When I bought this sculpture a year ago, I knew right away it was a model for skin grafting in nasal reconstruction first described in the 16th Century.
A month ago, I was browsing through my hi-res photos and I took a closer look at the artist signature on the sculpture.
Previous searches of possible names were futile, but this time I could clearly see ELISCU. The search returned Frank Eliscu, the sculptor of the Heisman Trophy.
Of course I wanted to believe it was the same person, but I’ve been collecting and studying antiques long enough to know, you need proof.
So I set out to prove it. The first thing I did was look for known signatures of Frank Eliscu and sadly they didn’t match.
However, I postulated the signature on my statuette might have been from earlier in his career. Undeterred, I sought out to connect Frank Eliscu to the subject matter of the statuette. The Taliacotian Operation, known as an Italian rhinoplasty, is so esoteric I felt that would be a major proof point if Frank was familiar with it or exposed to it.
I knew the operation was used in 1944 based on the infantryman in the graphic photo below. It’s important to note this 16th Century operation was practiced as late as WWII.
Because when I added “medical” to my search, I found out Frank Eliscu served in the Army Medical Corps in WWII.
In 1943, he developed a unique technique used by the U.S. Army to rehabilitate facial disfigurements from injuries sustained in battle.
According to his discharge papers, he:
“Made drawings in the operating room of surgical procedures, modeling of features for reconstructive surgery, and carving cartilage for grafting in plastic surgery, pigmentation of skin in plastic procedures.”
Was the statuette made by the late great Frank Eliscu during WWII? I found that photo on a Facebook page maintained by his family. I sent them photos of my statuette and asked if they might know anything about it. I’m still waiting for a response.
In the meantime, I was shocked when I was made aware of another sculpture auctioned off in June 2010.
ROBERT ELISCU; Bronze bust, 20th c.; On marble base; 7 1/2" x 13" Estimate: $3,000 — $4,000
Robert Eliscu, not Frank Eliscu! Who is Robert? I can’t find anything else about Robert Eliscu besides this sculpture, so I’m trying to get in contact with Rago Auctions. If they turn out to be a dead end, then hopefully they could put me in touch with the owner.
Even with the mismatched signatures, the provenance seemed to be falling right into place. But now I have more investigating to do. Any help is greatly appreciated.