Carl Kauba: three bronze sculptures modeled on c.1903 French postcard series featuring cakewalk dancers Rudy and Fredy Walker
(above) Vienna bronze sculptures by Carl Kauba, depicting brother and sister dance team Ruth “Rudy” Walker and Frederick “Fredy” Walker, with the figures in poses very similar to those of the dancers in postcards #142/2 (Rudy) and #142/6 (Fredy) of the c. 1903 French S.I.P. postcard series #142: Le Cake-Walk, Dansé au Nouveau Cirque, Les Enfants Nègres (credit: photograph by Sherry Howard @ Auction Finds)*
For more information on, and images from, the c. 1903 French S.I.P. postcard series #142, see the following pages:
- Rudy and Fredy Walker, c.1903 French S.I.P. postcard series #142, “Le Cake-Walk” — includes a complete set of the ten postcards in the series, which the Walkers posed for in Paris not long after they began performing at Le Nouveau Cirque; also includes a comment exchange with the author of the only biography of this sibling dance team that I’ve found, Dr. Rainer E. Lotz
- Le Cake-Walk au Nouveau Cirque (1903) by Louis Lumière: five short films of cakewalk dance teams performing on stage, including one featuring Rudy and Fredy Walker
I presently have four separate pages on the sibling cakewalk dancing team Rudy and Fredy Walker. See the Rudy and Fredy Walker page index.
(above) On 2 June 2014 at another website, I found this photograph of the same pair of Carl Kauba Vienna bronze sculptures, though likely a different copy than the one featured in the photo at the top of this page.
(above) It is evident that Kauba modeled these two bronze sculptures on two of the postcards from the c. 1903 French S.I.P. #142 series: #142/2 , featuring Rudy, and #142/6, featuring Fredy (see above). The sculpture based on #142/6 is enhanced by the inclusion of a ribbon-decorated walking stick similar to the one held by Fredy in some of the other postcards in the series.
(above left) photograph of another Carl Kauba bronze sculpture [image link fixed on 10 February 2017], which I discovered c. early June 2014, obviously modeled on postcard #142/1 (above right) of the c. 1903 French S.I.P.** postcard series #142, featuring photographs of cakewalk dancer siblings Rudy and Fredy Walker
*Late on Thursday the 14th of March 2012 I decided to look for some additional information on the pair of cake-walking dancers featured in my original 1 March page on the Walkers. After reading the aforementioned biography of the pair by Dr. Lotz more closely, I thought to try to find evidence of the Vienna bronze sculptures by Austrian sculptor Carl Kauba as mentioned in the fourth paragraph of the article.
The top Google result on the search “Carl Kauba cakewalk” was an article by Sherry Howard in her website Auction Finds titled “Doing the cakewalk — in bronze.” In late March 2010, Ms. Howard had photographed the sculptures at an auction, and was intrigued enough to try to unravel the mystery behind the two figures. Who were they? Who depicted them in bronze and why?:
I was curious about the bronzes and the maker. The auction house described the pieces as Vienna bronzes, “youthful male and female figures,” signed by T. Curts. The dancers looked black to us, based on their detailed facial features.
In my research, I found that T. Curts was a pseudonym for a noted Austrian sculptor named Carl Kauba, who was born in Vienna in 1865 and died in 1922. He was known for his bronzes of the American West – Native Americans and cowboys – although there is some debate over whether he ever visited this country.
How Kauba came across two black children doing the cakewalk was a mystery I couldn’t solve. The cakewalk was pretty popular in minstrel shows in the late 1800s and at the turn of the century.
Though she had connected the sculptures with a series of postcards featuring dancers performing a cakewalk — not this set, but another which I was able to identify — bought by an “auction buddy” of hers at a previous auction, and learned some interesting facts about the artist who had created the sculptures, Ms. Howard had thus far been unable to identify the dancers depicted in the bronzes.
** S.I.P. — Societe industrielle de photographie, the publisher