Many people think that Black Forest Carving originated in Bavaria, Germany, when in fact, it originated in the small mountain town of Brienz, Switzerland.
These whimsical designs are a delightful combination of both folk art and fine art. An antique collecting niche, Black Forest Carving is a sculptural art from in an alpine theme with woodland animals such as bears, deer, boar and dogs. Often, these animals are doing human-like activities like hiking, skiing, reading and smoking pipes, adding to their folksy charm. Swiss carvings such as these have been sculpted into forms such as bookends, lamp bases, clocks and furniture.
The forefather of Swiss Black Forest Carving was a man by the name of Christian Fisher. In the early 1800s he began creating and then selling his carvings of small woodland animals to visitors and tourists in the town of Brienz. His work became so popular, that soon he couldn’t keep up with demand and he recruited more young artists to develop and perfect the art form.
By 1843 the little town of Brienz, Switzerland was a destination for collectors of Black Forest Carvings. Owning these little carvings became a symbol of wealth and luxury and Victorian era tourists were fueling the popularity.
Furthering their appeal, Black Forest Carvings were on display at the Great Exhibition in London (1851), the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia (1876), the Chicago Worlds Fair (1893) and the Exposition Universelle in Paris (1900). Black Forest Carvings soon became the main economic driver of the little town of Brienz.
In 1882, Black Forest Carving began to be used in furniture, creating a new genre of collectors. At its heyday, there were around 1300 carvers practicing the art. Today, there are around 60 to 100 Black Forest Carving craftsman, keeping this art form alive.
Please browse our gallery of Swiss carvings at Fighting Bear Antiques. We would be happy to assist you in any way on inquires you may have regarding Black Forest Carvings.