Franz Zelezny (1866-1932) is a highly acclaimed Austrian sculptor best known for his mastery of wood carving. As a young child Franz was immersed in the world of sculpting spending much of his time in his father’s woodcarving workshop. He studied his craft from 1880-1883 under the tutelage of professors Carl Hesky and the well known Austrian architect, Julian Deininger. He went on to graduate from the State School of Arts with sculptor Anton Brenek. Over the next several years, Franz worked with his father and traveled to numerous European cities studying the works of the old master carvers. Returning to Vienna he established his own business in 1891. The list of his exhibits and awards is extensive, including the presentation of a gold metal at the 1900 Paris World Expo. As recognition of his extraordinary artistic wood carving skill grew, so did the honors he received. At the age of 41 he was appointed professor at the School of Woodworking in Villach, but resigned a year later to return to Vienna as a freelance artist. Zelensky is credited with creating numerous large scale ecclesiastical sculptures for several Viennese churches and cathedrals. He was commissioned to carve war memorials, battleship shields, and portrait busts and statuettes of well known leading European personalities. The wealthy Viennese bourgeoisie also employed Zelezny to enhance their estates. Adolf Loos, an eminent architect of the time once referred to Franz Zelezny as “the largest ornamental wood sculptor of our time, the largest of all living woodcutters.”.
It is with pleasure The Yellow Garage Antiques presents a Franz Zelezny carved wood sculpture depicting an elderly bearded peasant man. Zelezny expertly portrays the warm, jovial personality in the gentleman’s face, an artistic talent for which he is famous. The figure stands slightly crouched with gnarled hands comfortably folded across the chest evoking an individual content with his position in life. A tailcoat rests on its broad shoulders buttoned behind the beautifully carved hands. Carved from Black Forest walnut wood, the subject welcomes the viewer into its world with a warm, wide smile carved in a folk art quality countenance. The old man’s face is rich with laugh lines. Titled on the base “Freude Schoner Gotterfunken” which in translation means “Joy, Beautiful Spark of the Gods” the sculpture portrays an individual full of authentic joy for life. The artwork is signed Zelezny and stands 10” high. Please view our photos for carving details. Yellow Garage Antiques is pleased to offer a superb, highly detailed fine art collector’s piece by the world renowned listed artist, Franz Zelezny.
Franz Zelezny Hand Carved Sculpture of Peasant Man (Ode to Joy) Circa 1915