Bronze with a black patina
cast by HAGENAUER WIEN
height 36 cm
Karl Hagenauer (1898-1956) was an influential Austrian designer in the Art Deco style. He enrolled at the Vienna School of Applied Arts at age eleven. He studied with Josef Hoffmann and Oskar Strnad and created designs for the Wiener Werkstätte art collective. After wartime service in the infantry, he resumed his training and qualified as an architect. He joined the family business in 1919 and soon took on leadership in both design and management.
Karl Hagenauer was responsive to the change in public taste influenced by the popularity of the "Vienna Secession". His stylized animals and whimsical creatures handcrafted in brass had broad appeal in domestic and American markets. Some were useful, such as mirrors, cigar cutters, ashtrays, cigarette stubbers - many in the form of athletes or animals, candlesticks, corkscrews, bookends, and lamp bases. Figurines and other larger sculptures in wood and metal were purely decorative.
Karl Hagenauer designed the company’s trademark encircled wHw (Werkstätte Hagenauer Wien) and registered it in 1927. The first catalogue to use the trademark dates to 1928, the year his father died and Karl assumed leadership of the business. The company later expanded to produce furniture, chiefly designed by Julius Jirasek.
Karl Hagenauer's work found an avid American market partly through the efforts of New York gallery owner Rena Rosenthal, who featured the Josephine Baker sculpture in a 1935 window display. A similar model is preserved in the collection of La Casa Lis, Art Nouveau and Art Deco Museum in Salamanca in Spain. He stamped some of the merchandise retailed through her store with a custom Rena mark in addition to his trademark wHw.
After World War II, supporting rebuilding efforts, the company turned to the production of metal objects and furniture needed for the restoration of houses damaged or destroyed in the war.
The 1950s saw a reintroduction to the more decorative products.