Marburg! The Early Bird!, 2008–2016

Marburg! The Early Bird!, 2008–2016


This work is composed of three chapters:
• Marburg! The Early Bird! (Church & State)
, 2008
• Marburg! The Early Bird!
, 2010
• Marburg! The Early Bird! (The Milliner’s Daughter)
, 2016

Elements of this work were originally part of a group show Hendeles curated for the Marburger Kunstverein in Germany. It also included artworks from her collection by Ian Carr-Harris, John Massey, Liz Magor, Colette Whiten and André Kertész, together with other objects. She has since reworked and reimagined it as a single artwork in three scenes.

The title was inspired by the timing of her birth. Of four children born in Marburg to the small flock of family and friends who survived the Holocaust, she came second but was the firstborn in her family. Her cousin, Joel, was born five months after to her mother’s sister.

1. Marburg! The Early Bird! (Church & State), 2008

1.1 Custom-made disassemblable display vitrine, 2010
Mahogany, linen, six-paneled, curved-glass showcase with bow front and back, double side doors (keyed) for access, brass hardware
Fabricated by Michael Buchanan, Toronto
252.7 (h) x 350.5 x 238.1 cm

1.2 Le Chat Botté (Puss in Boots) automaton, Roullet et Decamps, Paris, c. 1900
Papier-mâché cat with white, rabbit-fur coat, green glass eyes and pink nose
Posed standing, with papier-mâché front paws and black wooden boots with tan leather cuffs
Internal key-wind clockwork mechanism activates head, hands and internal music box, original key
Metal lift-up lever located at belly starts and stops mechanism
36.2 (h) x 16.5 x 12.1 cm

From about 1860 to the outbreak of World War I, Paris was renowned as a centre for clockwork and mechanical automata, with Roullet et Decamps one of the most highly regarded manufacturers.

The automaton here represents a much-loved figure in France. Charles Perrault (1623–1703), a retired civil servant and a member of the Académie française, told the tale of Le Chat Botté, Puss in Boots, in his 1697 book of fairy tales, Histoires ou contes du temps passé. Though not necessarily the earliest version of the story about the trickster cat, it remains the most widely known. The toy automaton also has a windup, mechanical musical instrument embedded in its body. After winding, music plays as the figure turns its head from side to side and its hands rotate at the wrists as though opening or closing a sack, or conniving its next move. The standing cat automaton and its movements reflect details of the story. At the outset, Puss in Boots tells his new master, a miller’s youngest son, that all he needs to improve his master’s fortune as the poorest of the three inheritors is a pair of boots to walk in the woods and a pouch or sack. The cat uses the pouch to trap animals and birds and carry them as gifts to curry favour with the king.

The cat perches precariously on the back of a high-flying eagle that looks as if it has just landed. The cat’s head rotates and its hands twirl back and forth as he conjures up new ideas and new tricks.

1.3 Eagle lectern, German, 19th century
Hand-carved oak on a previously truncated post; custom-made wooden shelf; custom-made Belgian Black (Noir Belge) marble base
105.4 (h) x 87.6 x 71.1 cm

Eagle lecterns are common in churches and cathedrals throughout Europe, some dating back to medieval times. This imposing lectern depicts a proud bird, its wings outstretched and its head cocked attentively to one side, clutching a dragon or winged serpent.

In early Christianity, pictorial symbols taken from the natural world were used to represent people and ideas as a means of communication before the advent of print. The eagle is associated with Saint John the Apostle, for example, and has also been widely used as a symbol for angels and for Christ. The latter is perhaps the more likely representation here, since it holds dominion over a winged serpent, a common Christian symbol for the Devil.

1.4 Bisque-head manikin with articulated wooden arms and legs and regimental uniform, attributed to Maison Jumeau, Montreuil-sous-Bois, France, c. 1885
Hand-sculpted and -painted bisque head with brown glass eyes on original twill-over-form torso; wooden limbs dowel-jointed for infinite articulation at the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips and knees; wooden hands with fully articulated finger joints; carved knee-high boots with applied gilded decorations
Original blue and white wool regimental uniform, including golden brass buttons embossed with the French Imperial eagle, grasping a thunderbolt in its talons with a crown above its head; original wig made of natural hair
Labelled “Musée Grévin, 10 Bd Montmartre, Paris 9e” on the inside of the waist of the wool trousers; “Grenadier” is hand-written on the label]
Body form stamped “Stockman, Paris”
Undervest and overcoat hand-labelled “Junot” Possible reference to Jean-Andoche Junot (1771–1813), who participated in the French Revolutionary War and became a First Empire General
Overall: 170.8 (h) x 48.9 x 27.9 cm
Bisque-head: 24.1 (h) x 19.1 x 22.2 cm

The doll-making firm Maison Jumeau was founded in the early 1840s, originally as a partnership between a ship’s captain, Louis-Desire Belton (died c. 1846), and Pierre-François Jumeau (1811–1895), who had worked as a young man in the fabric trade. After the partnership dissolved, Jumeau went into business on his own and built his enterprise into a leading doll-making company highly respected for the quality of its work. Its heyday was in the final decades of the 19th century. The bisque head here is attributed to Jumeau, based on stylistic attributes and the fine quality of the workmanship. With its unique bisque face, this is an adult manikin version of the articulated Jumeau doll shown in Predators & Prey (Denslow’s Mother Goose) (Toronto, 2006).

According to verbal documentation, in 1885 or thereabouts the manikin appeared in the workshop of a French tailor who specialized in regimental uniforms. The uniform is that of the Imperial Guard, which started out as a small elite corps serving Napoleon I but developed into a full-scale army over the years leading up to the Emperor’s final defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The buttons on the uniform, which are embossed with the French Imperial Eagle flying under a crown and with lightning bolts in its talons, are key identifiers. Napoleon’s regiments, like Roman legions, liked to carry eagle emblems at their head and their capture was a mark of defeat and shame. The bronze-cast eagles carried by the regiments had outstretched wings and their heads cocked to one side, much like the carving on the lectern in this vitrine.

1.5 Percussion-action truncheon pistol, English, designed by John Day, c. 1830
Brass, with an eagle-head handle containing compartment for shot, swamped blunderbuss barrel and screw-affixed metal label (“DAY’s PATENT”)
40.0 (h) x 7.6 x 3.5 cm

John Day, of Barnstable, Devonshire, designed and invented weapons intended for police enforcement or self-defence, including truncheons, cane guns, rifle sticks and this unique combination of truncheon and pistol. The eagle head, large enough to store three shots, screws off, and the percussion-cap mechanism has an ingenious under-hammer design. An innovator in his field, Day was granted many patents, including English Patent #4861 for an “under-hammer percussion-cap lock.” He designed the weapon around 1823 to supply London police (an organized police force in the capital wasn’t set up until 1829) with a reliable gun and truncheon, but there is no evidence the weapon was ever purchased or used officially.

The truncheon in the tableau is hidden from sight when a visitor enters the gallery. While the vitrine presents like a history museum display, it functions more as a book illustration or a film frame. Unlike a flat image, however, this picture is three-dimensional, free-standing and viewable on all sides. It is a sculpture in the round. The full scenario only unfolds when the viewer approaches and walks around the vitrine. There to be discovered on the lap of the male figure, gripped in his hand, is the cocked truncheon. Staged to pose a direct threat to the cat’s survival, the truncheon immediately animates the interplay between the three primary players—and piques individual viewers to grapple with what this psychological constellation might mean.

1.6 Armchair, Chinese, 20th century
Mahogany
Chair form and hand-carved decorations incorporate elements typically found in furniture of the late Ming period (early to mid-17th century), towards the end of a long-ruling dynasty that brought social stability and orderly though autocratic government to China.
88.3 (h) x 55.8 x 55.2 cm

1.7 Märchen nach Perrault neu erzählt von Moritz Hartmann. Illustriert von Gustav Doré, Eduard Hallberger, Stuttgart, c. 1870
Two copies of the third edition
Large quarto, gilt edges. Front cover has gold-embossed Gustave Doré illustration of Puss in Boots
35.7 (h) x 29.2 x 2.2 cm

The Puss in Boots story was known in Germany through numerous sources. This German edition was published within a few years of the original French edition illustrated by Gustave Doré (Les Contes de Perrault, dessins par Gustave Doré, J. Hetzel, Libraire-Éditeur, Paris, 1862).

1.8 Davenport desk, English, c. 1880
Exotic woods, with burled-walnut veneer, slant top fitted with red leather decorated with gold tooling, with four side drawers and a decorative railing at the top with four small drawers; finished on all four sides for a variety of room placements
94.0 (h) x 61.6 x 58.4 cm

The desk is named for a Captain Davenport, who apparently commissioned this compact and practical design for a writing desk towards the end of the 18th century. The inclined, hinged desktop, rather like a traditional school desktop, is a common feature, as are side drawers and other cubbyholes to store paper and supplies. Often the desk has two front legs for support, though the example here is of a pedestal design. The desk is like portable campaign desks carried by officers to the field (or to sea) on active service and the style became popular in English and American homes in the 19th century.

1.9 “Canary Songster,” American, patented 1923
Brass whistle with water reservoir. Three of the four examples here are of the same form, but only one is marked on top of reservoir: “RISDON MFG CO. NAUGATUCK, CONN. PAT. 3-13-23 USA”
9.2 (h) x 8.2 x 2.9 cm

1.10 “Canary Songster (fat),” unmarked, probably Victory Sparkler & Specialty Co., Elkton, Maryland, USA, c. 1925
Brass whistle with water reservoir
10.8 (h) x 5.7 x 2.9 cm

Although initially developed as a child’s toy or amusement, bird whistles had a practical application as commercial photography developed in the later 19th century. Photographers used the brightly coloured whistles -to get the attention—and perhaps a smile—of their subjects, especially children. This simple tool gave rise to the still widely used English idiom when taking a photograph: “Watch the birdie!” The number of songster whistles here is the same as the number of children born in Marburg in the Hendeles circle of family and friends.

1.11 Folding spectacles, Chinese, c. 1850
Glass; brass fittings and clasp; hinged rubber foot
Closed: 6.4 (h) x 4.4 x 0.8 cm
Open: 7.0 (h) x 10.5 x 2.6 cm

1.12 Oversize pince-nez, unknown maker, early 20th century
Tortoiseshell, glass and bronze fittings
Store-window advertising item
35.5 (h) x 19 x 5 cm

A pair of Chinese folding spectacles are on the right side of the book. The eyepiece on the left is a pince-nez. Although the pince-nez design has been traced back as far as the 15th century, the style of eyewear became increasingly common around the mid-19th century, reaching its peak popularity in the 1880s and 1890s. The fashion for pince-nez died out by the mid-20th century.

The pince-nez here is partially constructed of tortoiseshell. The material is obtained from the shell of a turtle, traditionally the Hawksbill. Over the years, demand put so much pressure on this natural source that the use of tortoiseshell is now illegal in many parts of the world.

The text in the open book on the Davenport desk is displayed in another element outside the vitrine but on a gigantic scale, as are the four engravings that illustrate the story. The enlargements highlight details that may be difficult to discern and admire in the original volumes. Enlarged scale not only augments images physically, but can also amplify our appreciation. Items in differing scales have a significant effect on our visceral experience of the world. They can startle and enchant us with memories that take us back to feelings we had as children, giving us permission to escape into the realm of fantasies and dreams and possibly gain access to our inner reality.

Marburg has Germany’s largest school for the blind. In the Carl-Strehl-Schule, assistants help with research, photocopying and recording texts on tape. The entire town is navigable by the visually impaired. Indeed, with the help of elevators and special lights at every crossing, young people with white canes are part of everyday life.

1.13 Sighthound stirrup cup, British, c. 1840
Hand-carved ivory
6.4 (h) x 16.8 x 6.0 cm

A stirrup cup was traditionally a drink served to departing guests when they already had their feet in the stirrups and were ready to ride away. (In later idiom, the parting drink would be referred to as “one for the road.”) A stirrup cup also became the name of the drink offered to mounted hunters before they rode to hounds, and, by extrapolation, of the cup in which the drink was served. Such hunting cups developed as a distinctive art form, usually crafted in silver and in the shape of a fox’s head or, less often, that of a hare or a hound. This finely carved stirrup cup is of a sighthound.

Over thousands of years, these have been bred to sight their prey first and then to pursue and kill through speed and strength. There are numerous breeds of sighthounds, including smaller-framed animals such as whippets and greyhounds (prized particularly for their speed) and larger dogs like Scottish deerhounds and Irish wolfhounds.

Like tortoiseshell, the use of ivory is now illegal in many countries because its acquisition involves killing elephants, which are an endangered species.

1.14 Anatomical teaching model of human eye, German, workshop of Stephan Zick, 18th century
Turned ivory, wood, glass, the carved eye parts contained in an ornate cup that also
serves as a display stand for the assembled piece
Displayed: 15.2 (h) x 4.4 x 4.1 cm
Stored: 14.3 (h) x 4.4 x 4.4 cm

Examples of carved ivory date back to prehistoric times, and in Europe, craftsmanship had already reached a high level by the Renaissance. Although the source material came mainly from African and Asian countries, there were already workshops renowned for working with ivory before the age of concerted European colonial expansion. The piece here is from the Nuremberg workshop of Stephan Zick (1639–1715), well known in Europe for his exact ivory carvings of eyes and of pregnant women. Many sources characterize Zick’s models as teaching tools for medical students in an age when the workings of the human body were only recently and perhaps still imprecisely understood. There has, however, also been a suggestion that because the internal organs are not always exactly located according to contemporary knowledge (and also because the models were often made with coffin-like enclosures), the pregnant women models were created as memento mori. The figures were, after all, produced in an age when infant mortality rates and the risks associated with childbirth were still quite high.

Zick came from a line of renowned carvers and turners, originally specializing in wood. His grandfather, Peter Zick (1521–1629), had been an instructor of the Emperor Rudolf II, an important Renaissance patron of the arts, while his father, Lorenz Zick (1594–1666), had instructed the Emperor Ferdinand III and held the appointment of Crown Turner to the Imperial Court.

Carving and turning are quite distinct skills. Carving generally involves handcrafting an object held firm, whereas turning involves the cutting and shaping of an object turning in a mechanical lathe. In a turned object, for example, the thinness of the finished object is a mark of the craftsman’s skill. Zick was a master of both carving and turning.

1.15 After Gustave Doré: Der gestiefelte Kater (1.)
Original signed by Doré & Adolphe-François Pannemaker
Oversize book-form model: two black-and-white pigment prints on archival paper; gold hand-painted medium-density fibreboard; fabric spine; black leather cover; archival adhesive tape; glue
7.0 (h) x 230.5 x 145.4 cm

1.16 After Gustave Doré: Der gestiefelte Kater (2.)
Original signed by Doré & Jean François Prosper Delduc
Black-and-white pigment print on archival paper in ebonized poplar frame
124.9 (h) x 156.1 x 5.2 cm

1.17 After Gustave Doré: Der gestiefelte Kater (3.)
Original signed by Doré & Héliodore-Joseph Pisan
Black-and-white pigment print on archival paper, ebonized poplar frame
156.1 (h) x 124.9 x 5.2 cm

1.18 After Gustave Doré: Der gestiefelte Kater (4.)
Original signed by Doré & Adolphe-François Pannemaker
Black-and-white pigment print on archival paper, ebonized poplar frame
124.9 (h) x 156.1 x 5.2 cm

Four enlarged etchings of illustrations by Gustave Doré for Der gestiefelte Kater, the first, accompanied by the beginning of the text, mounted on an oversize wooden book form on the floor and the subsequent three mounted sequentially on the wall.

The Strasbourg-born Gustave Doré (1832–1883) was one of the most influential artists and illustrators of the 19th century. He was equally at ease artistically with classical and contemporary authors, and he and his studio were also noted for their illustrations for religious texts, including the Bible. So influential were Doré’s designs that in some cases they had a defining impact on the way their subjects would subsequently be perceived and imagined. These are the four Doré illustrations for Der gestiefelte Kater, originally drawn and engraved for Les contes de Perrault, dessins par Gustave Doré, published by J. Hetzel, Libraire-Éditeur, Paris, in 1862. These illustrations were subsequently published in Märchen nach Perrault neu erzählt von Moritz Hartmann in the next decade. The illustrations were created from Doré’s drawings by three master engravers: Adolphe-François Pannemaker (1822–1900), Héliodore-Joseph Pisan (1822–1890) and Jean François Prosper Delduc (1829–1885).

The first Doré illustration, in the oversize book-form model, shows Puss in Boots on the riverbank as the King’s carriage approaches, calling for help and claiming his master is drowning. The cat wins the King’s sympathy with an elaborate lie about how his master, the miller’s son—Puss represents the boy as the Marquis of Carabas—has had his clothes stolen by thieves. This is the first of the charades engineered by the cat that will eventually end in the so-called Marquis acquiring a castle, great wealth and the hand of the King’s daughter.

In the illustration at left on the back wall, Puss in Boots is threatening local farmers harvesting their fields with dire consequences if they do not tell the king, who is approaching in his horse-drawn carriage behind the cat, that all the lands around belong to his master. In the background to the right is the ogre’s castle.

In the middle illustration, Puss is asking local farmers about the wealthy ogre before he enters his castle, which sits high on the hill behind.

In the illustration at right, Puss is in the castle with the wealthy ogre, who is seated on an eagle-like throne chair at a table filled with food (complete with human babies on a platter) because he is expecting guests to a feast. The image of the bird of prey harkens back to the eagle lectern in Marburg! The Early Bird! (Church & State)

Once inside the castle, Puss tricks the ogre by asking him to show how he can transform himself into other animals. First, he asks him to transform himself into something big, like an elephant or a lion. After feigning fear at the sight of the lion, Puss asks the ogre if he can transform himself into something very small, like a cat or rat. When the ogre becomes a rat, the cat eats him and gains the castle for his master. When the King arrives with his daughter, Puss suggests the miller’s son has prepared the feast for them. In another example of popular culture crossing over to high art, composer Richard Wagner (1813–1883) would adapt this episode for Wotan and Loge to capture Alberich and the gold in Scene III of the 1869 music drama, Das Rheingold (composition completed 1854, first performed 1869).

Trickster cats have turned up in some guise in stories that predate Charles Perrault’s first literary treatment in the late 17th century, including a collection of 5th-century Hindu tales and earlier 16th-century Italian publications. Animals with human (or even superhuman) powers are a common phenomenon across world cultures, and are still embraced by children in contemporary popular culture. There is, for example, a Puss in Boots character in the popular Shrek series of animated movies. The character—only loosely based on the Perrault original, insofar as the sanitized character does not lie and deceive—made its first appearance in Shrek 2 (Dreamworks Animation, 2004) and its own spinoff Puss in Boots animated 3D movie in 2011.

In Germany, there is also a version of the Puss in Boots story in the collection of Jacob (1785–1863) and Wilhelm Grimm (1786–1859), whose interest in folk and fairy tales was first triggered by the jurist and historian Friedrich Carl von Savigny (1779–1861), one of their professors at the University of Marburg. Further north, about 30 km from Kassel along the heavily promoted Fairy Tale Route in German tourism, the borough of Oedelsheim in the Upper River Weser region has adopted Puss in Boots as its mascot, with the character representing the town in local events.

1.19 Oversize pince-nez, unknown maker, late 19th/early 20th century
Glass, silver-over-bronze fittings
Store-window advertising item
Overall: 38.1 (h) x 118.1 x 2.5 cm
Each lens: 45.7 (h) x 34.3 x 1.0 cm

The oversize pince-nez here would have been used as an advertising and marketing tool for a store window, similar to the large bicycle bell elsewhere in the exhibition.

2. Marburg! The Early Bird!, 2010
Handmade earthenware child’s mug; lithographed tin-plate, key-wind clockwork toy; framed colour pigment print

2.1 “THE EARLY BIRD,” Saturday Evening Girls, Boston, 1909
Handmade earthenware mug, displayed on custom white-painted wooden pedestal and linen-covered riser, under acrylic cover
Child’s mug incised with roosters on a green ground, and “THE • EARLY • BIRD”
Painted by Frances Rocchi (1890–1965), 1909, as marked in ink on bottom: “SEG FR 26-5-09”
Cup: 10 cm (h); 7.5 cm (diameter at base); 6 cm (diameter at top); 10 cm (overall width with handle)
Pedestal with cover: 150 (h) x 38.1 x 38.1 cm
Only known example with roosters

The Saturday Evening Girls club was the product of forces reshaping America’s burgeoning industrial urban centres in the last decades of the 19th century. In architecture and interior design, there was a reaction to the effects of rapid industrialization. It found expression in the Arts and Crafts Movement, which, harking back longingly to medieval guilds, stressed individual craftsmanship and an interest in nature and the natural world. The high-minded movement strove to make good quality items affordable not just for the wealthy, but for everyman.

In society, the pace of change in the role of women quickened as they took a more active part in social and economic life, particularly in health and education. Women played a big part in the Settlement House Movement, for example, which aimed to assist through education and other means the vast number of poor immigrants flocking to the urban centres and settling in overcrowded and economically depressed neighbourhoods.

The founding members of what would become the Saturday Evening Girls club—Edith Guerrier (1870–1958) and Edith Brown (1872–1932)—were both teaching in schools associated with the Settlement House Movement around Boston. In the fall of 1906, on a European vacation, a visit to a small pottery in Switzerland exposed the pair to folk and peasant pottery. This seems to have germinated the idea of adding pottery to Guerrier’s Saturday Evening Girls club so the young women could earn a little money.

By 1911, the cottage industry had become very successful, with 60 girls spending an hour a week to maintain and run the pottery and 12 working full-time as decorators. It became a model of social activism and functioned until 1942. Frances Rocchi, whose signature mark is on the cup in this artwork, was among the first decorators employed by the pottery.

This small mug for children tells a story of two roosters in a power struggle. Perhaps as a double entendre, it may also for adults make a knowing nod to male sexuality. The cockerel on top of Marburg’s clock-tower, which dominates the town square, was the inspiration for including the mug here. The tower remains from an earlier time, when it marked the hours for field workers in the agrarian culture much romanticized by the “back-to-the-land” ethos of the Arts and Crafts Movement.

The decorative image on the mug summons a playful scenario to entertain children. Hendeles’s of it here, however, has a different and darker agenda. It is both whimsical and not. By taking it out of one context and putting it into another, she torques its meaning. The conflict between the roosters becomes a way of talking about power struggles. There were small-town conflicts between the existing community and the newly formed one that descended on Marburg after the war. As well, there were conflicts within this new community and within the family itself. So, what might seem innocent and benign at first is not necessarily so.

Hendeles often works with images rooted in her personal history, not to illustrate her life but to imagine a wider story. What may initially seem sweet and unthreatening can surprise and perhaps even shock a little as viewers realize the story has undercurrents moving to another reality. Conflict, danger and drama often lurk beneath the surface of her work. In this way, she can make art about the human condition, reflecting on the effects of trauma while also addressing social dilemmas such as assimilation.

2.2 “Ludwigsbahn,” Model 325, Karl Bub, Nuremberg, 1935
“Adler” locomotive
Lithographed tin-plate, key-wind clockwork penny toy with original key stamped
“K.B.” and lithographed cardboard presentation base with box flaps
Train: 4.8 (h) x 7.3 (diam.) cm
Cardboard base: 0.2 x 17.5 x 17.5 cm
Key: 3.2 x 3.5 x 0.6 cm (key)
White wood wall-mounted vitrine with Plexiglas cover
Overall: 28.6 (h) x 22.2 x 21.6 cm
Plexiglas cover: 10.5 (h) x 22.2 x 21.6 cm

In the centre of the cardboard base of the toy’s original 1935 issue, where the train sits, a field of text in Fraktur font reads: “Nürnberg die Stadt der Reichsparteitage” (“Nuremberg, the City of the Reich’s Party Rallies”).

2.3 Marburger Schloss from the Rathaus, December 1st, 2010
Colour pigment print on archival paper in ebonized maple frame
57.3 (h) x 49.5 x 3.5 cm

This Nazi-era souvenir toy train was produced to commemorate the centenary of the first steam-driven railway system in Germany, the Bayerische Ludwigseisenbahn (Bavarian Ludwig Railway), also known as the Ludwigsbahn. Founded in 1833, the company was granted the right to operate a railroad by Bavaria’s King Ludwig I the following year. Named the Adler (Eagle), the locomotive made its first run on December 7, 1835, between Nuremberg and Fürth, a distance of 7.45 kilometres. It could pull up to 12 cars and ran for 22 years before it was scrapped in 1857.

In 1935, a replica of the Adler and its carriages was constructed in Nuremberg to celebrate the anniversary, along with wind-up toys such as this one. The key is stamped with the initials K.B., indicating that it was made by Karl Bub, a manufacturer of clockwork toys in Nuremberg from 1851 until 1966. The toy was listed in the Karl Bub catalogue as Model 325 under the name “Ludwigsbahn.” The base of the tin toy shows a silhouetted, skyline view of Nuremberg and a view of the train with waving bystanders, along with the dates 1835 and 1935. Three of the display box’s flaps depict scenes of Nuremberg—the skyline with the two spires of the Church of St. Sebaldus, the Nürnberger Burg (Nuremburg Castle) and the Sinwellturm (Sinwell Tower); the Henkersted (Hangman’s Bridge); and the Heilig-Geist-Spital (Holy Spirit Hospital), dating from the 14th-century. On the fourth flap is a picture of the Rathaus (City Hall) in Fürth.

The toy celebrates a centenary that fell just weeks after the promulgation of the Nuremberg Laws, which would provide a quasi-legal framework for the Final Solution. The extensive and efficient German railway system, whose origins were celebrated in the Ludwigsbahn toy, would become an essential tool in this as the main means of transportation to the camps. After the war, what was left of the same rail system played a role in the re-establishment of the ruined state and countless ruined families.

The photograph features the emblematic cockerel standing on the top of the 16th-century town hall in Marburg. It is part of the clockwork mechanism fabricated by Christoph Dohrn, dating from 1581. The mechanism controls the clock and bells in the tower as well as the cock and other figures near the clock face. These include the figure of Justice with a scale, a guardian with a trumpet and death with an hourglass. Marking the passage of time, a bell chimes the hour while the guardian’s trumpet makes a comical, air generated sound like a foghorn and the cock appears to crow and flaps its wings.

In the background, the photograph shows the Marburger Schloss (Marburg Castle), with the chapel and south wing visible. The building as it stands today was largely complete by the end of the 1400s, though the origins of this fortified seat of secular power are considerably earlier.

The cardboard flaps of the toy’s box show scenes of other German cities much like those that identify Marburg—a church, a castle, a hospital and a town hall. The toy train is destined to travel in a circle, like the German trains that took people to the camps and then away from them when the war was over—and like this narrative, which loops from the past to the present and round again. The present is haunted by the past; the reality and then the memory of the Holocaust is a terrible haunting for the victims, the perpetrators and the offspring of both.

3. Marburg! The Early Bird! (The Milliner’s Daughter), 2016

3.1 Gustave Doré (French, 1832–1883), Puss in Boots, c. 1870
Oil on canvas, based after the artist’s original woodcut design for the book Les Contes de Perrault (Paris, 1862). Signed "G Doré" at lower left.
In period hand-carved and plastered gilt frame
Canvas: 76.5 (h) x 46.7 x 1.9 cm
Frame: 94.0 (h) x 67.3 x 7.6 cm

This original oil painting of Puss in Boots by Gustave Doré, although based on one of his own woodcut designs for an 1862 French edition of Perrault’s fairy tales was made after the book’s publication.