Sculpture of a griffin made by Wunderlich Limited

Made by Wunderlich Limited in Redfern, New South Wales, 1903-1916.

The griffin (or griffon or gryphon) has been a source of imagery and mythology since ancient times. Appearing in Egyptian, Indian, Persian, Babylonian, Greek and Roman antiquity, the griffin combines the face, beak and wings of an eagle with the body of a lion. Human features, notably female breasts, can also feature.

The word griffin originates in the Greek gryphos, meaning lion eagle. Griffins are particularly frequent motifs in the sculpture and mythology of ancient Greece. Symbolically the...

Summary

2009/26/1
Sculpture, griffin, embossed zinc, used in the Kings Cross Theatre, Kings Cross, Sydney, made by Wunderlich Limited, Redfern, New South Wales, Australia, 1903-1916.

A zinc sculpture comprising one zinc griffin sculpture comprising the face and head of an eagle combined with the body of a lion. The griffin sits on a plinth. There are two detached zinc wings.

Dimensions

640 mm
1700 mm

Production

The griffin was made by Wunderlich Limited, Baptist Street, Redfern, Sydney.
Wunderlich Limited 1903-1916

History

The donor purchased this sculpture from the Kings Cross Theatre, Sydney.

The griffin sculpture appears to be identical to those adorning the former Grace Bros Broadway store.

The first building of the Grace Bros store at the corner of George and Bay Streets, Glebe was completed in 1904. Wunderlich Limited produced four copper griffins to visually support a large bronze and glass globe above the corner clock tower. The griffins are listed in Wunderlich's pattern book (A7437-8/17) as design no.883: 'Griffin 5' 6" high spread of wings 9' 9" made in embossed zinc or copper'. This listing demonstrated that designs and moulds existed and that copies could be produced to order.

The pattern number dates this design to 1903. Another set of griffins was produced when the Grace Bros store on the northern side of Bay Street was completed some years later. The Grace Bros griffins were restored during the 1990s by former PHM conservator Archie Zammit-Ross.

The Kings Cross Theatre stood at the corner of Victoria Street and Bayswater Road, Kings Cross. Completed in 1916, the exterior of the Kings Cross theatre was designed in a relatively austere classical style, featuring little sculptural decoration apart from a series of swag reliefs punctuating the wall. The griffin sculpture stood on a raised section of the parapet, above the main entrance to Bayswater Road. Although somewhat at odds with the overall sobriety of the exterior, the griffin sculpture was appropriately located over the entrance to the theatre. Presumably the architect or owners commissioned Wunderlich to produce a copy of the Grace Bros sculptures.

The interior of this 5,000 seat theatre was renovated in 1928, including the installation of a large Wurlitzer organ. It was a thriving venue for Vaudeville acts and plays until the 1940s, when it began to be used as a cinema. During the 1960s it again became a performance venue, hired by pop promoters Lee Gordon and John Hartigan, who renamed the venerable theatre Surf City. The Kings Cross Theatre was demolished about 1970 for the Crest Hotel and Kings Cross railway station.

As a teenager, the donor frequently attended matinee sessions at the Kings Cross theatre, and admired the sculpture. During the 1960s he noticed that the wings had been removed from the sculpture; when he heard that the theatre was to be demolished he asked the owners if he could purchase the sculpture. The sculpture was removed by the demolition contractors, who also located the discarded wings. The wings are also held by the donor.
Kings Cross Theatre 1904

Source

Gift of Jack Surmon, 2009
31 March, 2009

Cite this Object

Sculpture of a griffin made by Wunderlich Limited 2017, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 23 June 2017, <https://ma.as/391737>
{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/391737 |title=Sculpture of a griffin made by Wunderlich Limited |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=23 June 2017 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
Full description  
This object is currently on display in Store 5 at the Museums Discovery Centre.
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