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Plaque, Raised Relief, Heraldic Shield with Knight’s Helmet and Suns, Carved Wood, by Louis R. Otto, Vintage mid 20th Century


Louis R. Otto, Jr. (1915-2010)
Heraldic Shield with Knight’s Helmet and Suns
New Orleans, Louisiana: Mid 20th Century
Hand-carved wood
Incised verso: L. Otto Sculpt
20.5 x 11 inches, overall
Provenance: Felix Herwig Kuntz

A wooden heraldic shield hand carved in low relief with three suns and a horizontal bar. The chevron shaped shield is surmounted by a carved knight’s helmet that overlaps a simple border; the background is textured with small notches. The images of the sun are rendered in a whimsical folk art style, with smiling faces. It is a fine example of one the earlier carvings by Louis Richard Otto, Jr. (1915-2010) of New Orleans. It formerly was in the collection of Felix Herwig Kuntz (1890-1971), a prominent citizen of New Orleans known there as the “Dean of Americana.”


Louis R. Otto, Jr. attended the Tulane College of Engineering in his native New Orleans and studied architecture at the Ecole Politechnique in Lausanne, Switzerland. His engineering career included working for the U.S. Corps of Engineers in France and the Boeing Company Saturn Space Program in Louisiana. Meanwhile, he purchased and remodeled 20 historic and non-historic buildings in New Orleans. After retirement, he established the Au Bois Sculpté studio in the city’s Vieux Carré (French Quarter). He produced over 100 works in carved wood, including the nameboards for the Steamboat Natchez, and coats of arms, signs and plaques for popular organizations and establishments such as Deutches Haus, the New Orleans Country Club, and the Rex Room at Brennan’s Restaurant. His carved and painted wood mural of “1902 Rex Parade” (1990) is displayed at the Presbytere, a part of the Louisiana State Museum that displays its collection of Mardi Gras memorabilia. His obituary stated that Otto “wanted to be remembered as the ‘Famous Unknown Wood Sculptor’ of the Vieux Carré.”

Felix Herwig Kuntz collected manuscripts and printed ephemera, paintings and furniture. Part of his furniture collection is on permanent display in period rooms at the New Orleans Museum of Art, and his collection of books and manuscripts is housed today at Tulane University.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual light overall wear.


Gontar, Cybèle. “Furniture Collecting in Louisiana.” 1 October 2011. (17 January 2013).

“Kuntz, Felix H. (Felix Herwig), 1890-1971.” Tulane University Special Collections. (17 January 2013).

“Louis Richard Otto, Jr.” (17 January 2013).

Additional information


20th Century