Robert Prenzel was born in Elling in Prussia in 1866 He began his career as a wood carver at the age of 14 years under Ge Bauer, from the Munich School of Art.
He worked there for four years six days a week and ten hours a day. There he studied the art of design, group placing and massing effects for light and shade. Following this, he spent four years touring Europe carving his way through many countries. He contacted the Society of Carvers in each city and produced articles mainly for church decoration such as pulpits, screens and altars.
In 1888 Robert Prenzel visited Melbourne to view the Centennial International. Exhibition and remained here to establish himself as a cabinet maker and wood carver. Prenzel commenced his work in Australia with carvings in his highly elaborate and individual version of the German Renaissance and Rococo Revival styles - working on such major projects as the carving of the ceiling and walls of the west wing of St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne.
Prenzel also travelled to the Western District of Victoria on several occasions, and would carve elaborate staircases from Blackwood. more...One such staircase is at 'Purrumbeet' a well known historic home near Camperdown. Perhaps the turning point of Prenzel's career in Australia was the commissioning of the Mathias suite, in 1906 Mrs Mathias of Montreal visited her sister and brother-in-law, Mr and Mrs Stuart Black, at their property 'Glenormiston' at Terang. The Mathias suite is lavishly decorated with floral and faunal Australian motifs. It is thought that Mrs Mathias may have requested such decoration as a memento of her visit to Australia, but when adding to the suite in 1908, it would seem that the choice of motifs came from Prenzel himself.
His carving of Australian flora was exact in many instances, and sufficiently accurate botanically for the species depicted to be easily identified. Prenzel did at times however, adapt his designs in the interest of artistic balance. Prenzel became very interested in the subjects of his Australian carvings and at his home in Black Rock in 1903 his garden had a comprehensive collection of native plants which he would use to assist him in his work.
Robert Prenzel (1866-1941) an important blackwood settle, dated 1903, the high back with and corbels at each end, above three panels, each finely carved in the Gothic Renaissance style, the outside left and right panels carved with Gryphons and inscribed '
Robert Prenzel, (1866-1941) A rare relief carved panel depicting four kookaburras perched on a leafy eucalyptus branch signed R.Prenzel / 1926, 57.5 x 105 cm. Provenance: The collection of the Late Theodore Fink (1855-1942); thence by family descent
Robert Prenzel, (1866-1941) A rare relief carved panel depicting a koala perched on a leafy eucalyptus branch signed R. Prenzel / South Yarra VIC / 1925, 68 x 44.5 cm. Provenance: The collection of the late Theodore Fink (1855-1942); thence by family desce
Robert Prenzel (1866-1941), a blackwood settle, circa 1904-1909 the rectangular back inscribed with the Latin motto Pax Huic Domui - Peace be to this house - above a gryphon frieze, stylised scroll arms and a hinged seat, the front and sides carved with wa
Robert Prenzel (1866-1941) A rare carved long case clock, circa 1910 Reputedly part of the original Furnishings of Glenormiston, Western District, Victoria the movement stamped F. Ziegeler, Melbourne decorated in the Arts & Crafts style, with a beaten and
A carved and panelled blackwood door panel in the manner of Robert Prenzel (1866-1941), rectangular, with a central cartouche finely carved with gum nuts and Eucalyptus leaves, above a further two solid panelled compartments, 165 x 63.5 cm.
Robert Prenzel (1866-1941) an important carved blackwood Faunal panel inscribed monogram real photo, dated 1892, rectangular, carved in high relief with a swallow, a gheko and a griffin, amongst swirling flourishes and foliate sprigs on a stippled ground,
An Australian blackwood three panel screen by Robert Prenzel and Johann Treede, circa 1890, circa 1905, unsigned, the three fold screen carved as individual panels of alternating heights, each displaying foliate flourishes in high relief to the top and wit
A collection of Articles related to Archbishop Harrington Clare Lees (1870-1929) ¹ Archbishop of Melbourne 1921 - 1929. 1: a fine Robert Prenzel carving of a kookaburra on a tree stump. Small scuff to beak otherwise fine example. 26.5 cm. Marked to base wi
Robert Prenzel (1866-1941) A rare relief carved panel depicting kangaroos, signed and dated 1930, the rectangular panel with later applied paint and lacquer showing a kangaroo standing in the foreground beneath a tree, another kangaroo in the back ground,
Robert Prenzel (1866-1941) an important blackwood settle, dated 1903, the high back with an egg and dart bordered cornice and corbels at each end, above three panels, each finely carved in the Gothic Renaissance style, the outside left and right panels car
An Australian blackwood cabinet attributed to Robert Prenzel, the rectangular top above two doors each applied with carved gum nut and leaf spandrels opening to two shelves and three slides the inner doors and back stamped Looksan pertaining to travel to a
Robert Prenzel (1866 - 1941) Victoria dated 1916 cedar panel carved with the image of a kookaburra on a eucalyptus branch with gum nuts and gum leaves incised signature and date lower right 38 x 22 cm.
Robert Prenzel (1866 - 1941) Victoria dated 1919 a rare finely carved eucalypt faunal panel showing a koala perched in a gum tree amongst leafy branches and gum nuts within a rectangular frame inscribed signature and date the panel 43 x 31 cm.
Robert Prenzel, (1866 - 1941) the Janet lady Clarke chair the stylized Art Nouveau Australian chair, carved 'In Memory of Janet lady Clarke the first President', surmounted by a domed cover relief carved ' for God & country ' surmounted by a shield with th
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