Rudolf (Rudolph) Hölbe [1848-1926]
Signed : ‘Rud. Hölbe. Dresden’.
Foundary : ‘Guss A. Milde & Co. Dresden’.
Rudolf [Rudolph] Hölbe (1848-1926) was a German-born Academic sculptor. Holbe studied under master German sculptor Johannes Schilling (1828-1910) at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts. He spent twelve years working in the studio of his former teacher Schilling before striking out on his own in 1883.
Hölbe participated in many important exhibitions of his day including the 3rd International Art Exhibition, Munich in 1888 and the Berlin Anniversary Exhibition of the same year. At the 3rd International Exhibition of 1888, Hölbe showed his work, Siren. The work received critical acclaim:
“…his [Hölben’s] siren, boldly received applause at the Berlin Jubilee exhibition Munich…”.
– Art for All, 3, (1887/1888), Vol. 2, p. 29.
The work illustrates a part Homer’s Odyssey. The beautifully dangerous female siren sings out to the sea luring her male prey. In her left hand is a lyre formed from a shell. The figure’s right hand is out-stretched searching for her next victim. Her wings are wind-blown at the top of an outcropping of rocks located on a deserted island between the island of Kirke and the rocks Skylla and Charybdis in the Mediterranean. Her beguiling singing and the gift of being able to report everything on earth drew the sailors into her spell and thus into ruin. But Jason and the Argonauts managed to escape the song of the sirens. Hölbe mixes for the first time both bird and female anatomy in his unique version of the mythological telling.
– Art for All, 3, (1887/1888), Volume 2, page 29.
– Illustrated catalog of the III. International Art Exhibition, Munich, 1888. Munich, 1888, p. 186, catalog #2878 (room 13).