Nikolaus Klammer

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Nikolaus Klammer or Nicolaus Clamer (* 1769 in Vienna ; † March 26, 1830 in Graz ) was an Austrian ivory carver and drawing teacher.

Youth and parents

His father, a Bavarian porcelain modeler who worked for the imperial porcelain factory in Vienna, gave him the basics of artistic work . The Hess brothers, who recognized the extraordinary talent of the young Klammer, took him on as an apprentice at the age of twelve to instruct him in the art of ivory carving. Above all, the younger of the two siblings, Paul Johann Hess , took care of him. While the Hess brothers mostly made their micro-carvings from the white, barely yellowing glass leg of the forest elephant from West Africa, Klammer appreciated the natural tone of the milk leg of the steppe elephant from East and South Africa.


An educational trip financed by the patron Klammers, the retired Imperial and Royal Captain Anton Striseck Edler von Riesenthal, took the artist to London in the 1790s, where he also worked with great certainty in the studio of the two German court sculptors G. Stephany and J. Dresch. After studying in England, Klammer mostly wrote his name with a C and just one M (Nicolaus Clamer).


Although some of Klammer's works achieved 1,200  gold gulden (a school teacher earned 75 gulden a year), he had financial difficulties throughout his life. As an old encyclopedia says, he was too much of an "idealist" because he often worked on his works for months and forgot everything around him. Pressured by creditors, Klammer was forced to spend less time on his work. He switched from microtechnology to miniature carvings. During this period he mainly made small horse sculptures that served as bosom pins or tie pins.

Like his teachers, the artist used powdered cobalt glass as a pigment for the background of the picture , and after his stay in England also tablets made of dark blue glass ( Bristol glass ). Among the works of Klammer is a bouquet of flowers made of ivory in a vase decorated with bas-relief carving. The work was widely admired at the Congress of Vienna (1814/1815) and came into the possession of Prince Johann von Liechtenstein for the sum of 1200 guilders.

In 1815 Klammer lost his wife Anna Hörlin after his six children had presumably died of smallpox. Badly hit by the loss of the entire family, Klammer fell into depression. He isolated himself from his surroundings, lost his steady hand and could no longer do fine work. As Wastler reports in his encyclopedia, the last ivory carving by the artist is considered to be a "tableau" with the bust of Archduke Johann , which is surrounded by allegories of peace and agriculture. This work remained unfinished.

After moving to Graz at the age of around 31, he spent his last years as a drawing teacher in Graz. He died on March 26, 1830 of dropsy of the breast (hydrothorax).


Klammer's works can be found in the Joanneum in Graz, in the Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna, in the Seitenstetten Abbey , the Museum and Art Gallery Bristol and in some private collections.

In the Kunstkammer of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, which took place from February 28 to September 3, 2000 under the title: "Microimages - Miracles of Sculpture Art" and was curated by the art historian Peter W. Hartmann, some of Klammer's works were from the Connoisseur Collection on display.


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