Marchand d’Images” is the most beautiful and<br />

accomplished book of the series. From the outset it encountered great success,<br />

partly thanks to the publicity efforts Marcel made. He sent the book to leading<br />

journalists and artists. He even sent one as a gift to the Belgian Queen. The book<br />

was distributed in Brussels by Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>, but leading booksellers such as<br />

De Nobele, Simonson and the “Musée du Livre” sold it as well. The book was<br />

also distributed through the distinguished shop of Dominique in Paris, to great<br />

success.<br />

The double page and single page illustrations of Anto Carte are true works of<br />

art. Sometimes they feature Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>: in the illustration on page 23, we<br />

see an impoverished artist (“un imagier”) trying to sell a sculpture to passers-by.<br />

The sculpture in his hand is an nude version of “Holocausta”. One is tempted to<br />

interpret the depiction of the lovers on page 43, as Marcel and Clairette, who were<br />

courting at that time.<br />

As is the case in the first “Cahier”, the form and illustrations and arguably also<br />

the poetic language, are influenced by Japanese and Chinese art and literature.<br />

The subject matter is still very much influenced by Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>’ impressions<br />

of the war.<br />

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124


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Dancer with a garland of flowers, ca. 1921 (?)<br />

Patinated bronze, on a red marble base<br />

Dimensions: 26,5 × 16 × 8,5 cm (with base)<br />

Signed with the interlaced monogram“PW”<br />

Marks: Double foundry mark of <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères on the back of the base “WF” interlaced and “Lion rampant”<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères “cire perdue mark”<br />

Provenance:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection (by descent)<br />

An exact identification of this sculpture remains difficult. We do not have any<br />

annotated documents or contemporary photographs to identify the sculpture.<br />

Even Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>, when asked to identify the model, was somewhat at loss.<br />

He concluded that it was a variant of “La Guirlande”, also made in 1921 in an<br />

edition of three. Although this is a possibility, at this point we cannot be certain<br />

that his assumption is correct.<br />

“Dancer with a garland” is an extremely rare sculpture. Only two versions<br />

are known today, this one included. This specific sculpture belonged to Marcel<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong>. It is the first time that this cast is shown to the<br />

public.<br />

126


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Bronze hand mouldings from the <strong>Wolfers</strong> family<br />

Frans, 1910<br />

Patinated bronze<br />

Dimensions: 19 × 13 × 5,6 cm<br />

Signed: interlaced monogram “PW / cire perdue” and dated “1910”<br />

This moulding, executed in bronze and signed by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>, was taken<br />

from the hand of a certain Frans. After consulting the <strong>Wolfers</strong> family tree, the<br />

only likely candidate seems to be Franz Wolff (1907–2002), grandson of Emma<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> (1861–1930), sister of Philippe. Although his name is written with a ‘z’ at<br />

the end, his date of birth corresponds with the size of the hand.<br />

Yves, Novembre 1926<br />

Patinated bronze<br />

Dimensions: 16 × 13,5 × 6 cm<br />

Signed: interlaced monogram “PW” and dated “Nov. 26”<br />

Oval foundry mark “Montagutelli Bruxelles cire perdue” on the inside<br />

This moulding, executed in bronze and signed by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>, was taken<br />

from the hand of Yves Goldschmidt (1922–1988), the only child of the youngest<br />

daughter of Philippe, Nelly <strong>Wolfers</strong> (1891–1923).<br />

Roger, janvier 1927<br />

Patinated bronze<br />

Dimensions : 19 × 15,5 × 7,5 cm<br />

Signed: interlaced monogram “PW” and dated “Janvier 1927”<br />

This moulding, executed in bronze and signed by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>, was taken from the hand of Roger Feldheim<br />

(1920-?), son of Renée <strong>Wolfers</strong> (1887–1960), the elder daughter of Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>.<br />

Provenance:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection (by descent)<br />

The practice of moulding children’s hands is still very much alive today.<br />

It is however very unusual to have the mouldings executed in bronze according to<br />

the lost wax method, which was and is very expensive. It is not known how many<br />

casts Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> ordered from each hand, but it is possible that these casts<br />

are unique.<br />

128


130


View of the Gioconda table at the Paris Exhibition of 1925


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Gioconda oval serving dish, ca. 1925<br />

Silver<br />

Dimensions: 30,2 × 37,8 cm<br />

Marks: on the bottom “WF” in written interlaced script, three five-pointed stars in a triangular form consisting of<br />

three interlocking circles, alloy mark for 800/1000<br />

Provenance:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

(by descent)<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Lissabon, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation,<br />

05/11–05/12/1991, cat. No. 164<br />

Brussels, Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en<br />

Geschiedenis, 15/02–15/04/1992, cat. No. 164<br />

Zürich, Bellerive Museum, 06/10/1993–09/01/1994,<br />

cat. No. 104.2.c<br />

Antwerp (Deurne), Art-Deco zilver Antwerpen-Brussel-<br />

Gent, Provinciaal Museum Sterckshof- Zilvercentrum,<br />

27/02–27/05/1996, cat. No. B99d<br />

This silver serving tray is the only item of the “Gioconda” silver tableware we<br />

know of, bearing the personal monogram of Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>, engraved to it.<br />

The monogram is identical (albeit with a slight difference due to the medium and<br />

place of application) to the monogram we find on the bottom of the creamware<br />

tableware in the “Gioconda” pattern. The same art deco typography is used for<br />

the Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> monogram on the cutlery which is now in the collection of the<br />

Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels. It is certain that Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

was responsible for the design of the monograms.<br />

132


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Gioconda tableware, ca. 1925<br />

Creamware<br />

Dimensions: a. salad bowl: height: 11,5 cm, diam. 27 cm<br />

b. oval dish: 52 × 42 cm<br />

c. oval dish: 47,5 × 38 cm<br />

d. oval dish: 42, 5 × 34 cm<br />

e. 3 round dishes: diam. 32,5 cm<br />

f. 2 round dishes: diam. 38 cm<br />

g. 6 moka cups and saucers: height cups 5 cm, diam. saucers 12 cm<br />

Marks: each item printed with “Gioconda / PW / Deposé / Keramis / Made in Belgium” on the bottom<br />

Provenance:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

(by descent)<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Zürich, Bellerive Museum, 06/10/1993–09/01/1994,<br />

cat. No. 104.3a (a.; e.)<br />

Lissabon, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation,<br />

05/11–05/12/1991, cat. No. 169 (a.; e.)<br />

Brussels, Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en<br />

Geschiedenis, 15/02–15/04/1992, cat. No. 169 (a.; e.)<br />

The “Gioconda” tableware was one of the most successful items in the “Gioconda”<br />

pattern, designed by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> for the Paris exhibition of 1925. Although<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> initially wanted to execute the tableware in porcelain and with colour<br />

(the design for a porcelain cup and saucer are dated the 30th of December 1924)<br />

he changed his mind. By May 1925 he commissioned the renowned Belgian<br />

firm of Boch Frères from La Louvière with the production of the tableware.<br />

The tableware was added to their “Keramis” design range. Due to the fact that<br />

it was executed in creamware, the prices were reasonable, as opposed to the<br />

silverware and crystal in the same pattern, which were very expensive.<br />

Wolfer Frères sold the tableware in their main shop in Brussels and still<br />

had a considerable stock of it in 1952. A contemporary photograph showing<br />

the preparations of a celebration of the workers of the firm, shows they used<br />

“Gioconda” plates for the feast. The bestselling items were the coffee and tea<br />

cups, followed by the dishes. Large items such as large trays and bowls were less<br />

in demand as these were more expensive. The only drawback the creamware<br />

tableware had, was its proneness to crackle of the glaze and chips. A lot of what<br />

was produced did not survive everyday use.<br />

The trays, cups and the bowl on show here, were part of the personal collection<br />

of Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> and were used by the <strong>Wolfers</strong> family.<br />

134


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Gioconda coffee or tea table, ca. 1925<br />

Mahogany, ivory<br />

Dimensions: 59 × 85 × 74,5 cm<br />

Provenance:<br />

A distinguished private collection, Belgium<br />

The “Gioconda” ensemble, specially designed by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> for the<br />

International Exhibition in Paris of 1925, is considered one of the most important<br />

ensembles of the art deco period. At the time, it earned Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> the<br />

“Grand Prix” with a maximum of 20 out of 20 points.<br />

Although the complete ensemble, displayed at the exhibition, was a unique<br />

commission, most items were designed to be produced and sold through the<br />

shops of <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères. The “Gioconda” silverware was of course edited and sold<br />

through <strong>Wolfers</strong>, but even the “Gioconda” ceramics, made by Boch, were sold<br />

through them. Possibly one could also order the Val Saint-Lambert drinking glass<br />

in cut crystal through <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères, although very few were sold, probably due<br />

to their price.<br />

The furniture seems the have been executed only once, with exception of the<br />

“Gioconda” tea table. We know for a fact that <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères sold the tea table<br />

through their shops. On the back of a commercial photograph by <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères,<br />

showing a tea table with the “Gioconda” coffee and tea service on top, we found a<br />

list of selling prices for each item. These photographs were sent to the different<br />

shops where Wolfer Frères sold their goods. A “Gioconda” tea table was available<br />

at a price of 6.000,- frcs., which was a considerable sum of money at the end of<br />

the 1920’s. The complete coffee and tea service with tray cost 22.770,- frcs. If you<br />

wanted a samovar, another 11.700,- frcs was needed.<br />

The tea table was designed by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> on the 21st of May 1924.<br />

Apart from the only variant (prototype?) we know with twelve legs, the definite<br />

tea table was designed with four legs, and had three levels, of which the smaller<br />

top had been designed to hold the tray of the “Gioconda” coffee and tea set.<br />

The top had about the same dimensions as the tray. The first level was designed<br />

to hold the small dessert plates, and the second level was designed to hold the<br />

tea or coffee cups.<br />

To this day we know of only two other surviving “Gioconda” tea tables.<br />

One is the aforementioned prototype with 12 legs and the other table has<br />

been sold before the 1980’s through the Anthony shop in Antwerp (a former<br />

136


138<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong>’ branch). The table we have on offer is a third example, but currently<br />

the only one that is available on the market.<br />

As is the case with the two other existing tea tables, this table no longer has<br />

its small top level to support the “Gioconda” tea and coffee service. According<br />

to Mr. Rochtus, at the time owner of Anthony, and the jeweller who sold the<br />

Antwerp tea table, this procedure was necessary if the client did not want to<br />

combine the tea table with a “Gioconda” coffee and tea service. The top level<br />

was the exact size of the tray of the set, meaning that another tray fitted badly<br />

on top. Furthermore, the table with its top was not useable as a coffee table, in<br />

the sense that the top stood in the way of for instance a tray with biscuits, or a<br />

cake stand. By removing the small top level, one created a handsome art deco<br />

“Gioconda” coffee table, with a large table top. The Antwerp tea table was<br />

transformed for that reason. Our table also comes with a bevelled glass inset<br />

to protect the top. The way the glass is made, supposes that its execution is<br />

not much later than that of the table itself. It could therefore not be excluded<br />

that the adjustments made to accommodate the previous owner, were<br />

executed by the Brussels firm of La Compagnie des Arts, Poppe & Cie, which<br />

was the only firm to make the “Gioconda” furniture elements according to<br />

Phillipe <strong>Wolfers</strong>’ design.<br />

This rare “Gioconda” table, which belongs to a private collection, was bought<br />

out of an estate sale from a family who had a large house in La Hulpe. It is<br />

presented in its original, unrestored condition.


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> (attributed to)<br />

Rivière bracelet for Sofie Willstädter, ca. 1925<br />

Gold, rubies, diamonds, sapphires<br />

Dimensions: lenght 19,8 cm<br />

Provenance:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection (by descent)<br />

According to family history, this bracelet was given by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> to his<br />

wife, Sofie Willstädter (1864–1946), in the 1920’s. It is unsigned and thus no direct<br />

proof that the bracelet was designed by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> nor that it was made in<br />

the workshops of <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères. But as it was a gift by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> to his<br />

beloved, logic dictates that he designed it and ordered the <strong>Wolfers</strong> workshops to<br />

execute the bracelet.<br />

We know that the bracelet was treasured by Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>, who passed the<br />

story of the bracelet through to his children. The bracelet was never exhibited and<br />

remained in the collection of Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Claire <strong>Petrucci</strong>.<br />

140


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Enigme or Remember, 1925<br />

Patinated bronze on a marble base<br />

Dimensions: 60 × 38 × 25,5 cm<br />

Signed: “Ph <strong>Wolfers</strong> / cire perdue” on the back of the shoulder<br />

Marked: Oval foundry mark “cire perdue Montagutelli Bruxelles”<br />

Provenance:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Musée Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>, <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères Brussels<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

(acquired from the above)<br />

Bibliography:<br />

Adriaenssens W., Beredeneerde Catalogus van<br />

het persoonlijke oeuvre van Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> in<br />

De <strong>Wolfers</strong> Dynastie – van art nouveau tot art deco,<br />

Gent, Design museum Gent, 2006, p. 420 (No. 307)<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Brussels, Exposition Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>, Galerie Georges<br />

Giroux, 18/02–29/02/1928, cat. No. 22<br />

Antwerp, Exposition des oeuvres de Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> –<br />

Statuaire, Salle Plantin, 09/11–27/11/1929, cat. No. 16<br />

Brussels, Pour l’Art XXXIIe salon de peinture et de<br />

sculpture, Palais des Beaux-Arts, 21/11–21/12/1930,<br />

cat. No. 2<br />

Brussels, Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> 1858–1929 Précurseur de l’Art<br />

Nouveau Statuaire. Exposition Rétrospective, Galerie<br />

l’Ecuyer, 13/10–12/11/1972, cat. No. 58<br />

The bust “Enigme” was renamed “Remember” in 1926, when the first cast was<br />

given to Emile Anthony of the Antwerp branch to commemorate the centennial<br />

of his firm. In total only two casts were executed. The present cast remained with<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères after the death of Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> and was part of the Philippe<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> Museum. Typical of the style of <strong>Wolfers</strong> of the second half of the 1920’s,<br />

the bust has a gentle and warm outlook and is characterised by the use of a<br />

simplified and stylised modelé for the facial features.<br />

142


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Coffee service Janine (Sb 4487), 1926<br />

Silver, wood<br />

Dimensions: height coffeepot 14,5 cm, length 22,8 cm (from spout to handle)<br />

Marks: each piece marked on the bottom of the base with the <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères Maker’s mark,<br />

serial number (Sb 4487–4489–4490) and alloy mark for 800/1000<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> named the “Janine” service after one of his granddaughters,<br />

born in 1924. It is considered by many as one of his most interesting and beautiful<br />

art deco creations. Although the design is very austere, the use of a pearl motif<br />

between the feet and at the base of the wooden nob on the lid makes the coffeepot<br />

look elegant. This classical touch is typical of the art deco style of Philippe<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong>.<br />

Although the “Janine” service remained in production until WWII, it is<br />

fairly rare. The original sets came with a tray in a lozenge form and had a coffeeand<br />

teapot of the same height. This might have been the reason why it was a<br />

service that apparently did not sell very well. In the 1930’s catalogue of the firm,<br />

the tray was changed to a normal, larger and rectangular format and there was a<br />

possibility to buy a larger coffeepot. This did not improve the sale of the pattern<br />

which was discontinued after WWII. It has become one of the most iconic and<br />

sought after models by <strong>Wolfers</strong>, featuring frequently in exhibition catalogues on<br />

art deco design.<br />

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146<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> Exhibition at Galerie Nos Peintres (Brussels), 1932


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Chemin de Croix de Marcinelle, 1st Station of the Cross,<br />

1925<br />

Salt glazed stoneware<br />

Dimensions: 78,5 × 61 cm<br />

Signed: “Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>. / Fecit 1925”, to the right of the top edge of the relief<br />

Signed: “Aline Duray”, to the left of the top edge of the relief<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Brussels (Ixelles), Art Deco Belgique 1920–1940, Musée<br />

d’Ixelles, 06/10–18/12/1988, cat. No. 222, p. 23 and<br />

p. 251. (both with photo)<br />

When Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> received the commission for the Stations of the Cross for<br />

the roman church of Marcinelle (near Charleroi), he was asked to work with<br />

the local stoneware pottery industry. After making his designs, he turned to the<br />

pottery of Roger Guérin to execute two proof stations (1 and 2) according to his<br />

specifications. It is possible that the signature “Aline Duray”, which figures next<br />

to the signature of Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>, was of the person responsible for the glazing<br />

and firing of these two pieces. However we were unable to find any record of such<br />

person working for Guérin, nor do we know what her relation was to Marcel<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong>. Her name does not figure on the finished stations (executed by Guérin),<br />

nor on the bronze proof stations that were executed. It is very unusual that this<br />

station is signed twice.<br />

Although we now think the result looks magnificent, Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> was not<br />

at all happy with the result, because the artist felt unable to control the outcome<br />

of the colours of the glazes. In the end, Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> found the solution by<br />

applying coloured lacquer onto bisque fired stoneware panels by Guérin. The<br />

definite version of the stations, now visible in the church of Marcinelle, were<br />

executed according to this process.<br />

Of the two proof stations made in glazed stoneware, Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> kept the<br />

first station for himself. The second station was sold or given to the Brussels artist<br />

Jef Bourgeois. It is however unsure if this last station has survived. Bourgeois’<br />

house and collection were partially destroyed in 1944 by a flying bomb.<br />

148


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

L’Esclave de Pilate, 1924/1957<br />

Bisque fired clay with gold paint<br />

Dimensions: 29,5 × 28 cm<br />

Signed: “Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>” / “3/3” and “1957” bottom right<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

The slave of Pilatus was a fragment of the first station of the cross that Marcel<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> made for the church of Marcinelle. Originally, the sculptor made a marble<br />

relief of the slave holding a tray. Subsequently a plaster model and a bisque fired<br />

clay model were made. The ceramic was used by Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> to experiment<br />

with gilding. Apparently this experiment pleased the sculptor, and another six<br />

reliefs in bisque fired clay were made in or from 1932 onwards. It is unclear if<br />

these six casts included this one, which is numbered 3 out of 3, and dated 1957.<br />

If not, Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> would have decided to make another series of three casts in<br />

1957, which would make a total of nine bisque fired casts. The gilding of the casts<br />

was done by the artist himself and is not always identical.<br />

This cast is one of two casts that originally belonged to the artist’s collection.<br />

150


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Chemin de Croix de Marcinelle,<br />

10th and 11th Station of the Cross, 1927–1929<br />

Bronze, with lacquer patination mounted on a wooden frame<br />

Dimensions: each 96 × 78 cm<br />

Signed: “Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>” bottom right of the relief<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Brussels, Exposition Universelle et Internationale –<br />

Chapelle Royale, 1935 (stations XI & XII)<br />

Brussels, Galerie Désir, 17/12–30/12/1938, cat. No. 102 &<br />

103 (stations XI & XII)<br />

Liège, Salon des Artistes Anciens Combattants, 1939<br />

(stations XI & XII)<br />

Brussels, Galerie l’Ecuyer, 22/05–13/06/1970, cat. No. 68<br />

(stations XI & XII)<br />

Sint-Martens-Latem, Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> (1886–1976),<br />

White art centre, 10/09–16/10/1988 (stations XI &<br />

XII)<br />

The commission of the Stations of the Cross for the roman church of Marcinelle<br />

(near Charleroi) has proved to be of primordial importance for Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>’<br />

evolution as a sculptor. The challenges here were significant. He wanted to make<br />

a work of art that was modern and devoid of sentimentalism and at the same time<br />

make the reliefs visible in the dark space of the small church. This lead him to<br />

the conclusion that the work had to be polychrome. The colours were to be used<br />

in a way as to make the reliefs visible and to support the emotions of the scenes<br />

displayed on each station of the cross.<br />

After having experimented with enamels and salt glazes on stoneware at the<br />

workshop of Roger Guérin, Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> came to the only solution, consisting<br />

of the use of lacquer, where he was able to control the colours at will. The Stations<br />

of the Cross of Marcinelle became thus the first large commission for the Lacquer<br />

Workshop of Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>.<br />

After making the compositions and original plaster mouldings in 1925, Marcel<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> started by making two stations in bronze. It is possible that he envisaged a<br />

whole lacquered bronze ensemble, but at first, he wanted to have two stations that<br />

he could show at important exhibitions. Bronze being less delicate then ceramics<br />

and being a material that the sculptor new through and through, the choice seems<br />

obvious.<br />

The first finished bronze stations, number 10 and number 11, were shown for<br />

the first time in Paris at the Salon d’Automne of 1927. As they are described in<br />

the catalogue as “bronze, cire perdue”, it is almost for certain that he showed the<br />

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154<br />

stations without a lacquer patination. It is probable that they were lacquered soon<br />

afterwards, but before July 1928, date when Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> ordered 7 stations in<br />

bisque fired stoneware by the firm of Helman in Brussels (Guérin no longer was<br />

involved in the project due to the technical difficulties they encountered in firing<br />

the large stations). The first time the lacquered bronze stations were shown to<br />

the public was at the large exhibition of Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> in Galerie Nos Peintres in<br />

Brussels in 1932.<br />

The Stations of the Cross received much press coverage, especially in<br />

magazines and books on modern religious art. They were praised for their novel<br />

approach in depicting the Suffering of Christ, for their sculptural qualities and<br />

for the novelty of using lacquer to polychrome the stations. To Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

his polychrome lacquered sculptures belonged to the same tradition as the<br />

polychromed medieval sculptures.<br />

The stations of the cross were installed in Marcinelle on Good Friday in<br />

1931. On his large retrospective in 1932, he showed 9 stations from the church,<br />

along with one probably double station number 12, which was for sale. The two<br />

lacquered bronze stations 10 and 11 were also shown and for sale at a price of<br />

10.000 frcs,-, a price that indicates that Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> did not care to sell them.<br />

For Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>, the importance of the two lacquered bronze stations was<br />

double: they proved his mastery as a lacquer artist and at the same time confirmed<br />

his position as a modern religious sculptor in Europe.


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Pythonisse, 1927<br />

Patinated bronze<br />

Dimensions: 105 × 43 × 37 cm<br />

Signed: “Ph <strong>Wolfers</strong> cire perdue” below, at the side<br />

Marked: with an oval foundry stamp “Montagutelli cire perdue Bruxelles”<br />

This sculpture is unique.<br />

Provenance:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Musée Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>, <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères Bruxelles<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

(by descent)<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Antwerp, Exposition des oeuvres de Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> –<br />

Statuaire, Salle Plantin, 09/11–27/11/1929, cat. No. 89<br />

Rome, Un Secolo d’Arte Belga 1830–1930, Galleria<br />

Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, 25/03–23/04/1933,<br />

cat. No. 19<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> 1858–1929 Précurseur de l’Art Nouveau<br />

Statuaire. Exposition Rétrospective, Bruxelles,<br />

Galerie l’Ecuyer, 13/10–12/11/1972, cat. No. 77<br />

Ghent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 12/05–10/06/1979,<br />

cat. No. 73<br />

Ghent, Design museum Gent, 16/12/2006–09/04/2007<br />

Bibliography:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> : juwelen, zilver, ivoor, kristal<br />

(1858–1928), Gent, Museum voor Sierkunst,<br />

1979, p. 50<br />

De Dynastie <strong>Wolfers</strong> – Meesters in zilver, Gent,<br />

Design museum Gent, 2006, p. 25 (with photo)<br />

Adriaenssens W., Beredeneerde Catalogus van<br />

het persoonlijke oeuvre van Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> in<br />

De <strong>Wolfers</strong> Dynastie – van art nouveau tot art deco,<br />

Gent, Design museum Gent, 2006, p. 425 (No. 321)<br />

The name “Pythonisse” derives from the priestess of Apollo in Greek mythology,<br />

but is generally a name used for women with the gift of prophecy. This large torso<br />

is to be counted as one of the most important sculptures by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>.<br />

Although created in 1927, only one cast in bronze was executed. Two other<br />

versions in a reduced size were made in marble and ivory.<br />

As is the case for several bronzes who were patinated by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

himself, the patination of this bronze is spectacular through its use of gold foil and<br />

its rich dark green colour. When acquired by Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> after the dissolution<br />

156


of the Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> Museum in 1972, the sculpture sat outside, in the garden of<br />

the rue de Praetere building. Through the years, the outlook of the sculpture had<br />

changed dramatically. When the sculpture was shown publicly for the last time, in<br />

2006, it was difficult to see the features of “Pythonisse” and the sculpture had lost<br />

a lot of its original expression. To the credit of Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>’ craftsmanship,<br />

the original patination underneath the oxidation remained in good condition and<br />

reappeared after professional cleaning in preparation for this exhibition.<br />

The head of the sculpture became a sculpture in its own right and was executed<br />

in granite in 1929. François Franck and Cléomir Jussiant, two of Belgium’s most<br />

important and influential collectors of modern art, each bought a copy. A third<br />

was sold to another collector.


The large bronze remained in the collection of the artist and after his death it<br />

became one of the central pieces of the Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> Museum. “Phytonisse”<br />

was only shown publicly once during the artist’s lifetime, in 1928 during the<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> retrospective exhibition at Galerie Giroux in Brussels. After the<br />

stay in the <strong>Wolfers</strong> Museum, the sculpture disappeared into the Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> private collection. It was only shown once since then,<br />

at the <strong>Wolfers</strong> Dynasty Exhibition in the Design museum Gent in 2006–2007.<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> exhibition at Galerie Georges Giroux (Brussels), 1928<br />

159


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Head of Christ or Le Précurseur, 1928<br />

Bronze with lacquer patination, on a lacquered wooden base<br />

Dimensions: 45 × 16 × 19,5 cm (with base)<br />

Signed: “EX. 5/5 Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>” and “28”, on the neck near the base<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Sint-Martens-Latem, Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> (1886–1976),<br />

White art centre, 10/09–16/10/1988 (with photograph<br />

of the sculpture on the cover of the invitation)<br />

Confusingly Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> used both the titles “Head of Christ” and “The<br />

Precursor” (Saint-John the Baptist) for this sculpture. It was one of the most<br />

iconic lacquered bronzes that Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> made. The sculpture is also one<br />

of the most reproduced works of the artist during his lifetime. We think it highly<br />

probable that the sculptor ordered the 5 bronze lost-wax casts of the head<br />

together. The first cast, probably still retaining its original lacquer patina, was<br />

sold to the Spanish Government in 1930, the second cast was sold to the Royal<br />

Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels in 1931. This cast was relacquered by the<br />

artist in 1964, the same year he lacquered the fourth cast which he gave to his<br />

wife Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong>. The third cast, sold to his brother-in-law in 1936,was<br />

relacquered in 1965, when Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> also finished and lacquered the last<br />

remaining cast, number 5/5.<br />

The head of Christ or St-John the Baptist is typical example of the way Marcel<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> uses lacquer to give an extra dimension to his sculptures. Already very<br />

modern and stylised, his sculptures gain an aura of mystery when lacquered. The<br />

lacquer makes them look ancient, and certainly here one subconsciously draws a<br />

comparison with the lacquered Buddhist sculptures in the East.<br />

160


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Holocausta, 1929<br />

White Carrara marble on a yellow marble base<br />

Dimensions: 52 × 27 × 36,5 cm<br />

Signed: “Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>/1929 / Ex. Unique”, on the side of the sculpture base<br />

This work is unique.<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Brussels, Pour l’Art. XXXIe Salon de Peinture et de<br />

Sculpture, Palais des Beaux-Arts, 15/11–15/12/1929,<br />

cat. No. 154 (with an asking price of 35.000 frcs)<br />

Brussels, Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> sculpteur-laqueur, Galerie Nos<br />

Peintres, 26/11–9/12/1932, cat. No. 12<br />

Milan, Esposizione d’arte Belga contemporanea,<br />

Galleria Pesaro, Marzo 1932, cat. No. 119<br />

Liège, Société Royale des Beaux-Arts de Liège. Salon<br />

Quatriennal de Belgique., Palais des Beaux-Arts,<br />

16/05–1/06/1936, cat. No. 575<br />

The unusual title for this sculpture is explained by a notice in Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>’<br />

own handwritten catalogue raisonné of his sculptures. The present sculpture is<br />

a reduction on scale 1/3 and was designed as “un monument aux poètes morts<br />

pendant la Guerre”. Although Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> made smaller versions in bronze,<br />

stoneware and glazed earthenware, the marble version of the sculpture has<br />

remained unique.<br />

162


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Holocausta vêtue, 1922<br />

White glazed ceramic on a greenish brown ceramic base<br />

Dimensions: 26 × 18,5 × 14 cm<br />

Signed: “M<strong>Wolfers</strong> Ex N° 5”, on the back side of the base<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

A small version, derived from the plaster life size version, but with the sitting<br />

female figure draped in a robe. Slightly earlier then the marble version, it was<br />

executed in 5 copies, 4 of which were sold before 1926, Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> kept the<br />

fifth copy for himself. Contrary to what was thought previously, the casts were not<br />

made by Guérin, but by the firm Céramique de Bruxelles.<br />

164


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Impéria, 1929<br />

Blue limestone on a later wooden pedestal<br />

Dimensions: 42 × 32 × 32 cm (height with wooden pedestal: 172 cm)<br />

Signed: on the back of the shoulder “Ph <strong>Wolfers</strong>”<br />

This sculpture is unique.<br />

Provenance:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Musée Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>, <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères Brussels<br />

Private <strong>Collection</strong>, Brussels<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Antwerp, Exposition des oeuvres de Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> –<br />

Statuaire, Salle Plantin, 09/11–27/11/1929, cat. No. 91<br />

Rome, Un Secolo d’Arte Belga 1830–1930, Galleria<br />

Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, 25/03–23/04/1933,<br />

cat. No. 18<br />

Bibliography:<br />

Adriaenssens W., Beredeneerde Catalogus van het<br />

persoonlijke oeuvre van Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> in De<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> Dynastie – van art nouveau tot art deco,<br />

Gent, Design museum Gent, 2006, p. 416 (No. 294)<br />

The head of “Impéria” of 1929 is part of a group of monumental heads or busts,<br />

carved in stone, that were executed for the important 1929 exhibition in Antwerp,<br />

where Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> wanted to make his name as modern sculptor. <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

had already made a bronze “Impéria” in 1922, and the head was part of the<br />

bronzes that he used in the “Gioconda” room in Paris in 1925. With a very rough<br />

surface, the bronze head was made in his so-called “Hellenistic” period, where<br />

the sculptor tried to emulate the surface corrosion on Greek and Roman antique<br />

bronzes, excavated from the earth or salvaged from the seas. In 1929 Philippe<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> sought to modernise this sculpture and conceived a classical “Impéria”,<br />

much more stylised and simple then the 1922 bronze. Clearly, the unique<br />

sculpture carved in Belgian blue limestone or “Petit granit” is much more in tune<br />

with the aesthetics of the 1930’s art deco.<br />

Originally on a probably “noir de mazy” base, the sculpture has lived outside<br />

in a Brussels garden for the last 40 years. The previous owners received the<br />

sculpture as a payment for their<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> stock papers by the Parisian<br />

firm of Chaumet at the time of their<br />

takeover of <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères S.A. in<br />

1975. They displayed “Impéria” on<br />

their garden terrace, but without its<br />

base, apparently already missing.<br />

When acquiring the bust, we decided<br />

to mount it on its current wooden<br />

pedestal, which is contemporary to the<br />

sculpture.<br />

166


168


Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Head of Salomé, 1929<br />

Granite<br />

Dimensions: 35,5 × 32 × 28,5 cm<br />

Signed: “Ph <strong>Wolfers</strong>” on the back of the shoulder<br />

This sculpture is unique.<br />

Provenance:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Musée Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>, <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères Brussels<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

(acquired from the above)<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Antwerp, Exposition des oeuvres de Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> –<br />

Statuaire, Salle Plantin, 09/11–27/11/1929, cat. No. 89<br />

´s Gravenhage, Tentoonstelling van Belgische Beeldende<br />

Kunst van de Laatste Honderd Jaren, Pulchri Studio,<br />

10/10–03/11/1931, cat. No. 116<br />

Rome, Un Secolo d’Arte Belga 1830–1930, Galleria<br />

Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, 25/03–23/04/1933,<br />

cat. No. 19<br />

Brussels, Galerie l’Ecuyer, 13/10–12/11/1972, cat. No. 77<br />

Ghent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 12/05–10/06/1979,<br />

cat. No. 73<br />

Ghent, Design museum Gent, 16/12/2006–09/04/2007<br />

Bibliography:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> 1858–1929 Précurseur de l’Art Nouveau<br />

Statuaire. Exposition Rétrospective, Bruxelles,<br />

Galerie L’Ecuyer, 1972, s.p.<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> : juwelen, zilver, ivoor, kristal (1858–<br />

1928), Gent, Museum voor Sierkunst, 1979, p. 50<br />

De Dynastie <strong>Wolfers</strong> – Meesters in zilver, Gent, Design<br />

museum Gent, 2006, p. 26 (with photo)<br />

Adriaenssens W., Beredeneerde Catalogus van het<br />

persoonlijke oeuvre van Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> in De<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> Dynastie – van art nouveau tot art deco,<br />

Gent, Design museum Gent, 2006, p. 428 (No. 330)<br />

170


172<br />

The head of “Salomé” of 1929 is part of a group of monumental heads or busts,<br />

carved in stone, that were executed for the important 1929 exhibition in<br />

Antwerp, where Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> wanted to make his name as modern sculptor.<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> wanted to prove that he – stylistically – no longer belonged to the old<br />

generation of the 1900’s.<br />

It is without a doubt that the sculpture of “Salomé” remains one of the most<br />

emblematic of the art deco sculptures by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>. By taking the head<br />

of this sculpture, and executing it live size in black granite, Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

created a very powerful image, that is strengthened by the fact that the head is<br />

only slightly tilted so that the beholder can capture Salome’s powerful gaze.<br />

It is possible that Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> wanted to create an edition of the<br />

“Salomé” head. In the Antwerp catalogue, the sculpture is mentioned as<br />

“Exemplaire No. 1”. However, due to the sudden death of the artist, this sculpture<br />

remained unique.<br />

The Head of “Salomé” belonged to a selected group of important sculptures,<br />

drawings and objects that constituted the ‘Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> Museum’ and that<br />

was displayed in the exhibition hall and workshop of Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> at <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Frères in the Arenberg street (Brussels). After the dissolution of this museum in<br />

1972, the sculpture was acquired by Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> for his personal collection.


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> (attributed)<br />

Bronze hand moulding of Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>, 1929<br />

Patinated bronze<br />

Dimensions: 16 × 13,5 × 6 cm<br />

Oval foundry mark “Montagutelli Bruxelles cire perdue” on the inside of the hand<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection (by descent)<br />

There is a long history in the making of moulds of artists’ hands post mortem.<br />

Mostly made by sculptors or professional moulders, they were sometimes cast in<br />

bronze and were often displayed in museums.<br />

According to family history, this mould was made by Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> of the<br />

hand of his father Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>. It is however very curious that the cast is of<br />

the left hand of the artist, implying thus that Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> was left handed, as<br />

one moulded the hand with which the artist plied his trade. Unfortunately this<br />

theory is almost impossible to prove. This is the only cast that is known to exist.<br />

174


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> / After a design by Anto<br />

Carte<br />

Les Jeunes Epoux, ca. 1930<br />

Lacquer on wooden panel<br />

Dimensions: 19,2 × 19,2 cm<br />

Signed: with the gold plaque “Marcel / <strong>Wolfers</strong>”, bottom right<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Sint-Martens-Latem, Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> (1886–1976) –<br />

Lakwerken, White Art Centre, 10/09–16/10/1988<br />

This lacquer panel was executed after a design by the painter Anto Carte. Marcel<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> executed a number of designs by his artist friend, in different media.<br />

Carte also submitted some designs for the <strong>Wolfers</strong> firm. Their most noted<br />

collaboration remains their involvement in the “Roseau Vert” editions.<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> executed two different versions of this design. In both cases<br />

the scene of a man kneeling before his spouse, planting a blooming tree or bush<br />

together, is the same but the execution in lacquer is totally different. <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

describes the first panel as “engraved lacquer”. In his archive we discovered a<br />

copper panel, of the same size, with the Anto Carte design etched into the plate.<br />

It is possible that the copper plate with engraving was used as a base, and then<br />

filled up with lacquer.<br />

The second version, which we propose here, differs significantly in colour and<br />

finish from the first. The background of the image shows a honeycomb cell like<br />

structure. The central image is filled in with layers of black, red, green and gold<br />

lacquer, which are subsequently polished. Top layers are rubbed through to reveal<br />

underlying layers, so a subtle play of colours and textures is revealed.<br />

176


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Glass vase with black lacquer<br />

Lacquer on glass vase with silver base<br />

Dimensions: 10,2 × 6,3 cm<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

This black lacquer on glass vase is one of only three objects for which Marcel<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> used glass as a base for lacquer. It is unclear when the piece was made,<br />

but if we can conclude that the three pieces were made at the same time, we must<br />

put the date around 1930, as we know that a glass lacquered bottle was made<br />

around this period.<br />

Monochrome colours in lacquer are what every lacquer artist aims to achieve.<br />

It is indeed very difficult and time consuming to get an even colouring on the<br />

whole surface of an object. No error can be hidden and even a slight difference in<br />

colour is visible.<br />

The drawing and description of the piece are included in Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>’ hand<br />

written catalogue of lacquer objects. It also states that this piece is unique and<br />

has a value of 1000,- frcs. Probably due to the fact that the base is glass, the piece<br />

was not signed with a gold plaque, but its inclusion in the lacquer catalogue meant<br />

that it was a finished piece.<br />

178


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Victoire Ailée, 1931<br />

Patinated bronze on a wooden base<br />

Dimensions: 62 × 25,5 × 8 cm<br />

Provenance:<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères ( ?)<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection (acquired from the above ?)<br />

The sculpture was originally created as a trophy for a rally, known as “Challenge<br />

Junieck or Juneck”. It was cast in silver and the flag was covered in lacquer with<br />

eggshell. At the same time, Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> was asked to execute a second cast,<br />

probably also in silver, as a gift from the city of Charleroi to the 2nd regiment of<br />

the “Chasseurs à Pied”, who celebrated their 100 years of existence. A third cast<br />

was ordered by <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères, and should have been in silver, but was executed<br />

in bronze (In Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>’ account book he writes “Victoire III: W[olfers]<br />

F[rères] Ag. Fondue remp. par bronze”. This version was about 800,- frcs. cheaper<br />

than the silver casts. Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> also made a magnificent variant with a laurel<br />

wreath in Victory’s hand, carved in ivory and mounted on an ebony base. Again<br />

according to his notebook, he made the ivory version for his wife Clairette.<br />

The sculpture continued very popular, as probably in the 1950’s, 10 reductions<br />

were ordered in silver, also to be used as trophies. Later on 2 extra casts were<br />

added.<br />

In conclusion, the version in our exhibition should be the third, patinated<br />

bronze, version of “Victory with the flag”. Unfortunately we lack photographic<br />

evidence to be 100% sure.<br />

The Victory of 1931 is an iconic art deco sculpture that has a very decorative<br />

appeal. Although unsigned, the work is highly finished and is mounted on a<br />

specially conceived base. According to the information that we have up to this day,<br />

it seems that this sculpture is also unique.<br />

180


Yvan Obozinski / Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Art deco dressing table, 1932<br />

Wood (Japanese oak), metal, mirror and lacquer panel<br />

Dimensions: 162 × 87 × 50 cm<br />

Provenance:<br />

“l’Oeuvre Nationale des Beaux-Arts”, Brussels<br />

Léon Sarteel, Ghent<br />

Clara Mion-Sarteel (by descent)<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Brussels, Tombola Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Palais des<br />

Beaux-Arts, 15/06–15/07/1932, cat. No. 4 (Intérieurs)<br />

Brussels (Ixelles), Art Deco Belgique 1920–1940, Musée<br />

d’Ixelles, 06/10–18/12/1988, cat. No. 472<br />

Villeneuve d’Ascq, Art Deco Belgique 1920–1940,<br />

Musée d’Art Moderne de Villeneuve d’Ascq,<br />

21/01–02/04/1989<br />

Bibliography:<br />

Steel R., De Internationale profilering van <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères<br />

S.A. onder leiding van Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> in De <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Dynastie – van art nouveau tot art deco, Gent,<br />

Design museum Gent, 2006, p. 241–242 (with photo)<br />

Poulain N., Meubelensembles voor de Tombola nationale<br />

des beaux-arts in Interbellum, 37/3, 2017, p. 5–12<br />

(with photo on p. 10)<br />

This dressing table belonged to a bedroom set designed by Yvan Obozinski<br />

(sometimes erroneously written Obozinsky). Born in 1901, he was the younger<br />

brother of the architect Jacques Obozinski (1890–1981). Yvan Obozinsky was<br />

trained as an architect at the Brussels Academy. He was foremost a designer,<br />

working in advertising, designing interiors, often in collaboration with his<br />

architect brother. On special commission he designed furniture, often in<br />

collaboration with the Jasinki firm in Brussels. He also had designs executed<br />

by the firm of Stevens in Mechelen, with whom he probably came into contact<br />

through the artist Karel Maes. Obozinski often worked for the “Compagnie<br />

Maritime Belge” in Antwerp and was responsible for the overall decoration<br />

of the cruise ship “Baudouinville”. The ship was finished in 1939 but was<br />

completely destroyed in 1944. During WWII, Obozinsky worked for <strong>Wolfers</strong>,<br />

probably through mediation of Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>, and supplied designs for<br />

metalware.<br />

The bedroom ensemble, a unique commission for the government, must<br />

have been designed in close collaboration with Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>.<br />

When Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> started his lacquer workshop, one of the main<br />

purposes was to work closely together with architects and designers in<br />

incorporating lacquer in interior furnishings. <strong>Wolfers</strong> envisaged furniture with<br />

lacquer and lacquer coating on doors and panels in a modern designed home.<br />

The 1932 commission by the government which befell Yvan Obozinski, was<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>’ ideal moment to show to the Belgian design and art world that<br />

lacquer was a beautiful material, to be used to great effect in modern designs.<br />

182


184<br />

The design by Obozinski incorporated flawlessly the lacquer panels made by<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>. The most interesting element of the bedroom was the art deco<br />

dressing table, made in Japanese oak by the renowned furniture maker Stevens<br />

from Mechelen. It boasts a large mirror and a cupboard with a red/orange<br />

lacquer tablet. The dressing table came with a small tapestry designed by the<br />

artist Jean Goffin (woven by the Brussels firm of E. Muller), the art deco light<br />

was executed by F. Debuyst, also from Brussels.<br />

Although Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> dreamt of making his lacquer workshop a place<br />

where modern designers could come to have their designs executed in lacquer<br />

or to decorate them with this precious material, his dream never materialised.<br />

Due to the long production process of natural lacquer and the subsequent price<br />

tag, designers and architects quickly chose alternatives like synthetic lacquers.<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> has executed in total only 4 or 5 items of furniture with a lacquer<br />

decoration. The Obozinski dressing table is the only overtly modernist design<br />

which incorporates lacquer. The unique dressing table is one of only two large<br />

pieces of furniture that we know to have survived.


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Bust of St-Luke or the Portrait of Rogier Van der Weyden,<br />

1934–1935<br />

Bronze with a lacquer patination, mounted on a base of wood<br />

Dimensions: 62 × 40 × 39 cm<br />

Signed: “Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>” on the short right side of the wooden base<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

The idea for a monument dedicated to Rogier Van der Weyden came from Jules<br />

Destrée, historian, art critic and politician. As he befriended Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>,<br />

the latter was an obvious choice to create the monument. <strong>Wolfers</strong> took the<br />

composition of the “St-Luke painting the Virgin”, of which the supposed original<br />

belongs to the Museum of Fine Arts of Boston, as a basis. The figure of St-Luke<br />

is believed to be a self-portrait of the artist. He proceeded in making a three<br />

dimensional version of the Van der Weyden painting, but by putting the Holy<br />

Mary on a pedestal, succeeded in making a dynamic group of the otherwise<br />

very static original composition. From the beginning it was also clear to Marcel<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> that the patination of the group would have to be executed in lacquer,<br />

which enabled him to create a vivid polychrome public monument.<br />

After a long genesis and a lot of interference by several authorities, a first<br />

monument was executed and shown outside one of the pavilions of the Brussels<br />

World Fair of 1935. The lacquer coating appeared to have suffered because a<br />

restauration to the lacquer was needed after the exhibition. After many trials<br />

and tribulations (at a certain point in time, the immense group was lost by the<br />

city of Brussels) the sculpture was eventually installed in the city hall of Laeken<br />

(Brussels). A second version was commissioned by the city of Tournai and was<br />

installed in 1936 next to the cathedral of the city, where it still is visible, but<br />

without its original lacquer patina.<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> executed<br />

small versions of the monument<br />

between 1933 and 1934. We also<br />

have the original plaster model<br />

of a complete “St-Luke” for sale,<br />

which shows the attention to<br />

detail the sculptor had, even when<br />

he was creating a modello for a<br />

large monument.<br />

186


It is unclear when the bust of “Saint-Luc” was executed. Probably Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

wanted to have a 1 on 1 model, with the lacquer patina, to show to Count Adrien<br />

Van der Burgh, who commissioned the monument for the World Fair. In that case<br />

the bust was possibly executed after March 1934 but before May 1935 when the<br />

completed group went to the foundry for casting. To this day, no other cast of the<br />

bust is known to have been made.<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Plaster study of St-Luke, 1933–1934<br />

Plaster<br />

Dimensions: 24,5 × 16 × 12,5 cm<br />

188


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Coffee and Tea Service Méda (Sf 209), 1935<br />

Silver and ivory<br />

Dimensions: height coffeepot 20,5 cm, length 22,5 cm (from spout to handle) / tray: 38 × 60 cm<br />

Marked: All pieces are marked on the bottom with serial number (Sf 209 to Sf212), maker’s mark of <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères<br />

S.A. post-1942, alloy mark for 835/1000. The tray is marked on the back of the rim with serial number “Pa 172”,<br />

maker’s mark post-1942, alloy mark for 800/1000.<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Brussels, 150 ans d’industries d’Art en Belgique 1830–<br />

1980, Musée Bellevue, 04/10–30/11/1980, cat. No. 145<br />

Brussels (Ixelles), Art Deco Belgique 1920–1940, Musée<br />

d’Ixelles, 06/10–18/12/1988, cat. No. 472<br />

Villeneuve d’Ascq, Art Deco Belgique 1920–1940,<br />

Musée d’Art Moderne de Villeneuve d’Ascq,<br />

21/01–02/04/1989<br />

Zürich, Bellerive Museum, 06/10/1993–09/01/1994,<br />

cat. No. 152<br />

Antwerp (Deurne), Art-Deco zilver Antwerpen-Brussel-<br />

Gent, Provinciaal Museum Sterckshof- Zilvercentrum,<br />

27/02–27/05/1996, cat. No. B108<br />

The “Méda” service was designed especially for the 1935 Brussels World Fair.<br />

According to Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> he was responsible for the design. It is interesting<br />

to note the similarities between “Méda” and the, in 1930 designed, service<br />

“Pastilles”, probably designed by Omer (Thurr) de Waegh. This leads us to think<br />

that the design of “Méda” was a joint effort of the <strong>Wolfers</strong> design department,<br />

under the lead of Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>.<br />

Executed in the highest quality and showing the novelty of hingeless lids for<br />

the coffee- and teapots, the service is relatively classic in style, but resembles the<br />

Scandinavian design of the 1930’s. As was the case with the “Gioconda” pattern,<br />

“Méda” was meant to be a pattern that went beyond the coffee and tea service.<br />

It was combined with the “Mona Lisa” cutlery and Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> designed<br />

porcelain plates which were executed by the Brussels firm of Demeuldre-Coché.<br />

Additional items such as bowls, trays and small items such as salts and oil and<br />

vinegar sets were also designed en suite.<br />

The uncertain economic and political situation of the 1930’s and the outbreak<br />

of WWII only five years after the creation of “Méda”, meant that <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères<br />

S.A. manufactured very few sets of the service before 1940. The design was<br />

significantly ahead of its time, so even in the 1950’s (and today) the “Méda” looked<br />

and looks strikingly modern and pleasing to the eye. Most of the “Méda” coffee<br />

and tea services are hence marked with the post-war maker’s mark of <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Frères S.A.<br />

This five piece service belonged to Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong><br />

personally and was used on special occasions only.<br />

190


Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong><br />

l’Atelier or Intérieur, 1937<br />

Oil on canvas<br />

Dimensions: 80,5 × 65,5 cm<br />

Signed: “Cl. <strong>Petrucci</strong> <strong>Wolfers</strong>” bottom right<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Paris, Salon d’Automne, 30/10–28/11/1937, cat. No. 1170<br />

Brussels, Galerie de la Toison d’Or, 02/12–11/12/1939,<br />

cat. No. 14bis<br />

Brussels, Galerie Au Cheval de Verre, 05/12–18/12/1947,<br />

cat. No. 15<br />

Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> was born into an artistic milieu. Her mother was the eldest<br />

daughter of the renowned painter Alfred Verwee, and her aunt Emma was also a<br />

painter of great talent. It is probably by Emma that she was given her first drawing<br />

lessons. Her father, Raphaël <strong>Petrucci</strong>, had also trained as a painter and was a<br />

prolific illustrator and caricaturist. Clairette’s parents befriended a whole range of<br />

artists whom Clairette came to know. She sometimes sat for artists. We know for<br />

instance of a portrait of her by Alfred Bastien, that she received as a gift. Another<br />

friend of the family who had a large influence on Clairette, was the fauvist painter<br />

Jean Van den Eeckhout.<br />

Clairette started her actual painting studies at the “Académie de la Grande<br />

Chaumière” in Paris. Amongst her teachers were Lucien Simon and René Ménard.<br />

At the Academy she befriended a lot of female artists, such as Jeanne Bergson<br />

(sculptor, pupil of Bourdelle) and Valentine Prax, who became lifelong friends.<br />

Back in Belgium, she could count on regular visits to her atelier from Juliette<br />

Cambier, Suzanne Cocq and Maurice Brocas, Edgard Tytgat, Jules-Marie Canneel,<br />

and many others. Sometimes they exhibited together.<br />

Clairette’s style evolved from fauvism towards a realist style, typical of the<br />

1930’s. In contemporary reviews, her work is often compared to that of Louis<br />

Thévenet, a painter she much admired. Her flower still lives were placed next to<br />

these of her friend Juliette Cambier. The most important works were created<br />

in the 1930’s. After WWII, Clairette lost contact with the modern art world and<br />

painted more for herself, only exhibiting on invitation of befriended gallerists, as<br />

was the case for the Studio 88 and Au Cheval de Verre shows. Most of her works<br />

belong to private collections, but her total output of paintings has remained very<br />

limited. She listed her important works in a catalogue and came to a total of 126<br />

oil paintings. The present work, the interior of her workshop in Vieusart, was<br />

considered by many to be one of her best and was a painting that she has never<br />

wanted to sell during her lifetime.<br />

192


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Coffee and Tea Service Belvédère (Sf 564), ca. 1958<br />

Coffee and Tea service<br />

Silver, silver gilt and ivory<br />

Dimensions: coffee pot height 24,7 cm, length 16 cm (from spout to handle) / tray: 54 × 32,5 cm<br />

Marked: All pieces marked on the bottom with serial number (Sf 564 to Sf 567), maker’s mark of <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères<br />

S.A., post 1942, alloy mark for 925/1000 (sterling)<br />

The “Belvédère” model has an illustrious past. When the firm of <strong>Wolfers</strong> decided<br />

to participate in the Brussels World Fair of 1958, they decided to invest heavily<br />

into the creation of new models. As had been the case with the participations<br />

of <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères at international exhibitions or world fairs, going back to 1897<br />

over 1925 (Paris), 1935 (Brussels), 1937 (Paris) and 1939 (New York), a highly<br />

important participation meant a large press coverage and eventually was good<br />

for sales. The “Belvédère” model, named after the restored palace where the<br />

Commissariat Général had its seat and held its banquets during the “Expo ‘58”,<br />

was to be luxurious but at the same time had to appeal to a new buyers public.<br />

The design and development of the cutlery “Belvédère”, according to the<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> publicity made especially for the table of the Commissariat Général<br />

started in 1954. In that year <strong>Wolfers</strong> showed a prototype at a show in Ghent.<br />

To this date, the model number 243, as it was referred to in the <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

administration, remains a magnificent design, overtly modern without<br />

breaking with the <strong>Wolfers</strong> tradition. The model was developed targeting<br />

young, fashionable couples visiting the world fair. With the cutlery came silver<br />

“Belvédère” plates and trays of a very simple and modern design.<br />

The coffee and tea service was aimed at another clientele. In the 1950’s<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères S.A., under the impulse of Freddy <strong>Wolfers</strong>, wanted to tap into<br />

the lucrative market of the Arabian peninsula. Hence the somewhat unusual<br />

pear shaped bodies of the service. This model appealed less to European taste,<br />

but was indeed a success with Arabian clients resulting in, amongst others,<br />

the largest commission <strong>Wolfers</strong> had ever received, ordered by King Saud bin<br />

Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia. The quality of finish and weight of the “Belvédère”<br />

service is impressive, so is the ample use of ivory. Although it had no merit<br />

as a modernist creation of the1950’s, if we look at it today, we can make the<br />

link between “Belvédère” and the work of Mendini, Sottsass and other Studio<br />

Alchimia and Memphis designers in Italy in the 1980’s.<br />

Both the “Belvédère” cutlery and the service were difficult to sell. The cutlery,<br />

being modern, was supposed to cater to a young market, but was too expensive.<br />

Young couples preferred for instance the modern “Duo” pattern, designed by<br />

194


Tapio Wirkkala in 1957, which was made by Christofle in plated silver and was<br />

often retailed in the same shops as <strong>Wolfers</strong> silver. The design looked the part, but<br />

more importantly the price was half that of “Belvédère”. As for the “Belvédère”<br />

coffee and tea service, its high price and unusual design made it almost impossible<br />

to sell to the rather conservative clients in Belgium at that time.<br />

As a consequence, both cutlery and coffee and tea service in the “Belvédère”<br />

pattern are very rare. Up to this date only two “Belvédère” services and only a<br />

couple of cutlery sets made it onto the art market in the last 10 years.<br />

Cutlery Service Belvédère (model 243), ca. 1958<br />

Cutlery set for Six<br />

Silver and metal for the knife blades<br />

Comprising: 6 forks, 6 knives, 6 spoons, 6 entremets forks, 6 entremets knives, 6 entremets spoons, 6 fish forks,<br />

6 fish knives, 6 coffee spoons, 6 cake forks (in total 60 pieces)<br />

Marked: All pieces marked with maker's mark of <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères S.A., post 1942, and alloy mark for 835/1000.<br />

196


Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> / Antoine de Vinck<br />

Three lacquered bowls, 1966<br />

Lacquer on bisque fired stoneware (?)<br />

Dimensions: 3 × 10 cm; 3,5 × 9,7 cm; 4,4 × 11,4 cm<br />

Signed: on the bottom in red lacquer with the artist’s monograms “MW” and “AV” and dated “1966”<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

The ceramicist Antoine de Vinck (1924–1997) and Marcel and Clairette <strong>Wolfers</strong>-<br />

<strong>Petrucci</strong> were great friends. They all were very sensible to the eastern arts<br />

and adored early Chinese pottery and Japanese Chawan bowls. The <strong>Wolfers</strong>-<br />

<strong>Petrucci</strong> collection held several pieces by de Vinck. Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> was always<br />

experimenting with different methods to apply lacquer to a large variety of<br />

surfaces. After the second world war, it took him a while to reinstall his lacquer<br />

workshop in Vieusart and to acquire good quality lacquer. Around 1960, he<br />

restarted making lacquer objects. The three bowls, bisque fired by Antoine de<br />

Vinck, were lacquered by Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> in 1966. Although they look rough, all<br />

pieces are signed with the monograms of both potter and lacquerer, and are<br />

therefore considered finished. It is possible that Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> strived to create<br />

lacquered bowls which were made to look as old, vernacular bowls, to resemble<br />

rural every day pottery in Asia.<br />

198


200<br />

The collection of Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> at Vieusart, ca. 1976


Unknown master, Nuremberg<br />

The Levi Family brandy bowl, mid-17 th century<br />

Silver, partially gilt<br />

Dimensions: 3,5 × 11,3 × 13 cm<br />

Marked: next to one of the handles with the city mark of Nuremberg (Germany) and maker’s mark “a loop in the<br />

form of an eight with trefoils on both ends”, used between 1645–1651, which could be attributed to the master<br />

August Döring.<br />

Provenance:<br />

Sophie Mayer, New Zealand (descendant of Philipp Wolff (<strong>Wolfers</strong>) and Johanna Levy)<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection (gifted by the above)<br />

The engraved brandy bowl with the names “Levi Joel / Salman Levi” remains<br />

an object that is difficult to place within the <strong>Wolfers</strong> family history. By repute it<br />

comes from the family of Johanna Levy (1788–1869), the second wife of Philipp<br />

Wolff (<strong>Wolfers</strong>) and mother of Louis <strong>Wolfers</strong>. Further genealogical research<br />

is needed to establish the link between the bowl and the <strong>Wolfers</strong>-Levi family.<br />

Although Louis <strong>Wolfers</strong>, son of Philipp Wolff and Johanna Levy, was the father<br />

of Philippe and grandfather of Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>, the bowl seems to have belonged<br />

to a descendant of one of his siblings. It is only later that the piece was presented<br />

by a Ms. Mayer to Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>, as having belonged to the parents of Johanna<br />

Levy. Subsequently, Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> has kept the piece with the <strong>Wolfers</strong> family<br />

heirlooms.<br />

For the maker’s mark and the possible attribution to Döring, see Karin Tebbe,<br />

et al., Nürnberger Goldschmiedekunst. 1541–1868, Band I : Meister, Werke,<br />

Marken, Teil 1 : Textband, Nürnberg, 2007, p. 485, No. 1074. A similar brandy bowl<br />

of the same maker is pictured on p. 958, photo 657 (Teil 2 : Tafeln). My thanks go<br />

to Dr. Wim Nys for the identification of this piece.<br />

202


Unknown master<br />

The so-called Louis <strong>Wolfers</strong> Masterpiece, 19th century<br />

Silver, partially gilt<br />

Dimensions: 27,6 × 15,2 cm<br />

Marked on the rim with a mark resembling the city mark of Augsburg (Germany) and the Amtszeichen mark “B”<br />

used in the Austrian city of Neustadt<br />

Provenance:<br />

Louis <strong>Wolfers</strong> (?)<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> (by descent ?)<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

(by descent)<br />

Bibliography:<br />

Van Dievoet W., Les <strong>Wolfers</strong> – Orfèvres, Bijoutiers &<br />

Joailliers, Bruxelles, Archives et Musées de la Ville<br />

de Bruxelles, 2002, p. 29<br />

Schotsmans J.-P., Les joailliers-orfèvres <strong>Wolfers</strong> in Les<br />

Cahiers de la Fonderie – Revue d’histoire sociale et<br />

industrielle de la région bruxelloise, n°9 décembre<br />

1990, p. 4<br />

This piece was carefully treasured by the descendants of Louis <strong>Wolfers</strong>, and has<br />

always been referred to as his masterpiece, made in Augsburg at the age of 18. The<br />

dish does not have a practical use and seems to be the work submitted to become<br />

a master chaser, a so-called masterpiece. Only the front has been finished, the<br />

back shows the techniques which were used.<br />

However after careful examination of the marks, it seems to be erroneous<br />

to attribute the piece to Louis <strong>Wolfers</strong> and/or to an Augsburg make. The only<br />

identifiable mark is the “B” in a hexagonal shield, which was used in Neustadt<br />

(Austria, then Austria-Hungary) as Amtszeichen or control mark in the first half<br />

of the 19th century. However we cannot attribute it to another maker. We do not<br />

know why this piece ended up in the <strong>Wolfers</strong>-<strong>Petrucci</strong> collection, but it is very<br />

possible that there was a link between Louis <strong>Wolfers</strong> and this object.<br />

204


Léon Sneyers (attributed to)<br />

An exhibition frame made for Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>,<br />

ca. 1902–1905<br />

Oak, brass and glass<br />

Dimensions: 49 × 43,5 cm<br />

Provenance:<br />

Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong><br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

Although this frame is unsigned, it is very likely that it has been made by Léon<br />

Sneyers (1877–1948). We know that for his participation in the Turin exhibition<br />

of 1902, Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> asked architect Léon Sneyers, who was an assistant to<br />

Paul Hankar, to design pedestals and at least one large wall vitrine for displaying<br />

drawings. All these furnishings have a typical vertical or horizontal line motif cut<br />

into the oak as a decoration. In this display frame, no such motif is used.<br />

One can recognize Sneyer’s hand in the quality of the oak used and in the<br />

way the frame ingeniously opens to change the drawing on display. The profile<br />

of the frame is very delicately made, and maybe Sneyers refrained from using a<br />

decoration because it would draw to much attention away from the design on<br />

display. Finally, this exhibition frame closes with lock and key, an unusual feature<br />

which we also find on the large Turin wall vitrine.<br />

206


Jef Codron<br />

Portrait of Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>, 1908<br />

Pastel on paper<br />

Dimensions: 55 × 39 cm (day measure)<br />

Signed: “Jef Codron 08” bottom right<br />

Dedicated: “à mon ami <strong>Wolfers</strong>” bottom right<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection (acquired from or given by the artist)<br />

Jef Codron was born in 1882. He participated in the preliminary tests for the<br />

Rome Prize contest of 1904 and 1907 as a painter. Maybe this was how he met<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>. Another possible meeting place would have been the informal<br />

gatherings of artists at the so-called Patte au Dindon Academy. Codron was and is<br />

mainly know as an etcher and illustrator. His drawings are difficult to find, and on<br />

the whole represent landscapes. A portrait by Codron is unusual.<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> is depicted with a sun cap and an wearing an apron over his<br />

clothes, so probably Codron drew Marcel when he was working at a drawing.<br />

The sun cap could indicate that he was working outside. The drawing is prolific,<br />

but has become somewhat more difficult to read, as the colour of the paper has<br />

darkened through time.<br />

The portrait was the only work by Jef Codron in the collection of Marcel<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong>. It shows Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> at the age of 22 and so<br />

one of the earliest depictions of the young artist.<br />

208


Emile Fabry<br />

Zarathustra, 1909<br />

Bister on paper<br />

Dimensions: 53 × 42,5 cm (day measure)<br />

Signed: “E. Fabry 1909” top right<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection (acquired from or given by the artist)<br />

Emile Fabry (1865–1966) was one of the founding members of the Pour<br />

l’Art artists group and became a close friend of Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong>. Fabry was<br />

commissioned by him to paint a large wall decoration in his newly built cottage<br />

“Les Glycines”, by art nouveau architect Paul Hankar. Fabry has been working<br />

on the murals between 1902 and 1905 and the parts that were finished were<br />

exhibited at the salons of Pour l’Art. Fabry had a great influence on Philippe<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong>, and was a leading example to the young aspiring artist Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>.<br />

It is no coincidence that Fabry’s influence is apparent in the drawings of Marcel<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> from the years 1905–1910. Even his use of colours is related to the work<br />

of Fabry at that time. The influence of the young and striking <strong>Wolfers</strong>, at that<br />

time aged between 14 and 20, on Fabry was also clear: he used Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> as a<br />

model. His image is seen in one of the compositions for the “Les Glycines” cottage<br />

and also in this drawing of 1909.<br />

Fascinated by “Alzo sprach Zarathustra” by Friederich Nietzsche, its visionary<br />

message and aesthetics became central to Fabry’s art. The imaginary portrait of<br />

“Zarathustra” is to be seen as a homage to Nietzsche’s book. We see “Zarathustra”<br />

depicted as an eagle, with the lion in the left corner and the serpent to the right.<br />

Could it be that they met at the free and informal gatherings of artists at the<br />

so-called Patte au Dindon Academy? The face of “Zarathustra” is none other than<br />

a portrait of Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>, then aged 23.<br />

210


Frans Van Holder (attributed)<br />

Portrait of Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>, study, ca. 1910–1914<br />

Oil on canvas<br />

Dimensions: 66 × 35 cm<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

Franz Van Holder (1881–1919) was a close friend of the family. He painted a<br />

magnificent portrait of Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> in 1907, now in the Royal Museums<br />

of Fine Arts in Brussels (Inv. No. 7732). This study of son Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>, has<br />

according to family tradition been painted between 1910 and 1914. Although<br />

unfinished and therefore unsigned, it was always attributed to Franz Van Holder<br />

and took pride of place in the <strong>Wolfers</strong> household. Marcel is depicted as a young<br />

dandy, ready to go out riding. In the background to the left, one can discern a<br />

plaster head of a horse, standing on a sculptor’s pedestal. This could be the head<br />

of the “Possidere” sculpture by Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>, which was shown at the Venice<br />

Biennale of 1912.<br />

212


Arthur Navez<br />

Portrait of Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>, 1914<br />

From the series of “Quelques Portraits Contemporains” of the Great Zwans-Exhibition<br />

Oil on canvas<br />

Dimensions: 95,5 × 75,5 cm<br />

Signed: top right “Navez”<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Brussels, Great Zwans-Exhibition, Marché de la<br />

Madelaine, 11/05–14/06/1914, p. 60, cat. No. 12.<br />

Bibliography:<br />

Great Zwans-Exhibition, Bruxelles, Association de la<br />

Presse Belge – Section Bruxelloise, 1914, p. 60<br />

The tradition of the “Zwans” Exhibitions goes back to 1885. The exhibitions<br />

were not merely supposed to be humorous, but often the works carried hidden<br />

critiques on cultural, religious or political developments in the country. It was<br />

also an opportunity to settle feuds among artists in a tongue-in-cheek manner.<br />

Many artists submitted works that parodied their own work, thus keeping the<br />

initiative. Their aim was to raise money for charity.<br />

Arthur Navez is one of those painters, who in spite of their contemporary<br />

importance and quality of work, seem to have been forgotten. Around 1914, he was<br />

well known for his fauvist paintings, often displaying elegant figures in interiors.<br />

At the Great Zwans-Exhibition he showed a series of 34 portraits which he called<br />

“Portraits Contemporains” or “Contemporary Portraits” of artists, journalists<br />

and writers. The list was published under the heading of “Le Trombinoscope”,<br />

a directory of people with their photographs, or in this case with their painted<br />

portraits. Each more or less caricatural portrait was accompanied by a succinct<br />

description of the depicted. In the case of the Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> portrait (exhibited<br />

as number 12) it read: “Cette vague figure anglaise? / Un roi de la figure en glaise!”.<br />

Indeed when one looks at the portrait, it is clear that Navez painted his friend<br />

as an English dandy, perhaps with a slight bohemian touch. The second phrase<br />

is a compliment on Marcel’s skills as a sculptor. A portrait by Navez from the<br />

same exhibition and depicting Auguste Thomas (exhibited as number 1) is in the<br />

collection of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels (inv. No. 11561 ). It was<br />

painted onto the same background and shows many similarities in technique and<br />

style with the Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> portrait. The fluidity of execution apparent in both<br />

portraits points to the fact that they have probably been executed especially for<br />

the exhibition. Most portraits of this series seem to have disappeared. Marcel<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> was very attached to this work, which was displayed at a prominent place<br />

in his Vieusart atelier.<br />

214


216<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> was also a contributor to the exhibition: under the name<br />

“Bette Rave” he submitted a “Masque notarié du plus Beau des Wens”, cut out of<br />

a beetroot. The accompanying caption next to his pen name reads “Ebauchoir<br />

du sexe féminin. A trouvé une matière plastique supérieure à l’ivoire, l’argile, le<br />

marbre et le bronze lui-même. Les vaches s’en relècheraient les babines ” (see the<br />

1914 catalogue, under number 7, p. 40)


Gustavo Cochet<br />

The castle Bossier in Dudzele (Flanders), ca. 1925–1930<br />

Oil on canvas<br />

Dimensions: 24,5 × 32,5 cm<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

Gustavo or Gustave Cochet was born in Rosario (Argentina) on the 6th of May<br />

1894 to a French father and a Argentinian mother. As a young man, he worked as<br />

a telegraph operator while all his spare time was spent painting. He went to study<br />

with the painter César Caggiano and met other contemporary painters in Buenos<br />

Aires.<br />

In 1915 he travelled to Barcelona and from there he went to live in Paris from<br />

1920 onwards. He stayed in contact with Spain, often painting there and keeping<br />

in touch with the cultural world. He was also involved in the anarchist movement<br />

of the country. How he came to know Marcel and Clairette <strong>Wolfers</strong>-<strong>Petrucci</strong> is<br />

not yet known, but as this painting shows, he was invited to their holiday home<br />

of the 1920’s in Dudzele. Cochet’s painting style is very close to the folk art of his<br />

native country and Spain. The naiveté of his work is also typical of 1920’s artists<br />

who wanted to create a different kind of modern art, of which André Dunoyer de<br />

Segonzac and Maurice Dufresne are its most well-known representatives today.<br />

Gustave Cochet became more and more involved in Spanish politics from<br />

1935 onwards, resulting in his flight back to Argentina in 1939. There he became<br />

Professor of Painting at a school in the city of Santa Fe. Cochet died in Funes<br />

(Santa Fe) in 1979. This city is also home to the Gustavo Cochet museum.<br />

This painting is unsigned, but on the back of the stretcher it is indicated<br />

(probably by Clairette) that the painting is by Cochet and is of Dudzele. Marcel<br />

and Clairette <strong>Wolfers</strong>-<strong>Petrucci</strong> also possessed at least two drawings by Cochet in<br />

their collection.<br />

218


Yvan Obozinski<br />

Coffeepot and sugar bowl Claudine, ca. 1942<br />

Silver plate and wood<br />

Dimensions: coffeepot: height 17,5 cm, length 20 cm (spout to handle)<br />

sugar bowl: height 13 cm, length 22,5 cm<br />

Marked: “XSf 7 / 14 / argenté in rectangle / 12” on the bottom of the sugar bowl<br />

Provenance:<br />

Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong> collection<br />

Exhibited:<br />

Ghent, De Dynastie <strong>Wolfers</strong> – Meesters in zilver,<br />

Design museum Gent, 16/12/2006–09/04/2007, p. 35<br />

(with photo)<br />

Probably through the mediation of Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>, Yvan Obozinski (1901–1979)<br />

was able to work for <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères S.A. It is not known how many designs<br />

Obozinski made for <strong>Wolfers</strong>, nor for how long he has been working for the<br />

company. It seems that he supplied the firm with designs that were only executed<br />

in silver plate.<br />

The Obozinski designs are characteristic of the <strong>Wolfers</strong> production of the<br />

second half of the 1930’s. Oval shapes and fluent lines give these designs a great<br />

elegance. We know that the “Claudine” service was only executed in silver plate,<br />

but it was finished with the same attention to detail as a piece in silver. As was<br />

often the case with <strong>Wolfers</strong>, the service was given a female name. Claudine was<br />

the name of the daughter of Obozinski, who was born in the 1930’s. The service<br />

was designed by Yvan Obozinski ca. 1942.<br />

220


Acknowledgements<br />

Our gallery has been promoting the work of Philippe and Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> for<br />

decades. Our in-depth research has led to the identification of signatures,<br />

monograms and marks. We have been able to rediscover lost masterpieces<br />

by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> and have tried to reconstruct the accurate history of the<br />

lacquer workshop founded by Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong>. This would of course not have<br />

been possible without the help of many people who showed us necessary<br />

information, gave us first-hand accounts of what happened so many years<br />

ago, who introduced us to dealers and collectors willing to share information<br />

or show us their treasures. It is impossible to mention everyone that has been<br />

helping us during the last twenty years that we were restoring the <strong>Wolfers</strong>’<br />

name and fame throughout the world. So to those people, forgive us if we have<br />

omitted your name, it is not on purpose and does not in any way mean that we<br />

are not grateful for your help.<br />

Our gratitude goes out to the whole of the <strong>Wolfers</strong> family, especially to<br />

Mrs Claire-Nelly (Kikou) Baeyens-<strong>Wolfers</strong> (†) for her enthusiasm for and faith<br />

in our “<strong>Wolfers</strong> plans” over the years and for sharing her incredible knowledge<br />

of the work of her father and grandfather. Also we would like to thank Messrs.<br />

Jean and Freddy <strong>Wolfers</strong> (†) for their accounts of the post war years of the firm.<br />

We thank Dr. Werner Adriaenssens for his help with the cataloguing of some<br />

items and for the use of his expertise on the work of Philippe and Marcel<br />

<strong>Wolfers</strong> and the art deco and art nouveau period in general. Dr. Wim Nys<br />

was a great help in identifying marks and clarifying some silver related<br />

problems. A special mention for Dr. Annelies Krekel-Aalberse, who has been<br />

an inspiration to start researching modern silver all those years ago, and whose<br />

books remain a reference for dealers, collectors and scholars alike. Prof. Dr. Leo<br />

De Ren, Mrs. A.-M. Claessens-Peré were there in the beginning and remained<br />

committed to help. And when we were at loss we could always rely on Lieven<br />

Daenens, honorary director of the Design museum Gent, who with his<br />

experience, could point us in the right direction. The great silversmith and<br />

lacquer artist Jean Lemmens helped us understand and appreciate the difficult<br />

process of making objects in lacquer.<br />

222


We would also like to mention some passionate dealers, who each in their<br />

specific way, have contributed to our research: Martine D’Haeseleer (†),<br />

Antoine Pucci, Monique de Changy, Daniel de Changy, Maurice Tzwern (†),<br />

Elkan Wijnberg, Erik Müllendorff and Philippe Denys (†).<br />

This exhibition and catalogue could not have been made without the help and/<br />

or support of Cathérine Verleysen, Carl Vermassen, Cato, Antonia and Leonie<br />

Vermassen Steel, Astrid and Olivia Steel, Christiana Pattheeuws, Christoph<br />

Neerman and Tim Sautois.<br />

Our greatest thanks and deepest regards go out to Marc, Nils and Vincent<br />

Baeyens without whom this exhibition would have remained a dream.<br />

Thank you.<br />

Last but not least we want to thank our father, Leo Steel, who around 1992<br />

showed a three piece silver tea service by a then fairly unknown silversmith<br />

by the name of <strong>Wolfers</strong>. If we wanted to do some research on it to establish its<br />

designer and to find out when it was made? It was the “Janine” model, designed<br />

in 1926 by Philippe <strong>Wolfers</strong> for <strong>Wolfers</strong> Frères and named after one of his<br />

granddaughters. Little did we know this was the start of a quest that has lasted<br />

until today, and will continue to feed our curiosity for many decades to come…<br />

223


This catalogue was published to accompany the Exhibition<br />

‘<strong>Collection</strong> Marcel <strong>Wolfers</strong> and Clairette <strong>Petrucci</strong>: <strong>Hidden</strong> <strong>Treasures</strong>’<br />

at Galerie St-John, Gent, Belgium - 24 th November – 24 th December 2017<br />

Exhibition by Galerie St-John Gent – Raf Steel & Emmy Steel<br />

Texts by Raf Steel, Emmy Steel<br />

Photographs by Raf Steel<br />

Graphic design and photo retouching by Cedric Verhelst<br />

Printed by Graphius, Oostakker<br />

Published by Galerie St-John, Raf Steel, Emmy Steel<br />

All texts copyright 2017 Galerie St-John, Raf Steel, Emmy Steel.<br />

All photographs copyright 2017 Galerie St-John, Raf Steel, Emmy Steel, the artists.<br />

Archival photographs from the collection of the authors and the <strong>Wolfers</strong> family<br />

collection, used by kind permission.<br />

All rights reserved, in all countries. No part of this publication may be reproduced<br />

(including translation or adaptation), stored in a retrieval system or transmitted<br />

in any form or by any means, electrical, mechanical or otherwise, without first<br />

seeking the permission of the copyright owners and the publishers. Every effort<br />

has been made to contact copyright holders of material reproduced in this<br />

catalogue. Any omissions will be rectified in subsequent printings if notice is<br />

given to the publisher.<br />

Galerie St-John, Gent<br />

st-john.be<br />

info@st-john.be<br />

Bij St-Jacobs 15A<br />

T. +32-9/225.82.62<br />

B–9000 Gent<br />

f.com/galeriestjohn


www.st-john.be

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