Fred Coubillier. Allegory of Work. (1911). Central figure. Photo Pedro Ortega

Located in a square of Düsseldorf we find an interesting sculpted monument. Only a little information about it, the legend “Fred Coubillier – 1911”. I haven´t found enough data of this sculptor, only that he was born in 1869 and was very active in Düsseldorf till 1939. A late sculpture of the author is a statue of Beethoven in 1950. It seems that he usually worked with bronze. Style of hisworks is quite near to German Jugendstil but with classic Greek bronzes influence.

Fred Coubillier. Allegory of Work. (1911). Right figure. Photo Pedro Ortega

So, I was surprised when I found this monument devoted to work. It consists in a three male sculptures located symmetrically: the sides are lower but with the characters standing and the central figure, higher but seated. The base of the central figure is circular. Over it there is an old man, with a beard, seated over an anvil and a propeller with a hammer in the hand that rests on the leg. The man is nude but covered with a woolen cloth.

The right figure is a young man.  He is holding big iron pliers and his position is a contraposto, with the height of the body lean on one leg, just like ancient Greek sculptors used to pose their statues. He is an athletic man, with emphasis in the muscles. Quite similar is the left figure, also young, muscled and standing on one leg, again in contraposto. He carries a pick over his shoulder.

Fred Coubillier. Allegory of Work. (1911). Right figure. Left figure. Photo Pedro Ortega

So, we have the old man in the center, with symbols like hammer, anvil and propeller, he is the wise man. He is strong but is seated, maybe thinking, designing. The young men of the sides are the pure force, the energy, the strength, they use their hands to work. All those elements clearly talk about an allegory of work. In my opinion there are also reminiscences of Jugendstil, mostly in the expression of the faces.

Fred Coubillier. Allegory of Work. (1911). Right figure. Detail. Photo Pedro Ortega

In 1911 Düsseldorf was part of Prusia. So, this image of strong men that enhances the idea of hard work reflects the spirit of that country. A nice monument to visit if you are in Düsseldorf.


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