DEMETRE CHIPARUS BRONZES

AN INTRODUCTION

Demetere H Chiparus History

Demetere H Chiparus was born into a moderately wealthy family in 1886 in Romania.  Little is known of his early years, and he seldom reminisced about them.  We do know that in 1908, aged 22, he left Romania for Italy to study sculpture.  Although only granted a four-month visa, Chiparus would never return to Romania again.  His trip to Italy would be a huge source of inspiration for him and following a move to Paris in 1912 he sought to formalise his education and enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.  This well-respected academy had strict entrance exams with the ability to draw the nude and recite art history among the skills required.  Although he was not in regular attendance (why study when you can make a handsome living without completing your exams!) he remained enrolled for many years.

Early Years

With his formal training (somewhat) over Chiparus immersed himself in early 20th century Parisian culture.  Lest we forget that at that time Paris was at the centre of the modern art world giving birth to Cubism, Fauvism and home to Cezanne, Picasso, Braque and Matisse, to name but a few.

The cultural and social changes brought about by WWI were a huge influence on Chiparus’ work, the most important being the liberalisation of women.  After the war women took over the roles left open following the deaths of the millions of men who gave their lives.  Women were no longer constrained by formality and decorum; instead, they broke the chains of the past and celebrated their power.  Gone was the long and flowing hair, replaced with cropped locks.  The voluptuous hourglass image was also gone, with slender lines becoming more fashionable.

Chiparus-Bronze
Chiparus-Bronze-Valuation

 Demetre Chiparus and Art Deco

The increasingly fashionable Art Deco movement is commonly attributed to work produced between the depression of 1926 and the breakout of WWII in 1939.  The era was known as the ‘roaring twenties’ in Britain, the ‘wild years’ in France and the ‘golden twenties’ in Germany.  There were brief periods of economic uprising and the wheels of modernity and industry were back on track after the hellish war.

Chryselephantine

To create his incredible figures  Chiparus worked with both bronze and ivory; ivory representing the flesh and bronze representing the cloth.  To speak technically, the method of combining bronze and ivory in a sculpture is known as chryselephantine.  The etymology of the word has its roots in the Greek words Chryos (gold) and Elephantinos (ivory).  Ivory and gold have been used together as far back as the ancient Egyptians 6,000 years ago, and through the centuries the combination was most commonly associated with religious works such as crucifixes.  However in the 1920’s the carving centres of Germany and Austria would exploit the method to create exquisite and elegant works of art that now typify the term.

The reason for combining ivory with bronze to create figures was originally to reduce cost rather than increasing artistic worth.  It is commonly cited that the more ivory a work contained the less the piece originally cost, and in the case of Ferdinand Preiss his figures carved solely from ivory were originally retailed for less than £5 .  Most of the artists working with ivory did so using African ivory due to the surplus of ivory coming predominantly from the Belgian Congo and the fact that Indian elephants have smaller tusks.

Chiparus Les Girls

Symbology

To look at a Chiparus bronze is to see an empowered woman, a naked woman, a celebrated woman.  Although the reality is that these ‘perfect’ specimens of women are composite; Chiparus used different models for different body parts: arms, torso, legs, head etc.

The poses that have come to define Chiparus’ work are elegant and mystical.  A key influence on his work were the newly rediscovered tombs in Egypt, and this ‘Orientalist’ image is prevalent in the costume, hair, jewellery and demeanour of his figures.  There is a strong sense that the women could be goddesses from an ancient land, free of the trappings of postwar France.

Who Originally Bought Chiparus Bronzes

His bronzes were very popular amongst the nouveau rich who sought to fill their houses with the most modern and fashionable items of furniture, art, sculpture and decoration.  This made Chiparus a very rich man but was also part of his demise.  WWII brought about a new set of challenges and work dried up.  Following the war work was hard to find, his ‘of the moment’ bronzes now epitomised a bygone age and were no longer in fashion.  Chiparus died in 1947.

Construction

We must also note that almost all Chiparus and Preiss figures were not ‘one off’ works of art but multiples that could be made to order.  From the original design artists and workshop, assistants would use a duplicating mill (essentially a tracing point attached via parallelograms to a number of drill heads that move in an identical manner to the tracing point).  Using this technique up to four figures could be carved at once.  After ‘roughing out’ the design of the figure, it would then be finished by hand, therefore many of the figures could be correctly considered as simulacrums rather than individual works of art.

 

For Love

Following similar lines to the work of Ferdinand Preiss, Chiparus’ work was not made to be unique, and there is no further meaning other than the ‘look’; they are free from pretention.  Chiparus brokered deals with various foundries to produce his work (in that he sold the rights to reproduce his bronzes rather than selling the works himself).   This had many advantages as he was not only paid upfront but also received royalties on the sales of the figures.  He closely monitored the production of the bronzes and would reject any casts that were inferior.  Once cast the bronzes were fitted with the ivory elements and coloured using paints and lacquers before being fitted to a base ready to be sold.  Many of Chiparus’ bronzes are mounted on marble or onyx bases, and it is here you can often find a signature (although many of the bronzes are also signed).

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Demetere H Chiparus History

Demetere H Chiparus was born into a moderately wealthy family in 1886 in Romania.  Little is known of his early years, and he seldom reminisced about them.  We do know that in 1908, aged 22, he left Romania for Italy to study sculpture.  Although only granted a four-month visa, Chiparus would never return to Romania again.  His trip to Italy would be a huge source of inspiration for him and following a move to Paris in 1912 he sought to formalise his education and enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.  This well-respected academy had strict entrance exams with the ability to draw the nude and recite art history among the skills required.  Although he was not in regular attendance (why study when you can make a handsome living without completing your exams!) he remained enrolled for many years.

Early Years

With his formal training (somewhat) over Chiparus immersed himself in early 20th century Parisian culture.  Lest we forget that at that time Paris was at the centre of the modern art world giving birth to Cubism, Fauvism and home to Cezanne, Picasso, Braque and Matisse, to name but a few.

The cultural and social changes brought about by WWI were a huge influence on Chiparus’ work, the most important being the liberalisation of women.  After the war women took over the roles left open following the deaths of the millions of men who gave their lives.  Women were no longer constrained by formality and decorum; instead, they broke the chains of the past and celebrated their power.  Gone was the long and flowing hair, replaced with cropped locks.  The voluptuous hourglass image was also gone, with slender lines becoming more fashionable.

 Demetre Chiparus and Art Deco

The increasingly fashionable Art Deco movement is commonly attributed to work produced between the depression of 1926 and the breakout of WWII in 1939.  The era was known as the ‘roaring twenties’ in Britain, the ‘wild years’ in France and the ‘golden twenties’ in Germany.  There were brief periods of economic uprising and the wheels of modernity and industry were back on track after the hellish war.

Chryselephantine

To create hsi incredible figures  Chiparus worked with both bronze and ivory; ivory representing the flesh and bronze representing the cloth.  To speak technically, the method of combining bronze and ivory in a sculpture is known as chryselephantine.  The etymology of the word has its roots in the Greek words Chryos (gold) and Elephantinos (ivory).  Ivory and gold have been used together as far back as the ancient Egyptians 6,000 years ago, and through the centuries the combination was most commonly associated with religious works such as crucifixes.  However in the 1920’s the carving centres of Germany and Austria would exploit the method to create exquisite and elegant works of art that now typify the term.

The reason for combining ivory with bronze to create figures was originally to reduce cost rather than increasing artistic worth.  It is commonly cited that the more ivory a work contained the less the piece originally cost, and in the case of Ferdinand Preiss his figures carved solely from ivory were originally retailed for less than £5 .  Most of the artists working with ivory did so using African ivory due to the surplus of ivory coming predominantly from the Belgian Congo and the fact that Indian elephants have smaller tusks.

Symbology

To look at a Chiparus bronze is to see an empowered woman, a naked woman, a celebrated woman.  Although the reality is that these ‘perfect’ specimens of women are composite; Chiparus used different models for different body parts: arms, torso, legs, head etc.

The poses that have come to define Chiparus’ work are elegant and mystical.  A key influence on his work were the newly rediscovered tombs in Egypt, and this ‘Orientalist’ image is prevalent in the costume, hair, jewellery and demeanour of his figures.  There is a strong sense that the women could be goddesses from an ancient land, free of the trappings of postwar France.

Who Originally Bought Chiparus Bronzes

His bronzes were very popular amongst the nouveau rich who sought to fill their houses with the most modern and fashionable items of furniture, art, sculpture and decoration.  This made Chiparus a very rich man but was also part of his demise.  WWII brought about a new set of challenges and work dried up.  Following the war work was hard to find, his ‘of the moment’ bronzes now epitomised a bygone age and were no longer in fashion.  Chiparus died in 1947.

Construction

We must also note that almost all Chiparus and Preiss figures were not ‘one off’ works of art but multiples that could be made to order.  From the original design artists and workshop, assistants would use a duplicating mill (essentially a tracing point attached via parallelograms to a number of drill heads that move in an identical manner to the tracing point).  Using this technique up to four figures could be carved at once.  After ‘roughing out’ the design of the figure, it would then be finished by hand, therefore many of the figures could be correctly considered as simulacrums rather than individual works of art.

For Love

Following similar lines to the work of Ferdinand Preiss, Chiparus’ work was not made to be unique, and there is no further meaning other than the ‘look’; they are free from pretention.  Chiparus brokered deals with various foundries to produce his work (in that he sold the rights to reproduce his bronzes rather than selling the works himself).   This had many advantages as he was not only paid upfront but also received royalties on the sales of the figures.  He closely monitored the production of the bronzes and would reject any casts that were inferior.  Once cast the bronzes were fitted with the ivory elements and coloured using paints and lacquers before being fitted to a base ready to be sold.  Many of Chiparus’ bronzes are mounted on marble or onyx bases, and it is here you can often find a signature (although many of the bronzes are also signed).

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Are you looking for a valuation of your bronze? If so then we can help.

Email details about your item to [email protected] or call us on 01270 440357

You can also click to send us a text

Alternatively, use the form to send us information about your item and we will reply with a valuation.

Online Valuation Form