As a young architecture student in Germany, Prof. Dr. Karl Doehring,
then simply Karl Doehring, was captivated by the art and architecture
of Siam, now Thailand.
In 1906, a year after completing an undergraduate degree, he
traveled to Siam to take a job as an engineer in the Royal
Siamese Railways Department.
Doehring worked on the designs for railway stations
and commercial buildings until 1909, when he was hired
by Siam's Ministry of the Interior.
He quickly rose through the ranks, designing palaces and
homes for Siamese kings, princes, and other royalty after
becoming known for his ability to fuse indigenous and
traditional Siam style with European architecture.
In addition to design, Doehring also performed
archaeological site surveys and digs.
During his time in Siam, Doehring made extensive drawings
based on the art and architecture he saw. His sketches
of lacquer artwork -- including deities and daemons,
animals and flows, royalty and commoners, and geometrics
and ornaments -- are stunning in their realism and detail.
In 1913, suffering from exhaustion and illness, and mourning
his wife's death, Doehring returned to Germany.
Because of wartime travel restrictions, he was unable to
return to Siam until after the World War I armistice.
While he was in Germany, Doehring changed careers.
He became an archaeologist and art historian, and obtained
a doctorate based up on his extensive sketches, detailed
analysis, and cultural observations of Siam.
Doehring quickly became known for his insight into Siam,
and his publications were widely respected by experts and
He was particularly interested in the artwork of the
Buddhist temples, and published a definitive study
including architectural floorplans.
Few of the artworks he sketched survive in their
original form today.
Many have vanished, some into private collections,
while others have been damaged or destroyed.
In 1915 Doehring published his landmark, leather-bound,
500-copy limited edition, three-volume
"Art and Art-Industry in Siam" which depicted lacquer
works in black and gold.
The first volume is text while the other two are
lavish oversize prints, 19" x 25", using gold leaf
on heavy black stock.
The plates are far more than simple lithographs, as
the bright gold leaf brings the detailed designs to
life in a way that conventional printing cannot.
One almost feels that one is seeing the original
gold lacquer artwork, radiantly bright, glowing
with life and energy.
Few of the volumes and prints from this limited edition of 500
are available today.
The remaining copies reside in private collections or were
lost during World War I, World War II, or simply by the
passage of ninety years.
Estimates suggest that as few as 150 copies out of the
original 500 have survived.
The gallery has obtained a full set of the three volumes,
numbered 2 in the limited edition series of 500.
This autographed copy was owned for many years by a couple
who apparently knew Doehring in Germany, and brought the
volumes with them to the United States.
Each of the magnificent gold-leaf plates is
available for ownership
as they are beautiful works of art belonging in the open where
they can be admired.