The present work is a very rare sculpture by the well-known medalist and portraitist Arthur Immanuel Loewenthal, native of Vienna. The bust shows two life-size girls in ivory, for the faces, colored marble for the hair and the shoulders and semi-precious stone for the base. It dates from 1913, when Loewenthal came to Berlin for some commissioned works. Here he met again his childhood friend, the famous Austrian violinist Fritz Kreisler; from his circle of friends and acquaintances Loewenthal received further commissions.
Although Loewenthal was actually known for creating medals of prominent personalities in Austria, Germany (especially for his series of German commemorative medals during World War I) and Great Britain; the few works of the Berlin years included mostly busts and small figurative sculptures. Like the medals, the sculptures are always characterized by a strong presence of the life of the depicted, -as by the vivid eyes in the present piece- and show the ability of the artist to convey his/her spiritual inner thoughts – as in the busts of Beethoven (1912, Beethoven House, Bonn) or later the one of Albert Einstein (1930, The Collection, Lincoln), whose enthusiasm for the finished work due to his lifelike representation is handed down in the article from 1930.
In both formal and technical terms, Arthur Loewenthal’s bust shows a strong analogy to 1902 Max Klinger’s Beethoven sculpture (Kunstmuseum Leipzig), which was shown at the 14th exhibition of the Vienna Secession and which like Loewenthal’s work, consists of different materials – colored stones and bronze with glass, metal, ivory and gemstone inlays. From his youth, Loewenthal strove not only to master but to perfect all the techniques of a sculptor – from working with wood, which he learned at the age of 16, when he went to Italy, to casting techniques and the cutting of gems and cameos. After Loewenthal’s return to Vienna in 1898, he studied at the Academy under Edmund Hellmer, founding member of the Vienna Secession, and Josef Tautenhayn, who amongst others created sculptural elements for some buildings on the Vienna Ringstrasse. The stylistic closeness of Loewenthal’s bust to Klinger’s sculptures still refers to the spirit of secessionism. Like him and others for the Secession, he looked for fragmentary works with irregular cut-outs, which produce a strange effect.
With the rise of National Socialist Germany, the Austrian Jew Loewenthal finally moved to Britain in 1934. The largest collections of his works are now in Lincolnshire, where Loewenthal has spent the last twenty years of his life.