Reticulated Serpent

Wilhelm K├ąge

5" H x 30" W x 3.25" D


C. 1930


Inventory Number KAW004

Size 5" H x 30" W x 3.25" D

Material Stoneware

Period Art Deco

Country of Origin Sweden

Year Made C. 1930

This rare and exceptional stoneware centerpiece is from a limited edition series, each slightly different in its sculptural details (it is possible that just another variant was made). Bearing features of a dragon, crocodile, fish, and Jörmungandr sea serpent, this mythical or cryptozooligical creature possesses a totemic quality that transcends Nordic or Asian influences: indeed, its anatomy seems derived from some collective unconscious fantasy of a predatory water monster glimpsed, but never fully seen. Hand built and carved, the long cylindrical body is beautifully decorated with incised and stippled marks, and wood fired matte glazes. Reticulated slots placed at intervals beneath the dorsal fin possibly were intended to hold flowers. In any case, this is undoubtedly one of Kåge’s most compelling ceramic sculptures.

Literature: A variant is illustrated in Eronn, Gisela, Wilhelm Kåge: Keramikens Mästare (Stockholm: Prisma, 2006), [93]. Eronn calls this example a Drakkrodiler (dragon crocodile), which fails to explain the obvious piscine elements. She also states that the piece was meant to be used as a flower-holding centerpiece, a claim that may be purely speculative.

Marks: Inscribed Artist's signature / Stamped Manufacturer's cipher, Gustavsberg, Farsta.

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