We recently found this stunning piece of hand made repousse art. Made from brass, it has a really wonderful level of detail. A rare piece showing a key moment in European history.
It depicts the Berlin Conference of 1884. The central figure is Otto Von Bismarck, the "Iron Chancellor", architect of German unification and who is credited with keeping Europe's conflicting powers in balance for two decades. The Berlin conference was timed as Germany post unification started to get more interested in colonial expansion and involved the major colonial powers in effectively "carving up" Africa.
The repousse technique hammers the shape in to the metal from the reverse side creating an image that stands out from the metal sheet.
The figures and the features of the room are created with fantastic repousse detail providing us with an amazing three dimensional rendition of this critical event that really brings the conference and the attendees to life. Each historical character is meticulously reproduced. It perfectly captures the sense of European Colonial Power.
The plaque is signed A. Arens. Arnold Arens is listed in an international trade catalogue of 1889 as Stamped Repousse work in Rue Des Nerviens, Antwerp.
We can assume that the plaque was commissioned at the time of, or soon after, the conference itself. Belgium were represented at the conference so perhaps the plaque was commissioned by Belgium. But Arens had an international reputation so may have been commissioned by the conference to create this unique piece.
We have found a few other examples of Arnold Arens work from this period including other historical characters. But perhaps the most impressive example of his work are these stunning doors from a hotel on the Rue Des Nerviens where he was based. The hotel was built in 1879. The architect was Henri Blomme.
We love finding unique pieces that have so much history. We hope you agree, this is a special piece. It can be incorporated into a any modern home to add soul and character to a space.
We have has it framed in a simple wooden frame by an expert framer. It can now be enjoyed by generations to come.