'The Caress of the Swan' vase

'The Caress of the Swan' vase
Philippe Wolfers / Fonderie J. Petermann
Brussels (Belgium)
1897
Bronze, ivory, marble ; H.173 cm
Inv. Sc.77

In 1897, the Colonial Exposition was organized in Tervuren to promote the Congo, a territory acquired by Leopold II. The first room, the Hall of Honour, revealed the artistic value of ivory, a colonial product par excellence. 'The Caress of the Swan' by Philippe Wolfers impressed viewers with its monumentality. Originally designed as an enormous flower vase, it incorporates a complete tusk, which the jeweller himself picked out in the warehouses of the port of Antwerp. The work manifests true technical prowess in its perfect intertwining of bronze and ivory, and the swan's elegant movement makes this a magnificent decorative piece. The bronze eel above the tusk adorned with rushes seems to be sliding ineluctably toward the beak of the bird. This kind of somewhat morbid symbolism characterizes all of Philippe Wolfers's production in this period. 

 

Discover this masterpiece near the gallery dedicated to the Wolfers Frères jewelry store, on the online museum catalogue Carmentis and in the book Masterpieces of the Cinquantenaire Museum.