Secessionist Medals

Secessionist Artists - WWI 1914 -1918 => Josef Gangl => Topic started by: Rabenauge on December 23, 2019, 04:19:54 PM

Title: Ritter von Epp
Post by: Rabenauge on December 23, 2019, 04:19:54 PM

Josef Gangl.  1919. 

EPP.  Cast bronze, dark brown patina, 80.5 mm, 239 g.  Vorzüglich (extremely fine).

Obverse: Profile portrait head-and-shoulders bust to right, in helmet, with collar and cross of the Order Pour le Mérite; title inscription lower left behind portrait; artist's initial G center lower edge; gradually rising rim. 

Reverse: Bavarian Lion sitting vertically upright center; year date 19 —— 19 center left, right, respectively, divided by image; slightly raised rim.

Cf: Steguweit, Wolfgang.  2000.  Die Medaille und Gedenkmünze des 20. Jahrhunderts in Deutschland, p. 100: 148; plate 52 (attributed to Josef Gangl?).

For an example in the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin Münzkabinett; also see Münzkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin Objekt-Nr: 18242623:; also illustrated in: Weisser, B., "Medailleure in Deutschland während des Ersten Weltkriegs," Teil 6: Josef Gangl und August Gaul, MünzenRevue Heft 2, 2015, pp. 39 - 40 (Illustration, p.40).
Because the medal is marked only with the letter G, there has previously been uncertainty about the artist's identity.  Auction houses recently listing examples have attributed them to August Gaul, but without documentation or reference.  This attribution is unconvincing.   August Gaul's medals from the First World War are signed GAUL; I have seen none of his designs marked with only a single "G."  Gaul was also renowned as an animalier, but the lion on the reverse is stylized in the posture of a house cat and quite unlike his realistically depicted wild animals.  Gaul was a Berliner and less likely to have designed a medal honoring a Bavarian military leader (see below).

The Steguweit and Weisser citations above are the only published references outside of auction catalogs that I have found.  Steguweit tentatively attributes the medal to Josef Gangl, and Weisser states it certainly.  Although Gangl usually signed his First World War medals with his last name in full: GANGL, he did occasionally use a single G.  Gangl worked in Munich where Epp was widely regarded the savior of Bavaria for his Freikorps intervention against "Bolshevist" revolutionaries (see below).  Of the two suggested medallists, he is the more likely designer of this piece.

The helmet worn by the subject on this medal is different from the actual war model in which Epp was sometimes photographed.  It harks back, rather, to the design of a 15th Century Salade or sallet (claimed to be influential to the design of the M1916 Stahlhelm), and is likely intended to portray Epp as a knight (Ritter), a modern-day representative of both chivalric virtue and the 16th - 17th Century freebooters' bravado extolled in German folklore and literature, and thus emulated by Freikorps units (see below).

Franz Xaver Epp (1868 - 1947) served in the Royal Bavarian Army during the Boxer Rebellion, in German Southwest Africa during the Herero genocide, and as commander of the Royal Bavarian Infantry Lifeguard Regiment (Königlich Bayerisches Infanterie-Leib-Regiment) during the First World War, during which he was knighted (1916: Ritter von Epp) and awarded numerous decorations, notably the Pour le Mérite.  Following the German defeat, he formed Freikorps Epp, notoriously involved in suppression of the Bayerische Räterepublik (Bavarian Soviet Republic) in Munich, 1919.