1895 Viennese Archetype Images

caplplate1.jpgI recently posted a collection of archetypal images from 1895 to the CAPL web site. These images were drawings by Ferdninand Wüst as 'figural compositions', or images that symbolically tell a story from "everyday life". These specific images were of the archetypal variety, meant to highlight easily recognizable universal ideals through the variety of different aspects in each drawing.

They are images meant to awaken the instinctive understanding of the viewer. Since they come from 1895 Vienna, the instinctive ability of the modern viewer may be limited, or may allow for a peek into the mind of the past. The image of electricity is most compelling, although I personally don't recognize every aspect of that drawing. These images can be a puzzle, with many pieces combined to form a greater whole. The image marked 'empire' has a number of turn of the century themes combined to show the hope for a Western European Empire: medicine, industry, foreign goods, a connected postal system, etc. And then, there are the beer and wine images.

All of the drawings are provided in high quality with a friendly CC 3.0 license. Prost!


  1. Scans of two dimensional images do not attract copyright in Germany –


    Even if they did, doing so conflicts with the Europeana Public Domain Charter –


    And they certainly don’t attract copyright in the US –


    The Creative Commons non-commerical licences are *not* friendly, they are non-free –


    And they are *copyright* licences. They cannot create restrictions on public domain works, which are out of copyright.

    Alexander Ferdninand Wüst died in 1876, some time before 1895, and more than long enough ago for these images to definitely be in the public domain –

    Given all this, please consider using the correct CC tool for these wonderful images –

    1. “Alexander Ferdninand Wüst died in 1876, some time before 1895”
      (Not the same person as Ferd Wust) People do have similar names.

  2. If these are really from 1895 and were published then, they are in the public domain in the U.S. and have no copyright. The non-commercial and attribution restrictions from the CC license have no copyright to make them binding.

  3. These are beautiful. I saw a set of these lithos at an auction recently and I wish I’d grabbed them.

  4. I think those are Leyden jars at the top of the column, with electric lights strung behind. The cherub is holding a telegraph key, and is draped in ticker tape. There’s a magnet on the step, and maybe that’s an electric fan spinning? Behind the fan, maybe two Tesla coils? I’m not sure what the circuit in the lower right represents, maybe the electric motor? And as a guess the goddess is Electra.

  5. Up top are galvanic batteries, glass jars containing acid and electrodes of two different metals, typically zinc and copper. We see electric lights on the street and on the figure’s diadem. The large transparent disk with the belt appears to be a static electricity generator. Next to it is what seems to be an electric fan. The lady is touching a telegraph key; the paper ribbons have dots and dashes on them. Early telegraphy produced such tapes but operators soon learned they could “copy” by ear. The U-shaped magnet symbolizes the link between magnetism and electricity. How odd it is that these fruits of 19th century progress had to be tricked up in faux-classical motifs.

  6. Rob — thanks for letting them have it. It frustrates me that so many people don’t understand the difference between CC and public domain, and don’t realize that a) they have no right to CC license public domain works, and that b) even if they did, such an action would be far from “friendly,” as it both restricts the rights of the public and forces people to credit an entity that did not author the works in question.

  7. Cool images, though I am not sure that I’d call them “archetypal.” Perhaps a better term would be “mythic”? Archetypal, in the Jungian sense, refers to images or symbols or figures (or whatever) that crop up around the world in disparate cultures as a product of the Collective Unconscious. For example, snake images or Sun gods, wise old men or protective mothers.

    I’d chalk up these images to a particular artist trying to portray concepts symbolically, but I don’t think these translate across cultures or across centuries in an archetypal way.

    Sorry to be so nit-picky.

    OTOH, I won’t jump on you about the CC issue. :-P

    1. @Anon,
      I don’t think it is too nit-picky, but I do think that archetype is somewhat different in Art, and literature for that matter, than in the Jungian universalistic sense you mention.
      Granted, the images here seem to be playing with the images presented in them and are an attempt to idealize certain concepts. In a number of them, they go overboard like in the electricity image. It throws all the possible patterns at the viewer to create a new image or generic representation of the concept. Mythic is a good way to describe them as well, or simply just symbolist images, though these do play with icons in a way that suggests some universality.

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