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'Eritis sicut Deus' (late 19th/early 20th century)

Bronze on a black marble base, H. 15.2 cm​


Hugo Rheinhold was a Jewish sculptor working in Berlin in the late 19th century. He started his career with a successful trade business between Germany and the United States. In 1879 he married in Hamburg but when his wife died soon after the marriage he sold his business and moved to Berlin where he studied philosophy and sculpture. His best known sculpture is “the ape with the skull”, made in 1892. The titel “Eritis sicut Deus”, you will be like God, knowing Good and Evil, refers to the words the snake spoke to Eva in Paradise. The book with Darwins’s name the ape is sitting on refers to Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, published in 1857, and the heated arguments it created. Although Rheinhold himself, a religious Jew, did not agree with the evolution theory, his sculpture found a prominent place in many zoological and medical institutions around the world, such as the Department of Zoology of the University of Edingburgh, the Royal College of Surgeons in London, The Boston Medical Library and last but not least on the desk of Lenin in the Kremlin. In 1893 the foundry of Gladenbeck in Berlin obtained the right to cast the sculpture. They did so till 1950.

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