Altjavanische Bronzen aus dem Besitze der ethnographischen Sammlung des Naturhistorischen Museum in Wien
1925·Wien & Leipzig
by Heine-Geldern, Robert
Wien & Leipzig: C. W. Stern. Very Good. 1925. First Edition; First Printing. Paperback. 27,  & 32 plates pages; Publisher's wrappers, printed title on front cover along with a b/w mounted plate. A significant early work on the bronze figures of ancient Java, written by Robert Heine-Geldern [1885-1968], art historian, ethnographer, and archaeologist. The author was also the grand-nephew of the great poet Heinrich Heine, and while he did not use his title in his work in the world of scholarship, he was also a Baron -- [Robert, Freiherr von Heine-Geldern]. After studies at the University of Munich, then art history and ethnography under Father Wilhelm Schmidt at the University of Vienna, the author undertook the first of a series of travels in the east, when he gathered materials and information along the border regions of India and Burma boundary in 1910 -- (the subject of his 1914 thesis on The Mountain Tribes of Northeastern Burma). Following an interruption for military service during the first World War, Heine-Geldern took a position at the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna. While in that position, the author became one of the modern founders of the field of Southeast Asian anthropology with his chapter "Suedostasien" in G. Buschan's 'Illustrierte Völkerkunde.' Two years later, the present work on the bronze figures of old Java was published -- a pioneering work in Buddist iconology. This well preserved copy has two tiny tears (without loss) at the head of the spine, and a gentle bend at the top corner. It also has the ink signature along the fore-edge of the front cover of Stefan Munsing. Stefan P. Munsing [1915-1994] worked in New York City as a designer for Hans Knoll, Norman Bel Geddes and RCA. Munsing served in the Army in World War II, then as Chief of the Monuments, Fine-Arts & Archives Section in Munich. The MFAA was an Army unit locating stolen artworks which had disappeared into the huge Nazi hoards during the war. The Munich Central Collecting Point, of which Stefan Munsing became Director was located in former Nazi Party offices. While there were also Collecting Points in Marburg, Wiesbaden and Offenbach, the Munich Central Collecting Point saw a lion's share of important activity, including the processing of Hitler's collection found at Altaussee. The salt mines in this Austrian location eventually housed over 6.500 paintings, as well as many statues, furniture, weapons, coins, and libraries, including a portion of Adolf Hitler's so-called Führerbibliothek. The Altaussee treasures included Michelangelos Madonna of Bruges stolen from the Church of Our Lady in Bruges, and Jan van Eycks Ghent Altarpiece stolen from Saint Bavo Cathedral in Ghent; and Vermeers The Astronomer and The Art of Painting which were to be focal points of Hitlers Führermuseum in Linz. All these very narrowly escaped a Nazi-ordered explosion and were sent to Munich's Central Art Collecting Point for processing. [Readers of this listing may have new reasons to appreciate the activities of this important organization by the opportunity to see George Cluny's movie: "Monument Men" -- released early in 2014.] Munsing later joined the U.S. Department of State in the early 1950's, where he established the State Department's Amerika Haus programs in Munich and Berlin and organized exhibitions and cultural programs in Germany and Austria. In 1955, he was named cultural officer at the American Embassy in London, where he staged exhibitions of such New York artists as Philip Pavia, Paul Jenkins and Ben Shahn and became an important force in the London art world. Munsing returned to the U.S. in the 1960's and 70's where he helped establish the contemporary art collection of the National Museum of Fine Arts in Washington (now the National Museum of American Art) and headed the State Department's Art in Embassies program. In retirement from the State Department after 1976, Mr. Munsing was a consultant to the American Association of Museums. OCLC: 17945773. Interestingly, Stefan Munsing published an exhibition catalogue of material allied to the present subject near the end of his service as Director of the Central Art Collecting Point in Munich -- ["Kunsthandwerk des Orients," München, Oktober, 1949]. . (Inventory #: 40295)
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