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GIES: WWI Prussian Refugee Art Medal

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LUDWIG GIES: ' Andenken an den Weltkrieg (Flucht) ' Memory to the World War (Escape), 1915, Cast bronze, 45.2:39.4mm, 18.5g, heart shaped with triangular clasp, Unique, As Cast. Frankenhuis, 1919, P. 160, Nr.1345.


Obverse: A refugee family consisting of an old man, child, and a woman with a baby pause to pray before a crucifix inscribed, "I.N.R.I." (Jesus OF Nazareth King of the Jews). "L.G." at the base of the triangulated clasp attachment. 1914-15 in exergue.


Reverse: A wreathed downward pointing sword sits atop an empty inscription tablet. A morning star is found to the left and right of the tablet, signifying the second year of the war. Arched Inscription reads; "ANDENKEN A.D.WELTKRIEG".


Ludwig Gies devoted a series of ten medals to the refugees from East Prussia, the women, the children and old people who were suffering and mourning. Gies emphasizes the medal image by curving the field forward (convex) or, in this case, inward (concave); the silhouette like contours of the figures before the otherwise empty background underline the isolation of the little group which express dull despair; dejection, and acquiescing into their fate.


Bernd Ernsting's "Ludwig Gies" reference tome lists the following known examples of this medal:


WVZ114, cast silver, One (1) in private collection

WVZ114a, cast iron, One (1) in Wein Kunsthistorisches Museum (Vienna Art History Museum).


There is no mention of a bronze copy but Gies was known to produce one silver, bronze, and iron copy of other medals in this series. I have thus assigned WVZ114b to this piece.

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