Nicolaus Wendelin Schmidt, Generalfeldmarschall Göring

Nicolaus Wendelin Schmidt, Generalfeldmarschall Göring Nicolaus Wendelin Schmidt, Generalfeldmarschall Göring Nicolaus Wendelin Schmidt, Generalfeldmarschall Göring

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Heavy Bust of Generalfeldmarshall Göring.
Gold coloured patina.
Original large and heavy bust of 16,3 kg (excluding base).

An identical bust of Generalfeldmarshall Göring by Nicolaus Wendelin Schmidt was exhibited at the Great German Art Exhibition in the Haus der Deutschen Kunst 1938, room 10. According to the files of the Haus der Deutsche Kunst, one bust of Göring was bought at the GDK by the city of Berlin and another by Lufgaukommando VII in Munich (for 500 Reichsmark each). As the previous seller lived in the Berlin region (and busts by Schmidt are very rare), the bust we are offering could have been the one in possession of the city of Berlin.

Nicolaus Wendelin Schmidt, 'Bust of Hermann Göring', displayed at the GDK 1938, room 10.

At the base the foundry mark 'Guss M Sperlich' (see below).


- condition : II  Base is renewed.                  
- size : height 48 cm (including base of 10 cm), length 28 cm, width 24 cm
- weight : weight 16,3 kg, excluding base
- signed : in the neck
- type : bronze, with gold-coloured patina in good condition                   
- misc. : foundry mark 'Guss M. Sperlich' 


Nicolaus Wendelin Schmidt, 'Großadmiral Dr. h. c. Raeder'. Depicted in Die Kunst im Deutschen Reich, 1941, page 322. Bronze cast. GDK 1941, room 9.
A zinc cast of Großadmiral Dr. h. c. Raeder (also by Schmidt) was again exhibited at the GDK 1944. Grand Admiral Erich Johann Albert Raeder led the Kriegsmarine (German Navy) for the first half of the war; he resigned in 1943 and was replaced by Karl Dönitz.
The zinc bust of Grossadmiral Räder by Nicolaus Wendelin Schmidt (height 57 cm) is in the possession of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen. It was displayed at the exhibition ‘Kunst im 3. Reich, Dokumente der Unterwerfung’. The exhibition, instigated by the Frankfurter Kunstverein, was held from 1974 to 1975 in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Ludwigshafen and Wuppertal.

Left: Bust of Adolf Hitler by Nicolaus Wendelin Schmidt (37 cm high).
Right: Führerbust by Nicolaus Wendelin Schmidt, depicted in the magazine of the SA, the Sturmabteilung  (‘Die SA, Zeitschrift Der Sturmabteilungen Der NSDAP‘, 18 April 1941).

The extreme scarcity of National Socialistic art
Massive, systematic destruction of Nazi art since 1945: the Potsdam-Agreement
From 1933 to 1949 Germany experienced two massive art purges. Both the National Socialist government and OMGUS (the U.S. Military Government in Germany) were highly concerned with controlling what people saw and how they saw it. The Nazis eliminated what they called ‘Degenerate art’, erasing the pictorial traces of turmoil and heterogeneity that they associated with modern art. The Western Allies in turn eradicated ‘Nazi art’ and forbade all artworks military subjects or themes that could have military and/or chauvinist symbolism from pictorial representation. Both the Third Reich and OMGUS utilized the visual arts as instruments for the construction of new German cultural heritages.
The Potsdam Agreement of 2 August 1945, subparagraph 3, Part III, Section A stated that one purpose of the occupation of Germany was ‘to destroy the National Socialistic Party and its affiliated and supervised organizations and to dissolve all Nazi and militaristic activity or propaganda.’ In accordance with Allied Control Council laws and military government regulations, all documents and objects which might tend to revitalize the Nazi spirit or German militarism would be confiscated or destroyed. For example, Title 18, Military Government Regulation, OMGUS stated that: ‘all collections of works of art related or dedicated to the perpetuation of German militarism or Nazism will be closed permanently and taken into custody.’ As a consequence, thousands of paintings –portraits of Nazi-leaders, paintings containing a swastika or depicting military/war sceneries– were considered ‘of no value’ and destroyed. With knives, fires and hammers, they smashed countless sculptures and burned thousands of paintings. Around 8,722 artworks were shipped to military deposits in the U.S.
OMGUS regulated and censored the art world. The Information Control Division (ICD, the key structure in the political control of post-war German culture in the American zone) was in fact a non-violent version of the Reichskulturkammer (Reich Chamber of Culture). With its seven subdivisions (i.e. press, literature, radio, film, theatre, music, and art), the ICD neatly replaced the Reich Chamber of Culture. The ICD established through its various sections a system of licensed activity, with screening and vetting by Intelligence to exclude all politically undesirable people.

‘Free’ German artists producing ‘free German art’ after 1945
In the ideology of OMGUS, painting was conceived of as a strategic element in the campaign to politically re-educate the German people for a new democratic internationalism. Modern art allowed for the establishment of an easy continuity with the pre-Nazi modernist past, and it could serve as a springboard for the international projection of Germany as a new country interacting with its new Western partners.
‘Free’ artists producing ‘free art’ was one of the most powerful symbols of the new Germany, the answer to the politically controlled art of the Third Reich. Modern art linked Western Germany to Western Europe – separating the new West German aesthetic and politics from that of the Nazi era, the U.S.S.R., and East Germany – and suggested an ‘authentically’ German identity.

Left: Nicolaus Wendelin Schmidt, 'Bust of Anny Gouthier. 'Depicted in 'Velhagen & Klasings', Monatshefte, 1933/34.
Anny Gouthier was a pupil of Schmidt and later became his colleague. She started her career as vocalist and violinist. Later, in the 1930s, she found her final occupation as a dancer.
Right: Nicoalaus Wendelin Schmidt, ‘Salome’, postcard (before 1916). This depiction is probably inspired by the extremely successful opera ‘Salome’ by Richard Straus in 1905: ‘Herod begs Salome to dance for him (Tanz für mich, Salome). He promises to reward her with her heart’s desire. Salome dances the “Dance of the Seven Veils” and then demands the head of John the Baptist on a silver platter. When Salome receives the head, she declares her love for it, finally kissing the prophet’s lips passionately. Disgusted, the terrified and superstitious Herod then orders his soldiers to kill Salome.’


Nicolaus Wendelin Schmidt, 'Erlösung' ('Liberation'). A plaster cast was displayed at the 'Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung', 1928 (depicted in the official exhibition catalogue). A bronze cast was displayed at the 'Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung', 1930.  

Left: Nicolaus Wendelin Schmidt, ‘Schreitendes Mädchen’. 1.67 cm high, bronze. GDK 1937, room 22.
After WWI it was placed in the garden of Bellevue Palace (Schloss Bellevue), located in Berlin’s Tiergarten district. Bellevue Palace served as the secondary residence of the West German president Theodor Heuss, the first President of the Federal Republic of Germany after World War II from 1949 to 1959. In 1994, after the German reunification, President Richard von Weizsäcker made it his primary residence.
Right: Nicolaus Wendelin Schmidt, ‘Eva’, bronze. Exhibition of ‘Verein Berliner Künstler’, 1939 (‘Berlin Artist Association’). Depicted in 'Westermanns Monatshefte', 1939 and in 'Velhagen & Klasings', Monatshefte, 1939.

Nicolaus Wendelin Schmidt, ‘Meine Mutter’, (‘My Mother’), created 1932. Height 25 cm. Displayed at the Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung, 1933 (depeicted in the exhibition catalogue). Also displayed at the GDK 1938, room 35, and at the exhibition ‘100 Jahre Verein Berliner Künstler‘, Berlin, May/June 1941 (depicted in the exhibition catalogue).

Left: Nicolaus Wendelin Schmidt, ‘Akt’ (‘Nude’), created around 1920. Height 27 cm.
Middle: Nicolaus Wendelin Schmidt, ‘Flötenspieler’ (‘Flautist’). Height 24 cm, sold by a German auction house in 2016.
Right: Nicolaus Wendelin Schmidt, 'Schmied' ('Blacksmith'). Height 66 cm including base. Sold by a German auction house in 2017. 

Left: Nicolaus Wendelin Schmidt, ‘Weiblicher Akt‘ (‘Female Nude‘), bronze. Date of creation unknown.
Right: Nicoalaus Wendelin Schmidt, ‘Bogenschütze’ ( ‘Archer’). Height 51 cm. Created around 1920. Sold by a Swiss auction house in 2018.

Guss M. Sperlich/ Foundry Sperlich
The sculpture of Hermann Göring by Nicolaus Wendelin Schmidt bears the mark of Foundry Sperlich, a company founded in 1905 in Berlin by Max Sperlich. For the German foundry industry, the 1930s were a prosperous time; many monumental sculptures were needed for the newly designed capital Berlin (‘Haubstadt Germania’), the New Chancellery and the Olympic Games in 1936. Foundry Sperlich received a significant number of orders, including those from Arno Breker, for the sculptures Siegerin’ (‘The Victress’) and ‘Zehnkämpfer’(‘Decathlete’), meant for the Olympic Stadium in Berlin (where they still are). Guss Sperlich also casted the famous 5.5 meter- high sculptures by Josef Thorak, ‘Familie’(‘Family’) and ‘Kameraden’(‘Comrades’) for the German Pavilion at the 1937 World Exhibition in Paris (in 1949 Thorak had them melted down again). ‘Reiterstandbild’ (‘The Rider’), designed by Professor Emil Cauer in 1928 as a monument for the ‘Garde du Corps’ in Potsdam, was also cast by Sperlich. Unfortunately, this sculpture was melted down in 1944, because the German war industry needed the bronze. At the end of 1943 the Sperlich foundry in Berlin was bombed. A second production facility was created in Birkholzaue, just outside Berlin. Foundry M. Sperlich still exists. In 2014 the company, which is also a part of the machine-, electronics- and automotive industry, has more than 120 employers.      

Nicolaus Wendelin Schmidt
Nikolaus Wendelin Schmidt (1883–1954) born in Mühlheim am Main, was a German sculptor, sketsch artist and lithographer. He studied with Professors Breuer and Janensch at the ‘Königlich akademischen Hochschule’ for Fine Arts. In 1913 he was awarded the Rompreis with gave him the financial ability to travel for a year through France and Italy (The ‘Prix de Rome’ was given by the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris; the first one was granted in the 17th century). Schmidt was represented at several exhibitions, including the Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellungen (i.a. 1916, 1926, 1928, 1930 and 1933), and exhibitions organised by the 'Verein Berliner Künstler' (i.a. 1938). In May/June 1941 he took part in the exhibition '100 Jahre Verein Berliner Künstler', Berlin.
He was married to the artist Johanna Helene Charlotte Schröder (also named Hannes Petersen); from 1937 to 1944 they lived in Berlin. 
Schmidt’s specialties were bronze busts and life-size sculptures. He was represented with five works in the Great German Art Exhibitions in Munich: ‘Generalfeldmarshall Göring’, ‘Meine Mutter’, ‘Grossadmiral Dr. h.c. Raeder’ (2 x) and ‘Schreitendes Mädchen’. According to the files of the Haus der Kunst, two busts of Göring were bought by the City of Berlin and Lufgaukommando VII in Munich, for 500 RM each. Nicolaus Wendelin Schmidt died in 1954 in Berlin.
Nowadays works of Nicolaus Wendelin Schmidt are in museums in Berlin and in private hands. The zinc bust of Grossadmiral Räder is in the possession of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen. It was displayed at the exhibition ‘Kunst im 3. Reich, Dokumente der Unterwerfung’. The exhibition, instigated by the Frankfurter Kunstverein, was held from 1974 to 1975 in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Ludwigshafen and Wuppertal.