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Antique Art Deco J B Hirsch Bookends Pixie Gerdago Ivorine Girl w Alabaster Base
Antique Art Deco J B Hirsch Bookends Pixie Gerdago Ivorine Girl on Alabaster Base. The busts of the extreme Art Deco pixies are made of spelter metal with polychrome painted finish - the paint is guaranteed original. The applied faces are made of a faux Bakelite material often referred to as Ivorine. Each measures about 6" tall, the stepped alabaster base is 2 11/16" x 2 7/8". No marked but absolutely guaranteed made by J B Hirsch Co. ca. 1930 era. The design for this is credited to Gerda Iro Gerdago and is an iconic deco image. One bookend is quite fine with no problems. The other has a tint chip missing from the very top and the Ivorine face has a tight crack - you should be able to see this in my photos. This particular Hirsch Gerdago pixie set is quite rare, much harder to find than the full figure Gerdago pixie holding a book set. Guaranteed authentic genuine as described, I have been collecting bookends for many years.
Gerdago (Gerda Iro) an Austrian born Artist (born 1906); he was well known for pixie and dancer forms and sculptures.
The JB Hirsch story beginsin 1907 with theNew York Art Bronze Worksin Manhattan’s lower east side. The founder of the company, Romanian metalsmith, Joseph B. Hirsch,
began importing pieces directly from French foundries. Around that period, foundries with close ties to the talented artists and sculptors of theEcole des Beaux Artsin Paris, began producing their now famous works in “French Bronze.” Some of the finest talent throughout Europe trained at theEcole des Beaux Arts, exhibiting their works at theSalon de Artistesand other great Salons in Paris, the center of the art world.
Between the wars, during the 1920s and 1930s, an entirely new modern style of decorative art emerged, using a combination of bronze and ivory. With the ban of ivory in the early 1930s, ivorine or celluloid (predecessor of plastic) was used in its place. The ivory or ivorine representing exposed flesh and the bronze or spelter representing clothing. The combination of “French Bronze” (spelter) and ivory or ivorine were fully exploited during the Deco period using events of discovery (opening of King Tut’s Tomb in the 1920s), celebrities, athletes (1936 Olympics), children, the fashions and costumes of the period by Erte and Gerdago, and dancers from the Ballet Russe,
After World War I,when the French occupation closed one of Hirsch’s primary suppliers, he went to Paris and purchased that company’s molds to begin his own casting foundry. With the acquisitions of additional molds from French, German and Italian foundries, Hirsch was able to put together the finest and rarest collection of Beaux Arts, Nouveau and Deco sculptural molds in the world.
During World War II, the French foundries were again prohibited from using metal for statues. To prevent the valuable sculptural art from being destroyed by marauding armies, the molds were broken up, the pieces scattered, buried under factory floors,
and hidden in house cellars. Most French foundries remained closed after World War II, and the molds remained hidden.
In 1948, J.B. Hirsch’s son, Abraham, heard of their existence, and planned “archaeological expeditions” to France to search for the buried mold fragments. Between 1948 and 1963 Abraham Hirsch was able to piece together over 200 objects and acquire the molds from 15 “French Bronze” foundries. Abraham’s son, Stanley was put in charge of reassembling exhumed molds that arrived in pieces. After attending a symposium on the Beaux Arts by the NY Metropolitan Museum of Arts, Stanley Hirsch discovered he was in possession of the original molds from which the displayed pieces were cast. Putting together the puzzle of scrambled parts is still an ongoing process.
Today, J B Hirsch bookends-- romantic, elaborate, and elegantly designed -- are the most sought after of all bookend manufacturers. They are usually figural pieces cast in pure spelter (“French bronze”) and usually reflect the chryselephantine movement, displaying ivorine (celluloid) faces, hands and other parts. In some cases, the parts are painted to resemble ivorine.