A Lock Not So Grimm

Residing in the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago is an astoundingly intricate lock depicting the Grimm Fairytale, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”.

The lock was created by the German-born metalworker Frank L. Koralewsky in 1911, after he immigrated to Boston and became a member of the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts in 1906. Koralewsky specialized in locksmithing and hardware, and is known for one other piece currently held at the Smithsonian American Art Museum; a scene carved in steel depicting men outside of a cottage with a horse.

The entire “Snow White” lock and key took seven years to complete, and although the overall form is enticing, the level of detail brought to life through the carving is breathtaking.

Reading the scene on the lock, one can find Snow White making a stew, surrounded by columns and overhangs of straw. Hidden in recessed pockets of stone are dwarves finding their way to Snow White, with carrots and rabbit in hand. A table set for seven sits empty as the remainder of the dwarves work their way home for their meal…

…or hide from a fierce dragon.

Both of Koralewsky’s known expressions are well preserved except for the key used to open the Grimm lock, which is missing. Unfortunately, the seventh of the dwarves was sitting atop the key, and the scene is no longer complete.

We are entranced by the level of detail and the amount of time put in to craft this work.  “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” is on display at the Art Institute of Chicago, and more information can be found on their website.

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