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cranach wilhelm gorgoneion kunstgewerbe

Wilhelm Lucas von Cranach, Berlin, 1902
Execution: Goldsmiths Friedländer and Graveur Max Haseroth. Gold, Opal, Nephrit, Jaspis, Emerald, Pearl.

Early October I visited the Kunstgewerbemuseum in Berlin and found a precious Jugendstil piece made by an (for me) unknowed artist. His name was Wilhelm Lucas von Cranach. Online I couldn't find much except this article from Viola.

A bit weird if you know I visited many Art Nouveau exhibitions. It is one of my favorite periods, which ranges from 1880 till 1910. I love the nature inspired designs with flowing stylised forms. The Kunstgewerbe museum has a surprising collection, worth the visit, especially if you're a goldsmith.

cranach wilhelm wapenCranach was born in 1861 and son from an old family of Renaissance painters. He was initially trained as a forester but decided to move to Weimar and Paris to learn painting. Here he joined in the footsteps of his ancestor Lucas but developed later into jewelery designer.

Assignments he let out by skilled goldsmiths and engravers, a widely used strategy in that period. The collaboration with Friedländer resulted in works that could be seen on the World Exhibition in Paris and the 25th anniversary exhibition of the Association of Kunstgewerbe in Berlin.

Through these exhibitions he got noted by the writer Wilhelm Bode which in turn resulted in a beautiful colorbook published in 1903 in which his work was extensively discussed. This book I read personally in the artlibrary of Berlin. (The book I had found through the online-catalogus van de Staatliche Museen zu Berlin).

cranach kunstlibrary goldschmiedekunst

Cranach's (1891-1916) pendant, called Gorgoneion, is a dramatic and colourful jewel. Dragonwings of green Nefrit, flaming red hair of Jaspis and a female face made with translucent blue shimmery Opal. All set in gold. It is a bit macabre and could, without doubt, be worn by one of the players of Game of Thrones.

cranach wilhelm medusa detail snakesAs inhabitant of the dragonvillage Beesel, I was attracted to the dragonwings and the symbolic of the snakes. Normally the hair of a Medusa head is made of snakes.

In this pendant the chin of the face rests on a nest of 6 golden snakes adorned with emeralds who hold a big white pearl.

All in all, a daring combination that in 1902 caused a stir and was almost immediately purchased by the Kunstgewerbemuseum.


Werke Moderner Goldschmiedekunst van W. Lucas von Cranach.
Introduction by Wilhelm Bode, 1903
Schmuck-Kunst im Jugendstil
by Fritz Falk, 1999

About La Leipsig

The jewellery which is sold under the brand name La Leipsig Jewels is based on Helga van Leipsig's observations of the nature in Limburg, a province in the south of The Netherlands.



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