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Signed Wooden Carousel Horse by Freidrich Heyn

Large Hand Carved Wooden Carousel Horse by Freidrich Heyn

Monumental wooden Carousel rearing horse by Freidrich Heyn with original label.

Period Late-19th CenturyHeight 60.23 inWidth 55.11 inDepth 11.80 in Categories , Tags ,





Published in Richard Ward and Geoff Weedon's Fairground Art book on page 45 Dresda Gala Parade Luxury “Half Knight" model.

The base is in wood with a metal structure that allows to ride the swing. The originally polychrome sculpture has taken on a "craquelure" patina which gives it an unrivaled charme. The eyes are made of glass and the tail is natural. Freidrich Heyn was the first famous manufacturer of carousel figures and sculptures. On the cover of his 1905 catalogue, Freidrich Heyn described himself as the " Founder and first established expert of the Molbitz-Neustadt carousel industry", adding the qualification "Largest and most important factory in Germany specialising in fine Dresden horses". Our model was the most popular style of horse of this early period: the standing horse with its hind legs fixed to the carousel platform and its front legs held high, supported by a metal stand. The better quality stands included a metal step. For an extra payment a rocking stand was fitted under the horse to pivot the animal and the tails were real hair. The carving on the legs is delicate, closely following nature. The short-backed body is more compact than a live horse, but combines with the graceful swell of the chest to create a fine illusion of reality. The unmistakable head is large and the nose a little foreshortened, the expression kind, with the glass eyes opened wide and ears standing forward. The one detail that seems not to adhere to strict pre-ordained lines is the horses’s manes. There the carvers had been hallowed the freedom to sculpt the windswept clumps of hair to their own patterns.

Germany, in the eighteen century, represented the archaic survival of the Holy Roman Empire. More than three hundred independent states, principalities and Free Towns were knit together in an ineffectual confederation. Peoples of different racial types and religious persuasions were similarly held in the rigid straightjacket Absolutism. Display and entertainment were studiously cultivated as the aristocracy attempted to recreate the splendor of Versailles. Clothes aped Parisian fashion, hair was coiffured in the French style and its most circles, French was combined with high German for polite conversation. It is no wonder that young aristocrats, following tradition in the Grand Tour of European capitals, felt obliged to stay longest in Paris. 

Jeu de Bague

As a result, the aristocratic French game of tilting at small brass rings from a moving carousel (Jeu de Bague) was imported into Germany. Subsequently, when carousels were built by the less privileged, they were made in imitation of those that turned at court. In Germany as elsewhere in the early nineteenth century, corousels appear to have been built to be worked by their makers. The figures on the carousel have been altered during the passage of time, but the naive form of the wooden horses restates the uncomplicated vision of the folk artist that ignores territorial and temporal barriers.

Freidrich Heyn

The earliest established carousel figure manufacturer who can be positively verified is Freidrich Heyn in 1870. In forty years, it was producing a huge selection of finely carved horses, animals, chariots, sleighs, gondolas, boats, cars and other figures for carousels. In this earlier period Freidrich Heyn was famous for his decorative figures, in particular, he finally carved "Dresden" horses. Freidrich Heyn catalogue consistently shows five types of these standing horses that vary according to the richness of the carved and applied decoration. Each horse came in twelve sizes from 57 cm to 150 cm over body length, the price varying from 21 marks for the smaller plainest horse, to 145 marks for the biggest, most luxurious model. In all cases an extra charge was made for hardwood legs. The cheaper horses had simple saddles with a plain scroll for the candle and relied on the paintwork for their decoration. All horses appear to have left the factory dappled in "Apfelschimmel" style. As the cost increased so did the complexity of the carved caparisons. The "Halb-Ritter" (Half Knight) had bronze or gold rosettes and tassels added to strap work. The "Gala-Ritter" (Parade Knight) had a bird’s head cantle and more elaborate paintwork on its caparisons. The "Dresden Gala-Spiegelpferde" ( Dresden Parade Mirrorhorse ) was the most splendid.

Technical Details

Materials Wood, ironColor beige, blackPeriod Late-19th CenturyCreatore Freidrich HeynProduttore Freidrich HeynOrigin Italian Private CollectionConditions Good
Height 60.23 inWidth 55.11 inDepth 11.80 in

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