Secessionist Medals

Secessionist Artists - WWI 1914 -1918 => Benno Elkan => Topic started by: Rabenauge on December 27, 2019, 08:10:32 AM

Title: Ludwig Frank
Post by: Rabenauge on December 27, 2019, 08:10:32 AM

Benno Elkan  1914 (1915 - see below)

DR・LVDWIG  FRANK・.  Cast iron, blackened, subtle greenish-yellow patina, 96.78 mm, 354.47 g.  Fast gussfrisch (near as-cast).  Rare, especially in iron.

Obverse: High relief profile portrait head and neck to right; title legend lower edge; artist's initials BE lower left immediately behind subject's neck; raised rim. 

Reverse: Naked youth, head thrown back, bent right arm raised, left arm extended backward, advances to left along ground-line towards conflagration; three line inscription STIRB / UND / WERDE! (die and become [reborn]) center right; two-line date inscription 3・9 / 1914 (3 Sept 1914) lower right; artist's signature BENNO / ELKAN in exergue under ground-line; raised rim.

Cf: Frankenhuis, M.  (1919?).  Catalogue of Medals - Medalets and Plaques Relative to the World War 1914 - 1919, p. 70: 511 (medallist misidentified as BENNO FIKA - from a small format example where name is partly lost in striking - see attached photo).

Cf: Menzel-Severing, H.  1980.  Der Bildhauer Benno Elkan, Dortmund, p. 213: Wk-Nr. 215; illus. 145 (97 mm cast bronze, 34 mm struck silver examples).

Cf: Salaschek, S.  1980.  Katalog der Medaillen und Plaketten des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts im französischen und deutschen Sprachraum in der Hamburger Kunsthalle, I (text): p. 127: no. 522; II (Studien und Tafeln): pl. 35 (bronze).

Cf: Steguweit, W.  1998.  Das Münzkabinett und die Förderung der Medaillenkunst: Künstlerbriefe 1914-1918 Medaillenedition (Das Kabinett 5), pp. 15 - 16: illus. 8 (bronze).

Cf: Kluge, B., and B. Weisser.  2014.  Gold gab ich für Eisen, p. 107 (same example as in Steguweit - cast bronze).

Cf: Weisser, B.  2017.  "Medallic Art in Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the First World War" in Phagan, P., and P. van Alfen, The Art of Devastation: Medals and Posters of the Great War, pp. 123, 125 (fig. 53) (same example as in Steguweit).

Second example: Design as above, struck bronze, natural patina, 34.50 mm, 14.55 g.

Although this medal bears the date 3.9.1914 and is sometimes described as made that year, Steguweit (p. 39) excerpts a letter dated 2 March 1915 from Elkan to Julius Menadier, Director of the Royal Coin Cabinet, Berlin (who had encouraged Elkan to design a medal honoring Frank), reporting that "The medal of Frank nearly finished.  Its reverse depicts a youth throwing himself into flames; in addition Goethe's words: 'Die and become'".  It then goes on to explain that the medal will be cast in a diameter of 9 cm and struck in a 3 cm issue.  Thus this medal was produced no earlier than spring 1915.
Ludwig Frank (1874 - 1914) was a Jewish German doctor of jurisprudence and a Social Democratic delegate of the Reichtag, who had taken part in peace demonstrations of the Social Democratic Workers' Movement in response to the threat of war.  When war was declared, he nevertheless volunteered for active duty - despite his age (40) - to show his loyalty in time of national emergency.  His death at the front was reported on 3 September 1914.  The medal is an important piece of propaganda art intended as an incentive to patriotic unity of all Germans, regardless of religion or ancestry, in the national war effort.

The inscription on the reverse, "Stirb und Werde!" is taken from Goethe's "Selige Sehnsucht," part of his great poem cycle West-Östlicher Divan (West-Eastern Divan, 1819): "Of the living I shall praise / that which longs for death in flames. . . . And until you have possessed / dying and rebirth, / you are but a sullen guest / on the gloomy earth." -- trans. Walter Kaufmann, Twenty German Poets, 1962).