Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Vintage Shoe Art Walks the Runway at Bonhams

by Stephen J. Gertz

 At the beginning of the twentieth century, Munich collector and scholar Karl Friedrich Schoensiegel assembled what was at the time one of the most important collections of shoes in the world. Exhibited in Berlin in 1939, the War prevented further public exhibition of the collection or publication.

Bonham's recently  auctioned the Schoensiegel Collection archives at their Fine Books and Manuscripts sale, June 22, 2011. Estimated to sell for between $40,000 - $60,000, the hammer fell at $42,700, including buyer's premium.

It's a tremendous archive of original watercolors, drawings, manuscripts, and scholarly materials related to shoes and their historical and their cultural significance.

Schoensiegel's vibrant and skillful watercolor renderings document the collection in part, and  other materials gathered therein preserve an important contribution to fashion scholarship that has yet to be fully realized.

The archive is comprised of: Das Schuhmuseum in der Mappe (The Shoe Museum in a Portfolio), 277 bright and clean original watercolors on paper executed by Schoensiegel, depicting shoes in the artist's own collection and in the collections of museums around the world, housed in six portfolios hand-titled in black and red. The watercolors are grouped into several geographic and historical sections: Asia, Africa, America, Australia, and Europe; Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the 17th, 18th, and 19th Centuries.

...A collection of sixty-one smaller original watercolors on paper, seven ink drawings, one drawing in pencil, and one shoe sole and ink collage, of shoes, soles, and related subjects, many of an erotic nature. It was inevitable, I suspect, that eroticism would, ultimately, suffuse the collection.

...And 145 original tracings on transparencies of shoes (many from the watercolors in the Schuhmuseum) and related subjects.

Also included are several manuscripts and typescripts, published and unpublished, of Schoensiegel's and his collaborator Valentin Dittmeier's historical and interpretative studies of shoes: Der Bau und die Funktion des Fusses {The Construction and Function of the Foot, Ulm-Donau: Fachzeitung der Schuhmachermeister, 1939]; Der Schuhim Wandel durch Sechs Jahrtausende (The Change in  Shoes Through Six Millennia, Ulm-Donau: Fachzeitung der Schuhmachermeister, 1940.]; Von der Bedeutung (Symbolik) des Fusses und des Schuhs (Of the Symbolic Meaning of the Foot and the Shoe); Geschichte der Fussbekleidung (History of Footwear); and Uber die Bedeutung des Fusses und des Schuhes. (On the Importance of the Foot and the Shoe).

Finally, the collection features several folders containing miscellaneous materials for educational use or the preparation of manuscripts including mounted clippings, reproductions of drawings, and other ephemera, with extensive annotations and captions in Schoensiegel's hand, as well as a portfolio of mounted black and white and color photographs and reproductions featuring the legs of women wearing high heels. 

All images courtesy of Bonham's, with our thanks.

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