The Greif - detail research

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This is the façade of the small Hotel-Restaurant “Zum Greif” - “At the Sign of the Griffin” - located in Kehl in the Grand Duchy of Baden. Beneath the upper window a small flag of the German Empire is flown by one of the servants who came from Prussia and is enthusiastic about the relatively recently created empire.  A larger flag of the Grand Duchy flies above the door of the hotel, another reminder that few people in the southern kingdoms of the empire were eager supporters of the Kaiser with his meddlesome personality and policies.

The picture one the right shows the panel sign above the door of the restaurant.  I made it and painted it on both sides.  The sign illustrates a griffin holding a red-and-yellow shield, central heraldic element of the coat-of-arms of the Grand Duchy of Baden.  The griffin, a mythological creature with the body of a lion and the head of an eagle, is the heraldic symbol of the power of the Grand Duchy, a pair of griffins being used as “supporters guardant” on either side of the shield in the full coat-of-arms of the Grand Duchy.  The painting of both sides of that tiny panel required an entire day of my time, rewarding me with the customary eyestrain.

Zum  Greif

Zum Greif

More than two years after finishing and installing the panel sign, I happened to notice the little building as though for the first time and suddenly realized that the Germans don’t use panel signs, they use dimensional symbols of whatever they want passers-by to know awaits them inside the restaurant or shop. It’s an ancient idea, far older than Rome, born of the widespread illiteracy of bygone ages.  And so I removed the panel sign and replaced it with a crowned, golden griffin’s head, a time-costly lesson reminding me that EVERYTHING in as detail-rich an undertaking as my layout must be researched and re-researched without end and that it’s foolish ever to allow myself an assumption!

The “Sarajevo 1914 Collection”, begun in 1979, has been and continues to be assembled
in partnership with Ingrid Bitter, Director MC W. Schueler, Stuttgart

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