Welcome to the Gustav Manz blog. Manz was a master goldsmith and designing jeweler whose career spanned New York's Gilded Age and Art Deco eras. We invite you to share your thoughts, and will do our best to answer specific questions about the life, work, and contemporaries of this early 20th century artist-craftsman.
Sunday, June 22, 2014
THE 3650 CAMPAIGN
The African Elephant is in a race against time. With as many as 35,000 being poached each year—ten percent of the total population of elephants on the continent of Africa–this magnificent species may only have ten years (3650 days) left. In partnership with the artist’s descendants, Tusk USA is offering a limited edition of Gustav Manz's Elephant Bracelet, from which one third of proceeds goes directly into the field to support an end to the ivory trade.
GUSTAV MANZ was born in Stockach, Germany in 1865. Following apprenticeship with a master goldsmith in Baden, he boarded the fast mail-boat to Cape Town, South Africa, and found work in the area’s diamond and gold mines. He reemerged in Paris in time for the Exposition Universelle of 1889 and absorbed the unique designs of Rene Lalique and other Art Nouveau artists who would inspire his own jewelry obsession: fauna and flora in their natural habitat. After further travel, including an extended trip to Cairo, Egypt, and the Nile Valley to sketch and assist at tomb excavations, he settled permanently in New York City. In the early 1920s he moved his workshop to West 48th Street, opposite today’s Rockefeller Center, remaining at that location until shortly before his death at 81.
An early member of the New York Zoological Society (now World Conservation Society), Manz befriended the keepers and spent hours observing and drawing his favorite animals—tigers, panthers, bears, and other large mammals. His familiarity with their individual physiques and personalities is evident in his hinged silver cuff depicting elephant mothers and calves walking through a leafy setting. A jeweler’s jeweler, Manz gained a reputation for his remarkably lifelike botanical and animal figures carved in precious metal, attracting orders from Tiffany & Co, Black Starr & Frost, Cartier, Raymond Yard, and Shreve Crump & Low, as well as commissions for noted artists of the day, among them Sarah Bernhardt and Enrico Caruso. His pieces were exhibited at international expositions and arts and crafts shows, and examples of his metal work are in the collections of the Cleveland Museum, Newark Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.