A gold-mounted carved ivory bust of Saint Ursula
Made from solid African elephant ivory mounted with 22k gold set with six emerald-cut emeralds and 16 garnets. A bust of the saint carved in the round, her head tilted downwards in a mournful gesture and with a tall foliate crown resting upon her long, wavy tresses. Her shoulders are decorated by two hinged golden bands. The figure’s oval base is also mounted with a band of pierced golden tracery. With an oval hollow to the underside, possibly intended to hold a relic. The ivory with hairline cracks. H 32.5 cm, weight 3940 g, gold weight ca. 610 g.
The mountings attributed to Franz or August Wüsten, Cologne, last quarter 19th C.
Including CITES from 1996.
Private collection, Sweden. - Auctioned by Arne Bruun Rasmussen, Copenhagen, 17th November 1981. - South German collection.
For information on Franz Wüsten cf.: Schäffke, Goldschmiedearbeiten des Historismus in Köln, Cologne 1980, p. 148 ff.
On reliquary busts cf.: Lütkenhaus, Sakrale Goldschmiedekunst des Historismus im Rheinland, Berlin1992, p. 151.
The most famous Rhenish historicist reliquary bust is Franz Wüsten's head of St. Sebastian, housed in Cologne cathedral treasury. The attribution to this goldsmith or his son seemed especially plausible as their workshop specialised in works in the Gothic taste. All the stamped pieces produced there are of exceptionally high technical and artistic quality. Franz Wüsten held the title of royal goldsmith to the court of Saxony, and he and his son also supplied works for the Vatican as papal goldsmiths. They shared a workshop at “Auf dem Hunnenrücken 28” from 1902 to 1906, and August later opened his own shop on Komödienstrasse.