Curious Curator: Early Twentieth Century “Orientalism” in Material Culture, example Seated Bedouin Guard Lamp
Some of the décor at Parkwood, along with the decorative art pieces (material culture) are a wonderful example of the early 20th century love affair the west had with the Middle East, Asia and North Africa in what we can term in the Edward Said “School of Orientalism”. Everything from chinoiserie, to the persian carpets throughout the Estate, to the japanning technique on side boards, to the use of pagoda style buildings on the property is evocative of the influences that the “orient” conjured in the minds of the west for hundreds of years and came into vogue, once again ,while Sam and Adelaide McLaughlin were working with the leading designers and decorators in the presenting of their home.
The piece, that has many of our guests commenting, is a cold painted Vienna bronze lamp that sits, dependent on your visit, in a nook at the top of the back stairs, or perhaps in the small private library space. The cold painted bronze entitled, Seated Bedouin Guard c. 1910, Franz Bergman (or Bergmann). Like every Bergman piece, the lamp evokes the exoticism that was part of the appeal the west found in “the orient”.
Our Bedouin guard sits within his tent holding a rifle.
|Close view of the rose|
The draped tent “fabric” surfaces are hung on three poles with corded “ropes” forming a cut-away tent. The tent has a peaked and tasseled roof in greens and golds with raised flowers and red tasseled trim above a cascading floral back wall decorated with art-nouveau style leaves and large red roses.
The Bedouin man is seated on a dias draped with maroon, ridged fabric surrounded by his cache of weapons and a lute, a coffee pot, an elongated shield and before him, a decorative carpet. More weapons and a round shield are suspended on the outside of the roof.
|Bulb located behind
Often referenced as boudoir lamps, due to the glow the bulb emits, rather then a full light, the lamp in the Parkwood collection no longer operates as a lamp with the wires being tied off, but the bulb still sits in its original position, just behind the shield, pictured in the upper left corner of the photograph.
‘Cold painted bronze’ refers to pieces cast in Vienna and then decorated in several layers with so called dust paint; the recipe and technique for the mix of this kind of paint has been lost. The colour was not fired hence “cold painted”. The painting was carried out mainly by women working at home, a typical cottage industry of the era, and one that the Franz Bergman, Vienna bronze industry used well during its height of popularity through the early part of the 20th century.
http://video.pbs.org/video/1853417987/ This PBS Antique Roadshow episode features a Franz Bergman cold painted bronze, much larger and elaborate than our Seated Bedouin Guard, but I like to think that RS McLaughlin would enjoy the reference to the pieces by Bergman, as the Cadillac of cold painted bronze.