Emil Henry Wuertz – The Murmur of the Sea – ca.1890

Emil Henry Wuertz was a French-American artist, little information about him is available on the web. Wuertz’s The Murmur  of the Sea was included in the book covered in the previous post,  Famous Art Reproduced. Fortunately, the book gave some biographical information, “Wuertz was born on the Rhine. He came to New York at the age of twelve, and went to school in the city. When twenty-six years old he became a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Paris. His masters for a period of eight years were Gérôme, Mercié, Chapu, and Auguste Rodin. The statue here reproduced won a metal at the Chicago Exposition.”
The critic Michael Straus wrote the commentary in Famous Art Reproduced. Straus’ comment on Wuertz’s sculpture was,” A nude boy is seated on the shore listening dreamily to the voice of the ocean. The waves say — — — — —- —.” This quote reflects that the author appreciated the metaphysical level of the sculpture, the limits of human language C.S. Lewis discussed in his address “Transposition”. I recall when I did research for the post on the sculptor Vonnoh, there was no account of the symbolism in her work in the large volume Bessie Potter Vonnoh: Sculptor of Women. The book only gave a detailed biography for Vonnoh with a technical account of casting bronzes. If art is only apprehended from a material aesthetic level, the greatness of the works by Michelangelo and Rodin would not be perceived. Although there is a renewed interest in the traditional art of the late 19th century, the contemporary zeitgeist is ignorant of significance of the art. Artists of the period were resisting the mechanical mystical duality brought by the industrial subversion.