Four attractive diorama portraits of three women and a man made of colored wax. The figurines are a mother and child, a woman that seems to be protecting her belongings, a woman with a dog and a basket for needlework and a man seemingly in prayer.
Caspar Bernhard Hardy (1726-1819) was a German clergyman known for his skills in ciroplasty; the creation of sculptures in colored wax. Hardy was the son of a chemist from Cologne. Next to his occupation as a priest and sculptor in wax, Hardy also was a skilled enameller and bronze caster. He was also a scholar who put together a planetarium driven by a clockwork.
Nowadays we associate sculpting in wax for the mere part with venues like Madame Tussaud’s, but in the 18th and 19th century wax sculpting was used for many more purposes. Often the technique was used to manufacture realistic medical models (in French called ‘moulages’), that were used for instructing medical students and doctors in a time predating photography, but also for figurative artwork like these little portraits.
The wax portrait dioramas were very much appreciated. In 1815 even Goethe praised the quality of Hardy’s work. The Musée Carnavalet in Paris owns nine works of Hardy, amongst them a portrait of Benjamin Franklin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art also owns work of Hardy. In the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London is a portrait, very similar to the male portrait in this series, titled ‘The Needy Peasant’ (A.2-1993).
It is recorded that Caspar Bernhard Hardy is buried on the ‘Melaten-Friedhof’ in Cologne, but his grave is considered to be lost.
Site by Artimin