Matt Ruttley has published a substantial new work on the life and work of engraver Johann-Baptist Frener. Congratulations!
Johann-Baptist Frener: Life & Works 1821-92
A biography and catalogue of the known works of the artist Johann-Baptist Frener (b. Luzern 1821, d. Guatemala City 1892). Frener was late 19th century Central America's finest engraver, producing a plethora of coins, medals, engravings and sculptures. An orphan child prodigy, Frener's talents earned him a place in Paris at the École des Beaux-Arts, under the tutelage of Bovy, Pradier and Ingres. Following his studies, he moved to Florence, Munich and then back to Luzern where he produced the spectacular 1853 Shooting Thaler.
Disappointingly, he was not able to secure the contract to engrave the unified Swiss coinage of 1850, but by chance a Guatemalan commission sent to Europe by President Rafael Carrera noticed his work. He moved to Guatemala City and rejuvenated the country's coinage with the assistance of organisations such as the Sociedad Económica, a quasi-governmental body established during the enlightenment. Word spread, resulting in further commissions from the mints of Honduras and El Salvador. Aside from his regular work, many beautiful and rare medals were commissioned as diplomatic gifts for Ulysses S. Grant, Guzmán Blanco of Venezuela, the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris, the composer Verdi and Queen Isabella II of Spain.
This 10-year research project has uncovered many unpublished documents to help piece together Frener's life and critically analyse rumours surrounding the designing of the flag of Guatemala and even his possible implication in an assassination plot against Justo Rufino Barrios. The author has been given unprecedented access to many world-class private collections and national archives in both Switzerland and Guatemala, all of which have been meticulously photographed and documented. Descendants of the artist in Guatemala have helped confirm Frener's ancestry, marriages and relationships.
Students of Swiss and Latin American history will find the biography and bibliography a unique lens into the inchoate post-colonial republics of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Art Historians will appreciate the fascinating juxtaposition of the Beaux-Arts movement with the politics of the region. Auctioneers and collectors will find the structured catalogue and sale records exceptionally useful in organising collections for both sale and curation.
Title: Johann-Baptist Frener: Life & Works 1821-92
Format: 8.5x11, Hardcover, 400 pages
Price: $65 plus shipping.
Domestic USA media-mail postage is $5. International shipping will be calculated on a case-by-case basis.
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